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Summary: What is the Unpardonable Sin? Jesus deals with the sin of "blasphemy against the Spirit," here.

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The Unpardonable Sin?

by Scott R. Bayles, preacher

Church of Christ


"What is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit?"

This is certainly a question that people ask on a regular basis. What they mean is: Can a person sin so badly that God would never forgive him? Can a man become such a murderer, drunkard, pervert, liar, etc. that he is beyond the grace of God? There are many people who seem to be almost tormented by the idea that maybe they have committed this sin against the Holy Spirit: the unpardonable sin.

There even may be some here this evening who think that they have committed a sin that was so bad and so heinous that they cannot receive forgiveness. Throughout the New Testament there are several scattered references to this unforgivable sin, which seems to be cloaked in ambiguity. However, we can find one occasion in which our Lord spoke directly about this question (and two other parallel accounts of His comments). Let me invite you to read Matthew 12:22-32 with me, and perhaps discover the truth behind the "unpardonable sin."

Matthew 12:22-32 (ESV)

Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. [23] And all the people were amazed, and said, "Can this be the Son of David?" [24] But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, "It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons."

[25] Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, "Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. [26] And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? [27] And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. [28] But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. [29] Or how can someone enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house. [30] Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.

[31] Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. [32] And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

Although many Christians have struggled over Jesus’ words in this passage, the Holy Spirit does provide us with all the information we need to fully understand this unpardonable sin. In order to fully grasp the meaning of Jesus’ comments, however, we need to see these events in their complete context -- a context which begins with...


Look, again, at verse twenty-two [22]: Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. [23] And all the people were amazed, and said, "Can this be the Son of David?"

Jesus’ usual practice was to go out early to an isolated place to pray. At the beginning of this busy day, Christ was returning to the place He was staying, perhaps to eat breakfast. When He arrived, the house was packed with people eager to listen or to be healed. The Bible says, "He came home, and the crowd gathered again, to such an extent that they could not even eat a meal" (Mark 3:20). Undisturbed, Jesus began to help them.

One specific miracle is reported, a triple miracle of restoring sanity, sight, and speech: Jesus cast a demon out of a man who was blind and unable to speak. By the way, the inability to speak usually indicated an inability to hear, so this may have been a quadruple miracle! But in either case, it was astounding: "all the people were amazed."

Now, we hear about "miracles" being performed by faith healers and such, every so often. But, those so-called miracles always seem take place "over yonder." Someone might say, "I know of a man who got healed over there in India." Or, "There was a guy who got raised from the dead on a crusade in the far-country of Afghanistan." But that’s not the kind of miracle that Jesus performed, is it!? No, when Jesus healed a person, it was right there in public -- right where everyone and his brother could see it!

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