The Unforgivable Sin

In Mark 3:28-29, Jesus mentions that all the sins of man will be forgiven, with the exception of “blasphemes against the Holy Spirit” of which eternally will never be forgiven.

This is something I have never understood, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone give a good explanation of what this really is, and why it is unforgivable. Can someone give me an example of this unforgivable sin, and explain why it is seemingly so much worse than any other sin?  Why do you think this is unforgivable? If someone commits such a sin, does that mean they just claimed their one-way ticket to hell? What happens if down the road they were to realize that Jesus was the son of God and repented?

It would seem that this is very dangerous if this sin is truly unforgivable.  It seems like a solid understanding of what this is about could be very important and critical to the Christian faith, especially if unforgivable sin ensures eternity in hell (if that is the case).

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One thought on “The Unforgivable Sin

  1. Hello, I’m not sure if I will be able to provide you with the complete understanding of this passage but I will try to. I believe that in order to understand Mark 3:28, 29 we need to look at the context of what is occurring. Mark omits the occasion of this conversation, which carefully we can find in Matthew 12 and Luke’s account. What just had happened prior to this verse (Mark 3:22) is that a man who was blind and mute because of a demon was healed and delivered from demonic possession. After the man was delivered and free, the crowd was amazed and stated, “this man cannot be the Son of God, can He? When the Scribes or Pharisees heard the crowd say this “they stated that Jesus was possessed by Beelzebul” or that He did this miracle in the power of Beelzebub.

    There were other critics other than Jesus’ family. It was the scribes. The Scribes who were actually coming to Jesus not because they were concerned about Him in the same way His family was. Rather, the scribes come to Jesus with a plan to discredit Him in the midst of the crowd. This particular story in verse 22 is also found in Matthew 12.

    Over in Matthew 12, this accusation was made on the occassion where Jesus had just cast out a demon, a notable case where a demon had made a man blind and dumb. When the demon was cast out the blind saw and the dumb spoke. This was a very remarkable case. As a result, Matthew tells us the people were saying “this must be the Son of David or “the Messiah”. When the scribes heard this from the people they over in Matthew 12, they were very displeased that the people were saying this. This illicited the scribes’ remark here in Mark 3:22 “He casts out the demons by the ruler of demons”. The scribes stated that Jesus was possessed by Beelzebul or as the best manuscripts agree the name to be “Beelzebub.”

    The greek name is translated Beezebul. Now, the name Beelzebub has two forms. It comes from the Old Testament Baalzebub. Beel is like “the god” baal. It has the etymological meaning of “lord”. The term “baalzebul” is the term that the worshippers of this “god” in the Old Testament used. It means “prince baal”. However, the Jews in the Old Testament once they became loyal to God, and despised this paganism gave this god the name “Beelzebub” which means “lord of the flies”. This god in the Old Testament was the god of the Philistines found in 2 Kings 1:2.

    The scribes referred to “Beelzebub” as “the lord or ruler of demons” or “the lord of the flies”. They equate demons with flies as despicable, foul creatures. It is this “beelzebub” that the scribes say that Jesus was working in league with. This was not a very sensible thing to say and Jesus points it out. He pointed out the nonesense of this claim. The scribes obviously had a desperate need to explain what was clearly supernatural. After all there are supernatural things from God. The devil can work signs and wonders. Paul over in 2 Thessalonians 2:9 “The coming of the lawless one, is according to the working of Satan with all power, signs, and lying wonders”.

    The Jews knew there were supernatural powers. So the scribes saw that Jesus was doing supernatural things or miracles, but in the scribes’ mind, they could not allow that these are works of God. The only other option in their minds is that Jesus’ works were through the devil. This is the scribes’ plan to discredit Him.

    Mark 3:23-25 says “23 And He called them to Himself and began speaking to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan ? 24 “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 “If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.

    I believe what Jesus is saying here is “if I am casting out demons by the power of demons” it might sound like on possibility but would that make sense? Satan must be stupid if he is opposing himself. Because any kingdom or house that divides against itself is bringing its own doom upon itself. It’s going to fall! Why would Satan do such a thing?

    Mark 3:27 says “But no one can enter the strong man’s house and plunder his property unless he first binds the strong man, and then he will plunder his house.

