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I understand why there are different interpretations of Matthew 12:31-32 and Mark 3:28–29. To me, Biblical hermeneutics show that someone can’t believe in Jesus as their Messiah, or even want to be a Christian IF they had committed the unpardonable sin. Scripture also shows that God will never turn anyone away, so this means someone would not seek Jesus as their Savior IF they had committed this sin.

This leads to my questions.

  1. Is it universally agreed by theologians, pastors, priests, scholars, that someone could not want to become a Christian, follow Jesus, repent of all their sins, and want to devote their entire lives to Him and leave everything at the Cross, if they had already committed the unpardonable sin?

  2. Is it universally agreed upon that you can’t want to be a Christian and believe in Jesus as the Messiah if the unforgivable sin was committed; and authors of articles just don’t always add that into their interpretation explanation?

Reason for these questions is to assist those who struggle with these verses, and that no matter which interpretation is correct, they can always be saved if they want to be.

And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come. Matt 12:31, 32. See also Mark 3:28, 29, and Luke 12:8-10.

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  • Religious questions belong in C.SE
    – Michael16
    Jan 3 at 5:19

3 Answers 3

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Let us be very clear that Matt 12:31, 32, Mark 3:28, 29, all define the unpardonable sin as follows:

But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of eternal sin.” (Mark 3:29)

Since the Holy Spirit had not been given in the power of Pentecost until after Jesus' resurrection, such a sin was mostly impossible until after Jesus' life on earth.

What is blasphemy? BDAG defines it thus:

“to speak in a disrespectful way that demeans, denigrates and maligns”

However, the NT provides a more precise meaning when God is involved.

In Matt 9:3, 26:65, Mark 2:7, 14:64, Luke 5:21, John 10:33-36, blasphemy means to claim to be God, or presume the prerogatives and function of God, that is to usurp the place of God (including the Holy Spirit), for example by presuming to forgive sins, Mark 2:7. Thus, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit would be:

  • usurping His place by presuming to have the function of the Holy Spirit (see above), namely, producing the fruit of the Spirit, trying to reform the life, acting as conscience for others,
  • forgiving sins, trying to confer supernatural abilities on others,
  • deliberately ignoring the work of the Holy Spirit in one’s life, such as conviction of sin and teaching about Jesus and spiritual truths, etc; … all of which are the exclusive job of the Holy Spirit.

Now, if one is usurping the place of the Holy Spirit, then that effectively shuts out the essential work and influence of the Holy Spirit in the person’s life, thus excluding that person from spiritual perception or even the felt need to confess sin. Without the Holy Spirit, it is impossible to be a Christian (Rom 8:9).

Such a person is beyond the reach of the Holy Spirit’s miraculous work. The person then shuts himself away from heaven’s work and feels no need of salvation and becomes spiritually self-delusional. No wonder that forgiveness is excluded, not by God but by the actions and decisions of the person.

The Function of Belief

Many suggest that if we "believe", we are saved and thus an unsaved person necessarily does not "believe".

First, note that as far as the unpardonable sin is concerned, belief is not mentioned.

Second, James 2:19 puts this idea in perspective:

You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!

That is the demons believe that God exists and can save; but that does not save them. Further, demons do not have the gift of the Holy Spirit - they rejected everything connected to the One True God. Thus, the unpardonable sin is not necessarily associted with belief or a lack of belief.

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I'm of the opinion that the unpardonable sin could only be committed while Jesus was present on the earth as a man... attributing His works to the work of Satan. If applied today, anyone who continues to apply the works Of Christ to the devil would be an unbeliever. I'm not, however of the opinion that this unpardonable sin is something that can be committed today in the same vein as it was presented in the gospels. However, attributing the actions of the Holy Ghost to Satan is the work of Satan himself and shows a heart that doesn't want forgiveness.

Notice that in Mark 3, the scriptures say they were in danger of committing the sin. I'm not sure we can find an example that it was actually committed, though we recognize that a reprobate is someone who cannot believe it. Romans 1.

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  • You raise an important issue that tends to prove that experts do NOT universally agree with the propositions in the OP. You answer would be improve of you cited a source that shows this rather than merely giving your opinion. Jan 3 at 1:56
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No. Neither of these propositions is universally agreed to by experts. We know this because

  1. many experts have never addressed these propositions.

  2. the definitions used in the OP are also not universally recognized.

  3. Virtually no church authorities insist on investigating whether a new convert has committed this sin before baptizing them.

  4. As @Doug Sherill mentions, some hold the opinion that this sin could only be committed when Jesus was on earth.

  5. Others see the saying as a hyperbole, because God is by no means limited in whom he can forgive.

Identifying the nature of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is a highly controversial topic. The experts agree universally on practically nothing concerning this issue, except that it was issued in the context of the accusation that Jesus cast out demons by the power of Beelzebul. Few if any churches examine new converts to determine whether this particular sin has been committed.

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  • apologies, I should have cited verses; which is what I based my propositions on. I based my propositions off of John 7:37-38, 1 John 1:8–9, Hebrew 7:25, John 16:8, John 6:44 - there are more verses but these should suffice. If the unpardonable sin does seal one’s fate, then would not experts have to conclude that someone wanting to be saved proves the sin hadn’t been committed, based off these other verses? Otherwise how could the unpardonable sin and these verses fit hermeneutically. (If I need to post a different question and this one be deleted I will just let me know).
    – Tyler
    Jan 3 at 6:20
  • it's simply a fact that some experts don't agree with your reasoning. Many believe that the unpardonable sin means to attribute Jesus' diving out demons to Beelzebub, and that this could only happen when Jesus was alive. Some also believe that Jesus is using a hyperbole to emphasize his point, not issuing a formal decree that this particular sin cannot ever be forgiven. Finally there is no consensus as to what the unpardonable sin actually is, except in general terms so few churches require an affirmation that you have never done it. Bottom line, experts have differing opinions on the issue. Jan 7 at 6:36

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