But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.Hebrews 10:39(NASB)
Throughout the book of Hebrews, faith in the Word of God and the superiority of Christ have been the author's focal point, together with a series of warnings against unfaithfulness, immaturity, falling short of God's perfect plan, or making the same mistakes that Israel made throughout their chequered history i.e. unbelief.
Although it was difficult for Jewish believers to break from centuries of tradition, the message of Hebrews is clear from start to finish - the new has replaced the old. The law of sin and death has been replaced by the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. We are not under law but under grace.
Because the predominant audience for the book of Hebrews was initially Jewish believers in Christ, there are many references to Old Testament rules and regulations which have been superseded because of the death, burial, and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ Who gave His life as the full and final sacrifice for sin.
He is a superior Priest, with a new priesthood that supersedes the old. He brings with Him superior service to God, a new and superior covenant and a new and superior sacrifice. This has all been achieved through the shed blood of God's only begotten Son. He came as God's anointed King Who is greater than David. He was sent as the Lord's appointed Prophet Who is more significant than Moses, and He came as the great and heavenly High Priest, after the order of Melchizedek.
Here in chapter 10, we have the fourth out of five warnings - not to revert back to the Levitical practices of the Mosaic covenant. Church age believers are not to relapse into their former ways - we are not to "shrink back to destruction, through works of the Law."
Having been saved by grace through faith in Christ, obtaining eternal redemption through the one and only means of salvation (by trusting in the Cross of Christ, for the forgiveness of sins) we are warned not to become legalistic, by reverting back to the Levitical system.
We are encouraged to continue to walk in spirit and truth and to live by faith, not by works of the Law: "For we are not of those who shrink back to destruction," (legalists or carnal believers) "but are those who have faith to the saving of the soul," (spiritual believers).
Hebrews is written to believers who have already received eternal salvation. We are those "who have faith to the saving of the soul." The phrase, 'the saving of the soul' in this verse, does not refer to eternal salvation - which is a free gift of God's grace and can never be taken away.
'SOUL' in Hebrews is interchangeable with the word 'LIFE'. Saving one's 'soul' or saving one's 'life' does not refer to eternal salvation, but to living one's life in such a way that God is honoured. It is a life that becomes progressively and eternally meaningful, as the child of God lays up for himself treasure in heaven, to the honour and glory of God.
WE are not those that 'shrink back to destruction'. We are not the sort of Christians that revert back to the former, legal system that believers followed before the Cross... we are not those who "shrink back to perdition." There may be times when a believer does shrink back through fear, lack of faith, leaving our first love, or falling into some fleshly lust but we must never forget that ALL truly born again believers are held securely in the hands of God - and cannot shrink back unto perdition. We have God's assurance that nothing can pluck us out or His hands and nothing can separate us from the love of God which is eternally ours - by faith in Christ Jesus.
'We' in this verse, distinguishes the saved from 'those' that are unsaved. 'We' separates genuine believers from 'those' that are false converts or apostates. 'We' are those that overcome - and John tells us that "whoever is born of God overcomes the world - and this is the victory that has overcome the world - even our faith."
The saving the soul and our eternal victory in Christ is diametrically opposite of shrinking back to perdition and eternal destruction. Because we have been eternally redeemed by the blood of Christ, let us live by faith - to the saving of the soul so that we may reap a reward and not suffer loss of reward. Let us live a life that honours God so that our life produces fruit to the glory of God.
For an unbeliever, the saving of the soul is salvation by grace through faith, BUT when we are already born again, the saving of our soul occurs when a believer lives their life for Christ and dies to self. Such a life will receive heavenly rewards and give glory to God.
Now faith is a well-grounded and sure assurance of that for which we hope for, in Christ. It is the conviction of the reality of things which we do not see. It is trusting the Word of God.
May we live by faith - in spirit and in truth, and not by sight, to the glory of God - for the saving of our soul.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the great salvation that is mine in Christ. Thank You that nothing can snatch me from Your hand, and nothing can separate me from Your love which is mine by faith in Christ. I pray that I may live a victorious life for the honour of Your name. When my spirit fails or I find myself under severe trials and temptations, may I lean on Your ever present, sufficient strength to come through victoriously. In Jesus' name, AMEN.