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Hiding and Hell-Bound

Are you a rule-follower or a rebel?

Admittedly, I’m a rule-follower myself. I like order. I like good behavior. 

I like that when everyone follows the rules, we have a world that functions better and is a little bit closer to being perfect! I long for a perfect world. 

How many of you get road rage?

Road rage often comes when someone does something stupid and puts us and our vehicle and our passengers in danger. To me, this feels like a prime example: If we all just followed the rules, there would be no need for road rage. We’d all be safe. 

Or maybe you’re like Caleb, and you’re a rebel.

To rebels, it feels stupid that someone would drive the speed limit when everyone else is speeding. Why should you have to stop at a stop sign when no one else is around?

Rebels find these rules irrelevant, like they’re holding us back. So rules get disregarded.

At first glance, the passage that we are studying today is the same way. It’s one of those that rule followers love because it proves that if we all just followed the rules then we’ll be better off! 

But rebels—don’t check out on me because there’s something in this passage we all need to come to terms with.

Because eternity is coming.

The author of Hebrews wants to communicate that God knows when we know what’s right and choose what’s wrong—and there will be terrible consequences for that.

He is not sugar-coating anything. Now, I did grow up Baptist, but I’m not a fire and brimstone teacher. My goal is not to scare you out of hell. That actually doesn’t mean anything because the choice has never been between heaven and hell. The choice is to love God or go without Him. And you have to choose.

So the author makes it clear. He writes:

Hebrews 4:26: “Dear friends, if we deliberately continue sinning after we have received knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins.”

Okay, pause.

This verse does not sound very loving. In fact, it literally removes forgiveness.

I thought as long as I believed in God then He’s always going to forgive me when I do stuff I shouldn’t… but this seems to be suggesting that I’m mistaken.

So now I’m confused. I thought I understood the rules. I’ve even had a pastor tell me that as long as I believe the right stuff and don’t do the really bad stuff, “I’m good.”

Maybe you’ve heard the same thing?

The problem with that?

God explicitly says something different. And God knows better than the teachers and pastors that have convinced us otherwise.

Okay, so if God sees all and knows all and He’s actually not gonna forgive me for the deliberate, continuous sins, then maybe I’m not as safe as I thought I was. 

Maybe we’re all in a bit more trouble than we thought we were a few minutes ago. 

I’m starting to think that God might be hinting at me that He knows every time I know what my parents would instruct me to do and I do the opposite because I know I can hide it from them. 

That maybe my secrets aren’t so secret. 

That my skill in communicating just the right information and leaving out the rest is less of a skill and more of a deliberate, continuous sin. 

That at some point the temptation I call a thorn in my side has become a part of me I am unwilling to let go of. 

I guess this means I actually will be held accountable for the sins I am unwilling to repent from.

Whether you identified yourself as a rule-follower or a rebel, the reality is that this verse puts us all on the same playing field. 

We all have a choice to make. And that choice will have very real, very eternal consequences. It is the reality of eternity that compels me to teach through a passage like this. So, back to verse 26.

Hebrews 4:26: “If we deliberately continue sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins.”

In other words, if you intentionally choose to walk away from the gospel, there will be no way for you to receive forgiveness. 

Here’s why: The gospel is that we are sinners. Our sin separates us from God. In order to make a way for us to be in relationship with Him, God sent His only Son Jesus to live a perfect life and die on the cross. It is Jesus’ blood shed on the cross that covers our sin. Jesus became the way we access God. So those of us who admit our sin to God, repent from it, believe that Jesus is the Son of God, ask for forgiveness through Him, confess our faith in Jesus, and commit our lives to Him will receive forgiveness through Jesus’ sacrifice and enter into a relationship with God. 

Jesus is the only way. So if you reject Him, then that’s it. 


We’re like:

Believe in God–check.

Ask for forgiveness–check.

Stop deliberately sinning–check. 


Rebels get some of the way down the list.

Believe in God–check.

Believe that He will forgive me, yes, but maybe I’m not ready to take the plunge on actually asking for it because that would require a change in lifestyle. 

For both the rule-follower and the rebel, there has to be a choice. You have heard the gospel. You will be held accountable for your decision. The author says outright that for those of us who continue in deliberate sin…

Hebrews 4:27: “There is only the terrible expectation of God’s judgment and the raging fire that will consume his enemies.”

This Hebrew audience was experiencing persecution for following Jesus, but being a Jew was legal, so some of them were considering going back to Judaism to avoid the present persecution. 

But doing so would require them to reject Jesus as the sacrifice. 

When Jesus died on the cross, everything changed. So they had to choose, and it wasn’t Jesus or Judaism; it was Jesus or nothing. 

Now, we’re not so much worried about legal religions and persecution because we live in the land of the free. But we still have a choice of whether or not to follow Jesus. 

This word enemy here is not describing someone who commits one giant sin that ruins his chances of forgiveness. 

Rather, the author is describing someone who has rejected Jesus and denied Him authority over their life.

Truthfully, this shouldn’t be a surprise for us. How could you continue in a deliberate lifestyle of sin and expect forgiveness? 

Because deliberate sin is active rejection of Jesus. And we can’t reject Jesus and still receive His forgiveness. 

I think we hear something like this and think rule-followers have it made and rebels are really in trouble. But no matter which side of the aisle you’re on here, we all face a common human problem:

We want to be our own masters. We don’t want to live with restraint. We don’t want someone else to get to decide our restrictions. 

So we come up with our own set of guidelines or morals or rules and live by those. 

