Pastor David B. Curtis


The Divine Antidote to Apostasy Part 1

Hebrews 10:19-22

Delivered 08/12/2001

We come this morning to the fourth warning passage in the book of Hebrews which runs form verse 19 through 38 of chapter 10. Of all the warning sections, this is the most pointed and stern. These warning passages in Hebrews have caused more confusion and consternation among evangelical Christians than any other group of texts in any other letter in the Bible. Are these warnings to believers or unbelievers? That is the center of the debate.

We must understand that the writer is not warning about losing "everlasting life". And neither is he speaking to unconverted professing believers. He wouldn't admonish unbelievers to hold fast a false profession:

Hebrews 10:23 (NKJV) Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.

The author is writing to believers:

Hebrews 10:19 (NKJV) Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus,

He is warning them of the danger of apostasy. An apostate is a believer who turns their back on Christianity:

Hebrews 3:12 (NKJV) Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God;

They depart from their fellowship with the Lord and they come under temporal judgment:

Hebrews 10:26 (NKJV) For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,
Hebrews 10:29 (NKJV) Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?

Believers, we need to take these warnings to heart. Apostasy is a very real danger, as anyone who knows their depravity will admit. The hymn writer Robert Robinson put it this way in the hymn Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing, "Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love." Our flesh is constantly attempting to pull us downward.

We need to pay close attention to these warnings, apostasy is an ever present danger that we face. In verses 19-25 of chapter 10, we have what might be called the "Divine Antidote to Apostasy". This is the heart and core of what this writer desires from the depth of his heart for the experience of his readers. This is a Divine prescription for spiritual victory. In this exhortation the readers are called to apply and practice in their daily living the important truths which have just been expounded in 7:1 - 10:18.Doctrine is not mere theory, it must be applied.

We see in this text three specific exhortations based on what Christ our High Priest has done for us in sovereign love.

1. Worship - "Let us draw near"- verse 22.

2. Perseverance - "Let us hold fast"- verse 23.

3. Fellowship - "Let us consider one another"- verse 24.

Each of these exhortations corresponds to the familiar triad of Christian virtues; faith, hope and love. Verse 22 says, "Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith". Verse 23 says, "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope". Verse 24 says, "And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works". In a sense, the three verses that include the triad present a brief summary of the next three chapters.

This morning we will look at verses 19 - 22, which exhort the readers to draw near:

Hebrews 10:19-22 (NKJV) Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and having a High Priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

This call to "draw near" is predicated on an extended circumstantial participle clause introduced by the Greek word "echo", translated here as: "having". There are two things which the readers "have" which are compelling reasons to draw near to God. They have "boldness" and a "high priest":

Hebrews 10:19 (NKJV) Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus,

The writer addresses his readers as "brethren". The Spirit of God gives believers the title of "brethren" more than any other designation. Weust commenting on this verse writes, "The unsaved Jew of the first century who had made a profession of Messiah, but had not placed a heart faith in Him for salvation, is now exhorted to do the later." Is this "unsaved Jew" to hold on to his false profession? No! He is talking to believers!

Hebrews 10:23 (NKJV) Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.

The writer is confident that a genuine work of God has taken place in their midst; in 3:1 he calls them "holy brethren", in 3:12, "brethren", in 6:9 "beloved". And he uses the first person plural here "us". He says, "Let us draw near", thus identifying himself with his readers.

Our first reason for drawing near to God is boldness. The Greek word used for boldness in verse 19 is parrhesia, which means: "confidence, assurance". This idea of having assurance or confidence arises directly out of what has just been said - that is why he starts this verse with "therefore". Since they were "sanctified, perfected forever", boldness is appropriate and right:

Hebrews 10:14 (NKJV) For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.

It is referring to an objective right which gives us a subjective attitude of boldness.

They have boldness to enter the "holiest" - this is a reference to God's presence. And this boldness by which we enter is "by the blood of Jesus", not by our own merit.

