The following is a exposition on the unpardonable sin. It was more of a detailed email with the staff at Bibleinfo on the meaning of unforgivable sin. This was from a while back and not at all out of the blue but from my own familiarity with the concepts of Christianity. What follows is a raw email exchange and not a annotated or work prepared for any presentation, though that is where it is going.
In this article http://www.bibleinfo.com/en/questions/why-blasphemy-against-holy-spirit-unpardonable-sin There are some misconceptions. The unpardonable sin is not resistance to Holy Spirit’s conviction. It is a separate sin altogether!
“Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men” Matt 12:31
Note “every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men”, this includes resistance but there is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, and belittling his work and his voice that is unforgivable. Not in this age or in the one to come.
Thanks for trying to help us with our article. I’m not seeing clearly what you are presenting so that we could alter the article to make it better. It is well to see the setting in which Jesus made the statement–it was people who were ascribing Jesus’s work to Satan. They were resisting the prompting of the Holy Spirit who was urging them to accept Jesus. It seems that continuing in this claim was resisting the Holy Spirit who was telling them the truth. It seems that if they had yielded to the Holy Spirit and accepted Jesus, their former resistance would have been forgiven. How do you see this?
Thanks again for your help.
Cyril, Coordinator for Bibleinfo.com
Dear Brother Cyril,
I mean to say, the article is misaligning the famous verse Matt 12:32 and relegating it to the covenant of Grace. But the very verse “will not be forgiven” removes it from the covenant of Grace and of the work of Jesus, and this is God’s fundamental words that it will not be forgiven. No works or grace can thus bring forgiveness. It isn’t an advice or a parable, but rather a revalation of God’s nature and the gravity of the person of the Holy Spirit. The article doesn’t answer the verse directly but attempts to guide readers to forgiveness and work of redemption which is an aside from the definitive statement of Matt 12:32. What I’m saying is, this article diminishes the person of the Holy Spirit as a assistant to Jesus Christ and fails to deliver the meaning of those words and what that sin might be, all the while paraphrasing a historical account of pharisees and drawing an allusion to modern day backsliders.
I’m not following your reasoning. Does the context enter into this? And, why would denouncing Christ be less of a sin than denouncing the Holy Spirit?
Your latter question implies that Christ is no different than the Holy Spirit but the verse says otherwise. If you denounce Christ, the Holy Spirit may still work in your heart to repentance. If you denounce the Holy Spirit, how can you made right with God when He is the one who works in your heart for forgiveness and restoration?
What about blasphemy against the Son of God, or God the Father, or angels, or Scripture, or the church? Why do these not put us beyond repentance and forgiveness? Why only blasphemy against the Holy Spirit? I think it’s because of the unique and decisive role the Holy Spirit plays in our salvation. If we look to God the Father and then turn from his glory to embrace sin, that is bad. If we look to his Son Jesus Christ whom he sent into the world and then turn away from his glory to embrace sin, that is doubly bad.
But in either case there is hope. The Father has planned redemption and the Son has accomplished redemption. This wonderful redemption is outside ourselves and available to us if we repent of our sin and turn back to Christ in faith. But it is the unique and special role of the Holy Spirit to apply the Father’s plan and the Son’s accomplishment of it to our hearts. It is the Spirit’s work to open our eyes, to grant repentance, and to make us beneficiaries of all that the Father has planned and all that Christ has done for us.
If we blaspheme and reject the Father and the Son, there is still hope, for the Spirit may yet work within us to humble us and bring us to repentance. But if behind the Father and the Son we see and taste the power of the Holy Spirit and reject his work as no more precious than the work of Satan, we shut ourselves off from the only one who could ever bring us to repentance. And so we shut ourselves off from forgiveness.
Another reason is 1 John 5:16 teaches that there is a sin unto death which is pointless to pray about. It puts a person beyond forgiveness even in this life. Therefore the unforgivable blasphemy against the Spirit is not simply a lifetime of resistance against the Holy Spirit.
To answer your question regarding context, it is not clear if the pharisees have already committed them, or were on the verge, but Christ warns them. Wwhen they see the work of the Holy Spirit and call it the work of Satan, they are at least on the brink of never-ending guilt. Perhaps they have even fallen over the edge.
The key to understanding this verse to also look at Mark 3:28 & Mark 3:29. “Truly I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter.” Literally: “All things will be forgiven to the sons of men, the sins and the blasphemies whatever they blaspheme.” Then why then does Mark go on to say in verse 29 about the one sin that is unconditionally unforgiveable? I think the reason is that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit puts you beyond repentance, and therefore beyond forgiveness. Verse 29 is not an exception to verse 28.
All blasphemies that you repent of will be forgiven except blasphemy against the Spirit. He is saying, all blasphemies that you repent of will be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven because it puts you beyond repentance — you won’t be able to repent of it. If a sin makes it impossible for you to repent, then that is an unforgivable sin, because forgiveness is promised only to those sins from which we genuinely repent.
This is the crux of the verse, that it is unrepentable and unforgiveable.
There are two levels of administration above me that can actually make a change in our article. To be sure that a change needs to be made and for your and my understanding, I have a question or two more. Thanks for the time you have taken on this matter. I do think you have made some very valid points and are very close to the truth in this matter. Let me ask my questions.
1. Can you give an example or examples from the Bible that demonstrate the action in word or deed that is blasphemy so that the word itself becomes crystal clear?
2. Are you associated in any way with the organization that Bibleinfo.com is associated with? You may not see this as important or germane to the topic at hand, but I think it will become clear if you are. I have repeatedly urged those at the head of Bibleinfo.com to make this as an option for inquirers to indicate such as their religious affiliation, but so far have been unsuccessful. Another thing I have urged is to require those writing in their questions to respond to questions if they are asked.
