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 of judgment, and a fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. (Hebrews 10:26–27—NKJV)

There is a destructive force unleashed within when someone chooses to sin on purpose. Our text has a very specific meaning couched in the rich history of Moses’ law. The author of the book of Hebrews wrote with the intention of demonstrating that Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the righteousness required in Moses’ law. No matter what Old Testament picture the author presents, Jesus Christ is the greater fulfillment (High Priest, sacrifice, etc.). Since the point of the truth of the Old Testament was that all righteousness and the satisfaction of the wrath of God due to our sin is found in Jesus Christ, God’s Son, then anyone who does not receive and believe that truth is still caught in the web of his sin, condemned to hell (v. 27) as a consequence, and he is lost.

The point of this passage is that if one is introduced to the truth in Christ (the actual sacrifice for sin pictured by all the Old Testament sacrifices) and rejects His sacrificial work as the payment for his sin, then there is no sacrifice for sin remaining for him. A careful study of the Old Testament shows that there was not a sacrifice designated as the sacrifice for willfully committed, premeditated, deliberate sin (Numbers 15:30f., Exodus 21:14). The sacrifices covered sins of omission and sins of commission, but there was nothing prescribed for willful rebellion. There where cities of refuge for killers who did so without intent to kill (Deuteronomy 19:11–13), but no refuge for murderers. It reminds us of the statement of Samuel, “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice” (1 Samuel 15:22).

Willful sin has no sacrifice because it is knowing rebellion against God (Psalm 52:16–17). This is not to say that the payment of Jesus Christ is not sufficient to pay for your willful sin and mine, else who would be redeemed among men? What God does say is that practiced, continual, willful sin in a self-professed believer is an indicator to all around him, and to his own conscience, that he is not born from above. 1 John 3:4–9 reads, “Whoever [habitually, characteristically] commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness…whoever abides in Him does not [habitually] sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.”

As if these eternal consequences of willful sin were not enough, I believe the Bible also identifies more practical and day-to-day consequences that insidiously serve to dampen man’s perception of sin and hamper any resolve to do right. These effects are as sure as night follows day. Willfully committing sin:

  • Feels natural to your senses. Like a rut in a wagon trail, your accustomed path as a fallen being is the sinful one. Only one man had no sin nature—Jesus Christ. For the rest of us Psalm 51:5 states, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity.” Do not trust your senses as a defense against sin (James 1:15).
  • Promotes the abandonment by God to your own downward spiral—from moral and thoughtful good judgment to embracing all manner of uncleanness. Romans 1:18–32 unfolds the consequence of shutting God out of the heart and out of relevancy in your life. One cannot sin willfully and statically maintain his integrity.
  • Steadily moves a man out of light into shapeless, formless, enveloping darkness. John 3:19–21 proclaims, “For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God” (1 John 1:5–10).
  • Darkness takes a hold and dims the faculties of the mind as well as shrouds the very words used to “shed light” on personal actions. To the benighted, his sin is hidden, to God, his sin is as scarlet (Isaiah 1:18).
  • “Dumbs-down” mental capabilities for good judgment. Proverbs 14:8–9 states, “The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way, the folly of fools is deceit [the stupidity of the dullard is delusion]. Fools mock at sin, but among the upright there is favor.” Psalms, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes have a lot to say about foolishness, fools, and folly. Sin twists understanding and justice, hardens, blinds, and deceives (Hebrews 3:13). You know whether you are guilty of willful sin if you can think of someone whom you hope never finds out.
  • Blunts guilt. Continuing in sin and spending your time in the shadows, your guilt will be softened because lack of consequence leads to presumption; the fool knows not his folly, sin becomes the familiar haunt, and there is always strength in overwhelming numbers (Isaiah 30:1, Psalm 64:5–6, Proverbs 1).

Thank God that Ephesians 1:7 is still in the Book: “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.” As 1 Corinthians 6:11 reminds us, “Such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the Name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” Romans 6:16–23 adds, “Though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart…and having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness…but now having been set free from sin, and having becomes slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Trust and obey.