The unforgivable sin, what is it and why do you need to know about it? Have you ever asked yourself the question, “have I committed the unforgivable sin?” Or maybe this question, “can the unpardonable sin be committed today, in this era?“ These are fair questions and today, I am going to help you understand what it is and what it isn’t.
To answer these questions plus some others that will crop up, we need to turn to a few Bible passages that will teach us about the unforgivable sin.
We will use the term “unforgivable sin” interchangeably with
- unpardonable sin and
- blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
Matthew 12, The Unforgivable Sin
Matthew 12:22-32 gives a bit of background leading up to the verse that mentions ‘speaketh against the Holy Ghost.’
You know me, let’s keep the passage in context, so we’ll review it together. I could easily give you the answer to this question but I believe that you will remember this much better if we discovered the answer together.
In Matthew 12:1-8, we learn that the Pharisees were keeping an eye on Jesus as he and his disciples were walking through the cornfield plucking the corn to eat (Matt 12:1-2). The Pharisees questioned Jesus that He and his disciples would “work” on the Sabbath. So after Jesus taught them about the Sabbath, he continued on His way to the synagogue.
It was in the synagogue that Jesus healed a man who had a withered hand. Remember, this is still the Sabbath day so you can imagine that the Pharisees were seething with indignation. Matthew 12:14 states that they “went out and held a council against Him.”
Move down to Matthew 12:22 where our text begins. Jesus is busy healing a man from demonic activity. The Pharisees heard this (Matt 12:24) and were saying that Jesus was casting out devils by Beelzebub, the prince of devils.
Jesus rebuked the Pharisees and teaches them that a kingdom divided by itself cannot stand. He was saying that if He, the Son of God, cast out devils by the Spirit of God then the kingdom of God has come to them. And they didn’t even know it.
I know, what does this have to do with blasphemy against the Holy Spirit? Hold on…it’s coming!
The Unforgivable Sin
He that is not with me is against me, Jesus said in Matthew 12:30 and then he says
- all manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven
- but blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven
- whoever speaks against the Son of man shall be forgiven
- but any word spoken against the Holy Ghost shall never be forgiven. Not now, not ever.
Okay, what do we know?
One, we know that if we sin against Jesus, those sins will be forgiven. Two, if we sin against the Holy Spirit, that sin will not be forgiven.
I’m guessing you have some questions. So, let’s answer them.
Does God forgive repeated sins?
Yes, God forgives repeated sins. Psalm 103:12 reminds us that As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.
Do you wonder if your sins are forgiven? Satan will deceive you to think that your sins are not forgiven. Don’t listen to that lie!
When you repent of your sins, God forgives you. He will never throw your sins back at you the way the devil does. Your sins are no longer in His presence.
If you want a second verse to confirm that, read 1 John 1:9. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
This is an incredible promise that you can depend on! God extends His never-ending mercy and grace to you each day, Lamentations 3:22-23. Do you stumble in sin? God will forgive every time you repent of your sin.
Does this mean that you can willfully sin and be forgiven?
When we sin because we like to do it, that is willfully sinning and is not possible for a Christian. Let’s turn over a few pages to 1 John 3:8-9 to get the clarification on that.
He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose, the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. 9Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
John teaches that those who regularly practice sin is of the devil. Christians, born of God, cannot regularly or habitually, practice sin.
That sin that you do? Are you willfully desiring to do it? Or does it happen unwillingly? Another question
2 Corinthians 7:10-11 says it like this, that godly sorrow leads to repentance which leads to being cleared of all wrong. Interesting, right?
So, don’t fall for satan’s tricks to get you to think that your sins are not forgivable. He is a liar and the father of lies and you belong to Almighty God, the God of Truth!
What is Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit?
Let’s head back to Matthew 12:33-37 where Jesus explains about the tree. This is helpful for you to know who you are. As a born again believer, you are a ‘good tree’, producing good fruit. A good tree cannot produce evil fruit. We just talked about that in the section about “willful sin.”
We need to look at this tree in light of Jesus.
Jesus ended his discourse in verse 37 saying that ‘For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy
Your words will justify you or condemn you. Look back to Matt 12:32 where He said ‘whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it
Do you know what are these “words” that is mentioned?
Recall that the Pharisees accused Jesus of delivering the demonic possessed man by Beelzebub. This is the “corrupt tree”, verse 33. The Pharisees equated the Son of God with satan.
Jesus said that He delivered the demoniac by the Spirit of God. Good tree, good fruit.
The Pharisees said that Jesus is a bad tree producing good fruit. Remember Matthew 12:24? He was referred to as Beelzebub, bad tree.
