WOW! What a misunderstood subject. So many people with legitimate questions and yet the internet is flooded with misguided opinions and wrong interpretations. I’m not writing this to point fingers and correct, but to bring some understanding to a subject that seems to always come up in Christian circles of all denominations. For months the Lord has been dealing with me about this topic, and He has helped me understand some principles that I would like to share with you.
We find references to the unpardonable sin in Mark 3, Luke 10, and Matthew 12. We will focus on Matthews account for this teaching because it is the most complete, and gives us the proper context to interpret this passage. If you don’t read the entire text you will understand it as being denied entrance to heaven. This is not the case.
What the unpardonable sin is not:
These passages are referring to the promise of the Kingdom of God, not the Kingdom of Heaven, and yes, for this dispensation, there is a difference.
Defining the Kingdoms
To understand the unpardonable sin, it helps to understand the difference between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven. In short, the Kingdom of Heaven is the place where God the Father dwells. It is our eternal destination if we are born again. It is a specific place. (not earth)
The Kingdom of God, on the other hand, is on the earth, and in our heart. (Luke 17:21) It is the place in which, at any given time, Jesus Christ’s rule and reign is acknowledged. Jesus will eventually deliver this Kingdom to the Father (1 Corinthians 15:24) and both Kingdoms will then become congruent. For more teaching on the Kingdoms refer to: Defining The Kingdom, The Kingdom of God pt.2, and The Kingdom of God pt.3.
A common teaching is that a true Christian cannot commit the unpardonable sin, that denying Jesus is the only thing that is unforgivable. This is certainly true, but it’s not what Jesus is talking about. When you look at His audience (Pharisees) and consider the entire context of what Jesus is saying, you will see that ONLY a Christian can commit such a sin. I will clarify this in the following paragraphs.
First, let’s look at the entire passage in Matthew that puts this whole thing in context. (All scripture will be from the New King James Bible unless noted otherwise.)
A kingdom divided
Matthew 12:25-37 But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. 26If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? 27And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore, they shall be your judges. 28But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house. 30He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.
The Unpardonable Sin
31 “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. 32Anyone 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.
A Tree Known by Its Fruit
33“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. 34Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. 36But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. 37For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
Notice that the context of the unpardonable sin is sandwiched between the parable of “a kingdom divided,” and the parable of “the good and bad trees.” Notice in verse 31, immediately following the parable of a house divided, Jesus says “Therefore I say to you…” In other words, Jesus is saying, “because of what I just told you, I also say this about it,” and He proceeds to tell them about the unpardonable sin.
In verse 33, He follows right in to the parable of the good and bad trees, which is another way of teaching about a house divided. This tells us that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is tied to both these parables, and in fact Jesus is using the text of the unpardonable sin, as well as the parable of the good and bad trees, to explain a house divided. This fact alone should help us from being deceived with most of the doctrines out there about this topic. The unpardonable sin has to do with having our house, and His Kingdom, divided, incongruent, in not in total agreement. It’s teaching us about accepting the fact that we are righteous, about being single minded about who we are because of the blood sacrifice. its about making our tree good so that good fruit will be produced. It’s about lining our words up with who, and what God has paid for us to be. His righteous, holy, and blameless children that He bought and adopted through the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
This passage holds an important revelation concerning our identity in Christ, the righteousness of God, the Kingdom of God and the work of the Holy Spirit in the believers life that is enabled by faith.. If you have a good grasp on your imputed righteousness, this will be much easier to understand.
Let’s start by defining some terminology in verses 31, and 32.
The Greek word for blasphemy is; blasphēmía. It comes from ( blax, “sluggish/slow,” and phḗmē, “reputation, fame”) – blasphemy – literally means, slow to call something good (that really is good) – and slow to identify what is truly bad (that really is evil). Blasphemy also means “to speak against.” It is primarily a sin of the mouth but can be expressed in actions as well.
Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit takes the faith principle of calling things that are not as though they were, (Romans 4:17) and twists it. Instead of speaking faith and eternal truth over something that is in opposition to truth, instead of speaking life to something that is dead, blasphemy of the Holy Spirit despises (lightly esteems) the Holy Spirit’s work and continues to speak unbelief instead of speaking words of faith. It calls things at were as though they still are, instead of calling things that are not yet manifest as though they already were.
Romans 4:17 as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did;
If the words and actions of a “believer” do not line up with Gods word, that means they don’t believe, regardless of what they think. To call yourself a believer and deny the truth that you have been made the righteousness of God is being a house divided, its calling the good tree bad. This is the blasphemy that Jesus is talking about. Jesus has made your tree good. For you to call your tree bad, even in the face of a recent gross sin, is blasphemy and causes you to have a house divided.