How do you feel when you go somewhere that you don't have a right to be? Timid, uncomfortable, scared? Cathy and I were out on my brother's boat and we needed to use the bathroom so I pulled the boat in a marina. As we entered the marina there was a sign that said, "For members only". I was uncomfortable as I sat on the boat and waited for Cathy to return from using the restroom. I didn't belong there, so it made me uncomfortable.

You can't be a successful Christian if you are uncertain about the nature of your relationship to God, about the privilege of access that you have into God's presence. It would be difficult to overestimate the value of confidence in human motivation.

There is a story that is told about Napoleon. It is said on one occasion Napoleon was riding a horse, and he lost control of the horse, and it ran away with him. And an ordinary soldier stepped out of the ranks, a soldier we might describe as a buck private, he grabbed the reigns of Napoleon's horse, and he pulled it to a stop. Napoleon looked down at the man, and he said, "Thank you, Captain". And the soldier, realizing that he had just been promoted, without a moments hesitation responded , "Of what regiment, sir?" To which Napoleon replied, "My personal guard." That's boldness! Face to face with the Emperor of France, relying completely on the Emperor's word, he gained access into the personal presence of the Emperor by becoming a member of his personal guard.

Do you realize that it is our high and holy privilege to come into the presence of the Emperor of the universe, to come into the very presence of God at any time with prayer, praise and worship? We have access to the presence of God, no matter where we are, when we come in prayer. We have boldness, because we are members of the body of Christ. We are blood bought members, our membership is an eternal membership, and it is paid in full:

Ephesians 3:12 (NKJV) in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him.

This would be a fantastic statement to a Jew because entering the Holy of Holies was absolutely forbidden to him. The Jew feared to enter God's presence:

Leviticus 10:1-2 (NKJV) Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them. 2 So fire went out from the LORD and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.

Our entry into God's presence is by a new and living way:

Hebrews 10:20 (NKJV) by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh,

The word "new" is from the Greek word prosphatos, which is only used here in the New Testament. It is not the normal word for "new" which is neos or kainos. Prosphatos means:"freshly slaughtered". They had access into the presence of God by the blood of Jesus Christ, a freshly slaughtered sacrifice. And 2,000 years later his sacrifice is still effectual, His sacrifice is eternally fresh.

The access was through a "living way" - the "way" here is a person, not a work, it is the resurrected Christ:

John 14:6 (NKJV) Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

Nobody will ever get to heaven but by Jesus Christ.

Verse 20 says that this way, "He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh" The word "consecrated" means: "to innovate, to initiate." The point of the analogy here is this; that by virtue of the sacrifice of Christ, wherein his flesh was torn and rent, we have a full entrance in the holiest, such as was symbolized of old by the rending of the veil.

Our second reason for drawing near to God is that we have a great High Priest:

Hebrews 10:21 (NKJV) and having a High Priest over the house of God,

"We have a great High Priest" is the second object of the participle "having" from verse 19 and offers a second reason why we should be drawing near to God.

Believers have more than a confident spirit, we also have a great High Priest. All that the writer has said about the Melchizedek priesthood of Jesus Christ is recalled here. Believers, we not only have boldness, we have an advocate. The Lord Jesus Christ, the God-Man is continually available and completely aware of our every need, and He provides grace to help in time of need.

I wouldn't have felt bad in the marina if the owner's son had been my advocate.

Encouraged by these two powerful resources, boldness and our Advocate, believers are now exhorted to three specific activities. The first antidote for apostasy is found in verse 22, Let us draw near:

Hebrews 10:22 (NKJV) let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

The command to "draw near" is expressed by the verb proserchomai, which means: "to approach". The present tense infers a continual drawing near.

Then we are given the conditions of drawing near:

1. "True heart" - the word "true" is from the Greek word alethinos, which means: "genuine, with no ulterior motives, no hypocrisy or superficiality." It is the opposite of the idea we find in :

Matthew 15:8-9 (NKJV) 'These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. 9 And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'"

The heart is the issue.

2. "Full assurance of faith" - faith in what? In the fact that we're saved? No! It's living faith, trusting in what God has said to us and acting upon it:

Hebrews 3:12 (NKJV) Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God;

They failed to trust God and thus came under temporal judgment.

