Fiery Trials, Fire Judgment

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament epistle which was written unto the Hebrews. More specifically, today’s passage begins with the twenty-eighth verse of the tenth chapter and continues through to the thirty-ninth and final chapter of the verse. I am convinced that if we are to understand that which was written in this passage of Scripture we need to begin with the words which are found in verses twenty-six and twenty-seven. Consider if you will the words and language which are found in these two verses: “For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries” (Hebrews 10:26-27). The words in these two verses can also be directly understood—and perhaps even linked to the words which are found in the sixth chapter of this very same epistle. Beginning with the first verse of the chapter the author of the epistle wrote the following words: “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; now laying again the foundation fo repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this will we do, if God permit. For it is impossible for those who were once en lightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame” (Hebrews 6:1-6). The first thing you will notice when you read the words which are contained within the tenth chapter of this epistle is the concept of sinning willfully, and doing so after we have received the knowledge of the truth. Pause for a moment and let that reality sink into your heart, your mind, and your spirit. Allow the reality of the possibility of deliberately, intentionally, and willfully sinning after having received the knowledge and word of the truth without giving any care or concern for what you are doing, or how it impacts and affects your life.

As you read the words which the author of the epistle wrote in this particular portion of Scripture, you get the strong sense that the author believed that it was entirely possible to have received the knowledge of the truth, and yet to reach the point and place within one’s life when you actively and actually allow yourself to willfully and deliberately transgress and sin against the Lord. There seems to be a powerful indication within this passage of Scripture concerning one who had received the knowledge of the truth, and one who perhaps walked in the truth for a short period of time, and yet they somehow and someway reached the place where they began to deliberately engage themselves in sin and transgression against the Lord. Perhaps the single greatest question that I must ask myself is what would cause this type of reality to manifest within one’s heart and life. What would cause that particular individual who had received the knowledge of the truth to engage themselves in willful and deliberate transgression against the Lord? Does one wake up one morning and decided they want to willfully and deliberately transgress against the command of the Lord, or is it a gradual progression that takes place within one’s life? I have to admit that when I read the words of the author of this epistle I have to believe that the author is not writing concerning those moments in our lives when we slip in our Christian walk, and find ourselves needing to ask for forgiveness. The apostle wrote, saying, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,” as well as, “the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The apostle Paul recognized and understood that all have sinned, and all have fallen short of the glory of the Lord. The apostle Paul recognized that the wages of sin is death, and that the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. What’s m ore, is the apostle recognized the struggle that existed within one’s heart, one’s mind, one’s soul, and one’s spirit as it pertained to sin. The apostle Paul understood the tremendous struggle between the flesh and the Spirit, and the constant conflict that exists between the two. In fact, the apostle wrote concerning this reality in the seventh and eighth chapters of the New Testament epistle which was written unto the saints which were at Rome. Consider if you will the words which are found in the seventh chapter of the epistle—first inverses seven through thirteen, and next in verses fourteen through twenty-five:

“What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. May, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me. Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. Was then that which is good made death unto me?God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful” (Romans 7:7-13).

N”For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would that I do not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with m; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God Father the inward man: but I see another laws in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am!@ Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin” (Romans 7:14-25).

If you read the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the epistle which was written unto the church that was in Rome, you will find the apostle Paul was consistent in writing unto them concerning the constant struggle that exists within our members, and within our bodies between the flesh and the Spirit. The apostle Paul recognized and understood that there was this dichotomy and disparity that existed between our flesh and the Spirit, and that our lives were spent yielding ourselves to one reality over the other. I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the sixth chapter of the epistle beginning with the third verse:

“Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him: knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over Him. For in that He died, He died unto sin once: but in that He lieveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are live from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to bey, His servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:3-23).

The apostle Paul was not yet finished with this tremendous struggle and conflict that exists within one’s physical body, for if you transition to the eighth chapter of the very same epistle, you will find him continuing to write concerning this struggle. The apostle begins and opens up the eighth chapter of the epistle by speaking concerning there no longer being any condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, and then goes on to write concerning the manner of life which we are to live, and how we are to walk and conduct ourselves as being found in Christ. Consider if you will the words the apostle Paul wrote in this chapter beginning with the first verse:

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it not subject to eh law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear: but ye have received the Spirit of adoption whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together” (Romans 8:1-17).

