UNDERSTANDING THE UNPARDONABLE SIN
HOW DOES ONE COMMIT THIS SIN TODAY?
Many Christians have heard that there is an unforgivable sin and there are even some who are afraid that something grave they have done before or after conversion might be that sin. To those people who live in fear of this let me assure you that your fears are unfounded. While there is an unforgivable sin, it is not one that a true born-again believer in Jesus Christ can commit. Before we go on, let us first examine the Scripture in question: “And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come (Matthew 12:31-32).”
After reading this Scripture, let me assure you that there is no sin that you committed yesterday that could not be forgiven when you come to Christ today. He would forgive you and accept you. Now, what then was the problem with the Pharisees and the leaders of Israel. They were expressing an attitude of unbelief which was the permanent rejection of Christ as their Messiah. They were resisting the Holy Spirit. That was unpardonable or unforgivable. We notice that later on after Christ’s death that Stephen was brought before this same group, the Pharisees, and he said to them basically the same thing the Lord had said: “You stiff-necked people with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:51).” They were doing the same thing their fathers had done. In Christ’s day they were resisting the Holy Spirit, and the same condition still exists today – they (unbelievers) are still resisting the Holy Spirit. That is the one thing Christ says is unpardonable. This is the sin against the Holy Spirit – to resist the convicting work of the Holy Spirit in the heart and life of man.
Like I mentioned earlier, there is no sin committed yesterday that the Lord would not forgive today because Christ died for all sin. The Holy Spirit came into the world to make real the salvation of Christ to the hearts of men. If you resist the working of the Spirit of God when He speaks to you, then there is no forgiveness because you have REJECTED salvation made real to you by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit came to convict the world of sin and calling it to repentance. The work of the Spirit of God is to regenerate you – rebirth or born from above from which we get the phrase “born again.”
In the book of Mark, chapter 3, the Lord clarifies the matter of the unpardonable sin. We read: “I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them. But whoever blasphemies against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin (Mark 3:28-30).” Jesus said this because the Pharisees were saying that “He has an evil spirit (v. 30).” In essence, the Pharisees attributed the Spirit’s work to Satan. They said that Christ had performed all these miraculous miracles by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, when actually Christ was doing these miracles by the power of the Spirit of God. You see, they were rejecting the witness of Jesus and of the Holy Spirit.
Today, after the cross, there is no sin that you could commit for which there is no forgiveness. Of course, if you resist the Holy Spirit, there is no forgiveness because He is the One who brings forgiveness. Let me give you an example. It is like the man who is dying from a certain disease, and the doctor tells him there is a remedy for it. But the man refuses to spend the money on the prescription and refuses to take the remedy and he dies. Now, he dies not from the disease but from refusing to take the remedy. You see, there is a remedy for the disease of sin (unbelief), and the Holy Spirit applies it; but if you resist it (refuse to accept Christ), there is no remedy for you. That is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit and the only way sin can be unpardonable today.
Blaspheming of the Holy Spirit in essence means to reject the gospel message. You hear the gospel message, and you hear about the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and you reject it. And that is the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, because it is the Spirit of God who brings the gospel message to us today. It is God’s Spirit that reveals the meaning of the gospel message to man. So, when somebody REJECTS the gospel, they are basically saying that it’s a lie. What they’re saying is: I don’t believe what the Spirit is saying about Jesus and I’m going to go on with my life and do my own thing. In essence, it’s my life, let me do what I want. Basically, it’s unbelief in Christ and the message He brought to mankind and the remedy for mankind’s condition – life, life everlasting. Jesus said: “… I have come that they may have life and have it more abundantly (John 10:10).”
