It is a Terrifying Thing to Fall into the Hands of the Living God

For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot 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? For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge His people.” It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

I know this passage from Hebrews 10 has mostly to do with apostasy, of turning away from Christ and returning to Egypt. But I find it compelling in the sense that no one simply “goes back to the world.” An expanding series of thoughts, false beliefs, detrimental actions and neglectful inactions leads one step-by-step away from Christ. In fact, the writer of Hebrews expresses this thought in chapters 3 and 6 as well, with this passage being the third admonition, emphasizing the need for believers to stimulate one another toward good works and greater devotion in order to keep themselves in the Way. The first step in the Hebrews’ encounter at Sinai — and even while they were still slaves in Egypt — was an awesome, terrifying display of raw power and holiness.

This morning while reading I was struck – once again – by the fact that I feel I am missing the experience of these sentiments in my life. I don’t think I really understand the fear of the Lord, and therefore I don’t think I understand much of anything. I’m not speaking of mental assent or acknowledgement of the truth – I think I could explain it quite well biblically, from a doctrinal standpoint. But I mean that the fear of the Lord isn’t always an active deterrent to sin in those areas where I “willfully” sin. When I overeat, I typically do so without thought of God. If I waste time, I often do so without consideration of Jesus’ lordship. Throughout my life, this is a problem.

I’m not really interested in getting to all the particulars of why I have this problem. Perhaps it is because there is so little instruction in “the fear of the Lord” in church, or maybe I never had a role model who demonstrated it for me. I just want to be delivered from my ignorance. And so I prayed this morning.

Bow Your heavens, O LORD, and come down; Touch the mountains, that they may smoke. – Psalm 144:5

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