The Unpardonable Sin

Discussion in 'Free-For-All Archives' started by Link, Feb 7, 2005.

  1. Link

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    The passages in which Jesus warned that blaspheming the Holy Spirit would not be forgiven are frightening passages to a lot of people. I have heard and read a number of attempts at interpreting the passage. One of my pet peeves is when people come up with interpretations that have nothing at all to do with ‘blasphemy’ and basically redefine the word to fit into a pre-conceived theological paradigm.

    ‘Blasphemy’ refers to speaking against something—in English against something holy. It is clear from the context of the three passages from the Gospels that contain this teaching that Jesus is dealing with people who would speak against the Holy Spirit. In case a someone reading scripture is unable to look up ‘blasphemy’ in a dictionary, it is clear from the following verse that the unforgivable sin is speaking against the Spirit.

    Matthew 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.

    One interpretation I have often heard is that blaspheming the Spirit is resisting the Holy Spirit’s call to salvation, and dying without believing in Christ. One of the main problems with this interpretation is that it ignores the literal meaning of the passage. The unpardonable sin is speaking against the Spirit, not dying without receiving Christ.

    “Dying without believing in Christ” is not a sin. Refusing to believe in Christ IS a sin. But dying is a not a sin. Christ was sinless, and He died. Those who die refusing to believe in Christ sin by refusing to believe in Christ—not by dying.

    Refusing or neglecting to believe in Christ is not the unpardonable sin. If it were, then Paul’s sins could not have been forgiven. He rejected the Gospel message and rejected faith in Christ for some time, ‘kicking against the pricks.’ So clearly rejecting Christ is not unpardonable. Plenty of people have repented for rejecting Christ and have been forgiven.

    The three passages in which Christ teaches against the unpardonable sin tell us the context. Christ’s opponents were accusing Him of casting out demons by Beelzebub, the prince of devils. Mark is very clear why Jesus gave this teaching on the unpardonable sin. It was because they accused Christ of having an unclean spirit.

    Mark 3
    29. But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation:
    30. Because they said, He hath an unclean spirit.

    The opponents of Christ had said that He said that the Spirit He was casting demons out by was a demon. They were accusing the Holy Spirit of being a demon. Therefore Jesus warned that blasphemy of—or speaking against—the Holy Spirit could not be forgiven.

    Those who redefine ‘blasphemy’ to mean something that has nothing to do with the meaning of the word blasphemy at all usually seem to be doing so out of a motivation to make this teaching of Christ fit with their pre-conceived theories related to salvation. But if one’s view of salvation does not already take Christ’s teaching on blaspheming the Spirit into account, it is not accurate, anyway. Redefining the meanings of words like ‘blasphemy’ and ‘speak against’ to mean ‘die without believing in Christ’ is nonsensical. Rejecting is not the same thing as blaspheming. One can reject the conviction of the Spirit without blaspheming the Spirit. Paul apparently did, but was forgiven.

    Is it possible for people to blaspheme the Holy Spirit today? Some preachers say ‘no.’ But we must ask ourselves the question, why would this teaching be included in the New Testament if it were not important for us to know it? The teaching is repeated in all three of the synoptic Gospels. There is no support from scripture or reason to think that human beings are no longer capable of saying bad things about the Holy Spirit. So it is obviously possible for someone to blaspheme the Holy Spirit today.

    One of the earliest interpretations of the teaching on the unpardonable sin found outside of scripture is from the Didache. The Didache is a very important historical document, written around the end of the first or beginning of the second century. The following is quoted from Lightfoot’s translation.

    11:10 And any prophet speaking in the Spirit ye shall not try neither discern;
    11:11 for every sin shall be forgiven, but this sin shall not be forgiven.

    One might take issue with the wording of 11:10 at least in translation, since the Bible teaches us to test spirits and teaches that discerning of spirits is a gift of the Spirit. But these statements may have originated from a practical application of Jesus’ teaching against blasphemy that was present in the early church.

    If the Holy Spirit moved a prophet to speak, and someone claimed that the Spirit who moved the prophet to speak were a demon, couldn’t the man who made such a claim be guilty of blaspheming the Holy Spirit? After all, that is what the Pharisees who opposed Christ were doing when they claimed that the source of His power to cast out demons was Beelzebub. If someone speaks in tongues by the Holy Spirit, and another claims that the Spirit by which he speaks is demonic, could this not also be blaspheming the Spirit?

