The Lord has highlighted this topic to me for the past few years. He relentlessly brought it to my attention until I finally made it a focus of my study and prayer. At first, I searched the internet to see what the “theologians” had to say about it and nothing that I found bore witness to what the Lord was showing me. I knew that there was a part of this mystery that the Church understood, so I asked the Lord what He was trying to show us.
I have found that there are too many “theological positions” on most of the central doctrines in the Bible. You name it, from the Trinity to the gifts of the Spirit to water baptism. This list is extensive. Sometimes we find as many as three or four different opinions and interpretations from highly respected Bible scholars, and they write volumes of books to defend their position. Are they all right? Is only one right? or is it possible that they are all wrong on some subjects? We should all judge these things carefully.
This teaching will challenge most people’s beliefs on this subject, but I believe this is from the Lord. I don’t feel the need to be right about this. If I am wrong, I pray God corrects me or sends someone to help me understand it better. I know before posting this that my revelation of this subject is incomplete. Yet, I think I have enough to articulate what the Lord is showing me. I will likely update this teaching as the Lord brings more clarity. I would love it if someone helped me with this.
The word of God is too precious to trust its interpretation wholly to another individual. In my pursuit of answers on this subject, I lost a lot of confidence in other men’s opinions, even in the brightest theologians I still love and respect. Furthermore, I do not trust myself. However, I trust the Holy Spirit and have complete confidence in Him to lead us into all truth.
After years of seeking God on this topic, I have found the “Unpardonable Sin,” also known as “Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit,” one of the most misunderstood subjects in the New Testament. I believe that Satan has blinded most of the Church from this truth for over two thousand years because it is one of the most significant revelations concerning our faith and our identity in Christ. I believe it to be a key component as to why we do not see the demonstration of the kingdom of God at the level we see in the Bible.
In the gospels, we have three accounts of Jesus teaching this truth. (Matthew 12:22-37, Mark 3:22-30, and Luke 12:10). Any time we see all three synoptic gospels recording teaching, we need to pay attention and ensure we “get it.”
Matthew’s account of this interaction is the most complete, so I will use that text for most of this teaching. It is a long text, so I will unpack it as we read, commenting as we go.
Matthew 12:22-37 Then one was brought to Him who was demon-possessed, blind and mute; and He healed him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw. 23 And all the multitudes were amazed and said, “Could this be the Son of David?” 24 Now when the Pharisees heard it they said, “This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.”
The Pharisees accused Jesus of casting out devils by the devil’s authority. They said the power in Jesus to bring about deliverance and healing was by the same power that bound the demonized man.
Many make the mistake of assuming that the Pharisees were the ones committing the unpardonable sin when actually, they accused Jesus of committing it. Pay close attention to what Jesus emphasized in His response to this accusation. The underlined portions of scripture give us important insight into what blasphemy of the Holy Spirit looks like.
25 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. 26 If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? 27 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. 28 But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.
Jesus was not rebuking the Pharisees for blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. He corrected them and explained why their accusation of Him was impossible and made no sense. He was teaching them, and us, about a divided kingdom. Specifically, a kingdom divided against itself.
Jesus made it clear that they accused Him of performing miracles through a divided kingdom. Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit has to do with a divided kingdom, a divided city, or a divided house.
Jesus is the kingdom, city, and house He is referring to in this passage of scripture. However, we are now “in Him” as born-again believers. We now have the kingdom of God abiding in us. We are the kingdom, city, and house Jesus refers to. If that kingdom inside of us becomes divided, it will not stand.
The key to this passage is the statement, “A divided kingdom will not stand.” The unpardonable sin has to do with the kingdom of God inside us being a divided kingdom. It is why the Church has become virtually powerless and does not walk in the authority of the kingdom of God. Jesus repeatedly said, “the kingdom of God has come upon you,” when he healed someone or cast out a devil. If we do not see the fruit of the kingdom of God coming upon people, we should ask ourselves; Is it possible that our kingdom is divided?
Many have wondered why the Church lacks the demonstration of signs, miracles, and wonders that we all know are available. Where is the disconnect? What is lacking? Is God a withholder? Or are we trying to “do Christianity” from a divided kingdom? In the kingdom of God, there can never be two opposing powers.
Let’s read on.
