Troubling Text


I looked at the caller id and was both surprised and thrilled to see the name of an old friend I had gone to church and Bible studies with years ago. Ann and I had never been best friends, or even close friends, but I always admired her humor, her insightful answers, compassionate responses, and authenticity. I felt I had a kindred spirit in Ann but we were at different phases in life and outside of church we rarely connected. It seemed odd that now that I was living thousands of miles away she would call. Maybe that’s why she called. The distance made it feel safer.

The conversation began with the normal niceties, “How are you? How is your family?” But her voice was measured, hesitant, quivering. I knew she wasn’t calling for a friendly chat.

Then there was silence, a deep breath, and courage mustered, “Can I share something with you?”

“Of course!” I spoke as reassuringly as possible.

She paused again as though standing on the edge of a cliff, hesitant to take the plunge, “There’s something I’ve struggled with for years and Hebrews 10:26 says, ‘if we deliberately go on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no further sacrifice for sins remains.’ What do you make of this?”

You may be awaiting my brilliant response but I didn’t have one. I listened, I attempted to reassure, letting her know I had questions too and she wasn’t alone. She never called again. Maybe the confession was just too embarrassing. Maybe my response too lame.

There have been several biblical texts that have troubled me too and this was one of them.

Here is what I have learned since that call years ago– Context is king! If I read something and feel the weight of condemnation, guilt, or fear then here is what I do:

  1. Stop and pray.
  2. Look at the historical context and who the audience was.
  3. Use to look the original meaning in Hebrew or Greek.
  4. Glean insight from trusted Bible teachers.

Pastor Paul White explains Hebrews 10:26 saying, “It doesn’t say there is no more forgiveness for sin but there is no sacrifice left for sin. Jewish believers no longer needed to sacrifice animals because Jesus’ blood was enough!”

What was the “deliberate sin” referred to? In the context of Hebrews 10 verse 29 it appears to be the rejection of God’s grace. The ongoing sin was not something they were doing but something they were rejecting- the work of Jesus.

When viewed through the proper lenses, troubling texts can become trusted truth.

My dear friend, you have not rejected God’s grace but only recognized how desperately you need it. I John 3:20 says, “If our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our hearts, and He knows all things.”He knows you love Him. He knows your struggle. He has not and will never forsake you. You are His and He is yours. There is nothing that can separate you from His love.

Like you, I don’t understand why there are some sins that seem impossible to conquer but I do know that I have seen in you the glory of the King. I have seen your heart of compassion. I have seen your kindness toward others and lack of judgment and maybe without this struggle none of these would have been.






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