The Bible says in Hebrews 10:26 that if we sin willfully after coming to the knowledge of the truth, then there is no more sacrifice for sin. Does this mean that those who knowingly commit sin cannot be saved? Does this mean that those who live in sin will lose their salvation? What sacrifice is it talking about? What does this verse mean?
The book of Hebrews was written at a time when Christian Jews were being persecuted for their confession of Jesus. As a result of the persecution, some of them were leaving Christianity to return to Judaism. They were leaving the church to go back to the sacrifices and temple worship. The recipients of Hebrews had known the truth of the gospel, seen God’s working in the church and professed to be Christians. When Hebrews 10 says, “If we sin willfully,” it is addressing the particular sin the entire book of Hebrews was written to address. The willful sin is that of turning back on Christ. The willful sin is that of abandoning Jesus, the church and Christianity to return to false religion, self-righteousness or unbelief. For those who knowingly refused Jesus there was no more sacrifice that could be made for their sin.
Those who left Christianity to return to Judaism were returning to make sacrifices and offerings in accord with the Old Testament. However, “it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sin.” (Hebrews 10:14) What sacrifice could an observant Jew offer for sin if they refused the sacrifice made by Jesus? If the great sacrifice provided by God is rejected, He is not going to accept a lesser sacrifice made by those who rejected His Son. Only the blood of Jesus “cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7) To reject Jesus is to reject the only means of forgiveness. If Jesus is refused as Savior, no other hope of salvation can be found. No other sacrifice for sin can be made.
The warning of Hebrews applies to American Christians today just as fully as it did to Jewish Christians in the first century. The willful sin of Hebrews 10 is the sin of apostasy and is the unpardonable sin. The sin of apostasy is unpardonable because the one who turn from Christ refuses the only means of pardon God provides. If any knows the truths of salvation and refuses to receive Christ or if any walks away from the Christianity they once professed, then no more sacrifice can be found for their sin. No one can give enough money, be authentic enough, change the world enough or do enough good works to make payment for their own sin. If Christ is rejected, nothing else can be done to take away their sin.
Profession of Christ and participation in Christianity are not proof a person is truly saved. A person may attend church, may profess to be a Christian, may appear to be a Christian, but not be a Christian. A person may know the truth of the Gospel and live for a time as a Christian without accepting Christ as Savior. Every year professed Christians, some famous and many unknown, abandon the faith. Those who do so turn away from the only sacrifice for their sin to something which offers no salvation, no forgiveness, no reconciliation to God and no eternal life.
Hebrews warns that those who knowingly reject Jesus as Savior have no sacrifice that can be offered for their sin. No goats, lambs or bulls can be offered to take away your sin. No hope for forgiveness is found except through the blood of Jesus shed on the cross. No salvation is available except through faith in Jesus. Any who turn to Jesus and trust Him will be pardoned of all their sin.