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The "Unpardonable Sin"

Yesterday, October 23, we looked at Luke 11:14-28 during our Sunday morning teaching. This is the passage of scripture where some people in the crowd accused Jesus of casting out demons in the power of Beelzebul. In Luke’s account, we are not told who said this accusation, but in Matthew’s account (Matthew 12:22-37) we are told that the Pharisees made this accusation. In Mark’s account (Mark 3:22-30) we are told that the teachers of the law made this accusation. In the scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter which group made the accusation, but we can safely say that it was the religious leaders as they were trying to determine how Jesus is performing miracles.

Another interesting difference in these accounts is how Jesus responds to this accusation. In Luke, Jesus explains to these individuals that their rational doesn’t make any sense. How can Satan be driving out Satan? As Jesus says, “Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall” (Luke 11:17). But in Matthew’s and Mark’s account, Jesus takes his comments one step further and explains to the religious leaders that they had just committed the “unpardonable sin.”

There has been much written about the unpardonable sin and a lot of confusion about what exactly is this sin. Many Christians live in fear wondering if they had committed this "unpardonable sin." For us to understand what Jesus means by this sin, we must keep everything in context. Jesus says in Mark 3:28-29, “Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.” The key words in these verses are “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.” If we understand this phrase, then we will understand what is the unpardonable sin that Jesus talks about in these verses.

The Greek word that is translated as “blasphemy” means to speak in a disrespectful way that demeans, denigrates, or maligns. To blasphemy is more than just speaking disrespectful about someone or something. When a person “blasphemes” they are seeking to harm or injure another’s reputation. When we apply this definition to what Jesus was saying about the Holy Spirit, we realize that when a person “blasphemes against the Holy Spirit,” they seek to destroy the reputation of the Holy Spirit. How does a person do this? Again, we need to go back to the Mark 3 passage. In verse 30, we read why Jesus made these comments. “He said this because they were saying, ‘He has an impure spirit.’” How were the religious leaders seeking to destroy the reputation of the Holy Spirit? By saying that the Holy Spirit is Beelzebul or Satan.

Again, the religious leaders had rejected Jesus as the Messiah and in their mind, if Jesus is not doing these miracles by the power of God, then there is only one option left, the power of Satan. Because they came to that conclusion, Jesus tells them that they have sealed their eternal fate because they have just called the work of God, the work of Satan. They flipped everything on its head, calling good, evil, and evil, good. When a person’s heart becomes this hard, where they see the works of God as the works of Satan, it is at that point that Jesus says, you have sealed your eternal fate.

This maybe a totally new understanding for you as it comes to the unpardonable sin. As I said, there has been so much confusion amongst Christians and non-Christians. Many believers live in fear regarding the unpardonable sin. But when we understand the context of Jesus’ words to the religious teachers, as followers of Jesus, we do not have to worry about committing this unpardonable sin.

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