1. Sure, my example comes from the book of Hebrews, Hebrews 12:17. Esau was blessed by God, and gives away his birthright. Note it doesn’t say he sought forgiveness, the verse says he sought repentence which was not granted. It is this inability to repent and having no ground for repentence makes this a sin which cannot be forgiven. His actions altered the course of his life.
Esau’s relationship with God, was based on God’s relevation to Abraham, and Issac and his own, which up to that time was unlike any other way God had revealed himself to man.
Supporting verses for the unforgivable sin is supported further by these verses.
It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age— and then have fallen away—to be restored again to repentance, because they themselves are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting Him to open shame.
1 John 5:16
If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that.
2. I am not sure what organization Bibleinfo.com is associated with but I am not presently associated with any organization. However I find that I am more aligned with Penetecostalism and believe wholly in the work of the God through the Word and through the Spirit.
I understand your position and understanding. I think we are on about the same page as you have explained it. I’m just thinking about the justice of God in making a special sin in which one cannot repent of a death sentence. I sort of favor the idea, and I think you have stated it, that turning away from listening to the Holy Spirit is fatal. Before I leave you, I urge you to take advantage of our FREE course to learn the most important vital topics in the Bible by either clicking on this link or take the route on our home page whether you will see “Bible Studies” and under the first thing that pops up you will see something like which may be a direct link by clicking on it now: Study Discover Online Now
In the case of Esau, it seems he was only sorry for the results and not a genuine sorrow for his spiritual lack. It was more focused on material wealth and not spiritual wealth as I see it. We read in that context: “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.” (2 Corinthians 7:10 AV)
I have read in a Bible Commentary the actual experience connected with Matthew 12:31 and think you will find it of considerable interest. The author claimed to have extra special enlightenment by the Holy Spirit. Much is revealed behind Matthew 12:31.
I will submit our correspondence to the head coordinator for his consideration.
Consider the circumstances of Matthew 12:31
The sons of Joseph were far from being in sympathy with Jesus in His work. The reports that reached them in regard to His life and labors filled them with astonishment and dismay. They heard that He devoted entire nights to prayer, that through the day He was thronged by great companies of people, and did not give Himself time so much as to eat. His friends felt that He was wearing Himself out by His incessant labor; they were unable to account for His attitude toward the Pharisees, and there were some who feared that His reason was becoming unsettled.
His brothers heard of this, and also of the charge brought by the Pharisees that He cast out devils through the power of Satan. They felt keenly the reproach that came upon them through their relation to Jesus. They knew what a tumult His words and works created, and were not only alarmed at His bold statements, but indignant at His denunciation of the scribes and Pharisees. They decided that He must be persuaded or constrained to cease this manner of labor, and they induced Mary to unite with them, thinking that through His love for her they might prevail upon Him to be more prudent.
It was just before this that Jesus had a second time performed the miracle of healing a man possessed, blind and dumb, and the Pharisees had reiterated the charge, “He casteth out devils through the prince of the devils.” Matthew 9:34. Christ told them plainly that in attributing the work of the Holy Spirit to Satan, they were cutting themselves off from the fountain of blessing. Those who had spoken against Jesus Himself, not discerning His divine character, might receive forgiveness; for through the Holy Spirit they might be brought to see their error and repent. Whatever the sin, if the soul repents and believes, the guilt is washed away in the blood of Christ; but he who rejects the work of the Holy Spirit is placing himself where repentance and faith cannot come to him. It is by the Spirit that God works upon the heart; when men willfully reject the Spirit, and declare It to be from Satan, they cut off the channel by which God can communicate with them. When the Spirit is finally rejected, there is no more that God can do for the soul.
The Pharisees to whom Jesus spoke this warning did not themselves believe the charge they brought against Him. There was not one of those dignitaries but had felt drawn toward the Saviour. They had heard the Spirit’s voice in their own hearts declaring Him to be the Anointed of Israel, and urging them to confess themselves His disciples. In the light of His presence they had realized their unholiness, and had longed for a righteousness which they could not create. But after their rejection of Him it would be too humiliating to receive Him as the Messiah. Having set their feet in the path of unbelief, they were too proud to confess their error. And in order to avoid acknowledging the truth, they tried with desperate violence to dispute the Saviour’s teaching. The evidence of His power and mercy exasperated them. They could not prevent the Saviour from working miracles, they could not silence His teaching; but they did everything in their power to misrepresent Him and to falsify His words. Still the convicting Spirit of God followed them, and they had to build up many barriers in order to withstand its power. The mightiest agency that can be brought to bear upon the human heart was striving with them, but they would not yield.
It is not God that blinds the eyes of men or hardens their hearts. He sends them light to correct their errors, and to lead them in safe paths; it is by the rejection of this light that the eyes are blinded and the heart hardened. Often the process is gradual, and almost imperceptible. Light comes to the soul through God’s word, through His servants, or by the direct agency of His Spirit; but when one ray of light is disregarded, there is a partial benumbing of the spiritual perceptions, and the second revealing of light is less clearly discerned. So the darkness increases, until it is night in the soul. Thus it had been with
these Jewish leaders. They were convinced that a divine power attended Christ, but in order to resist the truth, they attributed the work of the Holy Spirit to Satan. In doing this they deliberately chose deception; they yielded themselves to Satan, and henceforth they were controlled by his power.
I thought this was very interesting exchange with the Bibleinfo team. What are your views? And thoughts?