Summary: Practical application.
DRAW NEAR AND HOLD FAST
If our sins are forgiven through the sacrifice of Jesus, then there is no further need for the sacrificial system represented by the tabernacle and Temple (cf. Hebrews 10:18).
“Therefore” (Hebrews 10:19) introduces the whole practical section of the letter, but also specifically the application of this point. The finished work of Jesus gives us confident access to God. It is by His blood, and through the metaphorical “veil of His flesh” that we thus boldly approach (Hebrews 10:20).
With Jesus as our high priest (Hebrews 10:21), exhorts the writer, let us:
“Draw near” (Hebrews 10:22) faithfully, with a sincere heart; and in the certainty of our relationship with God through Jesus Christ (which we call “assurance of faith”). Make your approach boldly, having had your conscience (inwardly) cleansed by the blood of Jesus, and having been outwardly washed in the obedience of baptism. Furthermore, let us:
“Hold fast” (Hebrews 10:23) to the confession of our hope. Ours should be a sturdy hope, because He who made the promises is reliable!
And, (Hebrews 10:24-25), let us be considerate of other Christians, encouraging one another to love and good deeds. Let us not neglect the meeting together of Christian community, both giving and receiving the word of exhortation – and all the more so, said our writer all those centuries ago, as we see “the day” approaching.
Then, having drawn near, keep near! The Hebrew Christians were not unfamiliar with persecution (Hebrews 10:32-35). Perhaps this was why some of them were inclined to fall away (cf. Hebrews 6:6)? ‘But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you,’ the writer assures, ‘and things that accompany salvation’ (cf. Hebrews 6:9). “We are not of those who draw back to perdition,” he asserts, “but of those who believe to the saving of the soul” (Hebrews 10:39).
Still, the writer issues another warning (Hebrews 10:26-31). Perhaps some were still inclined to slip from their moorings (cf. Hebrews 2:1)? If so, perhaps it begins when we neglect to meet together under the sound of the Word of God (Hebrews 10:25)?
Again, we should keep in mind the specific Jewish background which we looked at when grappling with Hebrews 6:4-8. The writer is demonstrating the untenability of even contemplating a return to Judaism (Hebrews 10:26b). For those Hebrew Christians, that was what it was to ‘fall away’ (cf. Hebrews 6:6). The language is strong (Hebrews 10:26-29; cf. 2 Peter 2:20-22), but mercifully punctuated with compassion (Hebrews 10:39; cf. Hebrews 6:9).
The indictment (if it is that) is against those who sin WILFULLY after they have “received the knowledge of the truth” (Hebrews 10:26a). The question may be: have we really “received” it? So, for us as well as for them, it is a matter of the WILL. Is our will anchored in the One who taught us to pray ‘THY will be done’ (Matthew 6:10; cf. Luke 22:42)?
The threat is real. If we have not Jesus as the sacrifice for our sins (Hebrews 10:26b), then we are going to hell (Hebrews 10:27). If we have (Hebrews 10:29) “trodden underfoot” the Son of God; counted the blood of the covenant “an unholy thing”; and “despised” the Spirit of grace: then the punishment that awaits us is worse than that which was under the law (Hebrews 10:28-31)!
“It IS a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31), but our writer does not leave his readers there. Rather he calls upon them to remember what they have already come through (Hebrews 10:32-34). Is it really worth throwing everything away after all this? Effectively, he calls upon them to return to their ‘first love’ (cf. Revelation 2:4).
It appears that the Hebrew Christians had compassion on those who were persecuted for righteousness sake (Hebrews 10:33; cf. Matthew 5:11-12). And, having their eyes set on the things which are above, endured the spoiling of their own goods (Hebrews 10:34). The writer encourages ongoing confidence and reminds them that their reward awaits them in heaven (Hebrews 10:35; cf. Matthew 6:20).
Jesus said, ‘he who endures to the end shall be saved’ (cf. Matthew 24:13). We must have the patience to bend our will to the will of God in order to receive the promise (Hebrews 10:36). This is the desire of our writer (cf. Hebrews 3:14).
People then, as now, were anxious for the return of Christ: so the writer encourages them as to its certainty. And reminds them, as Habakkuk reminded his readers some centuries before, that meantime “the just SHALL live by faith” (Hebrews 10:38; cf. Habakkuk 2:2-4). Those who are truly saved “do not draw back” but “believe to the saving of the soul” (Hebrews 10:39).