The next two should be taken together - these are different from the previous two. The previous two refer to a subjective experience, but these two refer to something more objective, something that has happened in the past. These are not conditions to be achieved, these are conditions already possessed. The Greek reads, "having had our hearts sprinkled and having had our bodies washed." This is Old Testament terminology for "having been cleansed", and therefore, having access to God.

The words "bodies washed" refer to the Old Testament promise of the New Covenant:

Ezekiel 36:25 (NKJV) "Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.
Titus 3:5 (NKJV) not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,

The Greek word in Hebrews 10:22 for "washed" is the same as that used in:

John 13:10 (NKJV) Jesus said to him, "He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you."

These terms refer to regeneration. And only the first two give us subjective conditions.

How do we draw near to God? Or maybe we better ask, "What does he mean by draw near to God?"

One writer described our relationship with God this way: "Closer to God I can never be, for in the person of Christ I am as close as he." This is very true - positionally. It speaks of our union. How can believers who are in union with Christ be told to "draw near"? This call to "draw near" speaks of experiential relationship to God, our communion, if you will. The call to draw near in our text is a call to communion to believers who are already in union with God. Drawing near speaks of our experiential relationship with God. We, as believers, are joined to God by faith through Jesus Christ. Our communion is based upon our union.

God has given us a picture of union and communion in marriage. When a man and a woman get married, they enter into a relationship, a union. As the years pass, their relationship, their communion, may be good or bad. But whatever their experience, the fact of their union remains. In a similar way, we enter an eternal union with God at salvation, but our communion is based upon a living, active faith. We can drift in and out of communion with God, just as we can drift in and out of communion with a spouse.

I John 1:6-9 gives us the condition of fellowship:

1 John 1:6-9 (NKJV) "If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness [disobedience], we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

Willful disobedience breaks our communion with God; when we are in communion with God we are constantly cleansed by Christ's blood. This is a beautiful description of the intimacy and fellowship that our union in Christ should bring.

The Bible indicates from the earliest chapters that God desires our communion:

Genesis 3:8-9 (NKJV) And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, "Where are you?"

God is calling out to Adam that they may fellowship. We see this same idea in Revelation where God is calling his church to have fellowship with Him:

Revelation 3:20 (NKJV) "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.

And here in Hebrews 10:22 He is telling believers that one of the antidotes to apostasy is to draw near or to live in fellowship, communion with Him.

How do we do this? How do we draw near?

A clue to the answer is found in human relationships; how do we draw near or have communion with a spouse? We must spend time together and communicate with each other. How do we spend time with and communicate with God? We commune with Him through His Word. How well do you know the Word? The written Word teaches us all we need to know about the living Word. Through His Word we learn about God's character and will. Many believers are very confused on both of these issues, and as a result, the storms of life batter them. Psalm 73 is a cry of frustration to the Lord in the middle of difficult circumstances:

Psalms 73:1-5 (NKJV) "Truly God is good to Israel, To such as are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled; My steps had nearly slipped. For I was envious of the boastful, When I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For there are no pangs in their death, But their strength is firm. They are not in trouble as other men, Nor are they plagued like other men."
Psalms 73:13-17 (NKJV) Surely I have cleansed my heart in vain, And washed my hands in innocence. 14 For all day long I have been plagued, And chastened every morning. 15 If I had said, "I will speak thus," Behold, I would have been untrue to the generation of Your children. 16 When I thought how to understand this, It was too painful for me; 17 Until I went into the sanctuary of God; Then I understood their end.
Psalms 73:28 (NKJV) But it is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, That I may declare all Your works.

This man was very hurt and confused by his experiences in life until he "went into the sanctuary of God"; this is a word picture of drawing near to God. As he studied the Word, things became clear to him and his strength and stability returned; he regained a proper perspective. He concluded that it was good for him to draw near to God. We are no different than the Psalmist; if we don't draw near to God, the situations of life will destroy us. Believer, read the Word, study it, listen to teaching on it, memorize it, and meditate upon it. Draw near to God through His Word; spend time in communion with Him as you let Him speak to you.

