Series on Hebrews, V Superior Privileges, B Superior Profession, Text:10:19-39, Title: What Is a Good Confession?

Introduction:

The whole issue here is about perseverance. In particular those who have made a genuine profession always persevere. This unswerving allegiance to Christ should not be taken for granted. It requires the utmost diligence. This section of the epistle contrasts the Cause, Character, and Consequences  of a true profession with apostasy. Apostasy simply means desertion, or abandonment, or repudiation. This is an exciting passage of scripture. It goes to the heart of what we all want to know which is, how to verify our commitment to Christ. It is a lesson in assurance of salvation. It probably will not give you the answer you are accustomed to hearing-but I believe it is God’s answer. Consider a true profession of faith versus a false one; a genuine acceptance of Christ versus apostasy from Christ with respect to their causes, their character and their consequences.

I The Causes of a True and False Profession

The pivotal word in our text appears in verses 19 and 20, Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, We have confidence! If you examine the teaching carefully you will see that it is this ingredient that is the cause of a true profession, and its absence is the cause of apostasy.  Please note the description of the apostate in verse 26,  If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left. The word “knowledge” in the original is an intensive word. It does not mean simply knowing something, it means knowing all about it. It means being thoroughly informed. The one who deserts Christ as an apostate does not lack information. What he lacks is confidence. Confidence means a life-changing trust. Look how it is described in verses 21,22 And since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. It is drawing near to God in full assurance with a sincere heart cleansed and washed from guilt. This response can only be created in us by God’s Spirit. It is what Paul calls the washing of rebirth and the renewal of the Holy Spirit in Titus 3:5. The French atheist Voltaire said, "If a miracle occurred in the market place of Paris and in the presence of 2,000 men, I would rather disbelieve my own eyes than the 2,000."    The point is that facts alone will never bring a man to Christ, saving faith is the work of the Holy Spirit from start to finish.  I guess seeing is not believing. An atheist does not find God for the same reason a thief does not find a policeman. Dostoyevsky reminded us in Brothers Karamazov that "If God does not exist, everything is permissible."   This is an eight word commentary on our culture, but it is also the reason for apostasy. Without the saving work of the Holy Spirit, the apostate deliberately keeps on sinning. His confession is empty words reflecting knowledge but not confidence in a Savior.

II The Character  of a True and False Profession

The true believer is described in manifold ways in this scripture. He not only draws near to God with a sincere heart and full assurance of faith but he persists in hope, verse 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. This persistence in hope is more fully described in verses 32 -34 by the author, Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. These early Christians had easy ways out of the dilemma. Some could declare their allegiance to the divine Emperor. The recipients of this epistle could simply return to their synagogues, but they chose rather to suffer. We who live in Christianized America so easily forget the price of following Jesus, but this is how assurance is achieved. Furthermore, in verses 24 and 25 we are told that a true believer is engaged in spurring others to love and good deeds and is faithful in attendance at public assemblies of the church and encourages others more and more. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. I want you to pause for a moment and ask yourself, is there any middle ground here? Is there any place for loose hanging on, for slothful, shiftless, careless, inactive Christian profession? No. If you don’t move forward you move backward. The other option here is to deliberately keep on sinning.  So what is the character of apostasy? Verse 26 sums it up. It means that the lifestyle is unaffected by the profession. It says, If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. In his book, The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote of what he called the Great Divide:  "The first step which follows Christ's call cuts the disciple off from his previous existence.  The call to follow at once produces a new situation.  To stay in the old situation makes discipleship impossible."  William Barclay writes: "It's possible to be a follower of Jesus without being a disciple; to be a camp-follower without being a soldier of the king; to be a hanger-on in some great work without pulling one's weight." Once someone was talking to a great scholar about a younger man.  He said, "So and so tells me that he was one of your students."  The teacher answered devastatingly, "He may have attended my lectures, but he was not one of my students."  There is a world of difference between attending lectures and being a student.  It is one of the supreme handicaps of the Church, that in the Church there are so many distant followers of Jesus, and so few real disciples. The message here is to beware of loose attachment to Jesus. It offends God, and we see this as we look at

III The Consequences of True and False Profession

Verses 26-31 summarize the consequences, If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left,  but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Little needs to be added except to point out that the apostate person not only loses all hope but he displeases God in a particularly offensive way. Notice in verse 30 we not only read that vengeance belongs to the Lord, but the author also quotes Deuteronomy 32 saying the Lord will judge his people. You say, “but the apostate was not one of His people.” But he was! His false confession is a liability. Having outwardly identified himself with the people of God through his words he now becomes more responsible. It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God, in any case, but to have trampled the Son of God under foot, to have counted his blood as an unholy thing, and to have insulted the Holy Spirit: this is frightening beyond belief. Conversely, the consequences for those who genuinely believe and persevere is described at the end of our passage in verses 35-39, So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For in just a very little while, “He who is coming will come and will not delay. But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.” But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved. We are saved by grace but grace that does not live is no grace at all, grace that shrinks back is no grace at all. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God you will receive what he has promised. Doing the will of God won’t earn you anything at all. Jesus has already  done that and merited your salvation. But doing the will of God will demonstrate the reality of your profession. It will verify your commitment to Christ.

Conclusion

Sir Edmund Hillary,  lost one of the members of his team in a failed effort to climb Mt. Everest.  In London, England, a banquet held in his honor was attended by the lords and ladies, and powerful people of the British Empire.  Behind the speakers' platform were huge blown-up photographs of Mount Everest.  When Hillary arose to speak, he turned around and faced the mountain and said, "Mount Everest, you have defeated me.  But I will return.  And I will defeat you.  Because you can't get any bigger and I can." I wish every Christian would make a spiritual parable out of that. You can’t hang loose and you can’t stand still. Assurance is not a formula we memorize, its a life we live for the glory of God. Shrinking back is not a part of it.