    Jesus offers a more sensible explanation in verse 27 than the Scribes or Pharisees Now, some scholars believe “beezebul” should be translated “lord of the house”. If that is how the Jews understood that term then Jesus’ statement about entering into the strong man’s house would be directly connected to the meaning of “beezebul”.

    The scribes say that Jesus was acting in the power of the lord of the house, but Jesus is saying, I am plundering that man’s house, or I have bound the lord of the house and have plundered his goods. Plunder is seen in the form of casting out demons.
    Before Jesus arrived in the house that is in the world, Satan had full power over the world. There was nobody who can resist Satan effectively. There was no power equal to Satan’s. Satan’s deception was universal. He could keep people in bondage to him. Demon Possession was the example of having someone in bondage.

    By Jesus delivering a person from demons means that He is letting someone go under Satan’s bondage. What Jesus was doing was not acting on behalf of “Beelzebub” the lord of the house”, rather Jesus was acting against “Beelzebub”. In fact Jesus did so in such a way that He would not be capable of doing unless He has bound “the lord of the house”. Jesus has come into the strong man’s house and bound him. Jesus is not acting in this demonic power but am acting against it. Jesus has made “Beezlebub” or the lord of the house powerless.

    Mark 3:28 says “Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter;

    Jesus gave this warning about blasphemy of the Holy Spirit on the occassion because these scribes had said these words about Him. Now does Jesus mean here that these scribes had committed blasphemy of the Holy Spirit? Or is it that the fact that they said it that make Him warn them that they are exhibiting a tendency that is dangerously close to the danger of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. It’s hard to say.

    But, Jesus’ statement is made because they said Jesus was casting out demons by Beelzebub. But this does not mean that they have crossed the line. But what they are doing is so dishonest, so evil, and so resistent to truth that it either is or is close to blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.

    So we need to ask ourselves, what does Jesus mean to blaspheme the Holy Spirit. One thing we do know is that Jesus sets this out as a separate sin from all others. Jesus says “all sins will be forgiven the sons of men and whatever blasphemies they utter’. That is all sins will be forgiven but one. Over in Matthew 12:32 it says “Whoever blasphemes the Son of God” will be forgiven him”. Some may ask “what is the difference then between the blasphemy of the Son of God and the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit”? Are they both not of God and Holy and somewhat identical in power? Well, the scriptures teach us that Christ Jesus did nothing of Himself, that is He did not get to direct His own path without the aid of the Holy Spirit. In Acts 1:2 we are told that Christ did all of His teaching and His mighty works by the Spirit of God. Therefore, Jesus as a man could not have done all of His marvelous works and teachings, without the power of the Holy Spirit.

    Mark 3:29 says “29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin “-

    This verse has troubled many people. I’ve heard many christians who in their past prior to being christians have said very irreverant things about God or the Holy Spirit. They often worry “did I blaspheme the holy spirit?” Obviously, if someone would suspect that they had blasphemed the Holy Spirit and read this verse it would be very frightening. It would be frightening because you would be in that class of people who are never going to be forgiven.

    However, I don’t think that this is really a legitimate concern for anybody. I think it’s a good warning that it is a danger to do this. But I believe that anyone who is concerned about it I would say has not blasphemed the Holy Spirit. Anyone who is concerned about their soul has not blasphemed the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit would not continue to convict people who are incapable of repentance or are incapable of forgiveness. The Holy Spirit is not there to tease or torment. He is there to bring people to Christ. If the Holy Spirit is convicting somebody that he or she needs to be close to Christ and submit and live for Christ. If this is what he or she wants to do then it’s clear that they have never done anything that has put them beyong the point of being able to be forgiven. Or else the Holy Spirit would have given up on them. He would not bother with them.

    Now, there are people who are in the condition who have reprobate minds. These are the people that do every kind of wicked deed and they don’t think a thing about it. There is no conviction there. The Holy Spirit has given them up. The Apostle Paul teaches that there are people who are in this condition in Romans 1. They have no sense of right and wrong. The scariest thing God can do is to give up on the sinner and not try to bring them around anymore. When the sinner gets to this place where they have no conviction or concern about their soul this is a dangerous place. I believe that if someone were guilty of this sin, that they would feel no conviction at all or no interst in spiritual things, or no desire to be a christian and therefore anyone who is worried about this is not in the category of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.

