The Unpardonable Sin in the Gospels and Hebrews

Mark 3:22-30 and Matthew 12:30-37

And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, "He is possessed by Beelzebub! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons." So Jesus called them and spoke to them in parables: "How can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. In fact, no one can enter a strong man's house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can rob his house. I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin." He said this because they were saying, "He has an evil spirit."

Matthew 12:30-37 parallels Mark and adds:

He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters. And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the 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. Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned..

Key Point 1: Jesus says, "ALL sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them. BUT..." There is only ONE unpardonable sin, not many unpardonable sins. Therefore the sin spoken of in Hebrews 10:26-31 MUST be a form of this ONE unpardonable sin.

Key Point 2: The unpardonable sin in the gospels involved ascribing the miracles the Holy Spirit wrought through Jesus as being done by Satan.

Hebrews 6:4-9

It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word and the powers of the coming age,,if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace."

Land that drinks in the rain...produces a crop...receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.... we are confident of better things in your case -- things that accompany salvation.

Key Point: If you are repentant, if you are truly trusting the Messiah and living for him, it is impossible that you could have committed this sin. Unregenerate people do not wish to follow Jesus and aren't worried about having committed the unpardonable sin. They are not of the land producing the fruit, instead they produce thorns. This dovetails with what Jesus said in Matthew 12 about the good tree producing good fruit.

Hebrews 10:14-19

...because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: "This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds." Then he adds: "Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more." And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin. Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus.

Key Point: The New Covenant and the sacrifice of Messiah have come to supersede the Mosaic Covenant and Temple sacrifices. All sins and lawless acts are forgiven through it, therefore there is no longer any other sacrifice needed or efficacious. The ONE final sacrifice has accomplished it all.

Hebrews 10:25-29 and the "Deliberate Sin" of Hebrews 10:26

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another -- and all the more as you see the Day approaching. If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?

Key Point 1: The sins in view here involves deliberately rejecting the New Covenant and calling the shed blood of Jesus "unholy", that is to say, the death of Jesus is simply a "common" death with no value for forgiveness of sin. Notice it also involves "insulting the Spirit of grace", a similar idea to the unpardonable sin spoken of in the Gospels. If one goes back to the Temple sacrifices after having been enlightened as to the truth of the greater and final sacrifice of Jesus, those sacrifices can no longer atone for sin.

Key Point 2: Notice the verb tense in 10:26. It says: "deliberately keep on sinning." Henry Alford says, "Notice the present, not the aorist participle. 'If we be found wilfully sinning', not 'if we have wilfully sinned,' at that Day." (Alford's Greek Testament, Vol. IV, p. 199). This is not talking about a sin committed some time in the past, rather, it is talking about entering into a continuing state of rejection of the grace of God offered through the Messiah's sacrifice as found in the New Covenant. It involves departure from the New Covenant community, giving up "meeting together."

 Key Point 3: Notice that the phrase "there is no longer any sacrifice for sin" (Hebrews 10:18) is echoed in the phrase "no sacrifice for sins is left" (Hebrews 10:26). The point is that if the final sacrifice for sin found in the New Covenant Atonement of Jesus us rejected, there is no other to be found.

Key Point 4: The clause in Hebrews 1:26, "If we deliberately keep on sinning," is explained by verses 28 and 29, (as well as the other passages). It does not refer to one particular act of sin, but rather continuance in a state of rejecting the Covenant, having contempt for the Messiah and his atoning blood, and insulting the Spirit of Grace. It is a form of the one unpardonable sin, since all other sins can be forgiven.

A Comparison Chart of Passages Related to the Unpardonable Sin:

 Passage

Context

What Was Involved

Fruit

Mt. 12:22-37 Mk 3:20-34 Jesus accused of being empowered by Satan Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit Bad fruit from a bad tree
Hebrews 6:4-9 Hebrew Christians tempted with apostasy Rejecting the Spirit Re-crucifying Messiah Thorns & thistles from bad ground
Hebrews 10:14-29 Hebrew Christians tempted with apostasy Insulting the Spirit & Treating the blood of Jesus as unholy Rejecting God's New Covenant & Forsaking the assembly

Conclusion

Jesus said of his sheep: "I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand" (John 10:28). We are told that not anything "in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Messiah Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38-39). "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteous" (1 John 1:9). Every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven, except the unpardonable sin of deliberately and knowingly departing from the Messiah, His Covenant, and His Atonement, even in the face of clear proof. The unpardonable sin of the Gospels and Hebrews doesn't mean simply having doubts or giving in to some particular sin, rather, it involves continuing in an unrepentant and unbelieving state of rejecting God's grace.

 Louis Berkhof said this of the unpardonable sin: "In those who have committed this sin we may therefore expect to find a pronounced hatred to God, a defiant attitude to Him and all that is divine, delight in ridiculing and slandering that which is holy, and absolute unconcern respecting the welfare of their soul and the future life." In view of the fact that this sin is not followed by repentance, we may be reasonably sure that they who fear that they have committed it and worry about this, and who desire the prayers of others for them, have not committed it." (Systematic Theology, pp. 253-254.)

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