Willful Sin and The Certain Fearful Looking for of Judgment

Hebrews 10:26-27 says, “For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries(KJV).”

This verse has caused many people undue anxiety.  J. Vernon McGee says, that this verse should cause the hair on the back of our necks to stand up, but not in the same way it does for many who read it out of context. If we were to look at this verse by itself we would assume that if we sin after we are saved we are without hope and should simply await judgment, but does the author of Hebrews mean any sin or does he have a specific sin in mind?

The first thing we need to do with this scripture is to check the context in which we find it. First, according to Henry Virkler in his book on hermeneutics, we need to find out some basic information about the book in which we find the statement. We should start by asking, “to whom is this book written?” When studying scripture, the best place to start looking for answers to questions like these is scripture itself, because it is infallible unlike external sources. Without much effort we will find that it is written to people familiar with the Jewish sacrificial system, who have converted to Christianity or at least have made some commitment to it. This is quickly apparent because according to Albert Barnes, in his Notes on the Bible, the author of Hebrews speaks about Jewish customs without any explanation. It is apparent that the audience was Jewish or at least had practiced the customs and knew what they were and what they represented.

Another question we should ask is, “why is this book being written?” As we study the book we find that it has a general purpose, first it describes what Christ has done for them as the only true sacrifice for sin and then warns them against falling away. The concern about falling away was not due to persecution but to many who were tempted to go back to the old sacrifices which were only symbols of the true sacrifice which is Christ (Heb. 10:14).

After we have the overall argument of the book the next question we should ask is, “how do these verses of scripture fit into the overall argument of the book?” As we read the book we see that chapter 10 seems to bring the first and major section of the book to a close. Chapter 10 starts by showing that Christ is and was the only sacrifice by which any person will ever be saved. The author in verses 19-25 lays out the “new and living way”, which indicates that the old method of sacrifices are no longer of any value and to continue in them is sin.

It is in this context that we find our text. When the author says, “if we willingly sin” he is clearly speaking of willfully rejecting the sacrifice of Christ and going back to the old symbols which can never actually cleansed anyone from sin. If a believer does this then there is no sacrifice for their sins and they can only await judgment. In a broader sense the sin that the author is speaking of is apostasy, which is when a member of the visible church walks away, and as John indicates “were never really of us”.  Therefore as J. Vernon McGee said, it should cause the hair on our neck to stand up, because this is a strong warning to keep us from ever letting anyone lead us away from trusting in the only true sacrifice that can cleanse us from our sins; Jesus Christ.

If the book of Hebrews’ internal evidence is not enough to comfort a trembling soul who thinks they are forever lost because they have willfully sinned, then we must always remember that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” In them we will find no contradictions. If we ever have trouble with a difficult verse that is not immediately clear to us then we need to go check the scriptures that are clear, for Scripture is it best interpreter. In doing this we will find a verse like 1 John 2:1, which is crystal clear and says, “and if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” In a quick study of the context we see that John is speaking to believers. We also have the story of David being a man after God’s own heart even after committing adultery with Bathsheba and having Uriah killed. There is also the encouragement found in the account of Peter’s three denials and the forgiveness he receives from Christ, or of Paul in Romans 7 struggling with the flesh and committing sins that he hates. All of these are ample evidence that the two verses in Hebrews 10 are not saying that if you willfully commit a sin you are lost and no longer have hope. It is saying that if you reject the sacrifice of Christ you have no hope.


24 thoughts on “Willful Sin and The Certain Fearful Looking for of Judgment

  1. Living in the flesh is working to attain salvation by keeping the burden of the law. Jesus said come unto me for my yoke is easy and my burden light. He was referring to the burden of the law. Is it not better to live by the spirit? Jesus said the Holy Ghost or “comforter” would come, and he did at Pentecost. The Holy Spirit will lead a Christian in all ways if we pray and seek his guidance. The spirit lives in us and guides us to the truth and that is what Jesus meant when he said he came to fulfill the law. No longer do we have to sacrifice and toil for salvation…. Nor do we have to second guess our salvation. When Jesus said “it is finished” all heaven rejoiced as the devil and all of hell realized defeat. Praise GOD for his love and unmerited favor. We cannot work or earn our salvation. All have sin and come short. Salvation is a gift from God. Take him at his word and stop doubting your salvation when you mess up. He had your back!


  2. 1 John 1:8-10

    King James Version (KJV)

    8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

    9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

    10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
    ………..We will never get rid of our Carnal Nature Kelly, but we are DAILY to Abide in Jesus and put off the old man and put on the new, if we stumble then we get back up and run again. We will never be without sin, but we have a Mediator who is there 24/7 to forgive us of our sin. Keep contending for the Faith that was once delivered unto the Saints. Godbless you Kelly.


