We’ve established–by the word of Jesus as found in holy Scripture–that there is a sin which is an everlasting sin, one unto death. This sin is popularly described as “the unpardonable sin.”
What does this mean and what is this sin? I assure you that this is a solemn teaching. Jesus Himself described His teaching in that way by beginning His message with “Truly, truly,” a phrase that indicates a solemn declaration. This phrase expresses an important, solemn fact which must be accepted and believed. Jesus spoke these words in response to the unbelief of the pharisees and the doubts of His own family. You can see a discussion of the context here.
Jesus affirmed that all sins and blasphemies can be forgiven (Mark 3:28). He means, of course, all sins of which people repent. Immediately thereafter, He said that one sin cannot be forgiven, the sin of blasphemy “against the Holy Spirit.” This is a sin which “will never be forgiven.” It is “an eternal sin” (Mark 3:29).
Of what does He refer?
In Greek, the word blasphemy can have a narrow sense as when Jesus used it the second time (the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit) and a broader sense of insolent language, defamation, or reviling (as in the first instance).
Even the narrow sin of blasphemy (a defiant irreverence) can be forgiven. Wasn’t this the sin of Simon Peter when he cursed and denied Jesus? How could Saul (Paul) have been forgiven?
Why are all other sins, even heinous sins like that of David or the prodigal son, pardonable but this one is not? What is it about one who speaks against the Holy Spirit that is unforgivable?
The context makes the answer clear. The context shows us that the scribes attributed the work of the Holy Spirit to the acts of Satan. They did this deliberately, defiantly, and willfully. While the evidence spoke to the contrary, they affirmed that Jesus cast out demons by the power of Satan.
Forgiveness demands contrition, sorrow, and repentance. The Scribes had none of these. They apparently did not want anything to do with godly sorrow. In place of sadness over sin, they substituted hardness of heart.
Their sin was unpardonable because they refused to follow the path that leads to repentance and forgiveness.
Every sin of man can be forgiven if he cries to God to be merciful to him a sinner, but there is no forgiveness for the person who refuses to heed God’s call.
The following is a passage of Scripture for all of us, a passage that looked back to the rebellion in the wilderness:
“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts” (Psalm 95:7).
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