The Unpardonable Sin

Now this moment in which the Lord talks about blasphemy against the Spirit is only found here in Matt. 12, Mark 3, and Luke 11. We’re only going to look at Matthew and Mark. Luke doesn’t say anything different than what we’re going to read in these other two accounts.

Mat 12:22 Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw. Mat 12:23 And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David? Mat 12:24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils. (Do you know what Beelzebub means? It means “dung god,” “the lord of filth.”) Mat 12:25 And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: Mat 12:26 And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand? Mat 12:27 And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges. Mat 12:28 But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. Mat 12:29 Or else how can one enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house. Mat 12:30 He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad. Mat 12:31 Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. Mat 12:32 And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.

First, I just have to say how awesome it is to see Christ and the Father take a stand for the Holy Spirit. We often talk about how the Lord lives to glorify the Father, how the Father glorifies the Son by making Him head over all things. The Spirit also glorifies the Father and the Son, and the Father and the Son glorify the work of the Spirit, by esteeming the Holy Scriptures above their own name. Yet, here, we see Christ and the Father are willing to deal with blasphemy against themselves, but they will not tolerate any blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which goes to show how much they love and respect the Spirit. That’s just amazing.

The Lord heals a man who was possessed, blind, and mute. That is an astonishing miracle. We covered in past messages how Christ operated in conjunction with the Holy Spirit to accomplish miracles. Every miracle was the entire Godhead operating together as one. It was the will of the Father, by Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit. When the disciples carried out miracles, it was because they had the Spirit upon them. Miracles were done through the Holy Spirit. This is why the Lord went off on the Pharisees about blaspheming the Spirit when they said in Mat 12:24 that This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils. That wasn’t just an attack on the Lord but an attack on the Holy Spirit who was carrying out those miracles on the Lord’s behalf. And this is the framework to the discussion about blaspheming the Holy Spirit. This is what it means to blaspheme the Spirit.

For the sake of reference, Webster’s 1828, defines “blasphemy” as 1. To speak of the Supreme Being in terms of impious irreverence; to revile or speak reproachfully of God, or the Holy Spirit. Mark 3:28. 2. To speak evil of; to utter abuse or calumny against; to speak reproachfully of. See! That’s what they were doing. They were speaking words of evil about the Holy Spirit. They were speaking evil about His miracles.

Then we read in Mat 12:25 And Jesus knew their thoughts. How did He know their thoughts? The Holy Spirit revealed their thoughts to Him. The Holy Spirit totally ratted them out! And so the first thing the Lord does is brilliantly give an analogy about a kingdom divided against itself.

He says in Mat 12:25 And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: Mat 12:26 And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand? Why should Satan go against his own policies of evil, tell his demons to do something they don’t want to do, and undermine his own agenda to blind the minds of God’s people with demon possession? The demons wouldn’t put up with such a change in policy.

Thus, a kingdom divided against itself would not stand and Satan wasn’t about to tear apart his own kingdom by casting out his own demons. Then in vs. 27, He totally turns the tables on them. He said, Mat 12:27 And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges. He’s talking about the 12 disciples. This verse explains how the disciples were able to also do miracles. Through the Spirit. He’s saying, how did they somehow become empowered by Satan to do the same miracles as me? The Pharisees couldn’t explain that. Clearly, the disciples weren’t empowered by Satan. They’re using the same Holy Spirit the Lord’s using. And this is why they shall be YOUR judges. This was absolutely brilliant.

Then followed the analogy about the strong man’s house. Mat 12:29 Or else how can one enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house. I’ll just quote my buddy, Bryan Ross. “Satan had made himself at home within Israel [and] was holding God’s nations as his lawful captive. Therefore, in order for Christ to reclaim what was rightly His, He first need to bind the strong man and then He would be able to spoil his house. Through the casting out of devils Jesus was in the process of binding the strong man and contending for Israel.”

Then the Lord speaks of blaspheming the Holy Spirit. Mat 12:31 Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. Mat 12:32 And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.

Let’s first establish the fact that the Lord is talking to the Pharisees and unbelieving Jews. This issue of blaspheming the Holy Spirit has nothing to do with us today. The Lord is not speaking about us or to us. He’s speaking to the Pharisees in the context of establishing His kingdom here on Earth. Period. This is not our mail.

Second, the Lord clearly defines here what it means to blaspheme the Spirit. He spells it out. He says in vs. 32 that it’s speaking against the Holy Ghost. To be guilty of blaspheming the Holy Spirit was to verbally speak evil about the Spirit. Or to speak evil about the work of the Holy Spirit. As Webster pointed out, it is to speak words of impious irreverence about the Holy Spirit, to speak evil of, or to speak reproachfully of the Holy Spirit. The Pharisees saying that the Lord doesn’t cast out devils but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils is a perfect example of what it means to blaspheme the Holy Spirit. They were saying that the glorious work of the Holy Spirit was of the devil, which was total blasphemy.

