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Dear COA Family,

What is the unpardonable sin?

The Gospel writer Mark records for us one of the scariest verses in the Bible:
“Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an
eternal sin”— for they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit” (Mark 3:28-30).

These verses, repeated again in Matthew 12, are undoubtedly the words of Jesus. In here, Jesus emphatically refers to the sin which will never be forgiven – blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.

This then begs the question: What exactly is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit?

Is it speaking ill of the Holy Spirit? Or is it having critical or negative thoughts about the Holy Spirit? Or is it disobeying or even resisting the Holy Spirit?

If it is any of the above sins, then I am afraid that all of us have committed that sin at some point in our lives. We have spoken or thought ill of God and have at numerous times quenched the
leading of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Yet our Lord Jesus is also emphatic in saying that he can and will forgive all our sins when we repent. He has died on the cross for our sins and his blood is able to wash us spotlessly clean.

This is why the Apostle John writes confidently:
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Therefore, I believe that the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit spoken of by Jesus refers to a deliberate and persistent rejection of the Holy Spirit after having been convicted of the truth of God!

The context of Jesus’ words gives us the clue. The Pharisees, after witnessing Jesus driving out the demon from a man such that he could both see and speak, attributed Jesus’ power to
Beelzebub, the prince of demons. This is an absolutely absurd claim as Satan will not go about casting out his demons and wrecking his own work. Instead, Jesus’ authority clearly comes from the Holy Spirit!

Knowing this fact, the Pharisees chose not only to reject the power and authority of the Holy Spirit, but also to insult him as the prince of demons. They had deliberately chosen not to believe and hardened their own hearts in doing so. They would come to a point where they were beyond repentance and therefore committed the sin which is unforgivable.

There are two applications from this teaching:

1. You have not committed the unpardonable sin as long as you repent.
The devil has used these verses to trap many who have weak consciences such that they think they can never be forgiven. That is patently untrue. Jesus can and will forgive our every sin as long as we confess and repent of it. There is no sin too hard for God to forgive us. It is only when we don’t repent that we are in grave danger of being judged for our sins.

2. Never underestimate the effects of continued rebellion against the Holy Spirit.
Some have taken sin too lightly. They continue in sinful ways thinking that God will always forgive. They shut out the Spirit’s voice and sear their own consciences until they feel nothing about sinning. That is the point where repentance becomes impossible and their sin unforgivable.

Church, let us therefore never doubt the goodness and grace of our Saviour towards us nor take sinning lightly. By doing so, we will walk in the light of Christ always.

God bless,
Revd Ian