The Unpardonable Sin

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Martin, Jul 16, 2006.

  1. Martin

    Martin
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    In this post I want to present what I believe is the correct understanding of the, so called, "unpardonable sin". The phrase "unpardonable sin" is not in Scripture and, I believe, misrepresents what Scripture actually warns against. Why? Because Scripture never warns against "one single act of sin" which God will not forgive. Therefore I would suggest that there is no such thing as a "unpardonable sin". I like the term used by Charles Stanley in his book "The Glorious Journey" in which he says...

    The above explanation is, I believe, a good "layman's" definition of the Biblical teaching on this subject. There is no sin that God will not forgive, but there is a "state" that person can get to that puts them beyond the reach of salvation.

    There are several passages which, I believe, discuss this matter. While space will not allow me to quote and address in detail each passage I do want to mention several of them and give a brief explanation.

    Matthew 12:31-32 and Mark 3:28-29

    These two verses have struck fear in the hearts of many people, and rightfully so. The very thought that a person could reach a point where God would not forgive them is very frightening. However there are several things in these verses that I think we would do good to note.

    1. This was not a one time event. Notice that in Mark 3:22 Scripture tells us that the Scribes "were saying he is possessed by Beelzebul, and he casts out demons by the ruler of demons". This was their settled position. While it should have been clear to anyone who listened to Jesus' teachings, or watched Jesus' healings and other actions, that the accusation was senseless and baseless, the Scribes hearts were so hardened against Christ that they could not see (Jn 5:36, 8:51, 9:39-41, Matt 13:13-16).

    2. This was not an accident. This is not a case of mistaken identity. They knew who Jesus was, they knew who/what He was claiming to be, they had seen the signs, they had heard the teaching, yet they ignored all of that and made the accusation. This is their heart speaking.

    3. They made these accusations to Jesus Himself. This was not done against an apostle or teacher. This was a continuous sin done in the face of the Son of God Himself.

    4. The Spirit of God was clearly at work in Jesus yet these Scribes were so hard hearted they could not see Him at work.

    5. What came out of their mouths was a blasphemy that came from their heart. Because they had so rejected the Holy Spirit, and thus the witness to Christ, they could not be saved. They had crossed a line of no return.

    6. It is my belief that this "exact" sin cannot be committed today. As William MacDonald has said, "there is reasonable doubt whether the unpardonable sin can be committed today, because He (Jesus) is not bodily present performing miracles...people who worry that they have committed the unpardonable sin have not done so. The very fact that they are concerned indicates that they are not guilty of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit" -"Believers Bible Commentary, pgs1251, 1329.

    Hebrews 6:4-6 and Hebrews 10:26-31

    These two verses have also frightened many Christians. What is worse is that there are so many understandings of these two verses offered that people are truly confused. This is a sad situation. Let me take a moment to note several things about these two verses.

    1. Those talked about in Hebrews 6 and 10 are in a irreversible situation. Hebrews 6 says that " it is impossible to renew them again to repentance", and Hebrews 10 says that "there no longer remains a sacrficefor sins but a terrifying expectation of judgment".

    2. These two verses do not talk about a one time event, but rather a series of events/actions in a person's life. Hebrews 6 talks about the need for Christians to grow up and then warns about people who have "fallen away". Hebrews 10 warns against those who "go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth".

    3. Neither of these verses are speaking to true believers.

    Hebrews 6 talks about these people who "crucify to themselves the Son of God" and "being cursed and it ends up being burned" (vss6,8). The writer, however, is certain of things that "accompany salvation" for his readers (vs9). So whoever the author of Hebrews was he believed his audience had not entered the "unpardonable state" spoken of in verse 6.

    I am aware of the problem posed by verses 4-5. Some take these verses to mean that the writer is talking about true Christians either (a) losing their salvation, or, (b) facing harsh judgment in time or at the Bema Seat of Christ. I believe choice "a" is unBiblical and inconsistant with the teaching of the author of Hebrews (7:25, 10:14, etc). It is my belief that choice "b" is also incorrect due to the language of verses 6-8. The point of those verses is to show that a person can come right to the door of salvation and then fail to be saved. While that alone is not unforgivable what is unforgivable is that they fall away in such a way that causes them to totally, and finally, reject Christ and His sacrifice for them. For these people there is no salvation. Again, please notice, that this is not a one time event/act. This kind of hardness occurs over a period of time (vss1-2).

