What Is the Unpardonable Sin?
There is a time, I know not when.
A place, I know not where,
Which marks the destiny of men,
To Heaven or despair.
There is a line, by us not seen,
That crosses every path.
The hidden boundary between
God’s mercy and God’s wrath.
The sad truth is that any person who refuses to turn from his sin and receive Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior will not receive the mercy and grace of God. Many are close to a deadline. If they cross that deadline, they will be just as bound for Hell as if the iron gates had already closed behind them. They will have committed an unpardonable sin.
Sincere people who already know Jesus as Lord and Savior will sometimes experience feelings of doubt and ask fearfully, “Could I have committed the unpardonable sin?” And those who do evangelism will tell you that often when witnessing to a lost person they will hear, “It’s too late for me…I think I’ve committed the unpardonable sin.”
What is the unpardonable sin? Let’s clear up the confusion. People can make some interesting assumptions about it. Let’s get it settled from the Word of God in our study this month.
First, it’s not a moral sin.
It’s tempting to think that the unpardonable sin would be a moral one. But it’s not rape, murder, or child molestation, as wicked as those are. Anyone who has done that can still be saved by the grace of God.
1. Turn to 1 John 1:9, a verse that should give immeasurable comfort to all of us:
a. If we _____________ our sins, He is _______________ and just to ____________ us our sins and to ________________ us from all unrighteouness.
b. This tells us that if we _______________, God is going to ______________.
c. What does the blood of Jesus Christ do?
d. What sins are too horrific to receive forgiveness if we ask?
2. Turn to 1 Corinthians 6:9-11. Let’s take it phrase by phrase:
9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?
At this point it’s looking pretty hopeless for you and me, because before we accepted Christ, we were all unrighteous. Continue reading.
9 Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
This list encompasses the A to Z of sin. All sinners, including you and me, are shut out. But God is not done yet.
11 And such were some of you:
Of these five words, which is the most important? _______ (past-tense)
11but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. (all present-tense)
The unpardonable sin cannot be a moral sin, for God has made provision for that. We are washed, __________________, and ___________________.
It’s not an intellectual sin.
A person may be an atheist, an agnostic, or someone who at one time hated God. Yet that can be forgiven, for many atheists and blasphemers have repented and come to the Lord Jesus Christ.
It’s not a verbal sin.
Even cursing God can be forgiven. Blasphemy can be forgiven. The word blaspheme means “to speak hurtfully against.” When people take God’s name in vain, they have blasphemed. “For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” Just as you can pray to God without saying a word out loud, you can blaspheme God without words. You can live your life in a way that silently blasphemes the Lord. But words alone are not the unpardonable sin.
3. Turn to Acts chapter 9. Begin with verse 1.
1And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,2 And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way [followers of Christ], whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.
What were some of the actions Saul took against God’s people?
If anything might be “unpardonable,” we might assume it would be Saul’s murderous persecutions of the early church.
4. Turn now to Matthew 12. Here the Lord Jesus Christ Himself tells us in Matthew 12:31-32 that the unpardonable sin is a specific blasphemy against the Holy Spirit:
Fill in the key words:
31“Wherefore I say unto you, _____ manner of ____ and __________________ shall be _______________ unto men: but the ________________ against the ________ __________ shall _______ be forgiven unto men. 32And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the ________ ____________, it shall _____ be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in _____ ___________ ___ _________.
We must examine this closely. Specifically, the unpardonable sin is when you knowingly attribute to the devil the work of the Spirit of Almighty God. Note its three aspects
- attribute to the devil
- the work of the Holy Spirit.
That sin can never be forgiven. It is a sin one commits willfully, with his eyes wide open, and then forever shut.
Here is the background for this warning from the Lord Jesus: In Matthew chapter 12, Jesus is in His public ministry. A demon-possessed man is brought to the Lord and He heals him. The Pharisees, religious leaders of that day, see this miracle, but they also see that the people are amazed, proclaiming, “Is not this the son of David?”—meaning, “Is He not the Messiah?” Because their political and religious power was now threatened, they hated Christ and His ministry. They couldn’t deny the miracle because it’s obvious, so they determined to explain it away saying, “Oh, sure He performed a miracle, but let us tell you how He did it. He did it in the power of Beelzebub.” When they said “Beelzebub,” that was the most diabolical thing they could possibly have said.
|A CLOSER LOOK AT “BEELZEBUB”
Beelzebub was a god the Phoenicians created. They related Beelzebub to filth—dung on the ground from which maggots might be seen to emerge. The Phoenicians said, “Out of filth and dirt there comes life. So this is some sort of a god.” They actually worshipped a god of filth and named it “Beelzebub.”
The Pharisees were saying, “Yes, Jesus casts out devils, but He’s doing it by the god of filth.” It was then that Jesus gave this teaching, to show the great wickedness of their sin.
