What is the Unforgivable Sin?

Unforgivable Sin

What is the unforgivable sin? Who can commit it? How do I know if I have committed it? These questions run through our mind when we hear someone tell us there is a sin that will not be forgiven.

What is the unforgivable sin? In order to answer the question let me start with what it is not.

What the Unforgivable Sin is Not

In Matthew 12:31-32 Jesus says,

Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And 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 age to come.

It is not sin in general or speaking against Jesus – Jesus tells us sin or rebellion against God will be forgiven. Even speaking against Jesus will be forgiven.

It is not Suicide – Some claim if you commit suicide, you can’t be forgiven because you can’t ask for forgiveness. But that is a misunderstanding of the gospel. We are not forgiven because we ask for forgiveness every time we sin. No, we are forgiven based on Christ’s work, not ours. We are forgiven because we turn from our sin to God (repentance). We are forgiven because we believe Christ took the punishment we deserve on the cross (substitution).

So that means one can commit suicide and still be a Christian. It is not what we should do. But if someone does do that, it doesn’t mean they have committed the unforgivable sin.

It is not Murder or Adultery – Murder or adulter can’t be the unforgivable sin because it is not mentioned in the context. Plus, King David did both and God said he was a man after His own heart.

So one can still come to Christ even if they committed murder or adultery.

What is the Unforgivable sin?

It is attributing the work of the Spirit to Satan, who is God’s enemy. It occurs when one has a crystal clear understanding of how the Spirit works, then they turn around and say, that didn’t occur by the Spirit of God Satan did that.

They deny the Spirit’s work because they don’t want others to believe in Jesus. They don’t want others to follow Jesus. Even though they know Jesus is the true Messiah. They have set themselves against Jesus and His kingdom and they will do whatever it takes to keep people out of it, including lying about the work of the Spirit.

So then, the unforgivable sin occurs when we have a crystal clear understanding of how the Spirit works and we deliberately attribute the work of the Spirit to Satan for the purpose of opposing Jesus so that others will not follow Him.

It is not something you can easily do. It is not something a Christian can do. It is not something someone who is seeking the things of God will do. It is not something someone who doesn’t know about God can do. It is a specialized position reserved for those who have a clear understanding of how the Spirit works, and have chosen to deliberately set themselves against God.

It’s debatable, but it seems the Pharisees commit this sin.

  • They have an understanding of how the Spirit works.
  • They attribute the work of the Holy Spirit to Satan.
  • They do it because they don’t want people to follow Jesus.
  • They have set themselves up against Jesus and His kingdom.

Resource

Post adapted from my most recent sermon Your Words Say A Lot About You

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11 thoughts on “What is the Unforgivable Sin?

  1. Casey – this is right on the money. I have seen Christians beat themselves up about this issue way too often, thinking they may have at some time and in some way done something that is just unforgivable.

    There were some Pharisees that came out ok, but the ones addressed in Matt 23 are probably good examples of those who have walked in this ugly path. Perhaps the false prophets that Jude derides as well.

    Hey – would you mind if I repost this for my Friday Q&A feature? I know it is the kind of question that folks deal with now and then.

    thanks Casey – good word.

    1. Ben,
      Thanks for reading and responding.

      I agree many have beat themselves up. That verse has been misused and misinterpreted and it has caused lots of grief and anxiety.

      I agree not all Pharisees came out on the wrong end. It seems especially the ones fighting Jesus in chapter 12 committed this sin. Especially, since they deliberately attribute the work of Satan to Jesus and they did so as an early attempt to destroy Jesus. A position they took up in vs 14.

      I don’t mind you reposting my post at all. Sounds like a good idea. It is encouraging you consider the post good enough to do so.

      Blessings,

      Casey

  2. Pingback: From the archive, 13 July 1977: Editorial: Is the law on blasphemy still relevant? | Bonus Republic

  3. Pingback: Unforgivable Sin – Friday Q&A | Another Red Letter Day

    1. That is a good point. When I answered that question I was just looking at 1 John. But it does seem taking the mark of the beast means you have given yourself to Satan.

      In some sense it is similar to what we see in 1 John. It is an act of active rebellion against God in an effort to get rid of Him.

      Thanks for the response.

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