by Rayola Kelley
Q: What is the unpardonable sin?
A: This is a good question. Even though many Christians know the answer to this question, they do not always understand the implications behind it. In fact, many act as if different sins, such as murder and divorce are unpardonable, but the Bible is clear that there is only one grave offense that cannot be pardoned by God. Granted, some sins are considered abominable to the Lord, but upon repentance of such sins, He is still able to pardon the individual and cleanse him or her from all unrighteousness because of the work of redemption. However, for the one unpardonable sin, there will be no grounds available in which a person can receive a pardon. It is also true, the consequences for some sins are irreversible as far as what one might reap in this lifetime, but if forgiven, it will not be held against the person on the Day of Judgment; but, for the unpardonable sin there is no place of repentance.
As you will see, the unpardonable sin is not just a matter of rebelling against God by trespassing His Law or covenant. It is not just an issue of failing to do right or being flippant about the things of God; rather, the unpardonable sin is a complete personal affront against God. It is not a matter of saying something in a fit of anger; rather, it is diabolical calculation of the heart to not only falsely accuse God, but accredit something to Him that is utterly opposed to who He is. Such accusation is for the main purpose of disregarding anything associated with the matter as wrong, insignificant, and foolish. It is not only a matter of rejecting overtures from Him, but harboring a mocking and scornful attitude towards Him.
This is confirmed by the attitude or action associated with the unpardonable sin, and that is blasphemy. “Blasphemy” means to vilify. Such vilification towards God begins with an impious attitude that is void of any real respect of regard towards God or the matters of His kingdom. Since the attitude is present, action will follow. The action of blasphemy in relationship to God is to speak evil against that which is associated to Him with the intent of putting it in the wrong light. It also will cause the person to rail on the point of contention while reviling its truths and fruits with scoffing.
With this in mind let us now look at the incident where Jesus clearly defined this unforgivable offense in Matthew 12:24-32. The interaction that took place where the unpardonable sin was mentioned occurred between Jesus and the Pharisees. The first thing the Pharisees did was show total disregard for Jesus by accusing Him of casting out devils by the power of Satan. This was a calculated affront on Jesus’ character and His authority by religious people who did not love the truth nor were they interested in seeking to properly discern the spirit that was present. They also had no real concern about the godly fruits that also followed the miracles.
Jesus refuted their evil accusation by stating that a kingdom divided against itself will not stand. He then inferred that He cast out devils by the Holy Spirit. In essence, the Pharisees were accrediting the power that was prevalent in Jesus’ life as being from Satan, rather than from the Holy Spirit.
Jesus also explained that blasphemy against men and even against Him could be forgiven, but to accredit the power of the Spirit to Satan, to speak evil of His miraculous working, and to rail on or mock His authority with blatant disregard was something that heaven could not, and would not, forgive. This brings us to the real crux of the issue, which is the character and work of the Spirit.
The Spirit is the last front where salvation is concerned. He is the One who convicts of sin to bring a person to an awareness of his or her need of salvation. If a person rejects such conviction, the Holy Spirit will withdraw His presence.
The Holy Spirit is holy and can only land where the ground of a person’s heart is tender. If He seeks to land, but the heart is hard, He will be grieved and will lift off of the profane ground, leaving those who are hard and defiant against the Lord to taste the judgment that has already been pronounced on the god of this world.
Upon salvation, the Spirit will come into our lives to powerfully recreate a new life that becomes an expression of righteousness. To incorrectly judge, mock, or rail on His work of regeneration and edification in the lives of others or on behalf of others is to try to personally quench Him in the Body of Christ, causing Him to quietly recede to a place where the accuser will no longer retain any real knowledge of God.
Even though Jesus invites man to be saved, it is the Father through the Spirit who draws him to receive the real work of redemption. Without the drawing or conviction of the Spirit, there is no means by which man can be saved. Therefore, the Holy Spirit is the last hope or means by which a person can receive salvation. If He is accredited with evil, mocked for His power and goodness, His work rejected because it has been ascribed to Satan, and completely stripped of His authority in the mind of the person, this will mean that the complete testimony of God has been thrust on the trash heap of unbelief and mockery. Since all that is holy, true and right has been cast aside, this leaves nothing for the Holy Spirit to work with; therefore, He has no other choice but to completely withdraw His presence from that person.
Dr. Gary Cohen in an article he wrote for the magazine, “Zion’s Fire” made this statement about this subject: “The unpardonable sin involves even more than saying a final “No” to God. It is also making a final spiritual decision to attribute the entire testimony of God, by His Spirit through His Son, to be the work of Satan. It is labeling the ultimate good as evil. This is such a blasphemy that the Spirit of God no longer deals with such a person.”
The Pharisees blasphemed Jesus because they chose not to believe His testimony that was confirmed by the miracles. Today there are people who try to erroneously ride on the reputation of the Spirit, while out of jealousy often accredit His intervention in the lives of others as being fleshly or demonic. There are some who are on the outside fringes of the work and move of the Spirit who are ignorant of His ways. As a result, they mock and deride what they do not understand.
Today, I fear that there are some in the religious realm who possess much religious creed, but do not know the Holy Spirit. Subsequently, there is a danger for such individuals to blaspheme. Although such blasphemy may not be calculated, those who call on the name of the Lord must be careful to properly discern the spirit behind all matters. In order to properly discern as believers, we must ensure that we understand the character, ways, and work of the Spirit according to the Word of God.
I do hope this brings greater clarity to this subject.