Matthew 12:31-32 NKJV
31 “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. 32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.
Over the years, I have read many articles about the “blasphemy of the Holy Spirit”. There are many different ideas about what this sin may be. It is plain from this scripture that every other sin or blasphemy can be forgiven.
I used to pastor a small home church in Salt Lake City. Before I would teach from the Bible we would have supper. We always invited the local missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons). The Mormon missionaries go about in pairs. When a missionary has been on his mission for a year, he takes on a new missionary. Then after two years, his mission for his church is finished and the new missionary he trained for a year, takes on a new partner and the cycle continues. Almost each week we had different missionaries come by. The missionaries don’t make a salary while they are serving. They live off of what they have saved or what money their families send them. It was always nice to be able to feed them and also to hope that they would hear the true Word of God and give their lives to the Lord. At times, there would be one missionary and the bishop of the local LDS Ward. In other words, the pastor of the local Mormon church.
One night, one of the missionaries asked me what kind of Christian I was. I told him I was just a Bible believing Christian. He asked me if I was “born again” Christian and I told him I was. He smiled and said that his grandmother was a born again Christian. Then he asked, “Do you think that God can forgive a person who has committed murder?” This opened the door for me to share about God’s grace and that God can forgive any sin. Any sin that is, except for the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.
Obviously, if there is a sin that cannot be forgiven, I believe it is important for the church, or true believers in Christ to understand what that sin is. Another thing is obvious, God is a just God and there would not be a sin that is unforgivable without Him telling us what it is. The book of Hebrews holds the answer to the question.
Hebrews 10:26 NKJV
26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins
Here is, what appears to be, the answer to our question. Willful sin, once a person has gained the knowledge of the truth, leaves a person without a sacrifice for sin. In order to understand what the unpardonable sin is, there are several Bible truths that you have to understand. The first one is that God gives each person on this earth a free will to accept Christ or not. There is a teaching called “Calvinism” or a “Reformed Theology” that teaches men do not have free will but rather, God sends people to this earth that are predestined to be saved and some are sent here that are predestined to go to hell. This is totally against the nature of our gracious God! God is a just God and would never predestine a soul to hell. God is not a respector of persons (Acts 10:34).
John 3:16 KJV
16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Notice that God did not love the world that only certain people could have everlasting life. No, God so loved the world that “WHOSOEVER” could have everlasting life. The only thing you have to do is believe in Him!
Let’s go back to our scripture in Hebrews chapter 10. If we have receive the “knowledge of the truth” that means we have come to know Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. When we receive Christ as our savior, he becomes our sacrifice for sin. Now, look at the rest of that scripture. If we sin willfully after accepting Christ, it says there is no more sacrifice for sin. How many Christians do you know that have sinned willfully after becoming saved? The answer is, all of us! So, does that mean all of us are going to hell? Absolutely not but we need to look at another passage of scripture to understand the truth.
4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 if they fall away,[b] to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.
Here is the scripture that unlocks our mystery. The author of the book of Hebrews talks about a specific class of people and tells us that if they fall away, it is impossible to “renew them again to repentance”.
Who are these people that fit into this group that the author of Hebrew speaks of? He is very clear about who they are. Let’s break the scripture down and find out.
- “Those who were enlightened.”
- They have “tasted the heavenly gift”.
- They have “become partakers of the Holy Spirit”.
- They have “tasted the good Word of God”.
- They have tasted the “powers of the age to come”.
To understand how a Christian can commit the unpardonable sin, you must understand what the author of Hebrews says here.
Numbers 1 and 2 show us that this person has become a Christian and has truly known Christ. I have heard many unlearned Christians say they believe that this is speaking of people who really weren’t Christians. How could someone who is not a true believer have ever been enlightened and tasted the heavenly gift? An unbeliever absolutely cannot commit this sin.
In number 3, we see that this person has become a partaker in the Holy Spirit. While it is true that when we become a Christian and are born again, we receive the Holy Spirit in our life, this is speaking of something else. This is where it is important for us to understand the basic doctrines of the Bible. To fully understand what the author of Hebrews is saying, it is important to understand the three baptisms of the believer.
The Bible speaks of the baptism in the Holy Spirit at least three times in the book of Acts and Paul goes into detail in 1 Corinthians about the baptism in the Holy Spirit and the evidence of it which is speaking in tongues. (See my article on the Three Baptisms of the Believer).
