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What is the Unpardonable Sin?

The unpardonable sin is blaspheming the Holy Spirit, but what does that mean? Does the unpardonable sin still happen?

The unpardonable sin is an offense that's so awful it will never be forgiven. The one who commits the unpardonable sin loses all hope of forgiveness and will be condemned to the Lake of Fire. So what egregious sin rises to this level?

The unpardonable sin is usually explained as blaspheming the Holy Spirit. However, the confusion starts when we ask what is blaspheming the Spirit. There are many blasphemies in the world. What kinds of blasphemy can be understood as the unpardonable sin?

The unpardonable sin is referred to a few times in scripture, but it's only elaborated upon in Matthew 12, "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)(see also Mark 3).

Jesus' words are clear that there is an unpardonable sin. He describes it as something that will never be forgiven, neither in this age, nor in the age to come. However, to fully understand this verse we must look at the context surrounding it.

By this point in Jesus' ministry he has done many miracles. Some of these works are 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?"...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).

In this passage the Pharisees accuse Jesus of sinning because he is healing people on the sabbath. In their ignorance of the law, they contend that doing God's work is illegal on the sabbath. It's important to understand, that they aren't denying the miracle itself, but instead of praising God they are enraged.

We see something similar 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. Such a denial in front of so many witnesses would be difficult. Instead, they describe the miracle itself as something evil. They suggest that the merciful healing of this man by the presence of the Holy Spirit is the work of Satan.

Then Jesus explains that Satan doesn't war against his own, "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).

By this time, Jesus is laying siege to the kingdom of Satan. The power of the Enemy is being broken, and Jesus is liberating the nation from demonic powers. The Kingdom of God is taking ground from the Enemy.

However, the Enemy is also working in the hearts of his own children. They are incensed by pride and jealousy. The Enemy is working to deny the victories of Jesus, and turn the people against him.

This brings us to an understanding of the unpardonable sin. Jesus' enemies can't bear to see his miracles because they prove that he is the Son of God. The miracles don't move them to repentence, but to hatred.

The unpardonable sin is more than unbelief.

In the book of Acts, a genuine miracle occurs on Pentacost when the apostles speak in tongues. Different people who speak different languages can hear the words in their own language. They are amazed by this miracle, yet there are some who mock them.

"Cretans and Arabians, we hear them speaking in our tongues the mighty works of God. And they were all amazed, and were perplexed, saying one to another, What meaneth this? But others mocking said, They are filled with new wine" (Acts 2.11-13 ASV bible).

People have always been skeptical of religious claims. They are jaded by the deceptions and manipulations of the world. They are blinded and hardened by sin. They don't see the testimony of Jesus as different from any other religious claim. In their minds, genuine miracles don't exist.

There are many of these faithless people in the time of Jesus. However, what we witness with the Pharisees and Sadducees is worse than unbelief or mockery. Their words don't come from a place of ignorance, but hatred. Their words are not a denial, but a defilement. They are outraged by the works of the Holy Spirit.

Thus, we can understand the unpardonable sin as something worse than normal unbelief. It's not hasty words said in ignorance. Its not stupid things said by rebellious teenagers. It's the words of those who are so depraved that they lash out against the Spirit. The unpardonable sin is hatred towards God.

Does the unpardonable sin still occur?

We live in a world that's full of sin and blasphemy. Many people in this generation have been taught to mock faith. There are also people who speak against God in hatred. Jesus is clear these people will be accountable for the evil things they say.

"But I say to you, that every idle word, whatever men may speak, they shall give an account of it in Judgment Day. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned" (Matthew 12.36-37 LITV bible).

Are these people committing the unpardonable sin? In my opinion, the evidence of the Spirit must be present for the unpardonable sin to occur. Words that are spoken in unbelief and ignorance are not the unpardonable sin. While the unpardonable still exists, most people don't have the opportunity to commit it.

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