The apostle Paul had a lot to say within his writings concerning who we are now in Christ Jesus and who we once were before Christ was manifested in our lives, and before we partook of the Holy Spirit of grace and truth. The apostle Paul recognized the disparity that existed between who we once were and who and what we have become, and wrote concerning the gap that needs to ever widen between the two realities. As I am sitting here right now, I can’t help but ask myself and wonder how great is the gap between who I once was before Jesus Christ, and who I am in Christ now. How great is the distance between who I once was and who I am now in the person of Jesus Christ? The apostle Paul—when writing unto the Ephesian Church and congregation—wrote concerning this reality in the second chapter of the epistle, and how the saints of God were once alienated from God and strangers to the promises that were made through and found to be in Christ Jesus. Consider the words which are found in the second chapter of the epistle beginning with the first verse:

“And you hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come He might shew the exceeding riches of His grace in His k Inness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; that at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: but now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For He is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in Himself of twain one new man, so making peace; and that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: and came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together growth unto an holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:1-22).

All of these passages point to the tremendous reality that who we are now should be vastly different from who we once were before we were enlightened, and before we heard the word of truth. The apostle Paul wrote concerning our once being alienated from God and strangers to the cross and to Christ, but now how we have been brought near by the blood of Jesus Christ. With that being said, the apostle Paul also recognized and understood that even through we have been brought near, and even though we are no longer strangers to the commonwealth, there still exists this struggle and conflict within our members between the flesh and the Spirit. The apostle Paul was keenly and acutely aware of the struggle which existed within his own members and within his own body, for when writing unto the church which was at Rome, he wrote of that struggle, and even made the bold and emphatic declaration “O wretched man that I am.” The apostle Paul knew that even though we have been redeemed, even through we have been born afresh and anew by the Spirit of God, there was still this constant contending we were engaged in between our flesh and Spirit. The apostle Paul knew and recognized that there was a tremendous need to daily—perhaps even multiple times each day—crucify our flesh in order that we might not gratify the sinful desires of our flesh. The apostle Paul recognized that so long as we were in this mortal tent of our flesh that we would be engaged in this constant and continual struggle and conflict that existed between our flesh and the Spirit of God. The apostle Paul knew that it was incredible important for us to continually present our bodies as living sacrifices which were holy and acceptable in the sight of the Lord in order that we might no longer be conformed to the pattern of this world, but that we might instead be transformed by the renewing of our mind. There is not a doubt in my mind that the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews wasn’t aware of the writings and teachings of the apostle Paul, and wasn’t aware of this struggle which existed between our flesh and the Spirit of the living God. I do not believe for one moment that the author of the epistle which was written unto the Hebrews was writing concerning a deliberate, a habitual, a willful, a voluntary transgression against and violation of the commandment of God. That which I believe the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews was writing about pertained to hearing and knowing the word of truth, and yet choosing to ignore that which was found within that truth, and choosing to ignore it for the sake of continuing on in transgression. I can’t help but be reminded of the words which Jesus spoke in response to His disciples question regarding Him speaking in parables. In the thirteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew we find the following words:

“Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Exsaias, which saith, By. Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them. Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. He also that received seed seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty” (Matthew 13:11-23).