Let us further examine other verses of Scripture to verify the sin of unbelief and rejection of Jesus. In John 16:7 it tells us that the Helper (Holy Spirit) would not come until Lord Jesus went back to heaven and was glorified. Of course, the Holy Spirit has been in the world before this, but He was coming now in a new way – to convict the world and to minister to the redeemed. Then in the next two verses (8-9), we read this concerning the Holy Spirit: “And when He comes He will convict the world of sin (singular) and of righteousness, and judgement: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in Me.” We find here that according to Jesus, not believing in Him is sin. Jesus said that the world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in Me. Then further in verse 13 we read: “But when He, the Spirit of truth comes: He will guide you into all truth.” What is this truth? It is the truth about Christ Jesus – the gospel message. Jesus himself said: “I am the way, the TRUTH, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Here we see the path to heaven is through Jesus. As the truth, He is the reality of all God’s promises. As the life, He joins His divine life to ours, both now and eternally. The Holy Spirit came to earth to witness to this truth, and when you reject what the Holy Spirit is showing you, and you die in unbelief then you are separated from God for all eternity in a place originally reserved for Satan. You see, it is the Holy Spirit that convicts the world of the sin of failing to believe on Christ
We also read in Matthew 13: 58 that Jesus did few miracles in His hometown “because of their unbelief.” Yes, the Lord declares the sin of unbelief to be unpardonable: “…. He who does not believe will be condemned (Mark 16:16). Then the apostle John confirms this: “The unbelieving shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death (Rev. 21:8).”
Finally, we find out that unbelief is an act of will; a deliberate choice: “Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in Him (John 12:37).”
WILLFUL REJECTION – APOSTASY
We find in chapter 10 of Hebrews that the unpardonable sin is not only unbelief, but this sin is also willful rejection. It is willfully saying the truth is not the truth even though it has been made evident by the Holy Spirit. The consequence of this willful rejection of what one knows to be true is a hardening of the heart. The person who has blasphemed the Holy Spirit does not worry about whether he has committed the unforgivable sin. His heart is hard, and there is no hope for him. This is a comfort to believers who are afraid they committed such a sin, and it is a warning to those who know the truth but despise it – those who profess Christ but do not possess Christ (not born again – fake Christians).
We read in Hebrews 10:26: “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.” This applies to those who profess to be Christians for a while, identify themselves with a local church, but then deliberately turning away from Christ. They were never truly born again in the first place, and now they never can be. I believe this to be the proper meaning of this verse as it is most consistent with the over-all teaching of Hebrew and of the entire New Testament.
Here in verse 26 apostasy is defined as sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth. Like Judas, the person has heard the gospel. He knows the way of salvation; he has even pretended to receive it; but then he deliberately repudiates it. For such a person, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins. He has decisively and conclusively rejected the once-for-all sacrifice of Christ. Therefore, God has no other way of salvation to offer him.
Whoever rejects the prompting of the Holy Spirit will remove themselves from the only force that can lead anyone to repentance and restoration with God. Those who have witnessed the light yet prefer the darkness are blaspheming the Holy Spirit. This sin cannot be forgiven as the Scripture reads, “in this age or in the age to come” because its consequences are eternal.
These individuals can never be restored because they will not desire to be. They have chosen instead to harden their hearts against Christ. It is not that God cannot forgive them; rather, they cannot be forgiven because they will not repent of their sins and accept Christ Jesus as their Lord and Savior. We read this in Proverbs 29;1: “A man who remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed – without remedy.” This warning can be applied to those who willfully reject Christ. A warning that their sin of apostasy would lead to unbelief and their spiritual ruin.
Let me remind readers that apostasy is no small matter. We have one apostate church denomination that alone has around 1 billion churchgoers worldwide. To that you can add the breakaway churches from this one apostate denomination where millions upon millions of individuals adhere to the religion of FAITH plus WORKS for their salvation. Yes, apostasy is a major issue that God addresses in Scripture.
A STATE OF CONTINUOUS UNBELIEF
As we have already read, the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is a state of continuous unbelief. Those who continually reject the Holy Spirit’s work portraying Christ as Savior are blaspheming the Holy Spirit. If this state continues, they will not receive forgiveness. There is no pardon for a person who dies in his rejection of Christ Jesus. If a person resists that conviction and remains unrepentant, then he is choosing to be separated from God for all eternity. To reject the only Savior is to be left without no means of salvation; to reject the only pardon is, obviously, unpardonable.
IN CLOSING: Let me ask you this question. Is there any sin that you cannot be forgiven of today? Yes, there is one. That sin is going through your entire life rejecting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. When your life ends, and you have not accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, then that sin will not be forgiven and on the bases of that sin alone, you will not spend eternity with God.