South Bumby Church of Christ  

FAQ Home

What Is The “Unpardonable Sin”?

(c) Copyright 2000, David A. Duncan

The Text:

(Mat 12:31-32 NKJV)  "Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. {32} "Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.

Some Characteristics Of The Situation Under Which This Sin Is Committed

  1. The power of God is in clear evidence,
  2. The blasphemy is not directed towards the one through which the miracle is wrought, but against God himself, and
  3. It is more than simple rebellion against God, and includes a willful attributing of the power of God to Satan.

The Context

The ocassion which provoked this proclamation is the statement by the Pharisees in vs. 24,

(Mat 12:24 NKJV)  Now when the Pharisees heard it they said, "This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons."

and therefore it is to be understood in this context.  Jesus argues (vs. 25-30)

(Mat 12:25-30 NKJV)  But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. {26} "If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? {27} "And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. {28} "But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. {29} "Or how can one enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house. {30} "He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.

that the evidence was clear that this healing was a work of God in that:

1.      It was a clear aggression against the kingdom of Satan, and

2.      There was universal acceptance among the Jews of this fact as was evidenced by Jews who sought to cast out devils in the name of God.

The Pharisees spoke not merely against Jesus, but attributed the Power of Jesus (i.e. the Spirit of God) to Satan.  Based on these two evidences, this accusation of the Pharisees was a willful act of attributing the Power of God to Satan.

The key thing that differentiated the case of Matthew 12 was that the Pharisees attributed the Power of God to Satan. One can rebel against the authority of God (e.g. the Prodigal Son) without committing this sin. One can blaspheme without committing this sin (see Matt. 12:31, and also Paul in I Tim. 1:13). The case of the man born blind (John 9:1-31) was different from the situation of Matthew 12 in that the rulers first denied that a miracle had occurred, and in the face of clear evidence disparaged Jesus, but recognized God as the source (John 9:24) of the healing.

Jesus knew that not everyone would believe on him as a person (John 10:37-38), but He argued that even though they did not believe when He spoke, they should accept the undeniable testimony of the miracles.  In this context, Jesus said that “whoever speaks against the Son of Man” could be forgiven (this was unbelief), but one who speaks against the Spirit of God (i.e. the active agency of God in revealing His truth, nature, and power) could not be forgiven (Matt. 12:32).  This sin is a knowing and willful rejection of God coupled with attributing His power to Satan.  It was one thing to call the man Jesus a “sinner” (John 9:24), but quite a different thing to say that something which only God could do was done by the power of Satan.

Can It Be Done Today?

It is often argued that since miracles are not performed today, then the overwhelming evidence required for this sin cannot be present.  The key issue here was not how the Pharisees came to see the Power of God in such an undeniable way (note that they did not deny that a miracle had occurred), but what they did after they perceived this.  To the extent that a person today can perceive the evidence for God as overwhelming – and yet attribute this working to Satan – this can be done today.

Is This Just a Sin Of The Tongue?

Immediately after this pronouncement, Jesus goes on to characterize the type of works he is speaking of:

(Mat 12:34-35 NKJV)  "Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. {35} "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.

This then is not just a sin of the tongue, but a sin rooted in the heart of a man.

Why Is This Sin So Unpardonable?

When this type of blasphemy occurs, the blasphemer has hardened his heart against God to the extent that he has made himself the self-declared enemy of God – more than passive resistance, this involves active aggression against God Himself, which cannot be tolerated.

FAQ Home