    Prophecy is a very delicate matter to deal with. On the one hand, prophecies must be judged. False prophecies can be very damaging. On the other hand, one should be careful not to quickly assert that a prophecy is not from the Lord, or from the Devil. If a prophecy clearly violates the truths of the Gospel, cursing the Lord, or something of that nature, we can recognize that it is not of God. But there are some people who will reject a prophecy in a loud-mouthed manner if it uses scripture from the Old Testament, written in reference to Israel, allegorically in reference to the church, or for some other debatable doctrinal matter. The scripture warns against despising prophesyings. It can be extremely dangerous to be quick to speak against prophecies.
     
  2. Eladar

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    It seems that I can post to this thread. Is there a reason why I can't post to the OSAS thread?
     
  3. Eladar

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    Sorry, but testing again.
     
  4. Eladar

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    Now to answer your question:

    It seems to me that the only other unforgiveable sin is to reject God after accepting Him(Hebrews). Perhaps it refers to rejecting the Holy Spirit after experiencing him.
     
  5. billwald

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    I suppose it would be resisting the HS's testimony in one's brain (heart).
     
  6. donnA

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    Think about it, if you die without Christ you have declared the Holy Spirit a liar.
    How many unpardonable sins are there?
    If you die without Christ, can you be forgiven for not accepting Him?
     
  7. Charles Meadows

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    Link,

    Your interpretation does not fit with the rest of scripture. Jesus didn't say that anyone who came unto Him He would in no wise cast out - UNLESS by chance that person had spoken against the Holy Spirit.

    Clearly it means to resist the Spirit. Look at the context. The Jews said that Jesus works were done by Beelzebul not the Spirit.

    It would make no sense to say that speaking ill of the Spirit is an unpardonable sin. That is capricious - why not speaking against the Father - is He not greater than all?
     
  8. ccrobinson

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    I had heard several years ago that the unpardonable sin was identifying something that the Holy Spirit did and attributing it directly to Satan. I really don't know whether that explanation is Biblical or not. I'd love to hear opinions on this idea.
     
  9. Phillip

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    This was already answered when the people claimed that Jesus was receiving His power through Bealzebub. Just think, one remark against a person who was saved would be against the Holy Spirit who did the convicting.

    Think about what was mentioned above. Ignoring the Holy Spirit is the same as calling Him a liar all of your life. Ignoring the conviction of the Holy Spirit IS unforgiveable. The more one ignores the conviction, the more their heart is hardened against the Holy Spirit's convictions. Eventually that person has reached a point they can be convicted no longer, thus telling the Holy Spirit to get lost. A very serious sin and also unforgiveable.
     
  10. Link

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    Could I ask that posters actually read my message carefully before responding, or at least read one of the passages in question?

    Philip wrote,
    ***Think about what was mentioned above. Ignoring the Holy Spirit is the same as calling Him a liar all of your life. Ignoring the conviction of the Holy Spirit IS unforgiveable. The more one ignores the conviction, the more their heart is hardened against the Holy Spirit's convictions****


    No, the Bible does not teach that ignoring the conviction of the Spirit is unforgivable. If it were, wouldn't Paul be in Hell? Paul 'kicked against the pricks', ingnoring the conviction of the Spirit. But he repented and was forgiven.

    Paul rejected the working of the Spirit on his heart, but was forgiven. If Paul could be forgiven. This sin is not unforgivable.

    Scripture is clear that whoever 'speaks a word' against the Spirit will not be forgiven. If someone does not know the definition of 'blasphemy' then they can still understand the passage from this statement.

    Billwald wrote,

    **I suppose it would be resisting the HS's testimony in one's brain (heart).**

    Then Paul would have committed the unforgivable sin, and so would a lot of us. But the Bible teaches that the sin is speaking against the Spirit NOT resisting the testimony of the Spirit.
     
  11. Charles Meadows

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    Could I ask that posters actually read my message carefully before responding, or at least read one of the passages in question?

    I read your post. What you're doing is taking the literal wording over the clear sense. That always leads to bad results.
     
  12. donnA

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    Rejecting the Holy Spirt's call and conviction of sin can not be forgiven because the person in question has died that way. No sin can be forgiven after death. Now if the person is still alive, of course they can be forgiven.
    It's the death thing that makes the difference.
     
