The unforgivable sin
“Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but to him who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven.”
The subject of the unforgivable sin is one that troubles many Christians. There are two main reasons why they find it so troublesome: firstly, they know many family and friends who, they fear, may have blasphemed against the Holy Spirit and, secondly, they wonder if they, as Christians, could commit the unforgivable sin and be lost forever.
The Christian and the unforgivable sin
Before we look at this sin in more detail, let's deal with the question of the Christian and this sin. Is it possible for a Christian to commit the unforgivable sin? The answer is a very emphatic ‘no’. It is not possible for a number of reasons, as follows:
Because this sin is unforgivable; but all the Christian’s sins have been forgiven in Christ. Hebrews 1:3 ‘when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.’
He has purged our sins completely away. Psalm 103:12 ‘As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.’
He has done this work once for all the Elect. Romans 6:10 ‘For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.’
We are given eternal life when we are born again. John 10:27-28 ‘‘My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life and they shall never perish.’’
Christ guarantees that He and His Father will keep us by Their almighty power and we shall never be lost. John 10:28-30 ‘’And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.”
Heaven is guaranteed to all the Elect. Ephesians 1:13-14 ‘In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.’
What is the unforgivable sin?
Christ’s statement regarding the unforgivable sin is found in Matthew 12:31-32, Mark 3:28-30, and Luke 12:10. In these verses, it is referred to as speaking against the Holy Spirit and blaspheming against the Holy Spirit. Now blasphemy is not limited to using the name of God in an irreverent manner, but includes any irreverence towards God; ie. cursing God, attributing evil to God, debasing Him, denying His good, or denying Him the honour that is due to Him. The Pharisees were guilty of this offence because, having seen Christ’s power in casting out demons, they attributed His ability to do this to the devil and, in doing this, they had blasphemed the undeniable work that the Holy Spirit had done through Christ.
Now, in blaspheming against the Holy Spirit, they had also hardened their hearts. They had willfully, obstinately, and maliciously opposed the witness of the Spirit by refusing to believe His undeniable work and by refusing to humble themselves before the Son. While, therefore, they persisted in this attitude, there could be no forgiveness of this sin in this life; and, if they remained in this condition, there could be no forgiveness of this sin in the next. Consequently, this could be viewed as a warning to the Pharisees not to continue to harden their hearts and blaspheme against the Holy Spirit, especially as the Lord never accused any of them of having committed this sin.
God uses this method of warning in other places, such as Jonah 3:4 where Jonah’s message from God to Nineveh is “yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” It was a warning, and when the Ninevites repented, God spared them. Again, in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, we read ‘ do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Do not be deceived, neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the Kingdom of God.’ This means that, if they commit these sins in this life and remain in them when they die, then they cannot enter the Kingdom of God. However, if they repent of their sins and believe on the Saviour, then they would be saved. We know this to be the case because Paul says in verse 11, ‘and such were some of you, but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.’
The blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is not something that God will pass over. It is not done in ignorance but is a deliberate act of defiance and, therefore, is unforgivable. Should God, however, touch the heart of the sinner and give him or her a heart of repentance and faith, then that sinner would find forgiveness and new life in the Saviour.