What is the Unforgivable Sin?
By Noel Chartier
Jesus said, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. 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 (Matthew 12:31-32).
As a result of this statement by Christ many have come to wonder, what is the unforgivable sin? I can remember from my youth, having committed many sinful acts, and wondering if perhaps I had already committed this sin and was beyond salvation. After many years I finally did find the answer, for elsewhere in the Scriptures it is very clearly revealed that the sin for which there will be no pardon is the sin of unbelief.
Jesus said, He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him (John 3:18, 36).
In the clearest terms the Bible tells us, He that believeth shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned (Mark 16:16), and the unbelieving shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death (Revelation 21:8).
But why does Christ say that this particular sin is blasphemy against the Holy Ghost? To answer this, we must understand the ongoing ministry of the Holy Spirit to unbelievers. From the foundation of the world He has strove with the ungodly (Genesis 6:3), reasoned with them, convicted their consciences, and pricked their hearts.
Before Christ ascended into heaven He said He would send the Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit (John 14:26), and in this age of grace, He would reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged (John 16:7-11).
Christ said, Of sin, because they believe not on me (John 16:9). It is the devil that tries to sear the conscience of man convincing him to think that he is not that bad, and is morally upright. A man who has no conviction of sin is one who will never see his need of Christ. However, the Spirit has come to reprove the world of sin. Why? Because they believe not on Christ. This is the current ministry of the Holy Spirit in the world today. The world must be reproved of their sin if they are ever to see their desperate need of cleansing and pardon of sin. But where can a man go when he is burdened and heavy laden with sin? Where can he go to find rest for his soul and a peace that surpasses all understanding? Christ says, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28)
It is "sin", singular, not sins that Christ mentions because it is sin which separates man from God. We are taught this from the very beginning of the Bible in the book of Genesis. Our Creator had made all things very good (Genesis 1:31), and there was no death, but all this changed when the first man sinned against His Maker.
By one man sin entered the world and death by sin. Death now overshadowed the world and every living thing came under the bondage of corruption (Romans 8:21), and like slaves under a cruel taskmaster, they groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now (Romans 8:22). Sin is the cause of suffering and death, and is our constant reminder that sin is quite active in the world today.
The Spirit also takes of the Word of God and reveals it to man, so we ought also to listen to what the Scriptures have to say on this subject. The scripture hath concluded all under sin (Galatians 3:22) so that there is none righteous, no not one (Romans 3:10). For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God (Romans 3:19). For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all (James 2:10).
By man came death, and in Adam all die (1Corinthians 15:21-22). Because all have sinned, all are deserving of death. The Bible says that the wages of sin is death, (Romans 6:23), this is not just physical death, but the second death, which is eternal separation from God in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone (Revelation 21:8). Death is separation, and the Bible tells us, "your iniquities have separated between you and your God..." (Isaiah 59:2)
One of the ministries of the Holy Spirit is to convict the conscience of all mankind of sin. If one is not convicted of right and wrong, of sin and righteousness, they will never realize their need to be saved. However, knowing we have broke God's holy commandments, that we have gone astray (Isaiah 53:6) and are lost in this world, we might be humbled to ask, What must I do to be saved? There is only one answer to this question in the entire universe, and it is this: Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved (Acts 16:31).
The Bible says, For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God (John 3:17,18). Condemnation does not come so much because one has sinned, but because he has refused to believe God's testimony concerning Jesus Christ.
Jesus said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life (John 5:24). Whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die (John 11:26). Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life (John 6:47), and Whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins (Acts 10:43). The Bible over and over states that he who believes will have everlasting life and he who does not believe will be condemned. There is only ONE condition for salvation and that is FAITH, to BELIEVE on the Lord Jesus Christ. God cannot lie (Titus 1:2). We just need to take God at His Word, and when you do that you can know that you have everlasting life.
God has offered a free pardon to all who will come to Jesus for cleansing of sin. However, there are many of whom Jesus must say, Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life (John 5:40). He told the nation Israel, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! (Matthew 23:37)
When the scribes came to Jesus and said He had an unclean spirit, He said, Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation (Mark 3:28, 29).
