Occasionally we are confronted by a person who feels he has committed the unpardonable sin. So let’s acquaint ourselves with what the Bible has to say about this subject.
One day as Jesus was teaching, He was interrupted by a group of people bringing a man possessed by an evil spirit. The poor man was both blind and dumb. Jesus cast the demon out of the man and restored both his sight and speech. Many in the crowd were simply amazed and began to exclaim, Isn’t this the Son of David, the Messiah?” But others replied, “No, this man casts out evil spirits by the power of Beelzebub, the prince of the demons” (Matthew 12:24). Since Jesus knew their thoughts, He proceeded to teach some important truths about men and kingdoms. He said that every kingdom divided against itself could not stand.
The same is true with a city or house. His logic was that if He was casting out demons by the authority of the prince of demons, this meant that Satan’s kingdom was being divided—it was warring against itself! Naturally, it would crumble to pieces. Knowing that His accusers were motivated by envy and were in danger of saying words they would later regret, Jesus began to teach, “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. And whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come” (Matthew 12:31-32)
The unpardonable sin is attributing the works of the Holy Spirit to Satan. It is calling the work of God’s Spirit the activity of an unclean, evil spirit. This sin is not one of ignorance or misunderstanding; it is a willful sin against the light of revealed truth. No one commits this sin by accident. Jesus knew that in a few short months the Holy Spirit would be outpoured there in Jerusalem. So He was forewarning these religious rebels about any dangerous accusations they might be tempted to make. Blasphemy means to speak evil of God; to revile or speak reproachfully instead of reverently against God or sacred things. To blaspheme against the Holy Ghost would be to ridicule, speak slanderous words or mock the experience of receiving God’s Spirit.
We assume this sin could not be committed before coming to the Lord, by the example of the Apostle Paul. Years after his conversion he confessed to having blasphemed and bitterly persecuted the Church and “compelled them to blaspheme…(Acts 26:11). Paul found mercy because he had done it ignorantly in unbelief (I Timothy 1:13). Often we hear blasphemeous statements made against Christ and the Church before people come to the knowledge of the truth. Yet they are forgiven and washed clean by the precious blood of Jesus.
How, then, is the unpardonable sin committed? First, a person must have an understanding of truth. He must comprehend the necessity for repentance, water baptism in the Name of Jesus Christ and the infilling of the Holy Spirit. He must have tasted of the heavenly gift himself. “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame” (Hebrews 6:4-6). Does this mean that a backslider can never return to God? No. Thousands of people have strayed from God and gone deep into sin. Yet they have come back to Christ and been refilled with the Spirit. What is the difference between those who backslide and those who “fall away”?
Undoubtedly, it has to do with convictions. We first come to God and repent because we’re “convicted” that we should. God’s Word pricks our hearts and “convicts” us of sinful actions. Then we begin to abstain from many sinful practices and worldly amusements because we develop “convictions’ against those things. Our entire lives are guided by the teaching of the Word. These convictions tell us the way God wants us to live. Most people who backslide live in sin—but they never lose their convictions. They will say, “I know I don’t live it, but it’s still truth. The Holy Ghost is real because I once received it.” However, a few leave the Church and can never make it back. They lose their convictions about basic doctrines and compromise truths once held dear. When a person can make jokes about sacred truths and claim there is nothing to it, that individual has “fallen away”—and will never be recovered!
Here are some of the steps usually taken when a person falls away from God:
- A continual sinning that grieves the Holy Spirit (Eph 4:30)
- When the Holy Ghost convicts the heart, a stubborn resistance is made against the Spirit. (II Tim 3:8)
- The Spirit of God is quenched; that is, extinguished, put out, or suppressed (I Thes 5:19)
- Scriptural truths are willfully rejected. Love for the truth and holy things of God seems to die (Heb 10:26)
- The operation of the Spirit is ridiculed; slanderous words are directed against God; jokes are made about the things of God, the Church, or God’s people; sacred things are mocked (Mat 12:31-32)
- Church government is despised; the authority of God’s ministers is resisted; there is no fear to speak evil of God’s ministers or spiritual things that are not understood. (Jud 10-16)
What happens to a person who has committed the unpardonable sin? God gives him over to a reprobate mind—or a mind that is blinded; no longer capable of judging. “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient” (Romans 1:28) “...Because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion that they should believe a lie. That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (II Thessalonians 2:10-12).
A way has been provided for each of us to keep from becoming a reprobate. The answer is given by the Apostle Paul:
“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” (II Cor 13:5).