Third, let’s establish again – what does it mean for the kingdom saints to NOT be forgiven by God? Does this mean that if they were saved, they’d lose their salvation? No. Does this mean that it was impossible for them to get saved? No. It simply means that there is an eternal consequence for this behavior. It means that this behavior would go unforgiven. This behavior will affect their placement and their role inside the kingdom for all eternity if they eventually get saved.

Does this mean that they can still get saved? Emphatically, I say yes! The text bears this out! If they couldn’t get saved what would be the point of the Lord saying that All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost? If you couldn’t get saved, then what’s the point of having all your other sins forgiven? Why would Jesus forgive all their other sins if He’s sending them to hell for unbelief? That makes no sense! The text itself bears out the fact that all these men could still get saved, get all their sins forgiven, but if they blaspheme the Spirit, there will be an eternal consequence for that one sin. Period. This one sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will carry with it an eternal consequence. This will affect their placement and role in the kingdom forever and ever.

Charles F. Baker in his book, “Understanding the Gospels,” one of my favorite grace books, he would write, “Then follows what has been called the unpardonable sin, which has been so misinterpreted as to cause many people deep spiritual harm…” Then Baker would go on to misinterpret and butcher everything that was said about the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. On some things with Baker, you could say, “He was in the right ballpark.” On this subject, Baker wasn’t even in the right solar system. He wrote, “We believe first that this sin could not be committed until the Holy Spirit was given, and that was after the death and resurrection of Christ.” That’s absolutely ridiculous! The Pharisees had just now blasphemed the Holy Spirit to the Lord’s face by saying He cast out demons by the power of Satan. If they could blaspheme the Spirit here in Matt. 12, they could do it at any other time until Pentecost! Plus, the Lord said, “Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.” He’s not talking about future blasphemy of the Spirit that might happen at Pentecost. He means that from this moment forward, anyone who blasphemes the Spirit shall not be forgiven when HIS judgment takes place in the future. Then Baker would write that it was in the nation “rejecting Christ now [at Pentecost] they were sinning against the Holy Spirit.” That is a complete misinterpretation of everything the Lord said here. The Lord clearly defined what it meant to blaspheme the Spirit. It’s speaking words against the Holy Ghost. It is to verbally speak evil about the Spirit. Or to speak evil about the work of the Holy Spirit. Rejecting Christ at Pentecost had nothing to do with what the Lord defined here as blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. But we’ll get to that.

Let me ask another question. What did the Lord mean when He said in vs. 32, but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come? What is that world to come that He’s talking about? Notice that world is italicized, which means it’s not in the original. But the context bears out the fact that world should be there in English because the clause before it said, neither in this world.

So the Lord must also mean neither in the world to come. What IS that world to come? Notice that it’s world, singular. World is often synonymous with age. I’m convinced He’s talking about the Tribulation, because it’s in the Tribulation, Israel’s baptism of fire, in which the Lord will separate the wheat from the chaff and He will judge the Pharisees and all of unbelieving Israel with fire unquenchable and He will especially judge anyone who committed the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. It’s at the end of the Tribulation, at His Second Coming in which the Lord will judge Israel and give them their roles in the kingdom.

So if someone committed blasphemy against the Holy Spirit and later got saved, it’s THEN at His Second Coming when the Lord will judge all His people, it’s THEN that He will remember anyone’s sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which will be held against them when they’re given their roles in the kingdom.

Eternal Damnation?

We have the same account in Mark 3 but the phrasing is a bit different. Mar 3:28 Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: Mar 3:29 But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation: Mar 3:30 Because they said, He hath an unclean spirit.

Some might be asking, why is the wording different here from what we read in Matt. 12? The Lord said everything in Matt. 12, and He said everything here in Mark 3. We’re only getting highlights of lengthy messages He gave. So if the Lord spoke for an hour, then He likely repeated the same points in different ways over the course of that same message He gave over the course of an hour. Any good teacher would repeat Himself so those important points would sink in with the hearers.

Again, the Lord clearly defines here what it meant to blaspheme the Spirit in vs. 30. “Because they said, He hath an unclean spirit.” It’s speaking words against the Holy Ghost. It is to verbally speak evil about the Spirit. Or to speak evil about the work of the Holy Spirit.

The Lord also says here that they hath “never forgiveness”. Never forgiveness goes back to the points we made about Matt. 12. Does never forgiveness mean that they couldn’t get saved? No. This means that if they blaspheme the Holy Spirit, there will be eternal consequences for that sin.

The Lord also makes two points here that reinforces the fact that they could still get saved. He said in vs. 28, “Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme”. If you couldn’t get saved, then what’s the point of having all their other sins forgiven? Why would He forgive any of them for anything if He’s sending them to hell for unbelief? And then He says in vs. 29 that they would be “in danger of eternal damnation”. Being in danger of eternal damnation does not mean that they would automatically be sent to eternal damnation if they blaspheme the Spirit. They are only in danger of eternal damnation. So why did the Lord say this? I think He simply meant they were in danger of eternal damnation because they could face judgment on the earth and die in their sins before they have the chance to get saved, which is why they are only in danger of eternal damnation. The Lord is dangling their feet over the flames of hell to instill in them real fear for the great offense of blaspheming the Spirit.

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