But let me tell you, I’ve got a very atheist rule-following friend. He likes Jesus. He likes the message that we should all be good and make the world better. But He trampled on the sacrifice of Jesus and chose to reject Him. My friend is a good guy, but he plays by his own rules.

In fact, when we make the rules, it puts us back in control instead of God. And that actually sounds a lot like rebellion to me.

I’ve also got a rebellious friend. She believes in God. She believes in Jesus and the whole nine yards. But she doesn't love Him. She doesn’t even like Him. He has rules that feel so unfair, and she is unwilling to follow someone who would make standards she disagrees with. So instead of writing her own rules, she has written them off altogether. 

This kind of rebellion is far more outspoken than the other, but the issue is the same: There’s no submission to God.

You see, we come to a passage like this and think that the rule-followers are saved and the rebels are in hot water, but the reality is you can be on both ends of the spectrum and still be just as lost. 

Think of the Pharisees. No one followed God’s rules better than them. But they rejected Jesus.

Think of the thief on the cross. He did something so bad that he was being crucified! And yet he called out to Jesus. He accepted Jesus. And he was welcomed into eternity with God. 

Our perfect rules don’t mean anything if our hearts still don’t belong to God. We may save ourselves some trouble in this life, but like the Pharisees, we are still setting ourselves up for eternal trouble.

Rebels tend to cause themselves more trouble in life, but they’re no more lost than the rule-followers. And like the thief on the cross, it only takes one instant for God to take your heart.

Sounds to me like we’ve all got a problem we have to figure out. 

Hebrews 4:28-29: “For anyone who refused to obey the Law of Moses was put to death without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Just think how much worse the punishment will be for those who have trampled on the Son of God, and have treated the blood of the covenant, which made us holy, as if it were common and unholy, and have insulted and disdained the Holy Spirit who brings God’s mercy to us.”

Now, in the Old Testament, the system God came up with meant that anyone who was caught in certain sins would be put to death–most often by stoning. The punishment was severe. 

But the key concept there: you were only punished if you were caught.

I don't think any of us would particularly enjoy being stoned to death if we were caught stealing someone’s car or having an affair. 

And yet the author says the punishment that God will bring down on those who reject Him will be so much worse than the physical punishments had been for Israel.

You know why? 

God witnesses everything. You are not getting away with any of your sins. He sees everything you see. He hears every thought; He knows every desire.

Sin is a big deal. And God hates it.

I think this is where some of us get caught up.

We believe in the Trinity, but then we tend to separate them…

God the Father is of the Old Testament, and He is harsh and judgmental.

Jesus is of the New Testament, and He’s loving and kind.

And the Holy Spirit is of today and we’re not really sure what He does anyway so we just live like He’s not there.

The problem is… they’ve been together all along and they are unchanging. The God of the OT and Jesus are the same God. 

And as loving and good feeling we think Jesus is, Jesus actually ups the game. He makes the standards higher and harder than God did in the Old Testament.

He doesn’t just judge the outside behavior but the intention behind the behaviors you commit and that you don’t commit. 

We love God’s love and forgiveness, but the reality of God’s mercy demands the reality of His judgment. The reality of eternal punishment is inescapable. 

So you might be sitting here thinking some of your sins are no big deal or that some of God’s rules are totally unfair and you’re just gonna casually ignore them or that your self-centeredness and demands to live your own life how you want to is fine.

But I cannot let you keep thinking that because when you stand before God one day, how you “feel” about sin and rules and yourself will be totally irrelevant.

I think the rebel in us wants to be our own boss, so we hold off on making the commitment to Jesus.

But the rule-follower in us can lead us to an equally deadly place. 

We don’t want eternal death so we choose to follow God’s rules and just like my friend we are actually still missing the whole relationship with God thing.

This is about the end game. It’s about God wanting to be with you and you deciding whether or not you want to be with Him.

Some of us think of ourselves as good and we presuppose that we’re okay with God, but the issue with that is–the Bible. Simply by being born you are drowning in sinfulness, and God cannot be with you. 

As we grow up in our sinfulness we tend to lean toward rule-following or rebellion.


The issue at the end of the day is that a lot of us are just hiding. The rule-followers hide behind our good behavior and count it as holiness or righteousness or relationship. But if our heart isn’t in it for transformation out of the adoration we have for our Lord then it’s just behavior, and God is not fooled by good behavior.

No matter how many rules you follow, you cannot be good enough. Stop hiding behind your behavior and make a real commitment to God.

The rebels are hiding too. We like being our own bosses; we want to rule our own kingdoms. We do not want to be told what to do by anyone. So if we just keep rebelling then eventually we’ll feel like we’ve gone too far. We’ll feel like heaven is out of the picture for us anyway, and then we can stop feeling guilty for our sin.

Rebels are hiding from conviction, but that doesn’t work either. No matter how far you have gone, you can still choose to commit to God.

Whether you think of yourself as a rule follower or a rebel, there will come a day when we are all standing before God. 

Hebrews 4:31: “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

What are you hiding behind? Are you ready to come out of hiding? 


Are you sick of performing?

Do you feel totally drained?

Do you feel unknown?

Feeling like you can earn heaven on your own is also trampling on the sacrifice of Jesus.


Do you like your sin so much that you’re willing to forfeit eternity? 

Do you wake up sometimes feeling empty, and you’re too afraid to address that feeling so you just keep doing the things thinking eventually you’ll be so bad God can’t forgive you? That then you won’t have to feel guilty for rejecting Him anymore? 

Thinking you can out-bad God’s forgiveness is also trampling on the sacrifice of Jesus.

No matter where you think you are hiding now, when we stand before God one day, we will all be exposed. 


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