29 Or 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.
Who is this “strongman” that Jesus is referring to? Remember, He is still talking about a kingdom divided against itself. Self is the strongman. The word plunder is used twice in this verse and literally means to seize. Have we allowed God to capture our hearts and take over our house? Are we allowing His kingdom to grow in our hearts, or are we willfully withholding some of our selfish desires that we refuse to let go of? Have we wholly submitted our will to the will of the Father, or are we living our Christian life on our terms?
The strength of our fallen nature is our free will, our ability to choose sin. If our will is not entirely submitted to the will of the Father, we are a kingdom divided.
Free will represents the sovereignty of self and must be bound before the Holy Spirit can seize our house and take control. The kingdom of “self” is a strongman. The strongman must be crucified before the kingdom of God can have full reign in God’s temple.
We see in the Old Testament temple and the tent of meeting that God is very particular about where He abides. He is Holy and must be revered as such.
30 He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.
Why does Jesus comment, “he who is not with me is against me?” Is He talking about the Pharisees speaking against Him, or is He still talking about what is inside Him and by what power He does these miracles?
When we are born again, suddenly we have two persons, with two wills, inhabiting one body, which is now God’s temple. Two persons, two choices, one kingdom. Our will must be submitted to the Holy Spirit’s will for the kingdom to stand.
Jesus has free will. As a man, He has always had the ability to say no to the Father. We see Him struggle with that in prayer before He went to the cross. He asked the Father if there was any possible way to let this cup pass from Him, but He said, “nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done.” He had to submit His free will to the Father, just like you and I. If Jesus did not have the free choice to choose sin, He would not have had the power to destroy sin in the flesh.
Consider how hard it must have been for Jesus to know what would happen to Him at the cross and choose to submit to it. Even after an angel came and strengthened Him, He was still in agony to the point of sweating blood! (Luke22:43-44) This represented His greatest battle between choosing His will over the Father’s. Had He chosen His will, He would have been guilty of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Praise God He didn’t!
We see Him function in full kingdom authority and power because He laid down His free will and never picked it up. He allowed the Holy Spirit to bind the strongman. He could do nothing of Himself. He only did what He saw the Father do. The kingdom of God inside Him was never divided and never stopped increasing.
Isaiah 9:7 Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
Jesus laid aside His sovereignty as God to take on the sovereignty of man. He then cast the crown of man’s sovereignty at the feet of the Father and refused to pick it up again. This was an act of complete submission. It is how Jesus was able to do what He did. Furthermore, He said, “Follow Me.” Meaning we can do the same.
Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.
What did Jesus say to do before we could follow Him? Deny himself, then pick up your cross and follow me.
Luke 17:21 nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”
The Garden of Eden is the Old Testament type of the kingdom of God, and there are still two trees in the garden of our hearts. The Holy Spirit is the tree of life. Our free will is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God’s instruction for the garden still applies to the kingdom of God within us.
Genesis 2:16-17 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
Did Adam fall and die when he ate of the tree? No, he lost the glory of God that clothed him and broke the oneness of the relationship with God that empowered and sustained him. Spiritual death is separation from oneness with our Father.
God gave us our free will and creativity to express our love for Him and serve His purposes. We are here for His good pleasure, not ours. When we use those awesome gifts for selfish reasons that oppose God, we are a house divided and guilty of the unpardonable sin. Willful disobedience is the fruit of unbelief. When we operate in selfishness, we eat from the tree of our free will and demonstrate our distrust. On some level, it breaks down our relationship with the Father. It separates us from the life of God that is only found through intimacy with Him.
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. 32 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.
This is the portion of scripture that trips people up. The phrase, “it will not be forgiven in this age or in the age to come,” has Christians wondering if they have committed the unpardonable sin and have lost their salvation.
To be clear, only Christians can commit the unpardonable sin, but it does not cause us to lose our salvation.
We see an example of this in 1 Corinthians 5. Paul was correcting the Church at Corinth about them allowing a man committing adultery with his mother to remain in the congregation. Obviously, a kingdom is divided if a Christian commits adultery with his mother. Paul instructed the Church on dealing with this man, giving us insight into the scope and the judgment of the unpardonable sin.
1 Corinthians 5:5 deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
Even though this man was guilty of practicing gross sin and blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, Paul said deliver him to Satan, meaning banish him from the fellowship of Christ’s body, so that his body could be destroyed and his spirit saved at the coming of the Lord. The kingdom of God in him did not stand. He lost fellowship with the Lord and the body of Christ but clearly, did not lose His salvation.