Did you notice that Christ says that person is in danger of eternal damnation? Do you know that if you have broken any of God's commandments and have not trusted in Christ alone for the forgiveness of sins, that this moment you are in danger of eternal damnation? If your soul is required of thee this night, let it be known that death ends all opportunity to respond to the grace of God. The Bible tells us, it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment (Hebrews 9:27).
If you do not receive forgiveness in this world you will never receive it in the next, for in the new heaven and earth we are told, He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still (Revelation 22:11). When one continues all their lives to resist the conviction of the Holy Ghost it is blasphemy and their sin shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world; neither in the world to come (Matthew 12:31).
Jesus also said that the Spirit would reprove the world Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more (John 16:10). Righteousness is to be just, upright, holy and blameless, so we can be sure it is not the world's righteousness that is here referred to, but, to Jesus Christ the righteous (1John 2:1).
But how can we be sure that this Jesus was the righteous or spotless Lamb of God? Some said, this man is a sinner (John 9:24), others said, this was a righteous man (Luke 23:47). That Christ rose from the dead established this fact, for He was declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of Holiness, by the resurrection from the dead (Romans 1:4).
However others were raised from the dead like Lazarus, Tabitha, Jairus' daughter, a widow's son, and many others. However, not only did Christ arise from the dead, He ascended into heaven and is alive forevermore.
Jesus said that the Spirit would convince the world Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more (John 16:10). Peter spoke very well of this on the day of Pentecost, declaring to the multitude how Jesus of Nazareth was approved of God by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him [whom they] crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear (Acts 2:22-24, 31-33).
Jesus said, Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you (John 16:7). If Jesus had not been all that he claimed to be, the Father would have never received Him back and exalted Him, and the Holy Spirit would never have been sent to testify of His exaltation.
The apostles were eyewitnesses of the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ, but not witnesses of his exaltation to the right hand of the Father. Therefore Christ sent from heaven the Holy Spirit to bear witness to that fact. Thus Christ fulfilled the prophecy in the Psalms concerning Himself, as it is written, Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men (Psalm 68:18).
The receipt of the promised gift on the Day of Pentecost was the visible and sufficient evidence to the disciples that Jesus had reached Heaven, that the Father had approved of His work on the earth, accepted the sacrifice of the Cross, and as an acknowledgment of His righteousness, exalted Him to a seat beside Himself on His Throne.
Peter said, Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him (Acts 5:31-32).
The Holy Spirit is the only one who can convince the world of the righteousness of Christ. As we are convicted of sin and our degenerate condition, we are not left in despair because we are also convinced that He was the spotless Lamb of God and therefore able to give himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour (Ephesians 5:1).
In the Old Testament Jesus is called THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS (Jeremiah 23:6). The prophet Isaiah prophesied of Him saying, He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities (Isaiah 53:11). Salvation is a gift, and when we receive Christ, not only do we receive the promise of the Spirit (Galatians 3:14) who beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God (Romans 8:16), we receive the gift of righteousness (Romans 5:17).
Therefore, by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life (Romans 5:18). In the most solemn, but wonderful passage, the apostle Paul declared, He hath made him to be sin for us who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (2 Corinthians 5:21).
During the earthly ministry of Jesus, He convicted those with whom He had contact of their inadequate righteousness (Luke 5:8, Matthew 8:8; 5:20, Isaiah 6:5), but that source of conviction was about to depart. However, He would send the Holy Spirit from His Father who would continue this ministry. His ascension to heaven, and reception by His Father testify that His righteousness is the standard for Divine acceptance.
The Holy Spirit also convicts the world Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged (John 16:11). By the prince of this world is meant Satan. This is not some future judgment, for the Scripture says he is judged. When was Satan judged? First, he was judged in the Garden when God pronounced judgment on him, declaring that the Seed of the woman would crush his head (Genesis 3:15).
Secondly he was judged at the cross. Satan was the first creature to sin, and He deceived the woman to sin, and in turn, Adam did eat of the forbidden fruit and brought death into the world, While it was through one man that sin entered the world, and death by sin, it was Satan who was the instigator of it all. Nevertheless, through the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, the devil's work was undone and he was defeated. The writers of Hebrew says, that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage (Hebrews 2:14,15).
