And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume X, Number 07 November 26, 2006
In this issue:
The apostle Paul made a personal and pressing appeal to the Corinthian Christians when he wrote, “Open your hearts to us” (2 Cor. 7:2). Some had closed their hearts to Paul and the gospel, even though the Corinthians were in his heart, “to die together and to live together” (2 Cor. 7:3). Some rejected Paul’s apostleship and were resisting the gospel he preached. Still, Paul pleaded with them, “O Corinthians! We have spoken openly to you, our heart is wide open. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections” (2 Cor. 6:11-12). So, he urged, “you also be open” (2 Cor. 6:13).
Closed hearts prevent the truth of the gospel from saving sinners. Jesus warns us of the wayside soil that depicts the hardened, unresponsive heart (Matt. 13:19). When our hearts grow dull we will not listen to what the word of God says; we have already made up our minds (Matt. 13:14-15).
Those who close their hearts to the truth of the gospel will not be open with those who teach the truth. Paul had spoken openly and sincerely to the Corinthians. His teaching was without deceit or any impure motives (see 2 Cor. 2:17; 4:1-4). But still, some refused to love him. Paul confidently affirmed, “I do not seek yours, but you,” and that he would “very gladly spend and be spent for (their) souls” (2 Cor. 12:14-15). Yet, for all of his sacrifice and devotion to bring the gospel to them, “the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved” (2 Cor. 12:15). No one ever said that “speaking the truth in love” meant those who hear you will love you for it (Eph. 4:15; 2 Tim. 4:2-5). Sometimes, just the opposite is true. Fortunately, some did love Paul for his work’s sake, and some will love you for speaking the truth. They did and will, because they first love God.
During my recent work in India I witnessed opened and closed hearts. Some hearts, being closed to truth, rejected both it and us. The hearts of others were wide open to the “pattern of sound words” heard from the apostles (2 Tim. 1:13). What a great blessing to see honest hearts accept the truth and hold it fast, even at great sacrifice to themselves.
What about you and me? Are our hearts open or closed to the truth of God and those who teach us the word of God in truth?
In Hebrews 10:26-31 the inspired text says that willful sin occurs “after we have received the knowledge of the truth” (10:26). Some sins are committed in ignorance (Acts 3:17). Sins of ignorance are no less deadly than willful sins, and repentance is commanded in order to be forgiven of these and all other sins (Acts 3:19).
Willful sin is the deliberate choice to sin. Even though one knows the will of God on the matter, he chooses to (1) do what God forbids (1 Jno. 3:4), or (2) fail to do what God commands (Jas. 4:17). Hebrews 10:26-31 warns of the consequences and punishment of sinning willfully.
Fellow Christian, before you choose to willfully sin against God, understand what you are doing. The temporary pleasure of sin is not worth what it will cost you now and eternally. God says “if we sin willfully…”
1) “There no longer remains a sacrifice for sins” (10:26). No other sacrifice for sins is available to any of us other than the one already offered by Jesus Christ. Jesus “offered one sacrifice for sins forever” when He offered up Himself “once for all” (Heb. 10:10-12). The person who sins willfully cannot expect another sacrifice to be arranged by God’s grace that will forgive his willful rejection of the Savior’s sacrifice on the cross. When we deliberately choose to sin we are rejecting the one and only remedy for our sins that God’s grace gives us. The one who sins willfully does not have his hope set on the living God, but on himself and the passing pleasure of sin (1 Tim. 4:10). Willful sin brings eternal death.
2) There remains “a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries” (10:27). The person who sins willfully is an adversary of God. We must not deceive ourselves into thinking that we can “continue in sin that grace may abound” (Rom. 6:1). Instead, there is a full judgment awaiting those who choose to sin. Divine wrath will devour His adversaries. God’s punishment of sinners expresses His fierce wrath against sin. None will escape the day of His wrath (cf. Rev. 6:17; 2 Cor. 5:10).
3) God’s judgment of sinners under the old covenant teaches us there is no escape if we willfully sin against the covenant of Christ (10:28-29). Punishment was applied without partiality upon those who rejected the Law of Moses (cf. Deut. 17:6). Today, willful sin is the rejection of the new covenant that was dedicated by the blood of Christ. Worse punishment than was applied under the Law of Moses is laid up for those who willfully sin against Christ (Heb. 2:1-3).
The devastating implications and effects of willful sin are stated in Hebrews 10:29, emphasizing why God will bring His vengeance upon those who sin willfully.
a) The willful sinner tramples upon the Son of God. We must not deceive ourselves into thinking God overlooks such disrespectful treatment of His Son! Sinning willfully treats Jesus with rude and insulting neglect.
b) The willful sinner does not value the blood of Christ. It is the blood of Jesus that purifies us from sin (Heb. 9:22). By His blood we have boldness to enter God’s presence, obtaining redemption from our sins (Heb. 10:19). To sin willfully indicates one considers Christ’s blood to be common (not holy), having no power to sanctify. Such disrespect will be punished by God!
c) The willful sinner insults the Spirit of grace. The merciful kindness and grace of God has been revealed in the gospel by the Holy Spirit (Titus 2:11-12). The Spirit of God participates in renewing us by the word of grace He has revealed, confirmed and inspired (Titus 3:5-7; Acts 2:38). The willful disobedience of a Christian shamefully insults the Holy Spirit.
4) God will punish Christians who sin willfully (10:30). We know God keeps His word and will punish those who sin against Him. This verse quotes Deuteronomy 32:35-36, which reminded Israel that God would judge and punish her when she sinned. Vengeance is the meeting out of justice by God, who has the authority and moral prerogative to bring His wrath against sinners (Lk. 18:3; 21:22; Rom. 1:18; 2-6).
5) “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31). Jesus warned against ignoring the punitive power of God (Matt. 10:28). The Christian who sins willfully forgets that God will punish his sins, too. There will be no escaping God’s wrath on Judgment Day by saying, “but Lord, I was a Christian” if our life has denied Him (Matt. 7:22-23; 10:32-33).
If you have willful sin in your life, at least two persons know it; you and God. God will forgive you when you repent; but you must act now. Jesus is the only remedy for your sins. He sacrificed himself for you. Now, sacrifice yourself for him. If you refuse, you ought to remember that “our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:29).
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Romans 6:7-14
is a gift from God, Acts 17:25.
I. THE LIVING GOD, Acts 14:15; 1 Ths. 1:9.
AM” Exo. 3:13-15.
II. THE LIVING GOD SENT US A LIVING SAVIOR, Jno. 14:6.
is in Jesus Christ, Jno. 1:4; 5:26.
III. THE LIVING SAVIOR GIVES US LIVING WATER, Jno. 4:7-11, 14.
-Water of salvation, Isa. 12:1-3; 55:1, 3 (Jer. 2:13; 17:13). Will you come & drink? (Acts 3:19
IV. THE LIVING SAVIOR HAS BUILT HIS CHURCH USING LIVING STONES, Matt. 16:18; Acts 2:36-41, 47; 1 Pet. 2:4-6.
V. CHRISTIANS MUST OFFER THEMSELVES AS LIVING SACRIFICES TO GOD, Rom. 12:1-2; Lk. 9:23; Matt. 6:33 (Gal. 2:20).
VI. GOD HAS GIVEN US A LIVING WORD SO WE CAN LIVE BY FAITH, Acts 7:37-38; Heb. 4:12. (Rom. 10:17; Lk. 6:46; Jas. 2:17; Eph. 3:17)
The living God sent a living Savior with living water to save dying sinners from eternal death (Rom. 6:23).
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 11/26/2006
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA