The Unpardonable Sin

The unpardonable sin, as it is called, seems to worry many faithful Christians.  They worry that they may have committed the sin and do not know it. A vague scriptural understanding of this sin fuels this worry. To put minds to rest who may worry that they have unknowingly committed this sin, the answer is no you have not. We must realize that God is a just God.  He would not declare such a serious offense and leave us unaware of how to avoid it.

The unpardonable sin is presented in Matthew (12:24-32) and in Mark (3:22-30). Luke mentions the clenching verse (12:10) but does not contain the clues to understanding this sin. So, to get the understanding we need we will use the passages in Matthew and Mark.  Here are the main verses from both these books:

Matt 12:31-32

"Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. "Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.

Mark 3:28-30

"Assuredly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they may utter; "but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation"-- because they said, "He has an unclean spirit."

Now the word �blaspheme� according to Thayer�s definition means: 1) slander, detraction, speech injurious, to another's good name; 2) impious and reproachful speech injurious to divine majesty. Therefore, to blaspheme the Holy Spirit is to make derogatory remarks or to defame God�s Spirit. Whoever does this of course is reviling God.  Who would dare to do that?  Only two types of people could do this. First, those who do it out of ignorance, not fully understanding God�s word. Second,  those who knowingly do it because God�s Spirit or truth is contrary to what they want.  Of these two, the ignorant have a chance for forgiveness as we will see when Jesus spoke of this sin. Those who blaspheme knowingly will never be forgiven. One must realize it takes a very hard and evil heart to fearlessly defame God or His Spirit.

Since the unpardonable sin does involve slanderous and derogatory remarks combined with resentful attitudes, some have worried about an awful thing they may have said toward God in the past. Though their remarks did not make God happy but rather hurt Him, they still did not commit the unpardonable sin. Notice what Jesus says in Matt. 12:31. All blasphemy will be forgiven men. All blasphemous words directed toward God are generally committed during a severe or emotional circumstance. The words generally come out in anger or frustration toward God blaming Him, holding Him responsible, and even feeling hatred toward God for what has happened to them in their lives. This is where spiritual maturity and enduring to the end must rise above emotions, regardless of hardships or any unpleasant or traumatic event. We must realize God is in control; He sees the big picture. It is not for us to question God. He knows what is best and is working for the good of those who are the called. Sometimes we understand why things happened early. Sometimes it takes quite a while, especially if we are holding anger inside of us. The majority of those who fall into this type of blasphemy will instantly feel a conviction and know they were wrong to say such things toward God. Guilt will hover in their minds. Once their anger or emotion has subsided they will repent and seek forgiveness from God. However, if one hardens his heart severely because of the circumstances or a traumatic event and continues in his anger and resentment then he will also turn away from service to God and the worship of God. As a result, he excludes himself from the grace of God and ultimately from the salvation of his soul. Therefore, if you have have committed this sin in the past or it happens at some future time, know that you have not committed the unpardonable sin. However, you must repent and seek forgiveness from God and commit yourself to worship and serve Him once again. The sooner you do this the better it will be for you.

In contrast to the emotional blasphemy is the deliberate, calculated, and knowing blasphemy. This is the blasphemy that the Pharisees and some of their followers committed. Their blasphemy was accusing Jesus of casting out demons by the ruler of the demons. In other words, Jesus was working by the power of Satan to cast out demons.  This is clearly the content of their blasphemy because Mark 3:30 identifies the blasphemy "Because they said he had an unclean spirit." Now we know, and the Pharisees knew, that only by the power of God could someone raise the dead, heal the sick, and make whole the crippled. In all the early scriptures there was no record where Satan or His demons did anything good or miraculous.  The Pharisees were vested in the law and the scriptures and knew this. At stake for them was their loss of authority among the people.  Up to the time of Jesus they had enjoyed basking in the attention and gifts of the people while perverting the intent of the scriptures to maintain these benefits. The Pharisees positions and the welfare that came with them were far more desirable than the truth of God�s word or His son. Now, combining the facts that they knew only the power of God could do the things Jesus did and their lecherousness for gain, we have the making of the unpardonable sin.   The gospel of Christ being contrary to what they wanted and having their status and authority endangered, they knowingly blasphemed the Holy Spirit in the hope of turning people against Jesus and away from the truth.  Notice again in Matt. 12:31, the blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. This is the key to understanding the unpardonable sin - the intent of the blasphemy. If done only out of emotional turmoil, as mentioned before, it can be forgiven. However, if one speaks derogatively or slanderously against God or His Spirit with the intent to work against God or to cease the work and purpose of God, then he has committed the unpardonable sin. Regardless of the reason why someone would work against God and therefore commit this sin, they will never be forgiven. They know they are speaking lies against God and giving wrong impressions of what is righteous. Only hearts that are far away from God could commit this sin.

Accompanying the Pharisees' in blasphemy was their followers. However, Jesus presents an outlet for these followers. Having followers who do not know all the facts they need to know is possible in some groups or organizations. Here, some followers of the Pharisees were probably shallow in their thinking and understanding, believing they should put their trust in the 'leaders' of their temple. They did not recognize that they were being led astray. This is why Jesus gives His explanation of a house divided and binding the strong man. This was for the benefit of the followers of the Pharisees who were exhibiting a form of ignorance due to their shallow or total lack of reasoning. Jesus, the master teacher, shows them how Satan could not stand if He worked against Himself. Also, He shows them that Satan (the strong man) cannot be plundered unless He is bound. Only the power of God can bind Satan and work signs against Him.  Another point Jesus brings out is that the sons of the Pharisees would judge if Jesus were working by the power of Satan. At that time, some followers of Jesus were casting out demons in the name of Jesus (Mk.9:38). If they were also working by the power of Satan then the kingdom of Satan was among the people. If they worked by the power of the Spirit, then the kingdom of God was among them. Jesus� words were a warning to those present and for all generations to come concerning the seriousness of blaspheming and working against the Spirit and power of God. Since the unpardonable sin is done deliberately and knowingly and the followers were trusting in those who they believed in at the time, then those who were following ignorantly surely had a chance to realize the deception of the Pharisees and their own foolishness. Hopefully, some were enlightened for the better. If not, their souls will be condemned.

In the past all blasphemy was quickly punished. Blasphemers were put to death. However, today blasphemy committed in ignorance or by uncontrolled emotional outbursts can be forgiven. This is due to the grace we are under through Jesus� death. The opportunity to get right with God exists under this grace.  However, it is certain that anyone who blasphemes God is in a dangerous state. One who continues in blasphemy without repenting and renewing his commitment to God will become hardened in his heart. His conscience will become seared as with a hot iron. He will no longer fear God or honor Jesus. The blasphemy then will no longer be forgivable. Therefore, his soul will be lost. The evidence that indicates someone has an opportunity for forgiveness is their feeling of conviction and the guilt that lingers in their mind. Their expression of repentance will eventually come. They will seek to get right with God and return to His will and grace.

There is another type of blasphemy that we should briefly mention here as it too will affect our everyday lives and the salvation of our souls. This one concerns those who claim to be followers of Christ. It is the blasphemy against God and Jesus due to an unrighteous way of life. An ungodly life by one who claims to be a follower of God or Christ blasphemes God simply because our words and actions dishonor the holy and righteous Name we claim (Eze. 20:27-28; Rom. 2:23,24). By concerning ourselves mainly with pursuing the rewards of the world and seeking greatly to fulfill the lust of our eyes and the lust of our flesh, we can greatly jeopardize the salvation of our souls. We become unconscious of God and the righteousness He desires in us. We should be like Christ in righteousness, holiness, and in love for our brethren. All unrighteousness is sin and dishonors Jesus and God. Continuance in unrighteousness will lead to an eternal death (He. 10:26-29). God wants us to sanctify our heart, mind, and works. Only those who diligently seek to follow Christ and truly serve God in righteousness will be saved. Therefore, be aware of your walk. Make sure your priority is God with appropriate service to Him. Be sure not only to hear the words of righteousness but also to do righteousness and to speak justly. A follower of Christ is to be a light to those in darkness. We cannot be a light of the Savior if our light is oiled by the world and its uncleanness. Remove yourself from all unclean influences. Be careful and particular about what you watch, to what you listen, and with whom you socialize. The world and its available wickedness can draw you in. Put on Christ and sanctify yourself by a holy, pure, and righteous walk.

To conclude, one can blaspheme God, Jesus, or the Spirit through an uncontrolled outburst or out of spiritual ignorance and still receive forgiveness. However, if they continue in this, never expressing repentance nor recommit to serving God, they will be lost. They will be lost by default due to their own hardened heart. If they progress against God and His Spirit with the intent of preventing or acknowledging the work or power of God or His Spirit, and knowing fully what they are doing, then they will be committing the unpardonable sin. Those who have worried that they may have committed the unpardonable sin but still seek to have a positive relationship with God and His Son do not have the type of heart that can commit this sin. It takes a person with great disdain for the Lord and probably a heart and mind that does not fear God or think about the consequences of their blasphemy. They have no intention of repenting. Their goal is to stop the advancement or effect of the kingdom of God in order to have their own agenda, desires, lusts, and pride sufficed. This was the goal of the Pharisees when they accused Jesus of working by the power of Satan. Those who commit this sin do so with eyes wide open. It is possible but not probable that a follower of Christ can commit the unpardonable sin. It is more possible that a follower of Christ can fall into a blasphemous life of unrighteousness and upon never repenting he can forfeit his salvation. God has shown us in His word what is the nature of the sins of blasphemy. In doing so, He has also shown us how to avoid each of them.

The Enlightener