The Bible tells us, He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8). As a result of the finished work of Christ, He hath forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross . . . having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it (Colossians 2:13-15).
Through Christ's death, burial, and resurrection, He triumphed over the works of the devil. Satan was judged, He was condemned to the bottomless pit, and will finally be cast into the Lake of Fire, however, his sentence is yet to come into effect when Christ returns to set up His reign over all the earth, at which time He will evict Satan and bind him in the bottomless pit (Revelation 20:1-3). However, the Devil does not want the world to know about this and is working hard not to lose his influence.
The Lake of Fire was prepared for the Devil and his angels, however, this same sentence awaits all those among mankind who will not believe. The Holy Spirit is convicting the world of judgment. It is no wonder therefore that all the cultures of the world believe in some sort of final judgment.
Ultimately He is trying to lead them to Christ and His perfect sacrifice for sin. Jesus said, Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die (John 12:31-33).
But refusing the grace of God, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? (Hebrews 10:26-29)
God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16). If we neglect so great salvation, and disregard or remain indifferent to the sacrifice of Christ, How shall we escape? Christ suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God (1 Peter 3:18), and no one can come to the Father but through Christ.
To reject Him is to have done despite unto the Spirit of grace. These resist the truth (2Timothy 3:8), they willingly are ignorant (2 Peter 3:5) and therefore will remain without excuse (Romans 1:20).
They have all their lives ignored the loving admonitions of the Spirit of God and will not believe, even as those religious leaders whom Stephen had to rebuke saying, Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye (Acts 7:51). O LORD, are not thine eyes upon the truth? thou hast stricken them, but they have not grieved; thou hast consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction: they have made their faces harder than a rock; they have refused to return (Jeremiah 5:3).
The LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man (Genesis 6:3). We must understand that our days are numbered, and the judge standeth before the door (James 5:9). If any have not yet believed, as Jesus said, they are in very real danger of eternal damnation. Why risk eternity? Call upon His name today, for He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them (Hebrews 7:25). Call upon Jesus Christ today for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:12).
Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O LORD. Lord, hear my voice: let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications. If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared. I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope. My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning: I say, more than they that watch for the morning. Let Israel hope in the LORD: for with the LORD there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption. And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities (Psalm 130:1-8).
I also wanted to add that I subscribe to this part of Pentecost's view, the one that states these conditions to be unrepeatable. Since they were accusing Christ of performing miracles (and they were the Jews, to whom the prophets came beforehand) through Beelzebub, these special circumstances make it impossible for anyone to commit the unpardonable sin.
Consider also, if the unpardonable sin refers to ultimate rejection of Christ: That means this passage then teaches that all other sins would be forgiven the one who goes into Hell. But this seems intuitively false (as well as scripturally false). What separates us from God is our sin--any and all of them--and we are born with sin imputed to us because of Adam (see Romans 5). So rejection of Christ explicitly is not the reason people go to Hell--they are already headed there (John 3)! Although, to be sure, rejection of Christ is a sure way to go there.
In conclusion, blasphemy of the Holy Ghost is the ultimate rejection of the Trinity, seeing as the miracles done are the Father's will, done by the Son, through the power of the Holy Ghost. What else is there to reject???
I definitely appreciate this article, but I must disagree with the conclusion. I find the blasphemy of the Holy Ghost to be just that--in context, the Pharisees had just accused Jesus of healing--not in the power of the Holy Ghost, but in the power of Beelzebub. Basically, Jesus responds by explaining they had blasphemed the Holy Ghost. Why would it be forgiven of them to blaspheme the Son? Let's put it this way--they had rejected the prophets (and killed them in some cases), thus rejecting the Father. They had rejected the Son before this time. The only one left to reject was the Holy Ghost, which they did when they made a blasphemous assertion. The reason it was unforgiveable is for the simple fact that there was no one left to reject!!! Consider one piece of your evidence--you mention he that believeth not is condemned already. Very true. But if that is the unpardonable sin, then it follows necessarily that one can never be saved! For a man is necessarily a believer or a non-believer; ie he believes or he believes not. This is not to criticize you. As a brother, I am simply trying to provide food for thought. Thanks! :)
While the exact circumstance of Jesus doing the miracles He was doing during His earthly ministry are unrepeatable, that does not mean that the Holy Spirit is not convicting, as well, the world today of their need to believe on Christ. The Pharisees testimony was evidence that they refused to believe on Christ which is the only sin that is unpardonable. It was His miracles, that could only be done by God, that bore testimony, that He was the promised Messiah whom they should believe on. Consider what Jesus had told the Jews many times over.
"Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake." (John 14:10-11)
"Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God. Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God? If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him." (John 10:32-38)
"Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake." (John 14:11)
"But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me." (John 5:36)
"And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." (John 17:3)
When you consider all that Jesus said and did during His earthly ministry, that He and His Father were one, that His Father had sent Him into the world, and that He was the Son of God and their promised Messiah (Christ), and that the miracles He was doing in His Fathers name, in fact, bore witness that He was indeed who He said He was. For the Pharisees to ascribe the Miracles that Jesus was doing, that authenticated who He was, to Beelzebub, was a clear indication of their rejection and refusal to believe on Him. This was the unpardonable sin. You need to remember, that the fulness of the Godhead dwelt in Christ bodily, and that He had the Spirit of God in Him without measure (John 3:34). The Miracles that He did and the casting out of demons was by the Spirit of God (Matthew 12:28).
You need also to remember, that the Spirit of God was upon John the Baptist right from his mothers womb (Luke 1:15). "The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe." (John 1:7) Jesus said, "If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true. There is another that beareth witness of me; and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true. Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth." (John 5:31-33) So whether it was the Spirit's testimony through John, bearing witness to the Truth, or the witness of the Spirit through the life and work of Jesus, when one refuses that testimony and conviction, that only the Holy Spirit can bring upon men, and yet they still refuse to believe, which was the evident confession of the Pharisees, testified to their refusal, despite the evident witness of of the Holy Spirit working in power through Jesus Christ, and still refused to believe, this was unpardonable.
When the believer sins he needs to repent, that is, change his mind, and confess his sins for the blood of Christ has already paid for them. "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (John 1:7-9).
As for Hebrews 10:26-29, this book was written to the Hebrews who would have all had a working knowledge of the Scriptures. As with any assembly there are believers and those who are yet lost. Some may have even had some sort of profession of faith, but were not born again. Perhaps the writer of Hebrews recognized this by lives that had not changed by the power of the Holy Spirit working in them. It was not that they sinned but that they refused to repent and were continuing to practice sin. By their fruits you shall know them. If we are a child of God, however, we could not continue to practice sin without our loving heavenly Father correcting us.
However, when one has been "enlightened" (Hebrews 6:4-6) and come to a "knowledge" (2 Peter 2:20-22) of the truth and refuse to receive the grace of God that He has shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Lord, this person has obviously rejected the Truth, and had never truly committed his faith and life to Christ in the first place (1 John 2:19). For the willful sinner, there is only "a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation".
It was the same in the Old Testament. "But the soul that doeth ought presumptuously, whether he be born in the land, or a stranger, the same reproacheth the LORD; and that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Because he hath despised the word of the LORD, and hath broken his commandment, that soul shall utterly be cut off; his iniquity shall be upon him" (Numbers 15:30-31; See also Deuteronomy 17:1-7).
Thank you for helping me to understand John 16: 7-11. I appreciate how you explained "of sin, of righteousness, of judgement". Always had a tough time understanding the righteousness and judgement part. I have always had a fear that I may have committed the unpardonable sin because though I believe in Christ and His sacrifice, I still sin at times even when I know my actions are wrong. Can you please explain Hebrews 10: 26-29 in another article? Wouldn't one have to believe in the Scriptures to have a "fearful looking for Judgement"? This confuses me. Thank you and God bless you.
Thank you for explaining an important subject AND showing us the simplicity of CHRIST. Blessings to you!