The author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews wrote concerning receiving the knowledge of the truth, and I am convinced that such receiving of the knowledge of truth can be understood through reading the parable which Jesus spoke concerning the sower, the seed and the four soils. In the tenth chapter of the epistle which was written unto the Hebrews we find the possibility of sinning willfully after having received the knowledge of the truth, and how there remains no more sacrifice for sins—only a certain fearful looking for judgment and fiery indignation. It goes on to say that those who despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses, and asks of how much sorer punishment shall that one be thought worthy who has trodden under foot the Son of God, and counted the blood of the covenant an unholy thing. What’s more, is the author goes on to write how such an individual has performed transgression and iniquity unto the Spirit of grace. The author of this particular epistle was very adamant concerning deliberate and willful transgression and sin against the body and blood of the Lord, and how there remains no more sacrifice for sins within the life of such an individual. Pause for a moment and consider the thought that it is possible to show a blatant disregard for the body and blood of Jesus Christ, and to willfully transgress—not only against the commandment, but also against the Spirit and the Son. Consider also the words which the author wrote concerning it being a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. The author of the epistle believed that it would be incredibly difficult to renew those who were were once enlightened, those who have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the world to come. The author emphatically declared concerning such individuals that such individuals who have fallen away have crucified to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame through their actions. If there is one thing we must take away from this passage, it’s the tremendous struggle and conflict we must continually engage ourselves in concerning our flesh and the Spirit. We have heard and we have received the good word and the knowledge of the truth, and we are responsible for everything we have heard. Perhaps the single greatest question we must ask ourselves is whether or not we truly do recognize and understand that we are responsible for that which we have heard, and that which we have received. Are we truly aware of the fact that to whom much is given much is required, and that the more we hear, the more we read, and the more we encounter, the more we are held liable and responsible for such truths. Oh that we would read such words and that we would allow ourselves to be gripped with a powerful sense of that which is required of us, and the tremendous responsibility for the knowledge we have and the words we have heard. What’s more, is the more we have heard, and the more we have received, the greater the responsibility that bears down upon us, for we are not only responsible for the words themselves, but we are also responsible for our reaction and response to such words.

What’s so incredibly interesting about this passage of Scripture is what you find when you continue reading it through the end of the chapter. Immediately after the author writes concerning our willfully sinning and transgressing against the commandment of the Lord after having received the knowledge of the truth, they go on to instruct the readers to call into remembrance the former days—the days in which after they were illuminated, they endured a great fight of afflictions. The author goes on to write unto them how they were in times past made a gazing stock—both by reproaches and afflictions. The author sought to remind the audience of this epistle concerning the tremendous afflictions they experienced and endured having tasted of the good word and of the knowledge of the truth, and how they even had compassion on this author in their own bonds. What’s more, is that the author wrote how they took joyfully the spoiling of their goods, knowing that they had in heaven a better and an enduring substance. Despite the fact that they endured such a great fight of afflictions, the author of this epistle would go on to instruct them to cast not away their confidence, which has great recompense of reward. What’s more, is that the author went even further to declare unto them their need of patience, that after they have done the will of God, they might receive the promise. YE HAVE NEED OF PATIENCE! YE HAVE NEED OF ENDURANCE! I can’t help but be reminded of the words which are found in the fourth chapter of the first epistle which the apostle Peter wrote unto the diaspora beginning with the twelfth verse of the chapter:

“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: not heir part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator” (1 Peter 4:12-19).

I am also reminded of the words which James, the half-brother of Jesus wrote in the first chapter of the epistle which is found in the New Testament. Beginning with the third verse of the first chapter James writes the following words: “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavelets is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways” (James 1:3-8). James firmly believed that the trying of our faith works patience, and that patience must have its perfect work within us that we might be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. James recognized and understood the tremendous value of trials, of troubles, of tribulation, of suffering, of afflictions, and that which tries our faith, for if allowed to do what it is intended on doing, it produces patience within us. One of the questions that I can’t help but ask when reading the words contained within this passage of Scripture is how many of us within the body of Christ truly have patience, and truly have endurance—particularly and especially in the midst of trials, troubles, and tribulation. How well do you hold up under pressure, and how well do you hold up in the midst of conflict and the various struggles you face within your daily life? When your life appears to be rocked by trials and afflictions, are you one that is able to bear up under such intense pressure, or are you one that folds, crumbles and buckles in the face of such adversity? The author of the epistle which was written unto the Hebrews wrote and declared that the saints of God had need of patience, as well as endurance, and continually encourage their readers within and throughout the epistle to lay hold of and hold on tightly to their profession. What’s more, is that the author continually spoke of their confidence, and instructed them to lay hold of and to never let go their confidence, for their confidence has great reward on the other side of time. Permit me to ask you how your confidence is, how your patience is, and how much endurance you truly do have. Are you one who firmly lays hold of your confidence and holds on tightly to it, and are you one who is able to bear up and endure under intense affliction, pressure, conflict, troubles, trials and the like? Oh that we would understand the tremendous importance of these questions, and that we would answer them truthfully and honestly before the living God

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