DID I COMMIT THE UNPARDONABLE SIN?
Mark 3: 28-30 — “Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation: because they said, He hath an unclean spirit.”
One of the most common questions we receive comes from people desperate to know whether or not they have blasphemed the Holy Spirit. Each month, I get 10 or more emails expressing concerns similar to this dear lady’s note:
“I cannot tell you the tears of repentance that I have cried. Have I committed the unforgivable sin? Have I blasphemed the Holy Spirit? In my spirit I feel so ashamed and convicted that I can hardly stand it. Is it too late for me? I should have known better, not to hurt the Holy Spirit like I did.”
A large percentage of people—and I’m talking about people attending church—are tormented by this fear of having committed the unpardonable sin.
THE SIN OF BLASPHEMING THE HOLY SPIRIT
“And the scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casts He out devils” (Mark 3:22).
What exactly does it men to blaspheme the Holy Spirit? Here is some background:
“The word blaspheme, as it applies to the Holy Spirit means ‘to speak reproachfully, to rail at, revile, calumniate.’ Wuest says: ‘It is used specifically of those who by contemptuous speech intentionally come short of the reverence due to God or to sacred things. Here the words speak of the action of the scribes, who, knowing that our Lord was performing miracles in the power of the Holy Spirit, deliberately and knowingly attribute them to Satan, and do this in an attempt to break the attesting power of the miracles our Lord was performing. This is the unpardonable sin.’ The only record in the Word of God of anyone blaspheming the Holy Spirit is found among these professors of religion called ‘scribes and Pharisees.’ There is no record of unsaved people committing this sin” (Jimmy Swaggart Bible Commentary, Mark).
“I do not find in the Word of God that a person who has never made any profession of religion can blaspheme the Holy Spirit. If remarks are made by such individuals about the Holy Spirit, as oftentimes happens, it is done in ignorance, simply because such people don’t know enough about the Holy Spirit to blaspheme Him” (Brother Swaggart, Here Is My Question About The Holy Spirit).
So, as the scribes and Pharisees demonstrated, a person who does commit this sin is so hardened of heart that he has no concern for its eternal consequence, nor does he seek counsel or help to repent because he simply does not care.
How anyone could knowingly and deliberately blaspheme the Holy Spirit is difficult to comprehend, especially when you think of His role in the Trinity.
The Holy Spirit—represented throughout the Bible as the gentle dove, living water, oil, wind, and fire—does the work of Almighty God. He is the promise of the Father sent by the Lord Jesus Christ, named the Comforter, and sent to reveal Jesus and the ways of God to the hearts of believers. He moves in mighty and marvelous ways to accomplish the purposes of God.
I THINK I’VE BLASPHEMED THE HOLY SPIRIT—CAN I STILL BE SAVED?
If a person wants to be saved, my husband said it is the Holy Spirit who has placed that desire in such a heart:
“The Holy Spirit would not place such a desire in a person and then refuse to save him, that is if he wants to be saved. Anyone who wants to be saved—and I mean anyone—can be saved. All they have to do is believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that He died on the Cross of Calvary for their sins and, thereby, accept Him as their Saviour and their Lord. Doing that, they will be instantly born again, and that is guaranteed. If the Holy Spirit draws an unsaved person to Christ, all that remains is for that person to say yes to Christ, and they will be saved. So, the idea that a person would desire to be saved, and they cannot be saved, because they think they’ve blasphemed the Holy Spirit, is not scriptural, or plausible. Unfortunately, Satan has used this ploy on many people, trying to make them believe, that despite the desire to be saved, that they simply cannot be saved, because of something they did or said in the past. As long as he can get them to believe that lie, he will have succeeded in his purpose, and they will die eternally lost, if they continue in that vein. But the moment they believe, and that capacity is theirs, they will be instantly saved.”
That is the power of Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
“Once again, it doesn’t matter how evil, how wicked, how sinful, how reprobate that a person is, if that person wants to be saved, the very desire that is in their heart, has been placed there, as stated, by the Holy Spirit, and to be sure, that person can be saved. There are millions of people all over the world, and down through the ages of time, who have done some terrible things as it regards sin and iniquity, but there came an hour that they gave their heart and life to Jesus Christ. And when they did, every sin was cleansed and every iniquity was purged.”
THE SERIOUSNESS OF SIN
While the clarification of intentional blasphemy narrows the number of those who actually do commit the unforgivable sin, Christians should take to heart the seriousness of all sin.
“But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear” (Isa. 59:2)
Sin causes separation from God. Immediately after the fall of man, we find Adam hiding from the Lord when He calls, “Where are you?”
Adam responded, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid.”
Why was Adam afraid? Consider the following comments from these Bible scholars:
Calvin said, “[Adam’s] consciousness of the effects of sin was keener than his sense of the sin itself.”
Lange said, “This is the first instance of that mingling and confusion of sin and punishment which is the peculiar characteristic of our redemption-needing humanity.”
Luther said, “The words, ‘Where are you?’ are words of divine law, directed by God to Adam’s conscience. God wanted Adam to know that he who hides himself from Him is never hidden from Him, and that he who runs away from Him can never escape Him.”
