The Unpardonable Sin

The Unpardonable Sin

[An edited written extract from the recording – Part 32 in the series of Ephesians ‘The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit (6)], Minister Brian Bradley.

Matthew 12 King James Version (KJV)

31 Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.

32 And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.

We return again to our weekly ministry in this great epistle, and in coming to verses 13 & 14 for the first time in this opening chapter we read of the Holy Spirits’ work in the presdestinating grace of God, reading of him as the seal of every believer, and the earnest.  We thought it was appropriate to spend time with the detailed consideration of his person and work and upon the many symbols, or emblems used to represent him.  And so for the past 5 weeks we have done so and we trust we have been helpful in giving us a better understanding of the glory of his wondrous person and vital work.

Last time we made reference to the Holy Spirit and the ‘unpardonable sin’ against him and having given some prayerful thought about this I’ve had cause to be dissatisfied with simply a passing reference for its teaching is unclear to so many people therefore we believe it will be of some help if we devote some time to this issue.

The Lord Jesus has said ‘All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.’ And he further stressed this in the next verse, ‘… but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come [Matt 12 v31-32] also stated in Mark 3v28 and Luke 12v10].

Before we consider this particular damning sin we should note that when the Lord stated that this sin would not be forgiven ‘neither in this world, neither in the world to come’ that some men have used this in support of the false teachings about ‘Purgatory’ or the ‘Larger Hope,’ and so both papists and protestants claim that this supports their teaching that there can be forgiveness of sin outside of this world except for this particular sin.  But, the whole of scripture stands against this for the Lord was here simply saying this would not change now or forever concerning the terrible consequences of the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.

It is clear from what the Lord says in this context that blasphemy in itself does not necessarily damn people for he said all manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men [Matt 12v31] even blasphemy of Christ himself [v32], so what we are considering is a sin which certainly damns all who are guilty of it.  So what really is this sin?

Many men have various views upon it and so first we must address what it is not and trust that what we have to say will help to clear away false notions.

First, it is not ‘final unbelief’ that damns men, as if this was the unpardonable sin, for some believe it is that God does not save a person who has resisted the Holy Spirit unto death, and they claim that God will forgive all other transgressions but this one, that is ‘a refusal to trust Christ for forgiveness,’ and men have regarded this as the unpardonable sin.  But this is something committed long before death and when the Lord spoke of this he did so to the Pharisees (or alluded to them) who were not at the point of dying.

Others believe that this sin is the denial of the deity of the Holy Spirit, and that it may seem, from what the Lord said, that it was a warning of their profaning or being frivolous or light in their use of the name of the Holy Spirit in swearing and although this is a serious sin, it is not necessarily damning.

Others believe that it is the sin of ‘so deeply grieving’ the Holy Spirit that it leads to damnation and although the Holy Spirit is grieved deeply over what people who profess his name may do, it is certainly not the unpardonable sin.  King David certainly did deeply grieve the Holy Spirit for he clearly knew what God commanded by the 6th and 7th Commandments; he nevertheless murdered Uriah the Hittite and committed adultery with Bathsheba and we hear him plead, in his psalm of penitence [Psalm 51 v 11] ‘Take not thy Holy Spirit from me,’ and although the sin was horrendous it was not unpardonable.  David did not commit what was certainly damned.

In Hebrews Chapter 6 in the opening section of that chapter we have in those verses what has troubled many as to what we should understand of those there described; those who were sealed into God’s wrath for we are told of them it is impossible to renew them unto repentance for sin and the same people are referred to in Hebrews [Ch 10v26-29] who are said to do despite to the Spirit of grace [v29]; they are those who sin wilfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth [v26].

But these scriptures are not about the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit but concern the many Hebrews who experienced great influences of the Spirit and believing had turned from Judaism to Christianity yet, after being so favoured by God, had turned back again and now were not believers as shown [Hebrews Ch 6v9] when Paul says ‘But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak.  Those referred to here are not the children of grace but them who are wilfully rebellious and thus are left with no possible forgiveness but it’s not the blasphemy against the Spirit that’s in view.

We stress no true believer can be guilty of this sin for they live and die altogether pardoned; they both know and have everlasting life and this is the case with every true Christian. They shall never perish being secure in the hands of the Father and the Son [Jn 10 v27-30].  They are assured that the work of God commenced in them, God will complete [Phil 1 v 6].  The Father having given a people to his Son as a love gift as we read in John 17 will ensure they are kept unto their state of glorification and thus, this unpardonable sin must refer to a people outside of grace.

In coming to an understanding of what the Lord meant by this we must keep the context in mind.  This is the key to its meaning of why it is there cannot be forgiveness when this sin is committed.  Though the most heinous sin can be forgiven, the foulest sins of the flesh, of the mind, of the heart and of the tongue can be forgiven such is this sin that it leaves those who commit it without hope.

We learn from the context that the Pharisees were ascribing to Satan what the Holy Spirit through Christ was achieving and doing.  The Pharisees were doing so wilfully and deliberately in spite of all the evidences to the contrary.  They were resolute that Jesus cast out demons, not by the Spirit but, by Beelzebub.

The Pharisees and Scribes in this context had no sorrow over sin, they were hard and censorious and devoid of pity and so strictly in its context it concerns what these people claimed of the work of Christ in casting out demons; that it was of the evil one and not of the Holy Spirit.

In concluding this point we ought to ask – is this sin confined to the Pharisees in the days of Christ or can it be committed today?  Is it limited to that time or is it not?

Now I don’t believe that, in its strictest sense, it can be the case today but there are those today who certainly are guilty of the reverse of this sin in claiming that what is demonic is the work of the Holy Spirit.  The Pharisees were claiming that what was of the Holy Spirit was really of Satan yet great numbers of Charismatics today delight in the power of the spirit among them when it is rather lying signs and wonders, the workings of Satan [2 Thess v9].  They are deceived into believing the same thing but in reverse to what we find in the context of the teaching of Lord Jesus Christ concerning the Pharisees.

We’ll not leave this point before stressing again that no true believer need be troubled about committing this unpardonable sin and that when a person is truly penitent there is forgiveness and so we need not despair [Psalm 103 v12; Isaiah 1 v18; 44v22; 55 v6&7; Micah 7 v18&19;] while on the other hand there is no excuse for indifference about blasphemy of any kind.

Now another point we must mention in this context of the Holy Spirit is in relationship to human responsibility ……………….


Note; The recording [Part 32 as above] of which this is a partial transcript was played Sabbath Evening Service 27th December 2020.  Due to an oversight the recording was particularly poor and has been subsequently edited and this can still be accessed from the Events Diary EVENING SERVICE 27th December.  However a decision has been made to re-record it before re-posting it on the website again.  We hope, until then, the above will be of help regarding those parts of the teaching which were hardly discernible.