Have you ever worried that you’ve committed the “unpardonable sin?” That one thing Jesus won’t or can’t forgive? Even though I’ve been a Christian a long time, I still sin regularly. A selfish thought. A careless, hurtful word. Or something even more harmful. So, is it possible for me – or you – to commit the unforgivable sin? How can we know if we have?
Jesus is the One who warns us about this unforgiveable sin (Mark 3:20-30 and Matthew 12:22-32.) “Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin” (Mark 3:28-29).
Jesus defined this “eternal sin” as blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. The Greek word translated as “blasphemy” means “to speak contemptuously of God; to speak evil of God.” And the grammar in this passage shows continuous action. But we need more than this definition to really get a handle on the unforgiveable sin.
The context of the two Bible passages that contain Jesus’ warning helps us tremendously. In fact, right after His declaration in Mark, the Gospel writer clarified with this: “He said this because they were saying, ‘He has an evil spirit.”
Jesus had been performing miracles, including freeing many people from possession by evil spirits. The “teachers of the law” refused to acknowledge His power came from the Holy Spirit and instead claimed His power came from Satan. Jesus showed them the foolishness of their “logic.” How can Satan drive out Satan?… If Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come (Mark 3:23, 26).
These teachers of the law were committing the unforgiveable sin. They refused to acknowledge the power and work of the Holy Spirit, and in fact, gave Satan the credit.
A post on BillyGraham.org helps us understand this concept:
The sin of the religious leaders, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, was a refusal to accept the witness of the Holy Spirit to who Jesus was and what He had come to do, and then submit their lives to Him. Jesus said concerning the Holy Spirit, “When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8). They chose rather to reject the Spirit’s witness to their sin and to Jesus, and accused Him of being demon possessed!
Once again, the unpardonable sin is not some particularly grievous sin committed by a Christian before or after accepting Christ, nor is it thinking or saying something terrible about the Holy Spirit. Rather, it is deliberately resisting the Holy Spirit’s witness and invitation to turn to Jesus until death ends all opportunity.
The unpardonable or unforgiveable sin (blasphemy against the Holy Spirit) is a continual rejection of the identity, authority, and work of the Holy Spirit. In the Jewish leaders’ case, the deliberate rejection of the HS’s work through Jesus. Someone commits the unpardonable sin only when they continually reject the Holy Spirit’s conviction of sin and His invitation to receive forgiveness through Jesus Christ. If you are a believer, you have already accepted the Holy Spirit’s invitation.