The law judges without mercy. Jesus brings mercy and forgiveness to sinners. If sinners rejects the mercy that God offers us through Jesus, the judgment one must face will be even worse than that which is delivered by a merciless law. The reason it is worse appears to be that one was presented with a perfect deliverance but chose not to avail oneself of it. Jesus once confronted the religious leaders who in rejecting him, argued to be followers of Moses. Jesus responded by saying, “If you believe Moses, you would believe me because Moses testifies about me.” He said more, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life” (John 5:39-40). Here is eternal life standing in front you, but because of your pride you won’t accept it. You would rather stand before God on your own merits. It is one thing to stand before God and be judged on the basis of a merciless law, but it’s another thing to do so knowing there was a way of escape that your pride prevented you from entering. Hebrews 10:29 put the situation clearly. It says, “How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?”

Guzik explains this verse; “When we sin willfully by rejecting Jesus’ work on the cross as sufficient, we have: i. Trampled the Son of God underfoot: We disgrace Him by rejecting His greatest work. We devalue Him by devaluing what He did. ii. Counted the blood of the covenant … a common thing: We consider Jesus’ blood of no greater importance than the countless animals sacrificed under the Old Covenant. iii. Insulted the Spirit of grace: We offend the Holy Spirit, whose purpose it is to present Jesus and His work to us (John 16:8–15) when we reject Jesus and His finished work on our behalf.”[1]

It doesn’t sound like the writer of Hebrews is thinking about some moral lapse on the part of a believer. He’s addressing the clear rejection of Christ as all-sufficient Savior. Pfeiffer says, “This is the man who blatantly denies Christ and rejects the salvation which God has provided.”[2] This seems to picture the religious leaders caught up in their love of the law and self-righteousness that they cannot let go of their religion and trust in Jesus. Many people turned away from Jesus when he presented himself as the messianic deliverer of mankind. At one point he turned to his closest disciples and asked them if they too would leave him. Peter answered the way we all should answer. In John 6:68, he replied, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” It’s either the amazing grace of Jesus, or the merciless law of religion. God’s ultimate and complete provision for sinners appeared once and for all in Jesus. Is it Jesus or is it law & religion. It can’t be both! With Jesus, it’s all or nothing!

[1] David Guzik, Hebrews, David Guzik’s Commentaries on the Bible (Santa Barbara, CA: David Guzik, 2013), Heb 10:26–31.

[2] Charles F. Pfeiffer, The Epistle to the Hebrews, Everyman’s Bible Commentary (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1962), 87–88.