Summary: In short, the unforgivable sin is attributing the mighty miracle working power of Jesus to Satan.
The Unforgivable Sin
Rev. Brian Bill
April 16-17, 2016
A couple weeks ago when the pastoral team was out for our Tuesday lunch, I jokingly told Pastor Tim that I thought I was going to take a sick day today because our preaching text is a tough one. When I asked him if he would cover for me, he just smiled and said, “No problem.” He asked what the topic was and I told him that it’s the unforgivable sin. He then wanted to know what I thought it was. Now it was my turn to smile: “The unforgivable sin is not liking cheese curds, brats or the Green Bay Packers.” To which he replied, “Then, I guess a bunch of us will be facing judgment.”
While that might be funny, our topic for today is no laughing matter.
Let me tell you about a man I knew from one of the previous places we lived. I’m going to call him Tom, though that is not his real name. He never attended the church I pastored but that didn’t stop me from reaching out to him. Tom was tormented. Whenever I saw him his shoulders were drooped, his face had no affect, he talked slowly and he shuffled as he walked. When I would ask him how he was doing, he would often say something like this: “Not good. I’m really worried.” I would then ask him why he was worried and invariably he would answer, “Pastor, I’ve committed the unforgivable sin and I’m going to Hell.” I spent hours with him over the course of many years, trying everything I could think of to help him find forgiveness for whatever was tormenting him. As far as I know, he has still not found freedom.
Before we dive in, let me make a few introductory remarks.
1. While we address various teaching topics at Edgewood, my preaching preference is verse-by-verse exposition where we work our way through a book of the Bible, like we are doing with the Gospel of Mark. There are many advantages to this approach but at the top is the fact that I’m forced to deal with topics that might not make their way into a felt-need kind of sermon series. If our preaching diet were to be totally topical, we’d avoid the tough texts and end up swimming only on the surface.
2. The Bible is an amazing, life-changing book that feeds our soul by providing both spiritual milk and spiritual meat to help us grow.
3. To top all of that off, to attend the Iron Sharpens Iron Conference men’s conference with over 100 men from Edgewood, was very moving. I can’t wait to see what God will do in, and through men, as God calls us to be tender warriors for Him.
4. It’s good for us to emphasize again the importance of context when dealing with difficult verses. New Testament scholar D.A. Carson often quotes his father who said, “A text out of context is a pretext for a proof text.” One of the keys to effective Bible study is to let the Bible interpret itself. That’s why we study the context, do word studies from the original languages, focus on verb tenses and look at cross-references. As we will see today, all of this is extremely helpful in understanding the unforgivable sin.
I’m praying that our passage for today will comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable. There’s a warning here about the horrible reality that one could be utterly and totally forsaken by God, judged with His righteous judgment and sent to the everlasting flames of hell.
We saw last week that in dealing with the crowds, Jesus healed many with diseases and freed many who were demonized. He ministered to the public but He also drove truth into people in a very personal way.
We learned that if we want to move from being a fickle fan to become a faithful follower, we must cultivate these three qualities.
• Be in the presence of Jesus
• Go and proclaim Jesus
• Use the power of Jesus
There was always a reaction when Jesus preached. People didn’t just sit passively or sleep during his sermons. They either embraced Him or attacked Him. They bowed before Him or blasted Him. As we continue in our passage, we see two strong responses. The first is from those closest to Him and the other from those who were threatened by Him.
1. Friends and family thought he was deranged. Look at Mark 3:20-21: “Then he went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat. And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, ‘He is out of his mind.’” We’ll come back to the family of Jesus in our text for next week. Don’t miss the obvious application that if you stand up for Jesus your own friends and family may turn on you.