What Is the “Unforgivable Sin”?
Written by Jenn Arman | October 29, 2013
In Mark chapter 3, Jesus makes a statement that has been confusing modern Christians for years; you can also find this in Matthew chapter 12:
Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin. —Mark 3:28-29, NASB
Jesus has just finished casting a demon out of a man. The Pharisees are there and they start whispering to each other that Jesus casts out demons by the spirit of the ruler of the demons, Beelzebub.
In Christianity, blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is known as the unforgivable sin. This is not necessarily a sin that God can’t forgive, but a sin that He won’t forgive.
Before we get too deep into this, we should define what blasphemy is. According to the Oxford American Dictionary, blasphemy is “disrespectful talk about God or sacred things.” We’re not talking about a little bit of disrespect here—we’re talking about purposeful, defiant disrespect. It’s complete refusal to accept the truth of the power of God at work by the Holy Spirit.
What happened right before Jesus made this statement? He cast out a demon and the Pharisees said that the power for Him to do that came from the evil one! You can’t be much more disrespectful to God than that. Instead of acknowledging the power of the Holy Spirit in Jesus’s miracles, they gave the credit to Satan. They denied the evident power of the Holy Spirit even though it was happening right in front of them.
Girls, this is part of the reason why I’m always trying to encourage you not to discount some of the more miraculous/odd things that happen among different denominations, like miraculous healings, exorcisms or speaking in tongues. We never want to deny what could be the evident power of the Holy Spirit unless we’re absolutely certain that God is saying something isn’t from Him.
Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is rejection of the evident power of the Holy Spirit at work in someone (Jesus) or in the world. Luke chapter 12 takes it further and includes the disciples in that category as well. I don’t think it’s too far out of line to suggest that this might apply to any followers of Jesus as well (but that’s my personal opinion).
Think of this as sort of the opposite of what the Bible says about salvation: If you believe in your heart and confess with your mouth that Jesus is the Lord, you’ll be saved. Well, if you completely reject or deny in your heart the evident power of the Holy Spirit to do the will of God, and you profess this with your mouth, then you’ve blasphemed the Holy Spirit.
Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is usually applied to nonbelievers who reject the work of the Holy Spirit. Apostasy is the word that means someone has had a relationship with Jesus Christ, but decided to walk away and completely reject Him in his or her heart and mind. Both terms mean essentially the same thing.
Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is a purposeful, hostile, continual rejection of the prompting of the Holy Spirit to trust in Christ. Prompting by the Holy Spirit can come in many forms—miracles, that little tug at your heart that tries to make you change, etc. Continued rejection of these things as the work of God’s Spirit is unforgivable.
There’s no shame in admitting that you’re not sure of something. If you encounter a work that seems like it could be from God, but you aren’t sure, that’s okay. The way to feel more secure is to pray for the Holy Spirit to give you discernment so you can tell what is from Him and what isn’t. If you have mixed feelings about certain things, then you don’t have to make a public declaration about whether or not they’re from God—you can just choose not to engage in them.
Girls, has this given you a little better understanding of the “unforgivable sin”?
And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. —Romans 5:5
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