  13. Link

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    The literal wording is the clear sense in this case.
     
  14. Link

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    Donna,
    Rejecting the Holy Spirit's call CAN be forgiven. Paul rejected the Holy Spirit's call, but he repented and was forgiven. So clearly rejecting Christ or the conviction of the Holy Spirit is not the unforgivable sin. As in the case of all sin, one must repent to be forgiven through faith.

    Charles Meadows wrote,

    &gt;&gt;Your interpretation does not fit with the rest of scripture. Jesus didn't say that anyone who came unto Him He would in no wise cast out - UNLESS by chance that person had spoken against the Holy Spirit.&lt;&lt;

    It could be that those who speak against the Spirit are not the ones who come to Christ. Christ's statements in Matthew 12 are true, no matter what other statements He made, wouldn't you agree?

    &gt;&gt;Clearly it means to resist the Spirit. Look at the context. The Jews said that Jesus works were done by Beelzebul not the Spirit. &lt;&lt;

    Speaking a word against the Spirit can be a form of 'resisting the Spirit.' But not all resisting the Spirit is blasphemy, and not all resisting the Spirit is unforgivable. The Bible does not teach that all who died in the desert during the 40 years necessarily went to Hell, though they resisted the Spirit. Paul 'kicked against the pricks' when he heard the Gospel message at first, but he still found forgiveness. not all resisting the Spirit is unforgivable. Speaking a word against the Spirit is unforgivable.

    &gt;&gt;It would make no sense to say that speaking ill of the Spirit is an unpardonable sin.&lt;&lt;

    So do you think that Jesus was making no sense when He said,

    "whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come."

    Either you believe Jesus was telling the truth, or He wasn't, or you are challenging the inspiration of the book of Matthew. Jesus clearly said what He said. The question is whether or not you will believe it.

    Jesus specifies that blasphemies against the Son of Man can be forgiven. He does not specifically state that blasphemies against the Father will be forgiven, but in the Mark version he says that all blaphemies except for blaspheming the Holy Spirit will be forgiven.

    I think the real issue is that Jesus said something so difficult for people to accept that they do not accept it, and instead, redefine the literal meaning of words to make the statements fit into their own personal theology. We must accept what Christ says.
     
  15. Charles Meadows

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    Link,

    So what if a lost person speaks contemptuous and evil words against the Holy Spirit? What if several years later he confesses Christ as savior? Is the blood not strong enough to atone for THAT sin? Thus John 6:37 is a lie? Is John 3:16 is a lie too?

    You have to see each verse in its proper context. In this case Jesus is rebuking those who attributed his works to the devil. It seems to me that the LITERAL WORDING of scripture (and not its meaning in context) is your final authority. If this is so you will NEVER get doctrine right.
     
  16. Link

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    Charles,

    I believe in taking scripture in context, and some passages of scripture are allegorical or apoctalyptic. This passage is not one of them, and your argument about context does not argue against the actual statements of the passage.

    You cannot divorce the 'meaning on context' from what a passage actually means. What you are arguing for is nonsensical. If Christ said speaking a word against the Spirit is unforgivable, then that is what He said. Nothing in the context negates what Christ actually said. There is no reason to take it as hyperbole, either.

    Imagine if someone tried to argue that 'thou shalt not commit' adultery was not literal because the context is talking about how we need to keep God's law. It doesn't make sense, any more than your argument makes sense here.

    Do you have any reason 'from context' to show that Christ did not mean that blaspheming the Spirit was unforgivable?

    There are many who believe that those guilty of blaspheming the Holy Spirit have seered consciences and do not come to Christ. Whatever the case, we should not toss out a text, or irrationally redefine the meanings of words to mean something they do not say, just to make a text more comfortable to read and believe.
     
  17. jcf

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    Matthew 12:32 "Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.

    Jesus did not come to condemn but to save.

    John 3:17 "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

    How He saves us is by giving us the Spirit of truth that will convict us of sin.

    John 14:16-17 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Helper, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

    John 16:7-8 "Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. "And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

    The Spirit will speak to us through the conscience. We can speak against the Spirit conviction. By doing this we hearden our hearts to God's saving work. This condition cannot be forgiven now nor in the age to come. Why? Because this is the means by which God saves us, this is why Jesus gave Himself.