It was a threefold sin.
They sinned against redemption.
Here was redeeming love standing before them. Jesus opening blind eyes. His great love and mastery over Satan is being poured out. The same love that delivered the blind man would have delivered them. Jesus came “to seek and to save that which was lost.” They sinned against redeeming love, against their Redeemer. Later on, they were the ones who helped crucify Jesus and cried out for His blood.
They sinned against reason.
5. Jesus said,
26“And if __________ cast out __________, he is _____________ against ___________; how shall then his kingdom stand?”
Common sense tells you a house divided against itself cannot stand. How does Satan cast out Satan? Jesus is saying, “I am not in collusion with the devil; I am in collision with the devil.” No one works for the devil by casting out demons, opening blind eyes, and giving peace and joy.
6. Do you get the idea that these men were like Shakespeare’s Lady MacBeth? People caught on and said, “The lady doth protest too much.” Like her, the Pharisees overplayed their hand, and Jesus calls them on it. In your words, why did they toss out this illogical idea?
These men knew better. You don’t get to be a Pharisee by being stupid. They crucified their reason in order to crucify Jesus Christ. They sinned against reason.
But even sinning against redemption and reason is not the unpardonable sin. It only sets the stage for it.
They sinned against revelation.
7. 28“But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the _____________ of _______ is come unto you.”
There was Jesus standing in their midst, the Holy Spirit of God clearly working through Him and testifying by those very works that He was indeed the Son of God. Jesus did what He did by the Spirit of God.
So who what their quarrel really with?
A person may blaspheme God the Father and say “There is no God.” He may blaspheme Jesus Christ and say, “He’s a false prophet or fictitious.” But when the Holy Spirit comes, He pulls away the veil of darkness and opens the eyes of the human spirit so people can see and understand.
8. Turn to John chapter 16:
a. Overall, what is happening in John 16?
b. What is happening throughout John 17?
c. What happens in John chapter 18?
You’ve heard the expression “famous last words.” What we have here in John 16 are some of the last words of Jesus as He teaches His disciples just before He is crucified. It was His final time to be alone with them before the Garden of Gethsemane and His crucifixion.
Chapter 16 is followed by what is called His “great high priestly prayer” (Chapter 17) in which Jesus petitions His Father on behalf of His disciples and all who would come after them. Then in John 18, He is arrested.
9. John 16:7-14 are important for our study today. Jesus is speaking:
7Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the ________________will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you.
8 And when He is come, He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
9 Of sin, because they believe not on me;
10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more;
11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.
12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.
13 Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will _______ _____ into all _________: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will shew you things to come.
14 He shall glorify me: for He shall receive of mine, and shall ________ ____ ______ ____.
Do you see how important the work of the Holy Spirit is? What these religious leaders were doing in Matthew 12 was this: they were sinning against light. When Jesus was on the cross, He could say to those who were crucifying Him, “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they’re doing.” But these men knew what they were doing. They were not sinning against ignorance; they were sinning against light.
- The ministry of the Father is to rule the universe.
- The ministry of the Son, in conjunction with the Father, is to save.
- But the ministry of the Holy Spirit is to open our eyes to give light, to help us to understand.
It’s the Holy Spirit who opens understanding. And when men and women stand before God to be judged, they’re not going to be judged primarily by the sin they committed, but by the light they rejected.
10. Turn to John 3:19:
“And this is the ___________________, that light is come into the world, but men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds are _________.”
What is the unpardonable sin?
It is sin against the light, attributing to Satan the work of the Holy Spirit when one knows better.
There are consequences for doing this. A person who commits this sin opens himself up to deception.
The Deceiving Power of This Sin
11. Turn to 2 Thessalonians 2:10b-12, one of the most sobering passages in the Bible.
…because they ______________ _____ the love of the truth, that they might be ____________. And for this cause ____ shall send them strong _____________, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be _____________ who believed not the truth, but had _______________ in unrighteousness.
This may shock you that God Himself would be the one to send them strong delusion. Why would He do that? “That they should believe a lie.” Why would God send delusion that people would believe a lie? “That they all might be damned.” Why would He do that? Because they “believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” They had the truth; they wouldn’t believe the truth.
Why wouldn’t they believe the truth? Did they have intellectual problems? No. They believed not the truth because they had pleasure in unrighteousness.
It may surprise you to know, but the opposite of truth is not error. The opposite of truth is sin. When they “believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness,” they wanted their sin more than they wanted the truth.
Here is how it goes when a person continually rejects Christ:
- God speaks to them, giving them the light.
- They have the truth.
- They say in their hearts, “I don’t want the truth,” not because of intellectual problems; they took pleasure in unrighteousness. They wanted their sin more than the light of the truth.
- “For this cause” God says He will send them strong delusion.
- They cannot have their sin and God’s truth at the same time.
