Summary: This sermon answers the question, "What is the unforgivable sin?"
1. I recently received a question about the above title. Here is the question:
"What is the "unforgivable sin"? In particular, is it possible for a believer in the 20th (or 21st century) to commit it? How do Hebrews 6 and Hebrews 10 bear down on this subject? Thank you for your time."
2. This question is one that has troubled many people over the years. Some have been very concerned as to whether or not they have committed this sin.
3. The unforgivable sin, as it is commonly referred to, is talked about by Jesus in Matthew 12:31-32. The other accounts are found in Mark 3:28-29 & Luke 12:10. As Jesus states, the unforgivable sin is Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Let’s look at Matthew 12 in context.
4. Matthew 12:22-32, “Then there was brought to Him a demon-possessed man who was blind and dumb, and He healed him, so that the dumb man spoke and saw. 23And all the multitudes were amazed, and began to say, "This man cannot be the Son of David, can he?" 24But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, "This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons." 25And knowing their thoughts He said to them, "Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself shall not stand. 26"And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then shall his kingdom stand? 27"And if I by Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? Consequently they shall be your judges. 28"But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29"Or how can anyone enter the strong man's house and carry off his property, 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. 31"Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven men, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. 32"And whoever shall speak a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever shall speak against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age, or in the age to come.”
I. First of all, let’s consider some things right off the top that Jesus cannot be referring too.
1. Murder. Whatever this sin is, it can not be forgiven. Murder can be forgiven. In Acts 2:22-23, the apostle Peter tells the Jews that they were guilty of putting the Messiah to death (murder). Several verses later, when these same men ask Peter what they must do (vs. 37), Peter tells them to Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. Obviously they were able to have this sin forgiven.
2. Suicide. True, the individual would die without forgiveness, assuming that they were of a rational state of mind. But then so would the drug addict and the drunk driver. These also would perish without forgiveness. Suicide would be of the same class as is mentioned in II Thess 1:7-9. Those “who do not know God.”
3. Denying Christ. This is a very common interpretation of this passage but Jesus distinguishes this sin from blasphemy against the Holy Spirit in verse 32.
II. What is Blasphemy?
A. Christ does a very good job in defining the word for the Pharisees and for us in vss. 31-32.
1. It literally means “to speak against.” The word is generally used in reference to deity, to speak against deity.
2. In this sense, you cannot "blaspheme" a person - the word describes belittling or mocking deity.
III. The Context.
A. Jesus was casting out demons and the Pharisees charged Him with acting by the power of Beelzebub, the prince of demons. Jesus replies with three illustrations:
1. Vs. 25-26 - A kingdom, city, or house divided against itself cannot stand. Division from within leads to destruction. Satan would not harm or be opposed to himself.
2. Vs. 27 – “You are inconsistent because you accept that your sons cast out demons.” This most likely indicates that some of their own children had become disciples and were given the power to cast out demons (Luke 10:17). It could possibly mean that they had sons who claimed to cast out demons (false exorcists) but the former is the most probable. Vs. 28 –They should have accepted what the signs demonstrated about the kingdom and should have repented.
3. Vs. 29 – One must bind the strong man first before plundering his house. By casting out demons, Jesus had bound the strong man. Jesus was showing His power over Satan and by it declaring who He really was. Vs. 30 - Applying this to them, they were either with Christ or Satan. There is no middle ground.