"What is the unpardonable sin? I know that the unpardonable sin is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, but can anyone commit it, and does it happen nowadays?", (Question from Taryn Leydon).
The unpardonable sin is a subject that comes up now and then, and is often misunderstood. The unpardonable sin is a sin that is so egregious that it will never be forgiven. The one who commits it loses all hope of receiving eternal life, and will be condemned to the Lake of Fire on Judgment Day. So then what horrendous act(s) rises to the level of being the unpardonable sin? The unpardonable sin is generally articulated as being blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. However, the confusion sets in when we start considering what is meant by that statement, and whether a particular act of blasphemy fits the definition of the unpardonable sin.
The unpardonable sin is referred to a few times in scripture, but it is only really elaborated upon in Matthew 12, and its parallel account in Mark 3, "Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come" (Matthew 12.32 NASB bible). This statement is the key verse to identifying the unpardonable sin as being a sin that will never be forgiven, neither in this age, nor when God judges mankind in the age to come. However, to fully understand this statement we must look closely at the context surrounding it.
By this point in Jesus' ministry he has done many miraculous acts of healing, and some of them are even in front of his enemies, "And a man was there whose hand was withered. And they questioned Jesus, asking, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?"--so that they might accuse Him...Then saith he to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other. Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him" (Matthew 12.10,13-14 KJV bible). The Pharisees are so prideful in their own self-righteousness and ritualized pretense, that they accuse Jesus of sinning because he is healing people on the Sabbath. In their ignorance of the Law, they argue that doing any work (including God's work) is illegal on the Sabbath. It's important to understand, that they aren't denying the miracle itself, but instead of being in awe at what has just occurred, they respond to it with hatred and bloodlust.
We see a pattern similar to this after Jesus heals a certain demon possessed man, "Then a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute was brought to Jesus, and He healed him, so that the mute man spoke and saw...But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons" (Matthew 12.22,24 NASB bible). Notice again, how they aren't denying that a miracle has happened, because at this point it's too late for that. Instead, they take the work of the Holy Spirit in healing this man, and setting him free from his bondage, and ascribe it to being the work of Satan.
Then Jesus says, "If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then will his kingdom stand?...But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you" (Matthew 12.26,28 NASB bible). This meaning of this passage is pretty easy to understand if you think about it. A house divided against itself cannot stand; because if something is warring against itself, then it is destroying itself. This doesn't mean that there is never infighting within the kingdom of darkness, or that a non-Christian can never get a demon to leave someone. What it does mean is that Satan does not go to war against his own house.
By this time, Jesus is laying siege, and on a spiritual rampage against the house of Satan, which is to say the kingdom of darkness. This is why the devil is so desperate to turn people against Christ, and to destroy him, because the devil's stranglehold upon the world is under assault by Jesus. Thus, we can understand that the glory of the Kingdom of God is present, and the Holy Spirit is at work in Christ performing these miracles, because Satan would not be destroying his own house.
Jesus goes on to say, "Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come" (Matthew 12.31-32 KJV bible). This brings us to the point of understanding the true nature of the unpardonable sin. Jesus' enemies are so defiant against the truth, and unwilling to confess their own unrighteousness, that they would rather call the work of the Holy Spirit "evil", than to give glory to God.
There are many in Judea who do not have eyes to see who Christ is, or ears to hear what he is saying, but they are at least willing to recognize that these miracles are the workings of God. However, these so-called religious men are so deep in Satan's clutches, and have such hardness of heart, that they resort to naming the Spirit that is manifest within Christ "beelzeboul", which is to say the devil, rather than confess their own wickedness. Thus, we can better understand the unpardonable sin as not being just hasty words said in ignorance, but a complete defiance and rebellion against the unveiled presence and glory of God.
So can and does the unpardonable sin still happen? That's something of a difficult question. It really depends on whether someone is witnessing the genuine presence and power of the Holy Spirit, or the power of suggestion, delusion, and mass-hysteria (the kind of stuff that goes on most of the time). I do believe that there is a time coming when the unpardonable sin could be committed.
During the tribulation, when Christians are delivered up and the Holy Spirit speaks through them, some might charge that it is the voice and power of evil manifesting in them, "And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him. When they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not worry about how or what you are to speak in your defense, or what you are to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say" (Luke 12.10-12 NASB bible). So while the unpardonable sin can only happen under certain circumstances, there is a time coming in the future when it can happen again.
Alex 11 Mar 2009, 14:39Hi Doug,
amandio Ferreira 22 Oct 2009, 23:11Hello,Alex it's been awhile since we've communicated! nice to be hear again.
Doug Buckley 24 Oct 2009, 12:42Hi Manny, good to hear from you again.
Lynda 08 Nov 2010, 10:42Lynda Nov.8. 2010
Jess 27 Oct 2011, 13:54I have been struggling with the unpardonable sin for years. I was raised Catholic and fell away from religion in college, I remember there was a paticular event at a party where I made a joke willingly about the Virgin Mary, I suggested she wasn't a virgin - that she was in fact the opposite (using a horrible word) and said that "maybe the story of Jesus was made to cover it up." I even remember a little voice in my head saying, "don't say it." At the time I didn't think the implications through but I outwardly denied Jesus as a miracle. Is this blasphemy against the Holy Spirit? I can't say that I even knew who the Holy Spirit was but I also later read that it was the Spirit that impregneted Mary so I was also denying his work with my sick joke. This was in 2005. Right after I made the joke someone said you are going to hell for that. Years later I tried to go to God in remorse and I stumbled upon the unpardonable sin. In all my years of faith and private schooling, I never learned of the unpardonable sin. I've been haunted by the idea of it since, trying to figure out if I have commited it. I feel rejected. I should also note that I've always felt I wasn't going to go to Heaven even when I was really young, a child even. Have I sealed my fate?
Lynda from Maine 27 Oct 2011, 17:21Oct. 27, 2011
Doug Buckley 27 Oct 2011, 18:37Hi Jess, you have to witness the power of the Holy Spirit to blaspheme it, which is the unpardonable sin. The Pharisees saw Jesus do REAL miracles and said it was the devil. You didn't commit the unpardonable sin.
Harold sanders 26 Jul 2013, 00:08My friend recently used the word "GD" is this an unforgivable sin?
Doug Buckley 26 Jul 2013, 15:27That's not the unpardonable sin
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