Now, look at verse 37, by your words you will be condemned because
the blasphemy against the Spirit is saying that Jesus’ good works (by the Spirit) are the fruit of a bad (demonic) tree.Jonathan Pennington, The Gospel Coalition, August 13, 2013
Source: What is the Unforgivable Sin by Andy Rau
In a nutshell, the unpardonable sin is explained as giving credit to
Jesus said then and it is still true today, that calling the works that Jesus does through the Spirit of God, demonic, is totally unforgivable.
The Unforgivable Sin
So, can the unpardonable sin be committed today?
Yes, it can still be committed today because what Jesus said in the book of Matthew is still true and never changes.
Can Christians commit the unpardonable sin? No, Christians cannot commit the unpardonable sin. Here’s a quote that supports the verses we looked at:
“If you’re worried that you may be guilty of the unforgivable sin, you almost certainly are not,” Rick Cornish aptly points out in his book Five Minute Theologian. “Concern about committing it reveals the opposite attitude of what the sin is. Those who might be guilty wouldn’t care because they have no distress or remorse over the possibility.”Lee Strobel, Investigating Faith Newsletter, BibleGateway Blog
So, as long as your heart is tender towards God Almighty, you cannot commit the unforgivable sin. You don’t spend time fretting over whether you have accidentally committed this unforgivable
Have you been thinking about the verses that speak of “grieving” or “quenching” the Holy Spirit? If so, that is a different topic altogether. You can read more about that in this post, 5 Things that Grieve the Holy Spirit, that will be very helpful for you.
There are some other posts about the Holy Spirit that you might find helpful in your walk in the Lord. Check these out!
Sins that are not Considered Unforgivable
In my research, I learned that there are many people, including Christians, who think that certain sins are unforgivable.
Well, there are many who will not extend forgiveness toward others for things done wrong to them. But with God, that’s another story. As we read already, when we repent of sins, God is ready to forgive them and throw them as far as the east is from the west, Psalm 103:12.
So, let’s look at some sins that we may consider unforgivable but are not.
When we repent, God will forgive
- using His name in vain. The third commandment tells us not to use His name in vain but yet, God will forgive us if we do.
- suicide. Such a touchy subject but remember this, as a Christian, there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God, Romans 8:38-39. So if a Christian is depressed to the point that he or she commits suicide, God will forgive him/her. God sees the heart. God also knows who His children are and when someone is suffering from depression and isn’t thinking clearly, He knows. And He will forgive them when He welcomes them in heaven.
- divorce. Yes, God hates divorce, He hates what it does to the husband and wife, what it does to the family. But, you know what? God loves the people in a broken marriage. God loves you even if you are divorced. Just like He loves me when I expected that He would hate me because I left my marriage.
- murder. God loves His children and when someone commits murder, either premeditated or accidental, God will forgive them. Consequences of the sin will have to be lived out but God will extend mercy and forgiveness.
- breaking and entry, robbery. Stealing from others what doesn’t belong to you, is forgivable upon repentance. Christians won’t purposefully commit these sins but the unsaved would and they can expect forgiveness when they repent in the sincerity of heart.
- abortion. While this is unimaginable, there are millions of women around the world having abortions for one reason or another. And again, with a sincere heart of repentance, God will forgive each and every one of them for this sin.
All of these sins and more, God will forgive. Remember, Jesus said that ALL sins are forgivable except for one.
So, are you okay now, knowing that you haven’t committed the unpardonable sin? Can you rejoice in your love for God and be thankful for the Holy Spirit living in you, leading and directing you?
Are you desiring to live a holy life but not sure how to do that? Or maybe you want to know about walking in the truth of His Word? These posts will be helpful:
That’s a Wrap
There you have it. The unforgivable sin explained. You now know
- God forgives repeated sin and does not throw them back at you
- Christians cannot habitually and willfully sin against God
- the unpardonable sin can still be committed today but not by those who are tenderhearted towards God, serving Him in humility and out of love.
- Christians cannot commit the unforgivable sin because of your love for God
- blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is crediting the works of God done through the Holy Spirit to
- the unforgivable sin is committed by those who are not the sons of God
What do you think about this? Has this cleared up for you what the unforgivable sin is? I’d love to hear from you. Please leave me a comment below!
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Cindy Barnes has been called by God in the early 80s to be a teacher of His Word. She is a serious student of the Word, focusing on the Inductive Bible Study Method since 2007. Her passion is to teach women how to study the Bible using this method. In addition, she desires for women to develop an intense yearning to draw closer to God through reading and writing out the Bible.
Cindy teaches hundreds of women in her private online Bible Study Group who express their joy of growing deeper in their spiritual walk.
You can stay in touch with Cindy on Facebook through Women’s Tabletop Friendship.