Apologetics, Biblical Doctrines, Christian Living, Culture & Society, Death & Dying, Prayer, Sin & Repentance

What is the Sin that Can Never be Forgiven?

“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” (Mark 3:28-29).

If blaspheming the Holy Spirit is an unforgivable sin, if blaspheming the Holy Spirit brings about a fearful certain and eternal condemnation, then what specifically is this great sin? Various viewpoints have been suggested.

As a child, attending an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Church in the South in Dallas, Texas, I was taught that to blaspheme the Holy Spirit was to reject Jesus Christ as personal Savior.

Certainly, to reject Christ as Savior is also a great sin. To turn away from God’s mercy, and the divinely appointed way of salvation, in order to depend upon personal works of righteousness, is wrong. But an initial rejection of Christ cannot be the unpardonable sin because many people—if not most—reject the Lord when the gospel is first presented. Only as the gospel is heard often, and the heart is broken does salvation come to the soul.

Others have suggested that the unpardonable sin was something that was done by the Scribes and the Pharisees alone. These religious leaders saw the Lord’s miracles, they refused to believe in Him as the Messiah—and so they alone committed the unpardonable sin.

However, appealing as this theory might be, it cannot be true, for two reasons. First, not all of the Scribes and Pharisees did reject Christ. Nicodemus was a member of the Sanhedrin and he came to Christ, as did Saul of Tarsus. And in Acts 6:7 we read that “the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith”.

Second, the theory that the religious leaders of long ago alone committed the unpardonable is refuted by the fact that it is set forth elsewhere in Scripture.

“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 5And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame” (Heb. 6:4).

“For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins” (Heb. 10:26).

In these passages there seems to be a reference to a sin which is not forgiven.

If the Unpardonable Sin is not rejecting Christ as personal Savior, and if it is not a particular act committed only by the religious leaders of Palestine during the days of Christ, then what is it? Some of the greatest Bible scholars are simply not sure. Bishop J.C. Ryle for example said, “It must be frankly confessed that its precise nature is nowhere defined in Holy Scriptures.” Perhaps Bishop Ryle is correct.

However, it does seem that the Bible defines this sin in a definite way. Let me suggest that the Unpardonable Sin is ascribing to Satan the works of the Holy Spirit. The Unpardonable Sin is taking the glory of the gospel ministry from the Holy Spirit, and ascribing it to be the work of the Devil.

If that does not sound like such a terrible thing, make no mistake, it is. When the Scribes from Jerusalem said what they did, they ascribed to the devil the work of the Holy Spirit. Can this sin be committed today? There is no evidence that it cannot be committed. Those who deny the Holy Spirit, those who mock Him, are just a step away from blaspheming the Holy Spirit.

There is a way to make certain that such a sin will never be committed. Come to Christ. Cast your life upon him. Humble yourself under the hand of God so that the Holy Spirit can cleanse the soul from all defilement of the flesh. If there is sorrow for the things that are not right in the heart, the Unpardonable Sin has yet to be committed. However, if there is no sorrow for sin on any level, there is spiritual danger ahead.

A minister was called to the scene of an accident. The man had been hit on his bicycle; he was dying. The pastor said to him, “You know you are going into eternity in a minute, and you and I know the sort of life you have lived. You need to be sorry. Are you sorry?” The man said, “No Sir, I’m not sorry.”  So the preacher talked to him a little bit more, and then wisely asked, “Are you sorry you are not sorry?” The man said, “Yes Sir.  I’m sorry I am not sorry.”

To all those who feel no sorrow over sin, but you still want to be saved, then you can begin your journey into grace by honestly saying to God, “I am sorry I am not sorry.” Ask the Lord to grant you the grace to repent. God the Father will hear such a prayer.

Beyond that, God will move heaven to come and meet you, and renew you, because He is a God of living life. The entire universe testifies to that. God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked. He has no pleasure in the death of anything (Jill Briscoe, “Hanging Up Our Faith,” Preaching Today, Tape No. 148).

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