According to my husband, this type of fear that Adam expresses in Genesis 3:10 is a fear brought on by guilt.
“That’s why guilt is such a hazard,” he said. “It carries with it a tremendous amount of negative baggage. This type of fear sees God in a completely erroneous way. It sees Him as someone to be dreaded, someone to be avoided. But understand this: Sin is a horrible business, actually the cause of all sorrow, heartache, and destruction in this world, and as well always brings heavy guilt. However, sin should be taken to the Lord, as distasteful and shameful as it might be. There’s no one else who can do anything about one’s sin, except the Lord of Glory. And His answer for sin is the Cross, which is the greatest example of love that humanity has ever known.”
A LACK OF FAITH
While discussing this topic on Frances & Friends, Dave Smith made an excellent point. He said, “It’s the lack of faith that leads to the act of sin. You cannot separate the two. And placing our faith in something other than Christ is the basis of all sin. So, we are not concerned just about the act of sin—that’s bad enough—but you need to go to the root of the problem: where you place your faith. There is a peace that can come about when we put our faith in the Lord and what He did on the Cross.”
A lack of faith is a sin. People don’t trust the Lord or believe His Word because they think that they’ve committed a sin that’s too bad, too hard, or too difficult, and the Lord will not forgive them.
Carl Brown said that when the Lord prayed for Peter in Luke 22:32, He didn’t pray that Peter would not fail; He wanted to make sure that Peter’s faith stood after he failed.
“People doubt God,” Brown said. “So they doubt God’s love for them. ‘If He doesn’t love me,’ they say, ‘then how can He forgive me?’ Thank God for Romans 5:8, because if He loved us as sinners, then surely He loves us as believers. And for us to doubt God, we are doubting what He introduced to us through what Jesus accomplished at Calvary.”
“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).
I asked the panel this question: Which is worse—an actual sin committed, or the lack of faith or unbelief in the Lord to forgive and to cleanse that person from sin?
Unbelief, they said, was worse.
DID THE LORD REALLY FORGIVE ME?
The Bible calls Satan the accuser of the brethren. To that point, Smith said, “Satan tries to convince unsaved people that they haven’t sinned and don’t need to be forgiven, and he tries to convince believers that God won’t forgive them. But that’s Satan doing that. The person asking if they’ve committed the unpardonable sin has to choose who to believe—the Devil who says ‘you’re not forgiven,’ or God who says in His Word: ‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (I Jn. 1:9).’”
The Word of God also tells us that the Lord is close to those who are of a broken and contrite spirit (Ps. 34:18). When we go before the Lord with a contrite spirit over something we’ve done, He forgives us.
“There is going to be an initial realization that says, ‘I have been forgiven,’ Brown said. “There has to be. When you genuinely repent before the Lord, right then, you know it. But whether or not you maintain it, that’s the thing. You can start to rely on feelings and that’s when the enemy really plays on your emotions.”
Smith added, “Forgiveness is not based on feelings. Our feelings change—they go up and down. If we repent, we have to simply believe that God has forgiven us.”
Psalm 51 is probably the greatest prayer of repentance that’s ever been prayed. It is also the intercessory prayer of Christ on behalf of His people. Anyone who has prayed for God’s forgiveness but still struggles with guilt over a confessed sin would greatly benefit from studying Psalm 51, which begins: “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of Your tender mercies blot out my transgressions” (Ps. 51:1).
SIN HAS CONSEQUENCES
“Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest” (Ps. 51:4).
In his book, David, my husband writes: “David had already repented of the deed; nevertheless, the Lord would now tell him what he would suffer because of this terrible sin. While forgiveness definitely restores fellowship, which is all important, it does not negate the penalty.”
“Sin is not just a game,” Smith said. “Sin is destructive, and anytime anyone sins, there are going to be consequences—broken relationships, legal issues, etc. But Jesus provides reconciliation, where the debt is paid, and these people who think they have committed the unpardonable sin or sins too ugly (we don’t minimize sin) need to realize that the debt for their sin has been paid.”
Brown agreed. “It is a bonafide fact that there are consequences to sin, but Christians sometimes believe or think that once they ask the Lord to forgive them, they don’t consider the after-effect or the consequences that come. People need to realize that every act of sin was paid for at Calvary and it cost something to ask God to forgive us—it cost the life and blood of Jesus Christ—and we can go to Him and ask for that forgiveness.”
God will forgive any sin, no matter how despicable. In fact, any person who comes to Him, He will in no wise cast him out (Jn. 6:37). I’ll close this article with one of the greatest illustrations to this point, found in Luke 5:17-24:
“And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called your son: make me as one of your hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.”
- Frances & Friends, March 16, 2016.
- Jimmy Swaggart, Jimmy Swaggart Bible Commentary/ Mark (World Evangelism Press, 2006),106-109.
- Jimmy Swaggart, Brother Swaggart, Here Is My Question About The Holy Spirit, (World Evangelism Press, 2011) page 212, 218.
- Cross of Christ Study Guide Series: The Holy Spirit, From Genesis To Revelation
- Jimmy Swaggart, Jimmy Swaggart Bible Commentary/Genesis (World Evangelism Press, 2006).
- Jimmy Swaggart, David, page 147.