In this video, Dr. David W. Jones, Professor of Christian Ethics, answers a common question many Christians have: What is the unpardonable sin, and Christians commit it?
A great question I’m asked a lot in the ethics courses I teach is, “Can Christians commit the unpardonable sin?” In Matthew 12:31-32, Christ teaches about this. We’re about halfway through (perhaps two-thirds of the way through) Christ’s public ministry. And he heals this man who kind of had the trifecta of problems: he was demon-possessed, he was blind and he was mute. Christ heals him, and the miracle is so notable that even the crowds start to ask, “Could this possibly be the Messiah, the Son of David?”
The Pharisees, Christ’s opponents in Matthew’s gospel, can’t deny that the miracle was done. But rather than admit that Christ was who he had taught that he was, the Messiah, they attribute Christ’s supernatural miracle to Satan, to Beelzebub. Well the narrative goes on, and Christ confronts the Pharisees because of this attribution. Then Christ gives the teaching on the unpardonable sin. It’s Matthew 12:31-32. Christ says,
Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. 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.
If there is a sin that you and I could commit that would be so great that God would refuse to forgive us for it, well then certainly we would want to avoid that sin and maybe even ask questions like, “Well, why is it not forgivable? Was the atonement not sufficient to actually forgive all sins?” Of course that would be a bad conclusion to reach.
The Pharisees denied that Christ was the Messiah and attributed this wonderful work to Satan.
But what’s actually going on here in this passage is that the Pharisees are confronted with this unmistakable Divine work of God, this healing of this man. It was so evident that this was a work of God and that Jesus is who he had taught who he was, but yet with such clear evidence they denied that Christ was the Messiah and attributed this wonderful work to Satan.
Why is that an unforgiveable sin? Well, the answer is if you deny that Christ is the Messiah, since there is salvation in no other name, essentially you’ve cut yourself off from the only source of forgiveness and pardon that there is in the entire universe. And thus that becomes the unpardonable sin because there’s no one left to forgive you.
In our lost state, all of us unless we put our faith and trust in Christ the first time we heard the gospel, all of us committed the unpardonable sin. But with the repeated witness of Christ, eventually you and I believers put our faith and trust in him, and we can no longer commit the unpardonable sin.