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The Tale of Two Judgements

Hebrews  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  31:20
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The believer need not fear Judgement Day, because our judgement will not be for the purpose of vengeance, but vindication.

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We have now come to the fourth warning passage in the book of Hebrews. Our text this morning is Hebrews 10:26-31.
Hebrews 10:26–31 ESV
For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
In verse 30, the author of Hebrews cites portions of Deuteronomy 32:35-36 as it is found in the Greek translation of the Old Testament. I would like to now read Deuteronomy 32:35-36 in its entirety and from a translation that more faithfully reflects the original Hebrew.
Deuteronomy 32:35–36 ESV
Vengeance is mine, and recompense, for the time when their foot shall slip; for the day of their calamity is at hand, and their doom comes swiftly.’ For the Lord will vindicate his people and have compassion on his servants, when he sees that their power is gone and there is none remaining, bond or free.
While I was reading I am sure you noticed that while the Greek translation of the Old Testament that the author of Hebrews was uses says, “The Lord will judge his people,” the original Hebrew says that, “The Lord will vindicate his people.” Skeptics and those who are only interested in undermining Christianity will say that this is just another example of “error” in the Bible and contradiction, but this is not an error, nor is it a contradiction. Vindication by it very nature demands that the person being vindicated be judged. Judged not for the purpose of condemnation, but for the purpose of justification. On Judgement Day, the Judge of All the Universe will not be digging up all the elect’s dirty laundry to display it before all the universe, but will dig up all the hidden gems of righteousness to display them instead!
As we have been learning throughout the book of Hebrews, Jesus is the believer’s perfect High Priest and we can have confidence before God. Just a few verses before our present text the author of Hebrews writes:
Hebrews 10:19–22 ESV
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
If you are a believer, there is no, nor will there ever be any “dirty laundry” to be used against you in the Courtroom of Heaven. The blood of Jesus washes away every sin and silences every accusation!
However, in the courtroom of this world the accusations fly! In the eyes of this world Christians are viewed as intellectually ignorant and foolish, as morally hypocritical and even wicked and as socially out of step and as a threat. But the accusation that really hurts is the one that comes from those who were once a part of the Church and have left. Those who commit the sin of apostasy hold both Christ and His church in contempt. Consequently, those who commit apostasy can only expect the harshest judgement from God.
So in this fourth warning, the author by citing Deuteronomy 32:35-36 is giving us the tale of two judgements. The first is...

