The Unforgivable Sin

 By Chris Marley - Posted at Reformation21:

There are many difficult questions to answer in Christianity. Does God stand outside of time? What was Paul’s thorn in the flesh? Who really was the streaker in Mark’s gospel? But one that has always challenged me is the nature of the unforgivable sin.

The Sin in Scripture

In Luke 12:10, Jesus tells us that what a man blasphemes “to the Holy Spirit” (εἰς τὸ ἅγιον πνεῦμα) will not be forgiven. In two other passages, we hear Christ make this declaration in a specific context:

Matthew 12

“But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, ‘It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.’

“Knowing their thoughts, [Jesus] said to them… ‘I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come’” (vv. 24–25, 31–32).

Mark 3

“‘Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin’— for they were saying, ‘He has an unclean spirit’” (vv. 28–30).

We can rightly understand these passages by placing them alongside a few more. In 1 John 5:16–17, John writes,

“If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that.”

Intentionally not praying may seem like a strange concept, but we find parallels to it in Jeremiah 7:16 and 11:14, where God commands Jeremiah not to pray for the people. More directly, the author of Hebrews says,

“…it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt” (Hebrews 6:4-6).


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