We must ask ourselves why we haven’t seen this level of spiritual authority or righteous judgment practiced in the Church lately.
The unpardonable sin has nothing to do with losing our salvation or going to hell. It has nothing to do with the Great White Throne judgment in Revelation 20. Jesus is talking about the kingdom of God on Earth, which is in our hearts, and the Judgment Seat of Christ that we will face in Heaven, where our works will be tried with fire. We will have no rewards for any works we perform in the name of the Lord and His kingdom while we have a divided kingdom in our hearts.
What does He mean by not being forgiven in this age?
When we refuse to embrace the new life God has purchased for us by the blood of Jesus, we are guilty of blasphemy. When we deny God’s right to inhabit and seize our hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit, we prefer the bondage and depravity that Christ has set us free from and are guilty of blasphemy. When we walk in the kind of unbelief the Israelites did in the wilderness, we blaspheme the Holy Spirit. When we succumb to pride and take credit for God’s work through us, we blaspheme the Holy Spirit.
The children of Israel and their journey in the wilderness are a type of the Church today and the most prominent example of the unpardonable sin. Did God forgive Israel’s unbelief and allow them to enter the promised land anyway? NO! Neither will He forgive us for having a divided kingdom and allow us access to all the promises of the kingdom of God on Earth or give us rewards in Heaven for our unbelief.
Hebrews 10:26 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?
Suppose we do not allow the Holy Spirit to bind the strongman of self and keep it nailed to the cross. In that case, we will be denied kingdom privileges and not be trusted with the powers of the age to come. Our promised land is not an external location. The kingdom of God is within us. If the kingdom within us is divided, the authority and power of that kingdom will not stand.
We do not lose our citizenship in Heaven, but we receive no rewards in Heaven for our works on Earth. We are also denied the authority and power of the kingdom of God on Earth. God cannot forgive this kind of unbelief and grant us the powers of the age to come.
Conscious and hardened resistance to the Holy Spirit leads us away from humility and repentance to pursue our desires.
A Tree Known by Its Fruit
Here is the conclusion of Jesus teaching and rebuking the Pharisees over their comment.
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. 34 Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 A 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. 36 But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
Blasphemy is to speak or act against. We must align our actions and language to agree with the work of the Holy Spirit. Our submission to the Father is required for full kingdom authority. This submission is measurable by the fruit on our tree. We can produce any fruit we desire because of our free will.
Our actions and words bear the fruit of what we believe. We must guard both to “make the tree good.”
The words we speak are far more significant and influential than we understand. Furthermore, our words and actions reveal our faith and label our tree. They make the tree good or bad.
The fruits of the Spirit hang off the branches of the tree. We are the branches and can determine what kind of fruit we produce. To make the tree good, we choose to produce the fruits of the Spirit and refuse to produce the fruits of unrighteousness.
Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
To make our tree good, we plant ourselves by the river of living water by delighting in God’s word, keeping it before our eyes and in our mouths. This discipline plants the incorruptible seed in our hearts, making it easier to grow the fruits of the Spirit on our tree.
Psalm 1:1-3 Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; 2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. 3 He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.
Before becoming a Christian, we had little control over the fruit we produce because we are sinful trees with sinful roots. Regardless of the fruit’s appearance, the tree was evil; therefore, the fruit was bad.
Once we accept Jesus as Lord, the Father makes the tree good so we can bear good fruit. If we still choose to produce the fruit of selfishness, bitterness, envy, jealousy, strife, and other such fruit, we blaspheme the Holy Spirit. We say in our hearts and to the world watching that this is the fruit of Christ. We invite demonic influence and bring reproach on God’s great name.
James 3:13-18 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. 17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. 18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
John 15:1-8 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
Examples of Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit
Any New Testament doctrine must be found and verified in the Old Testament by scriptural precedent or spiritual type. The Old Testament is full of examples of the unpardonable sin, and we find it in the New Testament as well. Studying these examples will help us better understand the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit and confirm what is being taught here. The following are just a few of those examples.
Old Testament types of the unpardonable sin
Moses and Aaron not being allowed into the promised land because of their blasphemy at the waters of Meribah is a great example. Numbers 20:6-13
God called it unbelief and said they failed to sanctify Him as holy in the sight of the people. They sanctified themselves in front of the people instead. (This goes on in churches all the time.)