The Pharisees that Jesus was talking to were NOT believers. The instruction He was giving them was not about them, but about Himself. They were not capable of committing the unpardonable sin. This is why He said in verses 34 “How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Jesus was telling them that they weren’t even capable of speaking faith because of what was in them.
It is when we speak against the Holy Spirit in us that blasphemy occurs. The most common occurrence of this sin happens when we speak directly against God’s accomplished work and fail to recognize the righteousness that was imputed to us. We deny Christ’s redemptive work through the way we talk about ourselves. In essence, we despise salvation and say in our the heart that “What Christ did was not enough.” We do this by continuing to live by the law of sin and death, after Jesus has delivered us from it. This is offensive behavior to God, and there is nothing more He can do to deliver us from this deception. There is no other sacrifice that He can make to convince you to get on board with Him in faith so the transforming power of His grace can actually produce good fruit in your life.
If we could just bring ourselves to agree with the truth that He has made us worthy, righteous, and holy through His blood sacrifice, the Holy Spirit would be released to transform us into the reality of that truth. Our good trees would begin to bear the good fruit. If we don’t set ourselves in agreement with His completed work by what we say and how we act, we treat the blood of Jesus as common, insulting the Spirit of grace, and blaspheme the Holy Spirit.
Hebrews 10:26-29 26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?
The sin of blasphemy can be expressed in several ways. The most common way is to remain conscious of sin, allowing guilt, condemnation, and shame to rule our lives, rule our speech, and hinder us in our relationship with God. It is blatant unbelief in Christ’s accomplished work. I think this unbelief comes mainly from ignorance, not from a wrong heart. This part of the Gospel does not seem to get the attention that it should. Yet, when you read the New Testament, you will see that almost every epistle focuses in part, on this topic. The books of Romans, Galatians, Hebrews, and 1st and 2nd Corinthians are devoted almost entirely to addressing this.
“When we try to justify ourselves by our works (performance) after we have been born again, we blaspheme the Holy Spirit. We say, by our actions, that Jesus was not enough to make me righteous, and the Holy Spirit is not at work to change me.”
Most Christians don’t understand the work of redemption, which changes who they are. God intends for us to start our new life where Jesus finished His. We must start where He finished and be raised up together with Him as a new creation. Dead to sin, and alive to God.
We have reduced the gospel to a prayer that some day gets us to heaven, and completely ignored the truth that we can NOW have a transformed life through relationship with the Father, the power of the Holy Spirit, and the grace of God. This is the hope of the gospel.
Colossians 1:21-23 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled 22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight— if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.
The issue is, most Christians have not heard, or do not understand this hope of the gospel. The hope that we were made righteous and holy in the sight of God so we could be restored in relationship to Him. The hope that sin has been dealt with and no longer is a barrier to that relationship. Not understanding what Christ did, and who we are in God’s sight prevents us from embracing the truth, and power of the gospel.. We are NOW “holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight— if indeed we continue in the faith”
In the next two passages, we see this “hope of the gospel” mentioned again.
Hebrews 3:6 but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.
Hebrews 10:19-23 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and having a High Priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.
So how does this tie to a house, or kingdom being divided? First we need to understand that we are NOW Christ’s house, the temple of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit can only live in a holy temple.
1Corinthians 6:19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?
We let sin separate us from our Father, AFTER He has paid the FULL price for it, and removed the effects of it from our lives, we are saying in our hearts that what He did was not enough. In our heart, we speak against the Holy Spirit, our house is divided. We attempt to stand with one foot in the Kingdom of God, and one foot still in darkness. We try to serve the master, Jesus, and the master of the sin, the law of sin and death. You can’t serve both. Jesus knew this, so he fulfilled the law and did away with it, and where no law is, there is no transgression (sin).
Romans 4:14-15 For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect, 15 because the law brings about wrath; for where there is no law there is no transgression.
Romans 5:13 (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.
Theses two passages make it clear that sin is still present, yet we are not judged for it because there is no law to transgress. There is only the law of love, which is the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. This is te law that makes us free. The law that makes our house undivided, and our tree good. This law sets us in agreement with God’s transforming power of grace through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 8:1-4 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
When we live with guilt, condemnation, and shame, it means we have a sin consciousness. It means we are living by the Old Testament law of Sin and Death and not by the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus. This is having a house divided and being guilty of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Sin consciousness establishes your identity as unforgiven, guilty, and worthy of judgment. It believes you still have the need for redemption. It sends a message that Jesus sacrifice was not enough to by you back from the fall of man. It denies the holiness of the temple (you) where the Holy Spirit dwells. It says that Jesus was not enough to make you holy. Blasphemy!
This will continue in part 2 of this teaching, soon to follow.