One of the most common themes in the New Testament is the difficulty the Jewish people had leaving Moses’ Law behind to embrace the Law of Christ. It is easy to be overly critical of these first century Jews until we honestly look at our own difficulty casting off old thoughts and practices to embrace the New Covenant. I once heard the difficulty of change illustrated by challenging the people to go home and move their kitchen trash can to the other side of the room. See how long it takes you to stop trying to throw trash in the old location.
The reality is we are creatures of habit, and one of the primary reasons for this difficulty is our need for familiar things. The Old Covenant system was filled with ceremonies, rituals, and very ornate processions. All of this would certainly have an appeal to the human eye. A friend of ours who was once a part of the Episcopal Church referenced how the simplistic worship we offer seemed so irreverent to her when she first experienced it. It was difficult for her to leave behind the ornate, humanly devised rituals in favor of the simple worship prescribed in the New Testament. At the end of the day, it was the supreme authority of the Christ that won her heart and enabled her to embrace this new practice for what it was, purely spiritual worship (cf. Jn. 4:24).
Until we recognize the true preeminence of Christ, our devotion to Him and His service will never reach its full measure. So long as we remain in such a state, our faithfulness to Him will always be in danger of fading away (Heb. 5:11-6:12). This was the danger addressed by the Hebrews writer. His audience was composed of Jewish Christians who were beginning to contemplate a return to Judaism in the face of persecutions for their faith in Christ (cf. Heb. 10:26-39). In the beginning, they gladly endured these difficulties, but over time it had worn them down.
The solution to the problem was to remind them of Christ’s supremacy over all others, and to warn them of the dangers of falling away from Him. One of the warnings given is that all of us must ultimately die and face the judgment (Heb. 9:27). Considering this inescapable reality, he reminds them of the terror of facing said judgment having spurned the Christ who died for them (Heb. 10:26-31). The good news is Christ tasted death to free us from our fear of it (Heb. 2:14-16). Because of His identification with our sufferings, He can sustain us through the difficulties we face as His sacrifice grants us direct access to God through Him (Heb. 4:14-16; 7:24-25).
While most of us are not tempted to return to Judaism, we may well be tempted to return to a familiar way of life wherein we felt comfortable. Truly we may avoid some earthly toil this way, but we set ourselves up to face a much worse eternal fate. Whatever past you left behind to name the name of Christ, it pales in comparison to the beauty of life in the Son. As Paul left all his former privileges in Judaism, so we must leave all to be found in Him (Phil. 3:4-17). Apart from Him, there is no lasting good.