Study 4 THE UNPARDONABLE SIN
Things Hard to be Understood
by Francis Dixon
(Scripture Portion: Matthew 12: 30-42)
God’s “Good News” is that there is a full and free forgiveness offered to all through the merits of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. The heart of the gospel is summed up in Acts 13:38. In this study, however, we are to think of the one great sin for which there is no forgiveness, either in this world or in the world to come. That there is such a sin is clear – look up Matthew 12:31-32.
There are four reasons for including this subject in these studies on “Things Hard to be Understood”.
- 1. First, because this subject forms a very definite part of biblical revelation. We must proclaim (and study and receive) the whole counsel of God – look up Acts 20:27.
- 2. Second, because there is so much confusion and misunderstanding about this subject. Many dear folk, who certainly have not committed this sin, fear that perhaps they have. Let us state at this point that anyone who is at all concerned that he may have committed this sin can rest assured that he has not done so, for his very concern is an evidence that the Holy Spirit is still at work in his heart.
- 3. Third, because the possibility of committing the unpardonable sin shows how false is the teaching of Universalism and future probation. Many teach that if we die without Christ we shall have a second chance of being saved, but the Bible does not offer any such hope. Our Lord’s teaching about the sin for which there is no forgiveness settles this once and for all.
- 4. Fourth, because many who are in danger of committing this sin must be warned. This sin is a sin against the Holy Spirit. We are living in the dispensation of the Spirit, and there is a very real sense, therefore, in which there is a greater danger of this sin being committed today even than there was when our Lord Jesus was here in the flesh.
1. WHAT IS THIS UNPARDONABLE SIN?
Let us answer this question negatively and positively.
- 1. It is not lying. Untruthfulness is very common today, but this is not the unpardonable sin.
- 2. It is not swearing and unclean talk. Thank God, there is forgiveness for this sin!
- 3. It is not drunkenness. Many drunkards have been saved, and there is a full and free forgiveness for the alcoholic who will come to the Lord in penitence and trust in His redeeming blood for cleansing and forgiveness.
- 4. It is not any sexual sin. Some sins are too horrible to be mentioned in this Bible study, but all of them may be forgiven if the guilty one will come to the Saviour.
- 5. It is not theft. Matthew and Zacchaeus were both thieves in the sense that they had to be dishonest in order to conduct their tax-gathering successfully, but they were both saved by the Lord Jesus – as multitudes of other “thieves and robbers” have been forgiven, cleansed and welcomed by Him.
- 6. It is not blasphemy. Before his conversion Paul was a blasphemer – look up 1 Timothy 1:13, but how wonderfully he was saved!
- 7. It is not murder. David was guilty of murder – look up 2 Samuel 11:15-17; 12:9; but he was forgiven, and he is now with Christ.
We are not making light of any of these sins, but we are emphasising that they are not, separately or together, the unpardonable sin; and yet it must be said that if these sins are not forsaken, any one of them may lead to the unpardonable sin. Any sin becomes unpardonable if the one who commits it refuses to confess and forsake it – Proverbs 28:13. All the above-mentioned sins may be forgiven. What then is the sin against the Holy Ghost?
It is the persistent, wilful rejection of the Holy Spirit’s testimony concerning the Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 12:3 tells us that “no one can say ‘Jesus is the Lord’, except by the Holy Spirit.” We are living in the dispensation of the Spirit, and the Holy Spirit convinces men concerning the Person of Christ, the value of His Finished Work and of their need of Him as Saviour and Lord. It is therefore obvious that to reject the testimony of the Holy Spirit means that we place ourselves beyond the possibility of salvation. No one can be saved without the operation and activity of the Holy Spirit; no one can come to Christ unless He draws him (John 6:44). So, to reject the Holy Spirit’s testimony means to reject Christ, and that means to reject salvation, and when one has done that he has committed the unpardonable sin.
When anyone persists in rejecting the testimony of the Holy Spirit to the Person and power of the Lord Jesus, then he commits this sin. The unpardonable sin is committed when anyone persistently, consciously and wilfully:-
- 1. Resists the strivings of the Holy Spirit – look up Genesis 6:3.
- 2. Refuses to humble himself before the Lord – look up Exodus 10:3.
- 3. Refuses to be drawn to the Saviour – look up John 6:44.
- 4. Neglects God’s great salvation – look up Hebrews 2:3.
- 5. Hardens his heart against the voice of the Lord – look up Hebrews 3:7-8.
The unpardonable sin is not an isolated act; it is a persistent attitude. It is not the sin of ignorance; it is a sin against light (John 3:19). It is committed when the Holy Spirit reveals to us the Saviour and our need of Him, and when, seeing the Lord Jesus and being conscious of our need of Him, we refuse to trust Him and to make Him Lord and Saviour of our lives.
2. WHY IS THIS SIN UNPARDONABLE?
There must always be two parties to forgiveness – the forgiver and the forgiven one. This sin is unforgivable because it rejects forgiveness.
- A man was trapped at the top of a burning building, The Fire Brigade erected a net into which he could jump. They called to him to jump, but he refused. They told him that the net would hold him, but he replied that he did not wish to be saved. They shouted, “You fool! Jump!” – but he refused, and he died in the flames. That is the unpardonable sin. Everyone who is not a Christian is in danger of Hell. Christ is the rescuer. He has provided the “net” – the gospel, the way of salvation, and He appeals to them to trust Him to deliver them. If they refuse His salvation then they must die in their sins (John 8:21, 24), die unforgiven and unpardoned, and they must perish in the flames of His wrath.
Thank God, no one need commit the unpardonable sin, no one need live without Christ or die without Him! Even now the Holy Spirit pleads with every impenitent soul to come to the Lord Jesus Christ and trust Him as Saviour – look up Isaiah 1:18; 2 Corinthians 6:2; Hebrews 12:25. The Lord’s gracious invitation is still sounding forth to all who have ears to hear and hearts to accept – look up Isaiah 55:6; Revelation 22:17!