Moses had a moment of pride in the sight of God’s people. He said, “shall we bring water from the rock?” (Meaning him and Aaron) and didn’t speak to the rock as God commanded him but struck it like he did the first time, trying to reproduce what God did previously.
God called it unbelief because Moses didn’t hold up Him alone as holy to the people. Instead, he held himself and Aaron up in the sight of the congregation. This single act of unbelief disqualified both Moses and Aaron from entering the Promise Land on Earth. It was unforgivable.
Later, Moses pleaded with God to let him enter the Promised land, and God said, “no, and don’t bring it up again.” It didn’t keep them out of Heaven, but we can surmise that they would get no rewards for leading God’s people to the promised land because of this incident.
In the Church today, we like to take credit for the things God does through us. Instead, we should take full responsibility for obedience and reverence but take no credit for the results. After all, it is for His great name and His glory.
Nadab and Abihu are another example. Leviticus 10. They offered strange fire before the Lord. “strange” means unauthorized, foreign, or profane. They just decided to do their own thing. God rejected their sacrifice. Because they were treating holy things with no reverence, He consumed the two men with fire. (Leviticus 10:2)
How many times have Christian leaders stepped out to do their own thing?
A New Testament example is Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5. They “lied” to the Holy Spirit and died on the spot! I can only surmise that this stark example was put in the New Testament so we could see the seriousness of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
In Exodus 33, we see the explanation of what happened to them.
Exodus 33:1-3 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Depart and go up from here, you and the people whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt, to the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘To your descendants I will give it.’ 2 And I will send My Angel before you, and I will drive out the Canaanite and the Amorite and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite. 3 Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; for I will not go up in your midst, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people.”
This is shocking! God would send them to the promised land with supernatural protection and provision. Still, He wasn’t going with them because He didn’t want to consume them. I believe the Church is in this condition today. I think we have decided to move forward into the promised land without Him. We see a measure of His supernatural protection and provision, but He is not going with us. Why? Because He is our promised land and our inheritance. The Church doesn’t realize this.
God abided in the early Church when the harsh judgment fell on Ananias and Sapphira. I used to wonder why this happened to them and why we don’t see instances of it in the Church today. It is evident to me now. God moves upon His Church from time to time. Just like the children of Israel, they experienced Him from a distance. He doesn’t abide in her in fullness because He loves her and doesn’t want to see her destroyed like Ananias and Sapphira. It breaks my heart.
The Spirit in us is holy. I think we fail to understand what holiness is in God’s eyes. God will not forgive us in this age for our lack of reverence and allow us to operate in the powers of the age to come. The few supernatural things we see in operation in the Church are much like the children of Israel in the wilderness. (Which is possibly the most remarkable example of the unpardonable sin) They saw the provision and power of God daily for forty years and still did not believe in God for more than a minute. God put them in the wilderness to test them, to see if they were worthy of the promise of His abiding presence.
Deuteronomy 8:2 And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.
It is blasphemy when we receive the Holy Spirit and willfully continue to practice lawlessness. Anything we accomplish in the name of the Lord while practicing lawlessness, doing things for selfish, prideful, and deceitful reasons, disqualifies us from the full power of the kingdom of God on Earth and disqualifies us from any rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
God will not forgive this behavior and allow us to operate in His full power and authority. God is merciful and works with us as much as He can because He is good and loves us. However, anything supernatural that we accomplish when our heart is impure disqualifies us from any rewards for those accomplishments at the judgment seat of Christ. This is what Jesus meant when He said, “this sin will not be forgiven in the age to come.”
I Never Knew You
Matthew 7:22-27 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
An obedient disciple is a house built on the Rock
24 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.
A disobedient disciple is a house that will not stand
26 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”
Obedience is the “love language of God.” Disobedience is the act of unbelief and eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
As we honor God’s word, the kingdom within us grows, and so does our kingdom authority. We must learn to reverence the work of the Holy Spirit in us if we are to follow Jesus and become His disciples. He would not have said “follow Me” if it wasn’t possible.
The Church must stop warring against the Holy Spirit’s transforming work. The only way to avoid the unpardonable sin is to remain in an intimate relationship with the Father. Intimacy with Him creates a burning desire to produce the fruit of the Spirit. Without intimacy, we will never produce the fruit of who He is.