THE UNFORGIVABLE SIN: BLASPHEMING THE SPIRIT
Have you ever wondered why one hears people using the names of God and Jesus in vain constantly nowadays and even cursing their names, but why one rarely if ever hears the Holy Spirit cursed? But one does hear false things (e.g., fake healings) verbally attributed to the Spirit of God. Would this be an unforgivable sin?
There are teachers who espouse the teaching that a "saved" person has "eternal life" pro gratis and can not possibly be lost; therefore, such a one cannot possibly commit an unforgivable sin.
Jesus said that there was a sin that is unforgivable. The burden of this article is to clarify the difference between unforgiven and unforgivable and to define "blaspheme".
A young preacher just beginning his ministry was asked by an older teen in Bible class whether "fornication" was an unforgivable sin. Of course, the preacher wanted to show off his learning, so he elaborated on the passages in Matthew, Mark and Luke where Jesus is quoted explaining the unforgivable sin. He states plainly that all sin is forgiveable except "blaspheming the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 12:31-32; Mark 3:28-30; Luke 12:10). It didn't dawn on the novice preacher at the time that the young man just wanted to know what he could get away with. That would have been a different question altogether.
ACCOUNTABILITY OF WORDS
Jesus taught, "That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned" (Matthew 12:36,37).
Paul, an apostle, wrote, "So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God" (Romans 14:12). Paul, indeed a Christian, includes himself in the final accountability. "Everyone of us." None, therefore, are exempt from the Judgment.
One definition of sin is "transgression [violation] of the law" (1 John 3:4). Jesus was sinless (v. 5; 1 Peter 2:22). That means He did not violate any law. There are two major consecutive laws of God in the Bible. One came to Israel through Moses (John 1:17). A prophet of the Old Testament said "All Israel have transgressed thy law" (Daniel 9:11). But once this Law of Moses was fulfilled (Matthew 5:18) it ended, and Jesus' Law came into effect (Hebrews 9:15; Matthew 28:18-20; Galatians 6:2). His Law is called "Grace and Truth" (John 1:17).
An apostle of Jesus said that "all have sinned" (Romans 3:23). Again, he said, "Sin pays off with death. But God's gift is eternal life given by Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23, CEV). Eternal life (i.e., forgiveness of the sins that causes death) is given by Jesus, but how?
SINS IN A NEW DISCIPLE'S PAST
From the beginning of the gospel on the day of Pentecost, an apostle commanded his audience, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins" (Acts 2:38, ESV). The apostles were obeying Jesus' command to "go into all the world and preach the gospel, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and teaching them..." (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15,16). The gospel is literally "good news" and is called "the faith" in Jude 3 and Ephesians 2:8. The news is that sinners can repent (change their lives) and be baptized for the forgiveness of their sins. This promise is given to both Jews and Gentiles (Romans 1:16, 17).
The fulfilled Law of Moses was nailed to the cross of Jesus (Colossians 2:14-17); therefore, we are not judged now by its ordinances of sacrifices, meats, holy days, or sabbath days (verse 16) that divided the Jews from the world. We are now judged by the perfect royal Law of Liberty (James 2:8); that means we can sin against its commandments (verse 9) and if we sin we will be called "transgressors." One cannot sin against a law that's been abrogated (e.g., the Law of Moses).
A DISCIPLE (CHRISTIAN) CAN STILL SIN
Jesus' Law is binding on the baptized believers. Such ones are to observe all things taught by Jesus' authority (Matthew 28:18-20). What if a baptized believer, who still has free will, breaks one of Jesus' commands. If one breaks just one commandment, he is guilty of violating the whole Law (James 2:10). He has sinned. "For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning" (2 Peter 2:20).
But the disciple of Christ has an advocate with the Father, his Lord and Master Jesus Christ (1 John 2:1). How?
John is not talking to "alien" sinners in this epistle but to his "little children" who would have been been converted to his teaching. Paul wrote to Timothy, his student from Derbe (Acts 16:1), and addressed him as his "child" (1 Timothy 1:18; 2 Timothy 1:2). John points out that his "children" can sin. In fact, John in chapter 1 says that if "we" say we do not sin, "we" are liars. Notice that the apostle includes himself as potentially sinning. In order to remain free from sins, we must confess them. Then God cleanses us. Having been born into Christ's Kingdom, our goal is to not sin. "And people who stay one in their hearts with him won't keep on sinning. If they do keep on sinning, they don't know Christ, and they have never seen him" (1 John 3:6, CEV). In order to remain free from sins, we must endeavor to walk in God's "light" and confess our sins. God then cleanses us with the blood of Christ (1 John 1:7).
Having been born into Christ's Kingdom, our goal is to not sin. "My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate [intercessor] with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous" (1 John 2:1,2 KJV). "No one who is a child of God is habitually guilty of sin. A God-given germ of life remains in him, and he cannot habitually sin--because he is a child of God" (1 John 3:9,1912 Weymouth New Testament).
Christians are children of God with the "germ of life" abiding in him. Hence, although our intention is to grow and not sin anymore (2 Peter 3:18) we are still capable of violating Christ's Law by casting aside the seed of life. We must purposely obey Jesus and walk correctly (Ephesians 5:15) for we must all appear before the Judgment to give an account of our stewardship (Luke 16:2).
Next: Blaspheming the Holy Spirit