Prayer is also an important aspect of our communion with God. Prayer is probably one of the greatest weakness in our spiritual lives. Why is prayer such a low priority? The primary reason many of us have a weak prayer life is because we don't believe our prayers will do anything anyway. We may think that God will do what he wants to do, so there's no sense in praying about it. If we don't believe that prayer actually works, then we are not going to invest much time in it.

Where did we get the attitude that prayer isn't important? Certainly not from the Bible; in the gospels, the example and teaching of Jesus show us the importance of prayer. We are to pray because the sovereign God has commanded that we pray. The Bible is clear on this command: Luke 18:1 "men ought always to pray", Romans 12:12 "continuing instant in prayer", Ephesians 6:18 "praying always", Colossians 4:2 "continue in prayer", James 5:16 "pray one for another". Now if God commands us to pray, and we don't pray, we have sinned, as 1 Samuel 12:23 makes clear:

"Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way."

Now, some may say, "I know it's commanded, but I don't understand why I need to pray. I can't figure out how my prayers fit into God's plan, so I'm not going to respond to his command." That is the height of arrogance. You may never have verbalized that, but that's what you are really saying by neglecting your prayer life.

Prayer is not intended to change God's purpose. God has decreed that certain events shall come to pass, but he has also decreed that these events shall come to pass through the means he has appointed for their accomplishment. For instance, God has elected certain people to be saved, but he has also decreed that these ones shall be saved through the preaching of the gospel. The gospel is one of the appointed means for working out the eternal counsel of the Lord; prayer is another. God has decreed the means as well as the end, and among the means is prayer. Even the prayers of his people are decreed in his eternal plan.

Nothing in our Christian experience manifests our dependence on God more than prayer. To not pray is to say, "God, I'm independent, I can do it myself." That is pride, and pride is a sin as the Scripture teaches:

Psalms 10:4 (KJV) "The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts."
Proverbs 29:23 (KJV) "A man's pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit."

Not only should we be petitioning God in prayer, but we should also be praising Him. Do you spend time in prayer just praising God for who he is?

Psalms 107:8 (KJV) Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!

We should get up and begin praising the Lord the first thing in the morning! "Good morning, Lord. I praise you! I bless you! You are great and wonderful! You are all-mighty! You are all-powerful! You are everywhere present! You are eternal! You are gracious! You love me! THANK YOU, LORD. THANK YOU! THANK YOU!"

It doesn't make any difference how you do it or what you say, BUT IT SHOULD BE DONE. It can be done in the bathroom, in the shower, at the breakfast table, in the car driving to work, etc. REGARDLESS OF HOW IT'S DONE, IT SHOULD BE DONE! The Christian way of life is different. It's a life of worshiping the Lord, praising the Lord, thanking the Lord for His goodness and greatness and for all the good things He's done for us!

So, we draw near to God through study of His Word and prayer. This is our communion with God and out of it should flow submission - our yielding of ourselves to Him.

Psalms 15 (NKJV) LORD, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill? 2 He who walks uprightly, And works righteousness, And speaks the truth in his heart; 3 He who does not backbite with his tongue, Nor does evil to his neighbor, Nor does he take up a reproach against his friend; 4 In whose eyes a vile person is despised, But he honors those who fear the LORD; He who swears to his own hurt and does not change; 5 He who does not put out his money at usury, Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved.

Those who live righteously will live in communion with God. A holy walk is indispensable to fellowship with God. You can't draw near while living in sin.

1 John 1:6-7 (NKJV) If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

Drawing near to God is living in communion with Him, it is an experiential relationship, which we can have as we spend time with God in His word and prayer and live in submission to His will.

John 15:3-4 (NKJV) "You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

In verse 3 we see union - you are already clean. In verse 4 we see communion - abide in me.

Our first Divine antidote to apostasy is "Draw near to God" which is walking in communion with Him. If we spend our days in communion with God, we will not have to worry about falling away. It is only as we drift from our communion that apostasy is a possibility.

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