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Hebrews 6:1-3

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What Is the Unforgivable Sin

Before you read: This article is part of a larger series that builds on itself from the foundation up, with each study building on the last. If something in this article does not make sense to you or if you believe it to be incorrect please be sure you have read over the entire course before passing your final judgment. Also be sure to visit this page’s FAQ And Objections Page

So far, we have covered what it means to be born again. We have explained why Christians still struggle with sin. We even explored the possibility of losing salvation. We also just finished explaining how even someone who has fallen from grace can come back to God.

But is there anything that God simply finds to be an unforgivable sin? Didn’t Jesus speak of one sin that someone could never be forgiven of? Many people call it the unpardonable sin. Others call it the unforgivable sin. But what is the unforgivable sin?

Mark 3:29

29 But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation.

What Is the Unforgivable Sin

The one sin that “never has forgiveness” is to blaspheme the Holy Spirit. It sounds very simple, doesn’t it? The word blaspheme means “to speak irreverently” about someone. So speaking irreverently about the Holy Ghost is what we are dealing with here. But, is it really as simple as that? Does that really mean that you can not be saved if you have ever spoken against the Holy Ghost?

The truth isn’t quite so harsh. But, in order to really understand this, we are going to need to have some foundational understandings in place. Without knowing some of the basics about the trinity you will not be able to grasp this. This is why we are going through the basics of Christianity, one step at a time.

So, if you are not quite sure how God is one God, yet with three manifestations, then I suggest that you go and read unit 1.

What Does Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit Mean

There is a common thought among theologians that to blaspheme the Holy Ghost is to attribute the works of God to Satan. This is because the verses that surround the statement about this sin talk about Jesus casting out devils. Some people said that Jesus was casting out devils by the power of the devil himself.

In fact, one verse seems to be very blunt that this is the sin that Jesus speaks of as blasphemy against the Holy Ghost.

Mark 3:28-30

28 Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: 29 But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation. 30 Because they said, He hath an unclean spirit.

It may seem obvious that to blaspheme against the Holy Ghost is attributing the works of God to Satan. It also seems obvious that anyone who says this is doomed and can never be forgiven. Case closed, right? No, not so fast!

Both of those statements are entirely wrong! First of all, there is no sin that can not be forgiven. Second, Jesus wasn’t telling them this because they had committed this sin by attributing the works He did to Satan. We need to have a closer look at these scriptures and put them into context with the rest of the Bible.

There are three places where you can find Jesus speaking of this. They are in the books of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Let’s take a look at this event in the book of Matthew:

Matthew 12:24-37

24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils. 25 And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: 26 And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand? 27 And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges. 28 But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. 29 Or else how can one enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house. 30 He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad. 31 Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. 32 And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come. 33 Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit. 34 O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. 35 A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. 36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. 37 For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

You may remember that in Mark 3:30 it said that Jesus gave this response to them because they had said He had an unclean spirit. The mistake we could make is to assume that Mark 3:30 tells us that Jesus was letting them know they had crossed the line of no return. The truth is that Mark 3:30 just tells us that He spoke these things as a response to them. We would have to ADD to the scriptures to say that Jesus was telling them THEY had done this.

Matthew 12:24-37 gives us a very clear transcript of the conversation. So let’s look at it closely. Why did Jesus tell them that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit shall not be forgiven?

Matthew 12:25-32

25 And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: 26 And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand? 27 And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges. 28 But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. 29 Or else how can one enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house. 30 He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad. 31 Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. 32 And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.

Cause And Effect

When you see the word “wherefore” in verse 31 it is telling you that whatever was said before that word was the reason for what would be said next. It’s like saying “because of that…” and then telling someone what the effect is that comes from the cause.

So let’s look at this again, but this time let’s put the words “because of that” into it.

Matthew 12:25-32

25 And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: 26 And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand? 27 And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges. 28 But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. 29 Or else how can one enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house. 30 He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad. 31 BECAUSE OF THAT… I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. 32 And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.

Because of that, … whatever that was, no one who blasphemes against the Holy Ghost shall be forgiven. So we see here that the CAUSE of someone not being forgiven ISN’T that they blasphemed. It is whatever was said before the word “wherefore.”

So what was the cause? “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand:” OK, so Jesus is talking about a divided kingdom. So whatever the cause of not being forgiven is, it has to do with a divided kingdom.

“He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.” It is immediately after this sentence that Jesus says “Wherefore.” The theme of this entire passage is this:

Why Blaspheme The Holy Spirit Is Unpardonable

A kingdom divided can not stand, and if you are not for me then you are against me. BECAUSE OF THIS, … a person can be forgiven if they speak against me, but they can not be forgiven if they speak against the Holy Ghost. Why? Because Jesus and the Holy Ghost are not divided.

You can not claim Jesus without also claiming the Holy Ghost and the Father, and vise versa. To make that even more clear, Jesus finishes His statement by saying this:

Matthew 12:33-37

33 Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit. 34 O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. 35 A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. 36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. 37 For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

Again, here we see Jesus saying you can’t have it both ways. Either you are all in, or you are all out. Either you accept the Holy Ghost, Son, and Father as one or you deny them all, … because they are one.

So would that mean that if you speak against the Father or the Son then you also “never have forgiveness?”

Luke 12:10

10 And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven.

Jesus says that speaking against Him shall be forgiven here. But we just said that He and the Holy Ghost are one and the same. How can He be saying you can not be forgiven, while also saying that you can be forgiven?

The problem here is our understanding of what He means when He uses the word “never” in Mark 3:28-30.

Mark 3:28-30

28 Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: 29 But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation. 30 Because they said, He hath an unclean spirit.

We tend to see this as an absolute statement. Never means never. But is He actually saying, “never under any circumstance,” or is He saying, “never as long as?”

Remember, Jesus isn’t talking so much about the blaspheme against the Holy Ghost as He is about not accepting God for who He is. Why did He say this anyway? Mark 3:30 shows it is because they claimed God the Father but they denied Jesus and the Holy Ghost, saying He was not of God.

So when Jesus says that the person who “shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost has never forgiveness,” He is saying that as long as you reject part of God then you can never be forgiven. Because God is not divided.

So let’s sum this up. This is not an unforgivable sin IF someone repents and accepts ALL of God for who He is. This sin is not about attributing the works of God to Satan. It is about trying to claim God while denying God at the same time. In short, there is no unforgivable sin, except the sin of never (at any time) accepting God. Which can be forgiven once you DO accept Him.

Now then, we have covered quite a lot in this unit already. We talked about the 5 requirements for salvation (believe, repent, confess, baptism, and endure unto the end). Much of what has already been talked about has dealt with repentance.

The reason for this is because the promise of salvation is given at the moment of repentance. It is at this moment that a person can say that they have been saved (since the promise is given to them). But, there are still three more requirements that the Bible speaks of after belief and repentance.

Find out in our next units how confession and baptism come at the same time that a person repents. Even if there is no one, and no water, to be found.

Continue To Unit 3:5 – Confession of Faith OR

Return To Christianity 101 Unit 3 – Repentance and Salvation

June 26, 2016 at 10:42 pm | | No comment

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