What Is the Unpardonable Sin?

- Sam B. Sears

        Luke 12:10 “And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him.” (NASB)

Mark 3:28-29 “Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin.” (NASB)

              In the past few months, we have been addressing sin in our modern culture. In today’s societies, we sometimes hear “all sin is equal” from the pulpit, which is incorrect. We can see some sins defended, by pointing at the hypocrisy of others, or other seemingly worse sins, which is poor thinking. While not all sin is equal, one sin is often called unpardonable. What is it?

              Some have artificially elevated sexual sins to the level of unforgivable. Severe, sure, but unforgivable? No! Beyond God’s ability to address? Of course not! It’s not like Jesus’ blood is too weak to cover something! Can God change a person who is committing these sins? Of course! Can he aid them in resisting temptation? Yes! Is God even able to protect someone from the appeal to commit these sins altogether? Praise Him, He is!   

              While some list these or other more conventional sins as unforgivable, those who read the texts in question can be confident that those sins are not what Jesus was talking about. Neither Mark nor Luke, in the verses that detail the “unpardonable sin” topic, make any mention of sex, murder, etc. Indeed, we see David having arranged murder, after his lust boiled over into adultery. He was not left unforgiven, but even rejoiced that he would see his dead son again in Heaven, and pursued God with his whole heart, after repenting (admitting and turning from) and being forgiven for his sins.

              In both Luke and Matthew, we see that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is the action that cannot be forgiven. To understand this, we must understand what blaspheming is. In short, blaspheming refers to speaking against something that is holy in an angry or evil way. Both Mark and Luke contain context clues to help us understand this in a more straightforward way. In Luke 12:9, Jesus warns against denying Him. In Mark 3:30, Jesus’ opponents were saying that He had an evil spirit. 

              If you are worried that you have committed the unpardonable sin, that’s a good sign! If you had, you wouldn’t be concerned about your relationship with God. Understood in context, it’s certainly not just a single act, but Jesus is referring to His opponents who refuse to see His many miracles, and many fulfilled prophecies, as evidence that He is God. This is not about a moment, or a doubt, but a consistent attitude. His opponents in view here even went as far as attributing the work of God the Holy Spirit to evil. When someone has turned so hard away from God that they are calling Him evil, their eternal fate is sealed. “It is not so much that God refuses to forgive, as it is that the sinner refused to allow Him.” - Walter W. Wessel.

              Whatever sin you may be experiencing, or temptation you may be battling, it’s worth dealing with, telling God about it honestly in prayer and seeking His assistance, to remove any relational barrier between you and your Heavenly Maker. 1 John 1:9 states, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (NASB)

Originally printed in the September 2019 FCC Newsletter