What does it mean to sin willfully?

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For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins” (Hebrews 10:26).

According to Hebrews 10:26, to sin willfully means to continue to sin willfully, as the form of the Greek verb indicates. The reference here is not to single acts of sin committed in the full knowledge of their evil character, but to the attitude of mind that dominates when a person deliberately refuses salvation, and rejects the Holy Spirit.

This is deliberate, persistent, defiant sin. It is considered a reversal of the former decision to accept salvation in Christ and to yield one’s heart and life to Him. It is premeditated decision to leave the Lord, which leads to the unpardonable sin (Matthew 12:31, 32). It is a continuing state of rebellion against God.

All sinners are in a state of revolt against God (Romans 8:7). But, as Paul explained, before sinners have received the knowledge of the truth, God winks at their ignorance (Acts 17:30). Before the light of truth shines into men’s hearts, God does not hold them accountable for the darkness that prevails there (John 15:22; Luke 23:34; 1 Timothy 1:13). God loves sinners, and, indeed, sent His Son to save them (John 1:4, 5, 9–12; 3:16; Matthew 9:13).

The “truth” about the love of God the Father for sinners is revealed in the plan of salvation and the gift of His Son. But when light comes and men choose darkness instead, they stand self-condemned before God (John 3:19), and “there remaineth no more sacrifice for [their] sins” (Hebrews 10:26; James 4:17).

The Mosaic law prescribed death—not sacrifice—for confirmed apostates. Such were Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10:1–5), and Korah, Dathan, Abiram and the 250 men associated with them (Numbers 16:1–35). For those that sin willfully, sacrifices would have been unacceptable to the Lord, for sacrifices were of value only to the extent that they represented repentant hearts. But for the repentant sinners that don’t sin willfully, the Lord meets them with open arms to heal, restore and save. “For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost” (Matthew 18:11).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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