What is the Unpardonable Sin?

Dr. C.S. Lovett        


 

“Dr. Lovett, a few years ago I went into business and everything went wrong. When I came to the end of my rope, I blamed God for my problems. Even though I was born again, I was so upset with Him that I actually cursed Him. Now, two years later, I’m terrified that I committed the UNPARDONABLE SIN. I’m desperate for relief. Could you help me?”

When people write for help, they usually cite two passages:
“. . .every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the one to come” (Matt. 12:31 & 32).

And again in Mark:
 

“. . .but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin” (Mark 3:29).

See what’s puzzling here? You can SPEAK EVIL against the Son of Man and it’s forgivable; but if you show such despite toward the Holy Spirit, it is totally unforgivable! That raises all sorts of questions, especially when we consider that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are ONE. You may think blaspheming Jesus would be as serious as blaspheming the Holy Spirit.  So what is the difference?

JESUS WAS HUMAN

Jesus was GOD INCARNATE, i.e., God in human FLESH. He chose to enter the human stream via the physical birth process. Though Mary was pregnant by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35), she gave birth to her child the same as any other woman and her child grew up the same as any other man. Since His “father” Joseph was a carpenter, He also became one. For the first 30 years of His life, there was little to distinguish Him from anyone else.

Later, when He was introduced to Israel by John the Baptist as the “Lamb of God” and Savior of the world, it was hard for men to believe such a thing (John 1:29). There was nothing about Him to set Him apart from anyone else.

Thus, when Jesus began making claims as to His divine origin, they were hard to swallow. More than once they tried to stone Him, accusing Him of blasphemy (John 10:33). On one occasion He informed the Pharisees, “Before Abraham was, I AM!” That was too much. So they picked up stones again (John 8:58 & 59).

I mention this because it was natural for people (in those days) to challenge the claims of Christ. While He was on earth in a body, it was hard to believe He was Who He said He was. . .even when all kinds of SIGNS (miracles) attested to His deity. Therefore, it was normal for them to call Him all sorts of things—like being out of His head and having demons.

That’s what was occurring when Jesus made His remark about blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. He had healed a demoniac and the Pharisees said it was done in the power of Satan (Matt. 12:24). It was totally natural and in no way blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. This attack on Jesus, while insulting to the Son of Man (the human Jesus), was forgivable.

FORGIVABLE!

The Lord was aware of the difficulty men had accepting Him as being from God. A carpenter turned Rabbi was not exactly an easy object of faith. In spite of all the miracles He performed, it was just too much for them to believe He was EQUAL WITH GOD! So their attack on the person of Jesus was understandable. . .and forgivable.

But in the process of scorning the Lord, they were doing something else quite UNFORGIVABLE—RESISTING THE INNER WITNESS OF GOD’S SPIRIT! That is what is unforgivable. The outward signs of Jesus’ ministry and the inner witness of God’s Spirit are two different matters. You see, it is the Spirit’s task to CERTIFY THE TRUTH when a person hears the claims of God.

Jesus made this very clear. For example, Peter and the disciples heard from the Lord the very same words. They RECEIVED THEM. When Jesus questioned them later they confessed. . .“Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God!” (Matt. 16:16). Then it was that Jesus commented, “Flesh and blood hath not revealed this unto thee, but My Father who is in heaven” (vs. 17).

Now the Pharisees enjoyed the SAME WITNESS to their hearts, but they chose to harden their hearts against the Spirit. It was not the terrible things they said about Jesus that was so unforgivable, but denying and rejecting God’s witness surging in their own hearts!

THE INNER WITNESS

Jesus made it very plain that the Holy Spirit does a work in people’s hearts BEFORE SALVATION:

“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me DRAWS HIM” (John 6:44 NASB).

Note the word “DRAWS.” Without this “drawing” of the Spirit, no one would be saved. The process is called . . .PRE-SALVATION ILLUMINATION. Unless the Word of Christ is made real to people, there’s no way for them to put their faith in an UNSEEN LORD. Note what the writer of Hebrews ascribes to the Holy Spirit as PRE-SALVATION ILLUMINATION (Heb. 6:4-6).  

The Spirit does a tremendous work in the hearts of those who hear the Gospel. Thus, when people hear of Jesus and understand what He’s done for them AND THEN REJECT HIM. . .they are in fact, despising God’s witness to their souls. The Spirit faithfully testifies, “Jesus loves you and wants to save you. Trust Him. Let Him come into your heart!” The man who rejects that witness commits the UNPARDONABLE SIN. When an unsaved man treats with DISGUST the sweet wooing of God’s Spirit. . .that is the BLASPHEMY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.

DOES SCRIPTURE CONFIRM THIS EXPLANATION?

Indeed. Hebrews 10:26 is a parallel passage:

“For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth NO MORE sacrifice for sin.”

The congregations of the early church (before 70 A.D.) were filled with people who weren’t sure whether to follow Jesus or stay with Judaism. The “we” in the verse above is addressed to them. It’s a warning. The writer says in effect, “If you reject Jesus and willfully go back to Judaism, you’ll condemn yourself. Jesus is the ONLY sacrifice acceptable to God. THERE IS NO OTHER.”

It’s obvious, the only time a person would want ANOTHER SACRIFICE is when he rejects the one being offered to him. Consequently, that person blasphemes the Holy Spirit. Or as the writer goes on to say in verse 29, he has. . .

•    trodden underfoot the Son of God,
•    counted the blood of the covenant unholy,
•    despised the Spirit of grace (Holy Spirit)

It is confirmed—the BLASPHEMY of the Holy Spirit is the rejection of the INNER WITNESS of the Spirit.

CAN CHRISTIANS COMMIT THIS SIN?

No way. To become a Christian in the first place, one must ACCEPT the Spirit’s witness and act on Jesus” offer to save him. After that, he doesn’t need ANOTHER SACRIFICE for sin. The one he has received is sufficient for every sin—past, present, and future. Consequently, anyone who has received the Lord need never fear he may have committed this sin. While he might GRIEVE the Holy Spirit, he could NEVER be guilty of blaspheming Him (Eph. 4:30).

Observe how the writer to the Hebrews confirms this: “. . .the worshiper, having ONCE been cleansed, would NO LONGER have any consciousness of sins” (Heb. 10:2). Once cleansed, the believer (equipped with the new nature) has no need for any other provision for sin.

So here’s what to keep in mind: Blasphemy of the Spirit has to do with spurning and despising God’s witness to your soul that you need Jesus, and feeling that way, refuse the gift of Christ. It has no meaning beyond that. It CANNOT apply to Christians, for they have already respected the Spirit’s witness and acted upon it. If you can accept the truth of this article, you won’t ever again have to worry about. . .  

COMMITTING THE UNPARDONABLE SIN!

C. S. Lovett

(edited by Marjorie Lovett)

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