The Unpardonable Sin
Holy Scripture mentions only one sin that both in this life and in the
life to come is unpardonable: blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. There
is no reference to it in the Old Testament, though [it must be
recalled that] for the sins committed "high-handedly" [Num. 15:30] no
sacrifice was instituted in the law, because it set aside the law
itself (cf. Heb. 10:28). Jesus is the first to speak of it (Matt.
12:31; Mark 3:29; Luke 12:10). At one time, when he completely healed
a demoniac who was also blind and dumb, the multitudes were so amazed
that they recognized Jesus as the son of David, the Christ. But as a
result the Pharisees were so enraged that they said not only that he
cast out demons by the prince of demons, but that he himself was
possessed by the devil (Mark 3:22). This accusation was inspired
solely by hatred, springing as it did from pure, conscious, and
intentional hostility. In Matthew 12:25-30, Jesus also demonstrates
the truth of this: a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand.
Satan does not cast himself out, so the ejection of Satan is proof
that the kingdom of God has come upon them. [1.]
“...whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit,” (Mat. 12:32 NASB95).
The name “sin against the Holy Spirit” is too general, for there are
also sins against the Holy Spirit that are pardonable, Eph. 4:30. The
Bible speaks more specifically of a “speaking against the Holy
Spirit,” Matt. 12:32; Mark 3:29; Luke 12:10. It is evidently a sin
committed during the present life, which makes conversion and pardon
impossible. The sin consists in the conscious, malicious, and willful
rejection and slandering, against evidence and conviction, of the
testimony of the Holy Spirit respecting the grace of God in Christ,
attributing it out of hatred and enmity to the prince of darkness. It
presupposes, objectively, a revelation of the grace of God in Christ,
and a powerful operation of the Holy Spirit; and, subjectively, an
illumination and intellectual conviction so strong and powerful as to
make an honest denial of the truth impossible. And then the sin itself
consists, not in doubting the truth, nor in a simple denial of it, but
in a contradiction of it that goes contrary to the conviction of the
mind, to the illumination of the conscience, and even to the verdict
of the heart. In committing that sin man willfully, maliciously, and
intentionally attributes what is clearly recognized as the work of God
to the influence and operation of Satan. [2.]
“...it shall not be forgiven him,” (Mat. 12:32 NASB95).
In such a case the hardness of heart would be so great that any
ordinary means of bringing a sinner to repentance would already have
been rejected. Persuasion of the truth will not work, for these people
have already known the truth and have willfully rejected it.
Demonstration of the power of the Holy Spirit to heal and bring life
will not work, for they have seen it and rejected it. In this case it
is not that the sin itself is so horrible that it could not be covered
by Christ’s redemptive work, but rather that the sinner’s hardened
heart puts him or her beyond the reach of God’s ordinary means of
bringing forgiveness through repentance and trusting Christ for
salvation. The sin is unpardonable because it cuts off the sinner from
repentance and saving faith through belief in the truth. [3.]
R. C. Sproul:
As for those who are not sure they are saved and are worried they may
have committed the unpardonable sin, I would say that worrying about
it is one of the clearest evidences that they have not committed this
sin, for those who commit it are so hardened in their hearts they do
not care that they commit it. [4.]
[1.] Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics: Volume Three: Sin and Salvation in Christ, ed. John Bolt, trans. John Vriend, (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2006), p. 155. Cf. Joel Beeke, Paul Smalley, Reformed Systematic Theology: Vol. 3: Spirit and Salvation, (Wheaton: Crossway, 2021), pp. 342ff.
[2.] Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, (London: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1963), p. 253. Cf. Leon Morris, The Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Gospel According to Matthew, (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1992), pp. 319-320; R. T. France, The New International Commentary on the New Testament: The Gospel of Matthew, (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 2007), pp. 482-483.
[3.] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction To Biblical Doctrine, (Leicester: InterVarsity Press; Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1994), p. 508. Cf. Michael J. Wilkins, The NIV Application Commentary: Matthew, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004), pp. 448-449; Craig S. Keener, The Gospel of Matthew: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary, (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 2009), pp. 365-366. See also: Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology: Volume Two, trans. George Giger, ed. James Dennison, Jr., (Phillipsburg: P & R, 1994), 12.4.10, p. 191.
[4.] R. C. Sproul, Mark: An Expositional Commentary, [Sanford: Reformation Trust Publishing, 2011], p. 63. Cf. C. E. B. Cranfield, The Cambridge Greek Testament Commentary: The Gospel According to St Mark, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1959), p. 142; G. A. Chadwick, The Expositor’s Bible: The Gospel According to St. Mark, (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1887), p. 98.
Καὶ αὐτός ἐστιν πρὸ πάντων καὶ τὰ πάντα ἐν αὐτῷ συνέστηκεν.
~ Soli Deo Gloria