The KJV of Hebrews 10:26 translates as follows: “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins but a certain fearful expectation …”
This verse had me convinced in my old legalistic days, that unconquered sin could surely cause us to lose our salvation and send us right to hell. However, when I learned about salvation by Grace, as a gift of God (Eph 2:8) I had to re-learn many verses, in context. This one is so misunderstood, I must share the truth with others.
Hebrews was written to transition us from legalism to grace. First, consider that the first 9 chapters of Hebrews are a contrast between the Old Covenant of animal sacrifices to the New Covenant of Jesus’ final sacrifice. Now read Hebrews chapter 10 all the way through. It warns us not to return to religious beliefs. Religious efforts are useless and even insulting to God. We are free and clear from sin by Jesus who paid our bail for us. He paid it all in full and we cannot add to it. When we return to legalistic thinking, (“the law”) we reject Jesus and throw ourselves back into our sinful status. If we return to religious commandments instead of relationship with God, we are guilty of all of our sin again. Instead of rituals we are supposed to be guided by the Spirit of God!
If the Spirit urges you to help someone on a Sunday and you override that urge, exalting your Sabbath Rest rule over love for that person, you are returning to the law, forsaking God’s grace. It’s sin to live by rules and not by the Spirit. This verse says we must choose to be sin-free by accepting God’s grace or else we are throwing away our salvation.
By choosing to be legalistic, we are choosing to go back to sin. To say that we are not righteous by faith alone is the opposite of the true gospel! To say that we are damned if we screw up after we are “saved by grace” makes no sense. To say that a drug addict can be saved by Grace is true. To later say that he’s not saved because he’s still an addict is works. Grace is grace and works are works. “But if salvation is by grace, then it is no longer on the basis of actions. Otherwise, grace would no longer be grace.” Romans 11:6 The Gospel always begs the question: what are you saying!!? Shall we continue in sinful behavior then? Not at all. We will be spirit-led people as we focus on love and grace for others. We will be baptized in the Holy Spirit and full of joy, enjoying freedom from the sinful nature. Our desires change as we submit to the spirit of God within us. Jesus’ came that we might have life abundantly; the truth sets us free from sinful flesh. When people get saved and Christians slap the law back on them, that’s how people get wrapped up in sin. Relying on rules instead of Grace is a recipe for crashing and burning. Guilt and shame are not God’s tools, those are Satan’s tools. God is Love and He covers a multitude of sin through Jesus.
My personal “Grace Bible Translation” of this verse (if one existed) would go like this:
“For if you return to your religious ways of rule upon rule, after understanding that salvation is a gift, you are forsaking Grace and once again are counted as sinful, throwing away your gift of salvation from Jesus who suffered and died to bail you out of hell, therefore your sentence to hell remains and you can expect to go there ” Heb 10:26-27 GBT
Hebrews 6:4-6 is another similar verse. It says that those who are born-again will only be counted sinful upon returning to religious rules again to justify yourself. Doing this puts Jesus to open shame. You can’t justify yourself by adding your own goodness to Jesus’ perfectly finished payment. If you think you are trying to become righteous when Jesus already gave you His righteousness, then you have thrown away Grace. Focus on living out God’s plan for you because He already erased sin. Focus on Him, not you.