I grew up in a Baptist church that did not ever teach about the baptism in the Holy Spirit. In fact, it wasn’t until after I was baptized in the Holy Spirit at the age of 18, that I first read the book of Acts. I was amazed at the miracles. I had never even heard of the miracles that took place in the book of Acts. When a believer is baptized in the Holy Spirit, he is a partaker of the Holy Spirit. Then, his spiritual eyes are opened and the Word of God becomes real to him. As he studies the Word of God he tastes the Word of God and as he experiences all of this he begins to taste the powers of the age to come.
Every Christian, unless they just got saved, has willfully sinned and we know that they are not going to hell when they die. The sacrifice of Christ still atones for their sins. We have seen the specific class of believer that is capable of this sin. There is only a small percentage of believers that fit into this category.
How does a person that fits into the category which the author of Hebrews speaks of commit the unpardonable sin? It is very simple and if you are not careful, you will miss it. A person commits the unpardonable sin the same way he gets saved. Bear in mind that the only person that can commit this sin is the person described above. He gets saved by believing in Christ by his own free will. The way he commits the unpardonable sin is to use his free will, knowing full well what he is doing and he consciously walks away from God, wanting to have no more to do with God. You see, he cannot commit this sin unless he truly knows God and knows the Word and has tasted the powers of the age to come. Look at Paul as our example. He had been to Heaven and had been given what we now call, the “Pauline Revelation”. Paul could fit all the criteria listed above and could have committed this sin if he would have wanted to walk away from God.
Why would anyone in their right mind do such a thing? It is hard for me to say because that person would know full well that there would no longer be redemption for him and a place in eternal torment would await him. But, we have an account of angels that fell from grace. How could they, having been in the presence of the almighty God, having seen Him much more clearly than any man, walk away from His presence and turn from Him. They must surely know what fate awaits them but apparently they are disillusioned. Satan, himself once one of the archangels, because of his pride, walked away from God and tried to set himself above God. Apparently his pride blinded him to the truth that there is no God but Jehovah God. There will be no redemption for Satan or for the fallen angels. Nor will there be any redemption for those that commit the unpardonable sin.
I believe, in most cases, when a person gets close to committing this sin, I think God will take them home early to save their souls. Kenneth Hagin used to tell a story about a very famous minister in the 1940’s and 1950’s. Jack Coe was known for the miraculous things that God did during his tent meetings. He was very brash in the way he treated people but miracles happened. Once, Oral Roberts had the largest tent in the world in which he held his crusades. Coe, wanted to have the largest tent so he sent some of his employees out to measure Robert’s tent during one of his meetings so he could have one built just a little bigger. That way, he could boast that he had the biggest tent.
Coe was involved in the “Voice of Healing” movement. Voice of Healing magazine was started during the late 1940’s to chronicle the move of God through several ministers and especially Jack Coe and A.A. Allen. Kenneth Hagin was younger than those two ministers but had gotten involved in the Voice of Healing and was at one of their large meetings when word came that Jack Coe was very ill and it did not look like he would live. They called all the ministers to the front to pray for him. About half way down to the platform, Hagin said the Holy Spirit spoke to him and told him not to go any further. Hagin stopped where he was, the prayer was given for Coe and Hagin returned to his seat.
Kenneth Hagin explained that he felt like what happened to a man in 1 Corinthians 5 is what had happened with Jack Coe.
1 Corinthians 5:5
To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
“What in the world is this saying”, you might ask. Chances are you have never heard a minister talking about delivering a person to “Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” In this case, there was a member of the church in Corinth that was having sexual relations with his step-mother. Obviously, the church didn’t do anything about it and apparently the man did not want to repent of his sin. When this happens, the church should step away from the person and not pray for them. The whole purpose of this is not to punish the person but to encourage them to repent and fall back in line with the Word of God. The good news is, in 2 Corinthians 2, we see that this man apparently had repented and Paul wrote the church to tell them to forgive him and to pray for him so that he would not be swallowed up in excessive sorrow.
How much better would it be to lose your physical life and still go to Heaven? It is by God’s mercy that God would allow Satan to destroy a person’s life so that they would still live forever in Heaven.
1 John 5:16
If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.
John speaks of the unpardonable sin. He calls it “the sin unto death”. Truly, it is the only sin that will send a man to hell and doom his spirit for eternity.
Rest assured, when you have asked Christ into your life and you your faith is in Him, you can KNOW that you have eternal life with Him!
My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.
1 John 5:11-13
And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.  He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.  These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 2:1
My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
It is such a comforting thing to know that you will spend forever with your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! I am reminded of the song, “Blessed Assurance”.
Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.
Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels, descending, bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.
Perfect submission, all is at rest,
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.
© 2011 by Jay S. McMullan. All Rights Reserved.