God’s Judgement of Vengeance

According to verse 26, those who are liable to God’s Judgement of Vengeance are those who “go on sinning deliberately.” By this the author does not mean simply “premeditated sins.” Many, if not most, of our sins are premeditated. The saints in both the Old and New Testament committed premeditated sins, among them are Abraham, David, Peter and Paul! None of us can use the old Flip Wilson excuse, “The Devil made me do it.” As we heard earlier in our service, to deny our sinfulness is to call God a liar, for God has clearly said in His Word that every person is a sinner and is responsible for their sin.
Moreover, the context makes it clear that this is the sin of apostasy. Look at verse 26 again.
Hebrews 10:26 ESV
For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,
What is the “truth” they had received? It is the truth that the author of Hebrews has been writing about for the last five and a half chapters—Jesus is the perfect High Priest who has offered the perfect sacrifice for sin! To turn away from this truth and go back to the Old Covenant sacrificial system is to abandon the only sacrifice that can cover our sins.
As further confirmation that this is the sin of apostasy, the author uses the law of Moses as an example in verse 28. When the Old Covenant spoke of deliberate sin, it always was speaking of sins that “reviled the Lord,” “despised His word” and “broke His covenant.” These were called “high handed sins” because they are a lifting up of ones hand in defiance to God. All of these sins carried with them the penalty of being “cut off” from the people and some even carried the death penalty at the testimony of two or three witnesses. Among these sins are the failure to be circumcised (Gen 17:14), failure to observe the Passover (Ex. 12:15, Num. 9:13) and failure to keep the Sabbath (Ex 31:14). Numbers 15 provides a good example of how this works. First the principle is laid down:
Numbers 15:30–31 ESV
But the person who does anything with a high hand, whether he is native or a sojourner, reviles the Lord, and that person shall be cut off from among his people. Because he has despised the word of the Lord and has broken his commandment, that person shall be utterly cut off; his iniquity shall be on him.”
Then an example of this law in action is given:
Numbers 15:32–36 ESV
While the people of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering sticks on the Sabbath day. And those who found him gathering sticks brought him to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation. They put him in custody, because it had not been made clear what should be done to him. And the Lord said to Moses, “The man shall be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp.” And all the congregation brought him outside the camp and stoned him to death with stones, as the Lord commanded Moses.
Now the point the author of Hebrews is making is this: If this is what would happen to a person who despised the Old Covenant, how much worse will it be for a person who despises the New Covenant!
Now some of you might say to yourselves, “This is too harsh, what is so wrong with leaving Christ and the church? All religions are basically the same. They are just paths to the same God.” Well, if this is your objection, the author of Hebrews anticipated your objection and exposes the ugly reality of apostasy.
Hebrews 10:29 ESV
How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?
Apostasy is an offense to the whole Trinity. It offends the Father, because the apostate “tramples” His Son underfoot. It offends the Son, because it “profanes” His blood. It offends the Holy Spirit, because it rejects His “grace”.
All sin is sin and all sin will be eternally punished, but not all sin will be eternally punished in the same degree. As our text says some sins will be punished “much worse.” Be warned, apostasy is the worst of sins!
But in the midst of this warning is a promise of hope to those who as we learned last week “hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering.” There is a coming vindication.

God’s Judgement of Vindication

In the introduction, I have already given you my reasons for believing why this second judgement in verse 29 is a judgement of vindication. Contrary, to what John Piper and others teach, the Christian does not labor for his or her “final justification.” We are justified by faith alone and we will never lose that justification! There is no need for the Christian to fear the judgement seat of Christ. Again let me read from Hebrews 10:19-22:
Hebrews 10:19–22 ESV
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
Now I am sure that those like John Piper who believe that we must work for our “final justification” will fear that “justification by faith alone” will produce a laxity towards good works, but they have no need to fear.
They have no need to fear because we are not the only ones being vindicated on That Day, Christ is being vindicated as well. When people are attacking us, they are really attacking Christ. They are “trampling the Son of God underfoot, they are profaning the blood of the covenant and they are insulting the Holy Spirit”!
Listen to what God says about His vengeance in Deuteronomy 32:
Deuteronomy 32:40–42 ESV
For I lift up my hand to heaven and swear, As I live forever, if I sharpen my flashing sword and my hand takes hold on judgment, I will take vengeance on my adversaries and will repay those who hate me. I will make my arrows drunk with blood, and my sword shall devour flesh— with the blood of the slain and the captives, from the long-haired heads of the enemy.’
On Judgement Day it will be our good deeds which will be the “flashing sword” and “arrows” that the Lord will thrust into the hearts of our enemies and His! Why is this so? Because our good deeds are the fruit of our faith in Christ! This fruit will prove Christ’s opponents wrong and will utterly humiliate and shame them! Our vindication is Christ’s vindication!
I can think of no greater motivation to “love and good deeds” than this. I can think of no greater reward than my good deeds being used by God to vindicate and glorify my precious Savior! Jesus is being trampled underfoot all over the world today and more often than not Christians are powerless to stop it. But take heart, there is a Day when every accusing and slandering mouth will be stopped: It will be the Day when “the Lord will judge his people.” They will be judged not for the purpose of digging up their dirty laundry, but for the purpose of digging up their hidden treasures of righteousness so that Christ may be vindicated and glorified through the “love and good deeds” of His people! On That Day the enemies of Christ and His church will know:
Hebrews 10:31 ESV
It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us conclude by remembering last week’s third exhortation:
Hebrews 10:23–25 ESV
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Let us pray.
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