  3. So you never sin any more? Ever look at a woman with the unintentional second look? You people that teach this backsliding theory are basing it on false interpretation of the scriptures. Why do you think he said forgive 70 times 7 and then another time, neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more. Should not the woman have been stoned if Jesus did what the LAW required. After all she was caught in the very act. What about the sins you commit that are not willful? Can you describe for me a sin that is not willful? I am ready and willing to listen. I have never had another man killed for his wife, but THE man after God’s own heart, did. What about the woman he did this with? Wasn’t she great grandmother of our savior? I think most of you who live under condemnation are old school Pentecostals and Chruch of God, like me. You were raised by finger pointers who are mean as the devil and don’t comprehend GOD’s unmerited favor and LOVE. The bible says Satan is the accuser of the brethren. For me, I will work out my own salvation with fear and trembling and recognize that I have an advocate with the father who said he would not loose one of his own. Talk to me!!!!!!


  4. I wonder about the ones who believe GOD will step on them like a bug if they mess up. Is God’s mercy and grace dispensed for you any less than those who admit they mess up daily. NOBODY is without sin. If you say you are, then you are a liar. There is no such thing as living above sin. I am a holiness preachers son who has come to realize it is all JESUS and adding something to him or taking away from him is a sin and rejection of him is the only sin that ROMANS chapter 10 refers to. Read the living bible translation. It says that if we willfully sin BY rejecting JESUS as lord then there is no forgiveness. IT is amazing how his people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge. TO all of you out there who confess him as lord, I will see you in heaven some day. YOUR SINS ARE NO LONGER AN ISSUE WITH GOD! JESUS did it all on the cross and your sins will no longer be remembered if you believe and profess him lord.


  5. Are there some Christians that don’t sin ? I’ve been trying to not sin since I received Him as savior. 49 years . I’ve not been successful. Is it hopeless?


  6. Born again people understand this verse. Many understand from the fake unmerited grace theory. The true repentance brings one to total dependence on God forever which brings deep spiritual joy and a contrite spirit. Without this joy no one can apart from sin. Willfuly deciding to go back from this joy for a fling of some kind leaves no place to return. Heb 6:4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. Reformed theology is based on the pagan definition of God and that makes them pagan. (youtube James White reply). May God bless and bring many to true repentance.


  7. Thank you for this. That scripture in Hebrews has worried me for a long time because of willful/intentional sin. I’ve had friends who told me I was incorrect in thinking I’d blown it, but this article has really helped understand. God Bless you and thanks again!


  8. I really appreciated your exposition, but I was not sure if I was clear on some of the correlations. If I may quote you:

    “If a believer does this then there is no sacrifice for their sins and they can only await judgment. In a broader sense the sin that the author is speaking of is apostasy, which is when a member of the visible church walks away, and as John indicates “were never really of us”.”

    So then, basing your comparison on 1 John 2:12, are you are stating that the context of those addressed in Hebrews that fall away is, in essence, the same as those John addressed as antichrists, or more succinctly, were never truly saved?

    The examples of David and Paul were simply God’s chastising His own. They went astray, but never left in the way those John made reference to. One remains a believer even if they go astray and goes through chastisment, the other never was though thought to be. Tares and wheat principle.


  9. 1 John is talking to believers and he says that if we say we have no sin we are liars and the truth is not in us. We still sin because we do have sin in our oives, even as believers, that is why Christ is our advocate! Yes, we are forgiven, cleansed and made children of God but not sinless until heaven, not weakness but sin. Love in Christ, Charity


  10. I just recently learned about willfull sinning, I did it for too long now knowing god would forgive me, and now I feel like he’s gone, but then, I know he’s God kings of kings lord of lords, do I still have hope to enter into his kingdom ? I am sure now that I will stop, I felt his anger / and a little bit of hell. Its the worst feeling ever, can I change my way and follow on my walk with Christ ?


  11. LLOOLL!! I can tell you, I was reading Beream, and I was reading Heb 10:26-27 today 10-29-2010, and I can say. YOU ARE A GOD SENT!!!!!! I was like , “All this way and once I get to judgement, & im gonna still roasted”. THANK YOU this all the more reason to ask and pray to God to PLEASE take anything out of me, that still fake, thats not of you, and when you tell me to speak PLEASE PLEASE give me the radical and boldness of spirit to do so. Despite what the remarks are and what people will say.


  12. Did you read? (Hebrews-10-30-31) For we know Him that has said, Vengeance belongs unto Me, I will Recompense, saith the LORD, And again, THE LORD SHALL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE. It is a fearful thing to fall into the Hands of the Living GOD.

    (Hebrews-12-6) FOR WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE CHASTENS AND SCOURGETH EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES. (9) Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence; shall we not much Rather be in Subjection unto the Father of spirits and Live? (10) For they verily for a few days chastened us after their pleasure; but He for our Profit, that we might be Partakers of His Holiness. (Peter-4-1) For as much then as Christ has suffered for us in the flesh, Arm Yourselves; likewise with the Same Mind: for he that has suffered in the flesh, has Ceased From Sin:

    (John-15-1) I AM the Vine, and My Father is the Husbandman. (2) Every branch in Me, that bears not fruit, He Takes Away: and every branch that bears fruit, He purgeth it, that it may bring forth More Fruit. (Romans-11-22) Behold therefore the Goodness and Severity of GOD: on them which fell, Severity; but toward you, Goodness: If you continue in His Goodness, Otherwise you also shall be Cut Off.

