“For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, ‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay.’ And again, ‘The Lord will judge his people.’ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:26-30).
To begin, let me encourage you first to read my last post about how to get pure from sexual sins. You have to start with that one before moving on to this one. With that said, I want the fear of the Hebrews 10:26-30 passage to grab you by the collar, not in order to condemn you, but in order to wake you up. Grace is a force to be reckoned with.
If you don’t want to fall into the hands of grace, then you’ll fall into the hands of judgment. The question behind this terrifying passage is, “Which set of hands will you rebel against?” Will you rebel against the hands of grace or against the hands of judgment?
First, we have to see that Scripture distinguishes between deliberate sins and sins done in ignorance. Deliberate sins are called “sins with a high hand.” Listen to this passage from Number 15:
“If one person sins unintentionally, he shall offer a female goat a year old for a sin offering. And the priest shall make atonement before the Lord for the person who makes a mistake, when he sins unintentionally, to make atonement for him, and he shall be forgiven. You shall have one law for him who does anything unintentionally…But the person who does anything with a high hand, whether he is native or a sojourner, reviles the Lord, and that person shall be cut off from among his people. Because he has despised the word of the Lord and has broken his commandment, that person shall be utterly cut off; his iniquity shall be on him.” (Numbers 15:27-31).
Sins done with a high hand are deliberate. They are done with a clear mind and solid step. The person is blatantly choosing a lifestyle that goes against God. It’s a conscious choice and a deliberate pathway. The person learns what God wants and then purposefully goes the other direction, saying all along, “I’m going to do this my way.” They raise their fist at God and shake it in his face; they want no part of the grace he offers. As the Numbers 15 passage concludes, “his iniquity shall be on him.” This means that he is not willing to give a sacrifice for his sins. He does not want his iniquity to go on the head of another life; therefore, God “rewards” him with what he wants.
Deliberate sins are a radical rebellion against God. When God comes to you and says, “I have provided a way for you to escape the punishment due to you for your sins through Jesus Christ” you have a choice to make. Either you take him up on his offer or reject him. If you reject him, then there’s no other way to pay for your sins. Either your punishment lands on Christ or it lands on you. The one who sins deliberately rejects Christ’s offer of unconditional forgiveness.
This is much different than those who sin unintentionally. Unintentional sin is still sin, but it’s not an all-out rejection of Christ’s offer. The one who sins unintentionally has not “spurned the Son of God” or “profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified” or “outraged the Spirit of grace” (Hebrews 10:29). Rather, these are all still very precious to him. He still loves the Son of God, knows that he still needs the blood of Christ, and still depends on God’s grace.
Does that describe you? Do you still love the Son of God, know that you need his blood to cover you, and depend on his grace? Do you admit that you’re lost without him? Do you confess your dependence on him? Precisely because you cannot live without sinning, is the reason you need him.
You don’t intend to sin, but you just can’t help it. As our church fathers said, “it’s not possible for us not to sin.” Or, as 1 John 1:10 says, “If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” God expects us to sin; but he also expects us to accept his solution for our sins.
The one who sins with a high hand rejects his offer. The one who sins unintentionally still depends on his offer.
Sexual sins are complicated. They feed off of complex factors in our lives that drive us to them. There’s the obvious physical component to them. We all have sexual urges and desires that our sin nature capitalizes on. Our sin nature pushes us to act in ways that are damaging to us. Also, there’s an emotional component to sexual sins. Sometimes we fall into sexual sins out of a need to feel loved or accepted by another. A girl may allow her emotional need to be loved, to be guided by a boy’s physical need to be stimulated. Both guys and girls push each other into doing things that they really don’t want to do, in order to meet needs that only God can fulfill. They don’t do it intentionally, with a high hand. Rather, they do it out of weakness, allowing other forces to take control.
There’s a difference between sins done out of weakness and sins done out of rebellion. I would wager that most sexual sins are sins done out of weakness. We do them in order to get the “quick fix.” We let passions overtake us. We desire love and connection, so we go for it. We are impatient, unbelieving, and misguided. We stumble and fall. We feel guilty, afraid, and worthless. Friends, these are all the marks of unintentional sins, not sins done with a high hand.
Beloved, use your guilt to drive you to God’s grace. Doing something that you know is wrong is not the same as sinning deliberately, especially when guilt and repentance follow. Sins done with a high hand are void of either feelings of guilt or a desire to repent. High handed sins have “profaned the blood of the covenant,” calling Jesus’ sacrifice worthless. Unintentional sins, on the other hand, still cling to Christ’s sacrifice as the only precious thing left for salvation. Christ is still your only raft in the raging sea of sins.
“How can God forgive me for the sexual sins that I’ve done when I clearly knew that they were wrong?” There are three parts to this question that you have to work through to see if you’re sinning deliberately (as defined above) or unintentionally. 1) Your problem, 2) God’s solution, and 3) Your response.
Here’s how the person who sins with a high hand would respond: 1) I have sinned, 2) I reject God’s solution, 3) I am going to continue to do what I want.
Now, here’s how a person who sins unintentionally would respond: 1) I have sinned, 2) I accept God’s solution of Christ’s sacrifice, 3) With gratitude, I will continue to cling to Christ, knowing that it will often be a struggle.
I hope you see the difference between the two. Remember, you’re not perfect and this ain’t Paradise. Cling to Christ, don’t reject Christ. God has forgiven those who trust in Jesus. His heart is wide open to you, now open wide your heart to him (2 Corinthians 6:13). The more you can open up your heart to Christ in order to receive his love, the less you’ll need to open it up to others to receive their love.
© Samuel Kee, 2012