    However, this does not answer the question, what does it mean to blaspheme the Holy Spirit. In Matthew’s version it a little more explicit. In Matthew 12:31, 32 says “Therefore, I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven”. Then in verse 32 it says “Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man it will be forgiven him, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him not in this age nor in the age to come.

    There are different views on what christians believe the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is. The most common view that is believed to be the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is what is implied in the context. In context we see that the scribes or the pharisees as described over in Matthew 12 stated that Jesus’ works were of “beelzebub” or demonic. Since Jesus was empowered by the Holy Spirit to do the miracles, many believe that when a person speaks against the Holy Spirit in a way as to imply that a person’s works are of the devil, they are blaspheming the Holy Spirit.

    But I don’t know that I necessarily see the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit to be in regards to what someone says about the Holy Spirit. For example, there are differences of opinion among christians with speaking in tongues. There are some christians who believe that speaking in tongues is something that is for today and believe that the Holy Spirit is the one that provides this gift to some believers. There are some christians who believe that speaking in tongues is not for today. Therefore, some christians would say that speaking in tongues is not a working of the Holy Spirit but is rather demonic. Now, the christians that believe this are not intently speaking blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. They are only saying this because this is what they believe ignorantly. I find it hard for God to forgive people who have committed murder, adultery, etc. but God will not forgive a person who says a certain work done is of the devil. This is why I believe this has to do with the condition of one’s heart.

    I believe the unforgivableness has to do with the fact that the person does not wish to surrender to God and even rejects Him. The Pharisees at that time knew the Old Testament scriptures very well. They were considered experts in the Old Testament scriptures. They knew that a Messiah was prophesied to arrive. When Jesus became that fulfillment and performed many miracles, the Pharisees had all the evidence in the world that Jesus said who He was. Instead, they rejected Him and tried to discredit Him all through Jesus’ ministry. So again, I don’t think that Jesus declared that the Pharisees or Scribes had blasphemed the Holy Spirit, but rather that these religious leaders were very close to doing so.

    A person in this condition simply has this frame of mind where they cannot repent explains something of this impossibility: If a man cannot recognize the good when he sees it, he cannot desire the good. If a man does not recognize the evil as being evil, he cannot be sorry for it, hate it and wish to depart from it. But what is involved here is not the native ability or inability to discern evil, but the gradually developed unwillingness to be able to see truth as truth, good as good and evil as evil.

    I believe that blasphemy is not so much what you say, but rather has everything to do with the heart. If you continue to reject the truth and suppress it, you will eventually become so against God that it’s almost impossible to repent and be forgiven. For a person who remains in this condition for their entire life, is guilty of an eternal sin. Because of their continued rejection, they became so trapped in their mind that it made it very difficult to repent. These are the people who are do not wish to follow Christ or have no interest whatsoever in following Him even though they have plenty of evidence that Christ is genuine. They have no conviction whatsoever from the Holy Spirit in their lives. If a man for long enough shuts his eyes and ears to God’s way, and takes his own way, if he for long enough refuses to listen to the guidance God is offering him, if he for long enough he turns his back upon the messages which God is sending him or if he for long enough prefers his own human ideas to the ideas which God seeks to put into his mind, then in the end he comes to a stage when he cannot recognize God’s truth. That man comes to the stage when his own evil seems good and when God’s good seems evil. This is where the Pharisees or scribes were headed.

    Lastly, for anyone who might be worried if they have blasphemed the Holy Spirit, if anyone has a conviction that they are in need of Christ, I don’t believe that they have blasphemed the Holy Spirit.

    Look at Romans 1:18-32. This talks about the unrighteous who suppressed the truth and even though they knew God, they still continued to suppress. God eventually gives them over to their degraded passions. These are people who are unwilling to accept the gospel. They even are said to know God, but choose to suppress the truth. These are the people who’s mind is in a frame to where they are unwilling to repent and regard good as evil and vice versa. Their minds are so degraded that they lose the true meaning of truth and evil. It is in this state of mind that this sin in unforgiveable. This is not to say that they could never repent. If they decided to turn their life around and choose to follow God and not themselves, God is faithful and just to forgive them their sins.

    I don’t know that this helps with your understanding of Mark 3:28, 29 at all. What have you understood about this passage?

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