    (Hebrews-10-26-29) If a believer can wilfully sin against Holy God: (Hebrews-12-8) But are without Chastisement, whereof All are partakers, then, they are bastards and not sons.


  13. Did you not read? (Hebrews-10-30-31) For we know Him that said, VENGEANCE belongs unto Me, I will Recompense, saith the Lord. And again, THE LORD SHALL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE. It’s a fearful thing to fall into the Hands Of the Living GOD.

    (Hebrews-12-6) FOR WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE CHASTENS AND SCOURGE EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES. (9) Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in Subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? (10) For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure: but He, for our Profit, that we might be Partakers of His Holiness. (1Peter-4-1) For as much as Christ has suffered for us in the flesh, Arm yourselves; likewise with the same mind; for he that has suffered in the flesh has CEASED from Sin:

    (John-15-1) I AM the True Vine, and My Father is the Husbandman. (2) Every branch in Me that bears not fruit, He Takes Away; and every branch that bears fruit He Purge it, that it brings forth More Fruit. (Romans-11-22) Behold therefore the Goodness and Severity of GOD: on them which fell, Severity; but toward you, Goodness, if you continued in His Goodness, Otherwise you also shall be Cut Off:

    (Hebrews-10-26-29) If one should wilfully sins against Holy God- (Hebrews-12-8) But they are without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then they are Bastards, and not Sons.


  14. God so loved…so loved…so very much loved…the world…the world…that he gave…he gave…his only begotten son…that who so ever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

    The real question is…does a believer still have sin residing in him after accepting Christ?…and if so, why does it come back? If we sin, we must have it in us. If we say we don’t sin, then we must have a reason for that. I wonder if sin no more than a misunderstood weakness that gets stronger for the better through understanding and teaching via the HS?

    C’mon, sin is sin and separation from God is separation and sin represents separation and if we are more than over commers, if we accept are sanctification in his truth and love, his forgiveness and we have learned to relearn how to be in this world, where is there room for sin.

    Is it not more that we are dealing with our weaknesses and where we are weak, there he is strong? No wonder the world speaks bad of me because of you…isn’t that what God said to Isaiah first chapter? No wonder the world thinks that Christians are hypocrits,

    Possibly Christians have been taught propoganda for the purpose of strengthening the Church more than living a true life in Christ.

    I’m a believer in Christ, saved, sanctified and forever living though I don’t care for my life at times, don’t like what I think don’t like my actions…I don’t see it as sin…its rather weakness within me (terminology “flesh”) and its up to the Holy Spirit to communicate within me through my spirit (why would he want to do this..because he loves me and Christ made a way for this to happen) to help my area’s of jello cement strong in all good ways and build upon the good foundation, the rock ~ none other than Christ. I don’t have sin any more than a chicken has gills; I’m just a foolish travellor dearly loved, that is passing through, accepting my inheritance as a child of God and living proof of my Fathers trust fund. I don’t have sin and I have no stones to throw at you because in all likelihood if I did throw at you, I would end up walking a mile in your shoes and having to learn the hard way why it is I’m not to judge…so be it…Christ is my hope, not man.

    Try it for a day, lightening won’t strike but you may just end up finding out what this love
    God is really all about. Let him get your attention in a good way.

    Smile, you’re on God’s candid camera!!


  15. I tell ya….I am so so glad JESUS does Forgives “Willful Sins.”
    Married or Not Married, it is down right (hard) Not to Willfully Sin and to ‘Lust’ over a gorgeous female.

    “JESUS, please let me ‘not’ put Your Grace to shame any longer by Sinning Willfully.
    Help me to Obey YOU, LORD.
    Accidental Sin is a whole different story, JESUS. Amen and Amen.”


  16. hello this really helps me alot i wasnt really sure about the scripture and ive heard so many different things it just made me worry i know that god forgives us for our sins but i thought if we sinned and we knew it that there was no more hope for us so i want to thank you for bringing that out so clearly it makes me feel so much better


  17. Doug,
    Great exposition of the verses in Hebrews. It is only the sacrifice of Jesus Christ which saves, and to not accept Him is eternal condemnation.
    Great work.


  18. Indeed, Doug. There was an excellent podcast by the White House Inn (Michael Horton, Riddelbarger, et al on the topic of Assurance this week. They discussed how many times, due to a lot of fluff (as well as fundamentalist-ic) theology these days, we too often look inward for our assurance, when we are to look only to Christ. I certainly don’t want to misrepresent what they said, and not’s that I agree 100% with their assessment, but I definitely thought some key points were spot on.


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