Hebrews 10:27. — “But a certain fearful looking for of judgment, and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.”
What are some differences in the penalties for sin under the Law, and sin under the gospel?
When a person was found guilty of specific sins under the Law, the penalty was capital punishment – death. There were certain sins that sacrifice could be allowed for, but there was no forgiveness for the sin of murder, adultery, or blasphemy. People committing these sins had nothing to hope in, only the fearful expectation of the execution of the sentence of the law against them. Living in the time of the gospel we can tend to think that there is not a harsh punishment for those that commit sins such as adultery (including homosexuality), murder (of born and unborn persons), and blasphemy. We are no longer under the Mosaic law, so we do not execute persons guilty of these sins. Because we do not see judgement rendered now for them we may think that they are no longer as serious to God as they once were.
Does God now forgive these sins; is there an expectation of judgement to come for these sins?
Hebrews 10:29 gives us the answer, “How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of Grace?” ‘If it was so, that this was the case of him who so sinned against Moses’ law, how much more must it be so with them that sin against the gospel, whose sin is incomparably greater, and the punishment more severe?’
Is sin greater under the gospel?
‘No sacrifice for sin is left or remains; but there doth remain or abide for such persons a fearful expectation of judgment.’ Apostates from the gospel will have nothing less than “there remaineth a fearful expectation”, “judgment”, and the “fiery indignation” of the wrath of God, which will devour and consume them, His adversaries. They will have dreadful terrifying fear from which they will have no relief. “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Their punishment will be unavoidable.
Is it enough to believe in Christ but not obey?
“He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” Many that proclaim the name of Christ believe wrongly that they have freedom and liberty to freely sin, and those that do this make a show of doing it, or publicly proclaiming it. Think of the ‘famous’ Christians of our day that publicly approve of homosexuality, critical race theory, denial of God’s patriarchal design for the family, and abortion – and use their platforms to promote sin, encouraging others to do so as well. Romans tells us “and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.” These people, calling themselves Christians, that promote such things find justification in themselves, convincing themselves that this is good. Being self justified they prove themselves to be persecutors of those that adhere to the truth, attempting to live holy lives and encourage others to be obedient to God.
Is it unloving to speak against these sins, false teachers, and warn of God’s wrath?
The world hates Christ. It hates holiness, righteousness, and obedience. God is everything that humans are not, He is perfect, holy, and just. He is the only righteous judge. God demands obedience, it is not merely a suggestion. Many times throughout history judgements for sin and disobedience have been rendered from God. These are pledges and tokens of what is to come in the great and terrible final day. He tells us that He will by no means clear the guilty, and we are all guilty. We may come to Him through His perfect obedient Son, the Savior Jesus Christ, being cleansed, and adorned in His obedience and righteousness, or we will be condemned. Our God is an all consuming fire, and if we do not wish to be consumed we must seek refuge in Christ alone. As we speak these things to the world it will also hate us, but we must warn them, we must plead for their souls that they might be saved.
How do we hasten (bring about quickly) the coming day of the Lord?
There is a certain coming of this fiery indignation according to the unchangeable decree of God. It will be accompanied with righteousness and in His infinite wisdom His patience with sin will come to an end. We see the day approaching of this unavoidable time. His adversaries are filling their cup of wrath with the measure of their sin, and in God’s providence His elect will be saved from the wrath to come on the day when He judges the world. The certain determination of divine vengeance on the enemies of the gospel is a motivation to our holiness, it gives us support under our suffering for we that believe. “Lift up your heads, for your redemption draweth nigh.” The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater; therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure. This is a plain indication of God’s righteous judgment so that you will be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering. For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed—for our testimony to you was believed.
Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be?
We are to be people in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity.