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What is the unforgivable sin?

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What is the unforgivable sin?
Posted on November 16, 2021  - By Rufus Simon Varghese

What is ‘blasphemy against the Holy Spirit’ (Mark 3:28-29)? How is it unforgivable? Aren’t all sins, primarily, against the triune God and eternal? How is this one different?

Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is one confusing topic that has left many bewildered. Many believers wonder if they have committed such a sin in their lives. Simply put, to commit blasphemy is to say something that is outrightly false about God—or to attribute something to God that isn’t true about Him.

The background information

To understand what blasphemy against the Holy Spirit means, we must look at a parallel passage to the one in question. In Matthew 12:22-32, Jesus heals a demon-oppressed man who was also blind and mute. But those who brought the man to Jesus reacted with, “Can this be the Son of David?” (Vs. 23).

Few facts to consider in this scenario:

  1. The Spirit-filled Messiah will be from the lineage of David (Isaiah 11:1-2).
  2. This Spirit-filled Messiah will bring the good news to the poor, binding up the brokenhearted and proclaiming liberty to the slaves of sin (Isaiah 61:1-3).
  3. The intervention of the Spirit-filled Messiah would result in the healing of the eyes, ears, legs, and tongues of the sick (Isaiah 35:5-6). The Messiah does these things as a reversal of the consequences of the fall in Genesis 3.

The question of the crowd, therefore, is set within the background of the fact that the Holy Spirit will descend upon the Messiah, who comes in the line of David, publicly commissioning Him to be the Saviour of the world. And this is evident in the indwelling and anointing of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus at His birth and baptism.

But even with the knowledge of the Scriptures, the Pharisees remark that “it is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this Man casts out demons” (Vs. 24).

Implications of the Pharisees’ remark

In calling Jesus demon-possessed, they attributed His works to the devil—not to the Holy Spirit. By implication, they called the Holy Spirit the devil. By extension, they were attempting to say that Jesus is not the Messiah—that He is not the beloved Son of God and that He is not the Saviour of the world.

In calling Jesus demon-possessed, they attributed His works to the devil

Some things to note about the Pharisees’ remark:

  1. In Matthew 9:32-34, the Pharisees make the same remark about Jesus after He healed a demon-oppressed man who was also mute.
  2. Being teachers of the Law, the Pharisees were well aware of the Old Testament Scriptures that speak of the works of the Messiah. They know that demon-oppression was evidence of Satan’s act of corruption on the world.
  3. The Pharisees are being hypocritical in their remark about Jesus because their followers were also involved in casting out demons (Matthew 12:27). If they were being consistent, the same tag should have applied to them as well.

Deliberate unbelief

Jesus mentions that all sins and blasphemy will be forgiven—even words spoken against the Son of Man (Vv. 31-32). It is because all of these sins are committed in ignorance. Paul recalls his pre-conversion days in this way: though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief (1 Timothy 1:13). 

But we don’t see ignorance on the part of the Pharisees. They know what Jesus claims of Himself. They know that His works are that of the Spirit-filled Messiah. They didn’t deny the reality of the miracles. Yet, they chose to wrongly represent the Spirit in Jesus because they were deliberate in their unbelief.

We could say they had cause to do so. Jesus repeatedly challenged their superficial spirituality (Matthew 12:1-14). He challenged their unwillingness to believe the words of John the Baptist (ch. 11:16-19). He spoke against their practice of imposing heavy extra-biblical traditions on fellow Jesus (ch. 11:28-30). He called out their hypocritical acts of righteousness (ch. 6:1-18).

All that was beside the fact that they couldn’t accept His authority on earth to forgive sins (ch. 9:2-4), or His authority over the word—both of which the scribes and Pharisees lacked. And so, holding on to their own means of relating to God—relying on their own righteousness than on the Messiah’s work—they vehemently opposed Jesus and repeatedly displayed their rejection by misrepresenting Him.

Persistent, hard-hearted unbelief has no forgiveness

Are we guilty of the same?

Before we answer that question, let’s reiterate the undeniable truths about Jesus:

  1. He is God—one in essence with the Father and the Holy Spirit.
  2. He took on perfect humanity; His perfect life earned our righteousness.
  3. His perfect death earned our eternal forgiveness.
  4. His bodily resurrection from the grave earned our complete victory over sin and death.
  5. He is the Lord of all.

Anyone who has heard and understood these Scriptural truths, yet deliberately misrepresents Jesus are guilty of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Here are a few ways this sin is committed today:

  • In limiting Jesus to merely a good man, a great teacher, a prophet, a god among many, a great revolutionary, etc.
  • In adopting some of His moral teachings for life while omitting His claims of deity and His atoning work.
  • In holding the opinion that Jesus was a created being.
  • In denying His existence all together to avoid confronting the truths about Him.

In summary, the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is committed by those who are adamant about misrepresenting Jesus Christ. Such persistent, hard-hearted unbelief has no forgiveness.

Rufus Simon Varghese

About Rufus Simon Varghese

Born and raised in Dubai, UAE, Rufus completed his Masters in Theology at Asian Christian Academy in Hosur, India. He has since been involved in personal outreach ministries and teaching youngsters Scripture. Currently based in Ernakulam, India, he is teaching at a Bible school as well as ministering to the Hindi-speaking immigrant working population in Kerala.



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