You see, when you hear truth, you don’t just say, “How interesting. I’ll put that in my pocket and spend it if I ever need it, but in the meanwhile I’m going to live it up in sin.” No. When you choose sin, the baggage that comes with that sin is error, and God will send you strong delusion.
When you’ve seen, known, and understood the light, yet willfully sinned against it, it’s part of the righteous judgment of God that He sends along with it strong delusion.
In contrast, when a person says, “I want God,” God says, “I’ll bring you closer.”
12. Turn to Romans 11:8:
According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of ___________, eyes that they should not _________, and _______that they should not ________ until this day.
There are people with eyes wide open, knowing better, who sin not only against redemption and reason, but against revelation. That choice brings with it deceiving power. When you talk to a person who has committed the unpardonable sin, he’ll say, “Well, I just don’t see it.” He’s not lying. He doesn’t see it.
13. Turn to Genesis 6:3:
My Spirit will ________ always _____________ with a man.
No one can be saved unless the Holy Spirit opens his eyes. But when you steadfastly, continually say no to the Holy Spirit, you put out your own eyes, and the Holy Spirit ceases to strive. You can sin against light, and that’s when light goes out on the road to Hell.
The Deadening Power of This Sin
When a person commits the unpardonable sin, something dies within him.
14. Turn to Hebrews 3:7-8
Wherefore, as the Holy Ghost saith, Today if you will hear His voice, _________ _____ your heart.
It is possible to sit in a service with a hard heart as the fire of God’s Holy Spirit touches others’ hearts. They are being blessed and brought under conviction, but the deadly power of the unpardonable sin means that while others are being blessed and brought under conviction you, don’t feel a thing or hear the Holy Spirit speaking.
The Damning Power of This Sin
The unpardonable sin puts that person beyond the pale of redemption.
15. Turn to Hebrews 6:4-6. warns about this. Let’s look at this warning phrase by phrase:
“For it is _______________”
—How likely is it?
“for those who were once _____________________”
—Remember that the sin against the Holy Spirit is a sin against light
“and have ______________of the Heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost”
—the Greek means they have gone along with the Holy Ghost
“and have tasted the _________ _________ of God”
—Not ingested and digested, just tasted
“and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to ____________ them again unto _____________________”
—It is impossible to renew them to repentance.
Why? Because “they ______________ to themselves the Son of God ___________, and put Him to an open shame.”
You can come to a place where it is impossible for you to be saved, because with eyes wide open you crucify Jesus afresh.
Some who nailed Him to the cross did not know what they were doing. But it is possible for a person to reject Jesus, fully aware of what they are doing with eyes wide open, saying, “I will not pay the price to become a follower of Christ. I will not.”
This is a greater sin than those who literally nailed Him to the cross because they are crucifying the Son of God afresh. That’s the deceiving, deadening power of this sin.
Unless they turn from their sin and receive Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior, they are moving themselves into a position where they cross a deadline.
There is a time, I know not when.
A place, I know not where,
Which marks the destiny of men
To Heaven or despair.
There is a line by us not seen,
That crosses every path.
The hidden boundary between
God’s mercy and God’s wrath.
But there is good news!
If you feel the slightest desire to come to Jesus Christ, you have not crossed that line, and I beg you, come to Him. Don’t sin against such light. Don’t let God send you strong delusion.
16. Turn to Revelation 22:17
17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And _____ him that heareth say, Come. And _____ him that is athirst come. And ________________ ______, _____ him take the water of life freely.
a. What two key words do you see repeated three times in this passage? _______ and _____
b. Notice the qualifications of the person who is being invited to come:
Him that _______________.
Him that is _____________.
These are invited to come.
c. Notice the water of life. How is it offered? It cost Jesus His life. It is offered to us ________ly.
There are millions in this world who would shout for joy to hear that God loves them, that Christ died for them, and that He invites them freely.
If you think you’ve committed the unpardonable sin, if you want to be saved, you haven’t.
17. Turn to John 6:37. Jesus is speaking.
“All that the Father giveth Me _______ ______ to Me; and him that cometh to Me I will ___ ___ ______ ______ ____.”
If you want to come to Him, you have not committed the unpardonable sin. Anybody who wants to come, will, and Jesus will never turn you away. With open arms He says,, “Come.”
Your own reason says you ought to. God’s Word says you ought to. If you have never actively, fully, clearly, opened your heart to Christ, you can at this moment.
18. Turn to Isaiah 1:18 and hear the words of God:
________ now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
Pray, “Oh, Lord Jesus, thank You that the Spirit says, “Come.” The Bride of Christ, the church, says, “Come.” And thank You that You say “Come.” Thank You for accepting me. Thank You for inviting me. Thank You that whosever will may come and take of the water of life freely. Thank you for the water of life. O Lamb of God, I come. I come.”