Did you know that the Bible talks about a sin that God can never forgive? Throughout the centuries since the New Testament was written, millions of people have lived in fear that they may have committed it. Is it really true? Is there something that God is unable to forgive?
The Bible says in Matthew 12:31 – “the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven unto men.” So, it turns out there really is a sin that can't be forgiven, and it's blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
That raises a crucial question, just what is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit? Well, that's a pretty important question; because this is the one sin the Bible says you can never have forgiven. If you do this one thing, if you blaspheme the Holy Spirit, you will never make it into the kingdom of heaven, and that's pretty serious.
In John 16:8 the Bible is referring to the Holy Spirit when it says, “And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment." The Holy Spirit works as a kind of "conscience" for the whole world. In verse 13 Jesus continues, "However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth." Sometimes, people think of the Holy Spirit as a policeman, always ready to pounce on you if you have a little fun. But that's not a very accurate picture. The reason He speaks to your heart and lets you know when you're out of line is because He's trying to lead you closer to Jesus. He knows you need Jesus if you are going to be happy.
But what happens when you decide not to follow the voice of the Holy Spirit? What happens when you feel the pang of guilt and you know the right thing to do, but you deliberately choose against it? Many theologians teach that this is when people actually step into the territory of the unforgivable sin. They refer to it as grieving the Holy Spirit.
I recently read a story about a radar detector. A man bought a car that had a radar detector in it, and at first the radar detector had the man hitting the brakes every two blocks, whether he was speeding or not, because it seemed to go off a lot. But over time, the man noticed that he hardly heard it any more, even though it was still beeping just as often.
People are pretty good at tuning things out. It’s amazing how fast we learn to sleep near a busy railroad or how quickly we stop hearing the planes when we live near an airport. I will agree that it is a serious issue when we tune out the Holy Spirit, but is it unforgivable? I have to say no!
How can I be sure that grieving the Holy Spirit is not the unpardonable sin? First of all let’s go back to Matthew 12:31 and read the whole verse. “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men." This is a strange verse. There are two facts separated by a but.
1. Every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men
2. The blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men
Notice that EVERY SIN will be forgiven. Now read 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." Now, you might have noticed that there were no exclusions in that verse. It says that if we confess our sins, Jesus will both forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Is there a sin that God cannot forgive? The answer is yes, and the sin that God can't forgive is the sin you don't repent of. If this is true, then why did Jesus say in Matthew 12:31, "the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven unto men.” We need to look at the whole chapter to see why he made such a statement.
In the chapter there are several incidents that we need to look at.
Incident #1 – Disciples pick and eat grain on Sabbath – Pharisees disapprove
Incident #2 – Jesus heals man on Sabbath – Pharisees disapprove
Incident #3 – Jesus heals blind deaf man – Pharisees say it was through Satan’s power
Do you see a pattern? There is a dialogue between Jesus and the Pharisees. All of these incidents bring Jesus to talk to the Pharisees about something that was unforgivable.
Earlier we decided that there is a sin that God cannot forgive, and it is the sin you don't repent of. Why would the Pharisees not repent of a sin? They were extremely picky about keeping the law. The reason that they would not repent is because they couldn’t see that they were doing anything wrong.
The unforgivable sin is the one that isn’t confessed, but there are two very different reasons for not confessing.
1. Because you have so tuned out the Holy Spirit that you can’t see sin.
2. Because you are so sure you are doing right that you don’t see your sin.
In Revelation 3:15-17 Jesus says, “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.”
Here Jesus is describing an unforgiven state, not an unforgivable state. Whether it is the Pharisee of Jesus time or the Christian of today, when we feel that we are in need of nothing we are on dangerous ground. But Jesus gives us great hope in verse 19, "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent." Remember 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."
Back to Revelation 3 verse 20, 21 “ Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne."
Jesus never stops knocking. He is standing at the door and knocking. Will you open the door?