    Hebrews 10:26-31 warns about "willfull sinning" after a person has received the knowledge of truth. This is not a one time act. This is a willfull, intentional, even angry rejection of Jesus Christ. The "sinning" spoken of here, therefore, is a continued rejection of Jesus Christ. There comes a point when a person reaches a place where they can no longer be saved. A place where "there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins". This is called apostasy. "Like Judas, the person has heard the Gospel. He knows the way of salvation; he has even pretended to recieve it; but then he deliberately repudiates it" (MacDonald, 2192). These people will face a fate worse than execution (vss27-29) because they have "trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace" (vss29). The result is the fury of fire that will consume (the enemies of God) them which is truly a terrifying thing.

    In summary I would just remind folks of several important points concerning the "unpardonable state".

    1. It is not a one time act.

    2. Those who fear they have committed this continual "sin" prove they don't have a hard heart and have have not committed this "sin".

    3. This state only occurs after a period of willfull, intentional, angry rejection of the witness of the Holy Spirit, and therefore of Jesus Christ (since the Holy Spirit witness of Christ).

    4. Those who are in this state have a hardened heart that cannot be softened. They are not concerned about the things of God. They are opposed to Christ, His works, and His people and church.

    5. Turn to Christ today in repentance and faith, then you will never have to worry about this "sin" ever again.

    Amen?

    I pray so...
     
  2. Marcia

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    Martin, this was a good post and I tend to agree. I've come to the same conclusions on this, although I am not putting them in concrete yet. :smilewinkgrin:

    Although we don't know for sure if an apostate cannot be saved, if one interprets the Hebrews passage as speaking of apostates (which I think it is), that seems to be what it is saying.

    I have heard the idea before that blasphemy of the HS in Matthew and Mark cannot be committed today because this was done while Jesus was on earth by those who witnessed the signs that revealed him as the Messiah, yet said he was doing miracles by the power of Satan and rejected him. I agree that this makes this particular state/sin something that cannot be repeated today.
     
  3. Soulman

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  4. webdog

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  5. genesis12

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    Nice post, Martin. I might couch it in slightly different terms, but the conclusion would be the same as your own. Good job.
     
  6. Martin

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  7. Soulman

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    More to the point I believe it to be the rejection of Christ.
     
  8. sandrocksam

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    The Holy Spirit convicts the heart, The Holy Spirit's witness of Jesus Christ is rejected thus the unforgivable (unpardonable) sin. Next time (if there is a next time) hopefully the person will accept the Holy Spirit's witness and Christ, thus NO unpardonable sin !!
     
  9. canadyjd

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    Interesting. This is an area where we must remain in "hypothetical land". We cannot pronounce people saved or unsaved. Surely we must not speculate on who is in an "unsavable state" or a "savable state". Image the problems with evangelism if we tried to make such determinations. I am not saying that is what you are doing, only that some might.

    Your conclusion that there are people walking around today that are in an unsavable state is overstated; Since you have absolutely no way of knowing who has "crossed the line" in the hardness of their hearts. Potentially it could be billions, or maybe just 10, or maybe none are so hardened just yet.

    I believe nothing is impossible with God. Since God has compassion on whom He will have compassion and harden whom He will harden, I don't think we can say anyone is beyond salvation. Salvation is completely in His hands. If He wants someone saved, they will be saved.

    peace to you:praying:
     
    #9 canadyjd, Jul 29, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 29, 2006
  10. Martin

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    ==Actually I have done no such thing, nor attempted to. We don't know who is at a point where they have "crossed the line". We are to preach the Gospel to all.

    My position on this, btw, is the majority position among Bible teachers (etc). While there maybe small points of difference I think the position I outlined recieves a wide range of support.

    ==The Bible says there are such people (Heb 10:26-31, 1Jn 5:16-17). I don't have to know who they are or how many there are in order to know that. So my position is not overstated. The Bible says there are such people so there are such people.

    ==I don't think you have understood my point.
     
  11. canadyjd

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    And I think you are being a bit too defensive.

    peace to you:praying:
     
  12. Martin

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    Actually I was just responding to your remarks.
     
  13. kjv1611

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    Its REJECTING the Lord Jesus Christ ......... If you have never trusted in the shed BLOOD of our Lord and Saviour......PLEASE DO SO NOW!!
    thats the only thing that sends a soul to HELL for all eternity
     
  14. canadyjd

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    If you would have read my remarks, you would have seen that I specifically said that I was not implying that you would try to decide who was "savable" and who was "unsavable", only that some might.

    I take Hebrews 6 and 10 as warnings to Christians not to reject their faith, instead of the writer proclaiming some to be unsavable. The writer is responding to specific questions concerning hypothetical situations, and not referring to actual believers, which you pointed out.

    As far as I John 5 and the "sin that leads to death", there are various interpretations of that passage. I doubt there is a "majority" opinion among scholars that it is certainly referring to an unsavable person.

    peace to you:praying:
     
  15. canadyjd

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    More specifically, I trust in Jesus, the Son of the Living God, but I know what you mean.

    peace to you:praying:
     

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