HEB. x. 31. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the
hands of the living God.”
THE text is a sudden exclamation of fear and almost of
pain forced from the writer, by considering the terrible
doom of those who wilfully apostatise from Christ.
The whole passage is black with judgment, and we
hardly wonder to see the writer overpowered with solem-
nity and emotion.
I. Consider these words as a warning of the guilt and
doom of wilful apostasy from Christ.
The moral condition of those referred to here is not that
of men who have lived and died in ignorance of the great
salvation: nor of those, pardoned and justified, who never-
theless have fallen into wilful sin; nor of those who have
rejected Christ’s offer of mercy. It is a sin that goes
deeper and further than these, which is here pronounced
to be beyond the reach of mercy—the sin of men, once
saved by Christ, but who have deliberately renounced their
Saviour and His authority. So extreme a case is scarcely
conceivable, but the writer says that in such a case it is
hopeless. He begins with an “if” (ver. 26).
II. These words protest against the error of supposing
that God will not personally punish sin.
As the result of the developments of physical science,
we have enthroned law as the creator and moral governor
of the world.
We carefully explain that sin is its own punishment in the
same way that virtue is its own reward. But the moment
you withdraw the penalty of sin from the will of God, you
withdraw it from the conscience of man, and deprive it of
its moral appeal to the sinner’s heart. It is the supreme
moral effort that the punishment of the sinner entails on a
God of infinite love, which gives to that punishment all its
It may be a terrible thing to be ground to pieces by a
law, but “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the
G. S. Barrett, B.A.