    Ephesians 5:25-27 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

    Galatians 6:7-8 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

    Romans 8:11-14 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

    So, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is an inward thing and can only be done by one who has the Spirit of truth and turns from it. But, if a one turns a brother back to the true he will be restored.

    James 5:19-20 Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.
     
  18. Link

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    Our Lord Jesus' own explanation of blaspheming the Spirit was that whoever spoke a word against the Spirit would not be forgiven....

    Speaking is an _external_ thing.

    If resisting conviction were unforgivable, then wouldn't most of us be on our way to Hell?
     
  19. jcf

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    Matthew 12:32 "Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.

    To speak against Jesus is outward but to speak agaist the Spirit is inward and can only happen once we have been given the Spirit.

    Ephesians 4:30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

    1 Thessalonians 5:19 Do not quench the Spirit.

    When we commit blasphemy against the Spirit we make ourselves as God in the same way Adam and Eve did.

    John 10:33 The Jews answered Him, saying, "For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.''
     
  20. ICU2YB

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    Link, in obedience to your request that folks:

    " … I ask that posters actually read my message CAREFULLY before responding, …” & “… No, the Bible does not teach that ignoring the conviction of the Spirit is unforgivable. If it were, wouldn't Paul be in Hell? Paul 'kicked against the pricks', ignoring the conviction of the Spirit. But he repented and was forgiven ."

    I have this to say regarding Paul‘s, supposed, troubled conscience.

    However, it is esential that you first read my post to jfc, 2-25-05 before reading the following as such is pertinent to this issue.

    http://www.baptistboard.com/ubb/ultimatebb.php/topic/28/3045/12.html

    Before reading further it is vital that you are satisfied that post is true (1 Thes 5:23). If you don't think it is I'll be happy to address rebuttal on that board, so as not to confuse the issue you have presented here.

    Question: Why did Saul persecute Jewish believers (Acts 9:1-3)? If you answer: Because they were trusting Christ for salvation & abandoning the Jewish law, you are wrong.

    Please read Deut 21:22-23; Josh 8:29; 23:6 & think. Put yourself back in time, as a devout law abiding Jew who has just heard Peter preach Acts 2:22-38? Isn’t Peter, basically, asking you to believe him, & forget those scriptures?

    Yes, no scripture states such verbatim. However, doesn’t Saul’s extreme negative reaction to those that believed (Acts 22:1-5), the fact that Hebrew believers did not abandon the law & his testimony, as to having a good conscience up until (Acts 23:1), even though he'd persecuted believers earlier, prove such was the reason why he persecuted believers?

    None of the 12 Apostles initially understood what Christ did at Calvary, nor where they told by Him afterwards. Proof they knew nothing of Christ’s vicarious death is seen in their immediate preaching (Acts 2:22-40; 3:12-26; 4:8-12), which is why Israel’s leaders persecuted the 12 (Acts 12:1-2). They knew such preaching rightly put the blame for Christ’s death on them (Acts 4:1-3; v13-18; 5:17-28). So how & when did the Apostles learn? They received such from Paul by the Spirit, @ 20 years after the Lord’s ascension (Gal 2:2; v 9; Acts 15:1-30; 2 Cor 5:21; Gal 3:13), for there is no record of their preaching any differently.

    Saul’s father was a Pharisee (Acts 23:6) & Saul learned the scriptures from Gamaliel (Acts 22:3-5), who had a reputation in Israel (Acts 5:34). Due to such training Paul could rightly say he was “a Hebrew of the Hebrews” (Phil 3:4-6; Gal 1:14). Thus Deut 21:22-23; Josh 8:29; 23:6 is why Paul could honestly tell that council (Acts 23:1), king Agrippa (Acts 26:9) & Timothy (1 Tim 1:12-16), that though he wasted the church (Gal 1:13) he done such “ignorantly & in unbelief “ for he lived with a clear conscience before God all his life. Obviously such a statement means that the death of those believers did not bother him until after Christ saved him.

    Therefore, Paul’s testimony in scripture clearly refutes those who erroneously teach, because of their mistaken belief that: “... it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks” (Acts 9:5; 26:14) meant a troubled conscience resulted in Paul’s conversion, does it not? Therefore, Paul persecuted the 12’s gospel (Acts 26:9-11) with a clear conscience, & obviously would have continued had the Lord not stopped him, right?
     

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