26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,
27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.
28 Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.
29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?
I like watching English mysteries–not so much the Agatha Christie classics but her modern successors. The common thing about all of those mysteries is that the criminal always thinks he or she will get away with it. Actually, that’s the common thing with ALL criminals, their belief that their rules, their morality, their choices are above judgment. In the mind of the criminal, his or her actions are justified either by circumstances or by their own desires, and no other measure of morality or law is ever applied–until, of course, the police and detectives start to work. Then it becomes clear that, in a society set upon “justice for all,” crime cannot be tolerated and all crimes must come to judgment.
In God’s eyes, sin is the same as crime: it cannot be tolerated. If we are to approach God in His Holiest, then we must be above reproach, we must be pure. As the writer of Hebrews said, “let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” (Hebrews 10:22) No common sacrifice will bring us near God’s Mercy Seat. Only the blood of Christ can so assure us that we can approach God. And if we accept the blood of Christ Jesus as our atonement–the thing which purifies us and makes us holy and set apart for God–then we agree to live by that same Spirit which granted such grace to us.
For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
One might think I was getting ready to launch into a rant against those who use their faith to justify their continued wickedness, people who sin and then claim they are confessing their sin and therefore it is alright with God. Such people will indeed receive the condemnation due them at the judgment, because it is plain throughout Scripture that we are called to repent and leave all sinfulness behind. Therefore, those who willfully abuse God’s grace will not know God’s mercy nor salvation. That is all true.
But my point today is about the intent of our hearts, the tiny lack of conscience that enables temptation to grow into desire and thence into sin. You see, repentance isn’t just about specific sins–putting off our greed for better salaries or stopping coveting the neighbor’s home. Repentance is about an ATTITUDE of repentance, a whole-hearted change toward life that causes us to abhor sin in all its forms. It isn’t about confessing one sin at a time, it is about confessing our whole wretchedness and unworthiness and seeking God’s holiness for our lives. We can no longer set our hearts upon worldly things–living common, everyday lives–and expect that we shall be able to flee sin whenever it arises, because so long as we place value upon anything other than God and His commandments, then we have forsaken Him who has said He will never forsake us. When we accept Christ and yet continue to go through our days as if nothing has really changed in our lives, then we have “trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace.”
There is nothing “common” about the new covenant in Jesus’ blood! Christ is King of kings and the very Son of God, and yet many of us proceed as if He were just another teacher or prophet. As Paul notes, the gospel doesn’t begin with Jesus’ preaching, it begins with His DEATH (1 Corinthians 15:3-5), for that is the pivotal moment in the history of the world, the point when God’s grace met man’s sin and God showed that He is triumphant and merciful. How then can we treat the sacrifice of Christ as a common thing?
When we deny Christ by living common lives, we deny the very glory which Christ was raised to bring us. His death overcame sin, and His resurrection brought us eternal life. What can be so common about that? How can we who have been granted glorious immortality live such base and normal lives when the King of glory awaits us? How can we walk with our eyes toward the ground when the light of heaven beckons us look upward?
The Son of God desires to reign in our lives, to bring into submission every thought we may have. (2 Corinthians 10:4-6) The blood of Christ has sanctified us and washed us, making us no longer common sinners but creating us anew as sons and daughters of the Most High God. The Spirit of grace has entered into us, to guide us and to urge us ever onward to that glory that is now our inheritance. How then can we ever allow ourselves to be governed by the world? How can we ever again live as if the only thing that changed in our lives is what we do on Sunday mornings?
Dear friends, let us not be among those who “draw back to perdition” but let us be “of those who believe to the saving of the soul.” (Hebrews 10:39) Let us live our lives in an UNcommon fashion, living with such faith that whether we are working or playing, whether we are alone or among others, whether we are in a church or on the street, there is never any doubt as to who owns our souls. Let us exalt Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, let us glorify the covenant of peace in which we now stand, and let us embrace the Spirit of grace and allow God to reign in our lives. Let us not treat this gospel of peace as common but as uncommon and even unique–unique in all history of the world, and also uniquely ours.
Almighty God, such is Your will, that we who have accepted Your Son, we whom You have chosen before the founding of the world, we will live new lives in You. Let me not be common again, Lord God, but uncommon. Let me be the salt in a tasteless world, the light in a darkened home, the one who has hope when others have not. And mostly, dear Father, let my life lead others to You, let my actions and my words point ever and always to the unique and living and true God. Amen.