Often people will ask the question, what is
the Unpardonable Sin? This is a question of vital interest to every
individual, for St Paul says "that we have all sinned, that everyone is a
sinner." The only difference between us is that some have gone
further into sin than others.
Matthew 12:31,32 Jesus defines the
"Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin
and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against
the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son
of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the
Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world
neither in the world to come."
This is the unpardonable sin. The unpardonable
sin is one that is never pardoned, that has no forgiveness. This is a very serious matter.
Context of Jesus' Statement
What was it that prompted Jesus to make such a
statement? We should take a few moments to look into the
setting of this text.
Matthew 12:22,23 says, "Then was brought unto
him one possessed with a devil, blind and dumb: and He healed him,
insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, Is
not this the son of David?"
No one had ever performed such remarkable
miracles as Jesus. Elisha the prophet was the miracle worker of
his time. But what Jesus was doing was something that had never been
seen before. The Scripture says that "the people were
Verse 24 says, "But when the Pharisees heard
it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by
Beelzebub the prince of the devils."
When Jesus worked this mighty miracle and the
people saw the blind man with his eyesight restored and able to
speak, they cried out and said, "There is no question about it, this
man is the Messiah! This is the Son of David!"
However the next verse says that the Pharisees,
the religious leaders of the day told the people, "Listen. This
miracle is easily explained, This fellow can cast out devils because
He is the prince of devils." That is what the Pharisees said,
but they did not believe that. I want you to notice that they thought
verse 25 it says, "And Jesus knew their
thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself
is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against
itself shall not stand."
Jesus knew their thoughts, and their thoughts
were different to their words. He knew that behind that statement of the
Pharisees there was an uneasy conscience. Their thoughts were
troubling them. They were under conviction, they were afraid that
Jesus was exactly who He claimed to be, the true Messiah. But they
did not want to surrender their popularity; they did not want to
admit they were wrong. So although they said one thing, their thoughts
were quite the opposite.
It was in connection with circumstances like
these that Jesus made the staggering statement found in verse 31 of
Matthew 12: "Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin
and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against
the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men."
What a statement! Jesus says to the individual who keeps on
fighting off the Holy Spirit, who refuses to allow him to do the work
which He has been commissioned to do. There comes a time when God can do nothing for
him and eventually leaves him for ever.
Pharisees Committed the Unpardonable Sin
The Pharisees knew that they were doing wrong,
for they were under conviction. But they kept on fighting off the Holy Spirit
until they came to the place where they committed the unpardonable sin.
They knew that it was the work of God that
Jesus was doing, and yet to spoil the ministry of Jesus and to
prevent Him from becoming too popular they attributed it to the
I want to tell you that something terrible
happened to those men. They rejected the Holy Spirit for selfish
reasons and eventually they crucified the Messiah. And there are
thousands today who are doing the very same thing. And there are
just as many who are in danger of doing the very same thing.
Jesus stated very plainly that the unpardonable
sin is something that people do against the Holy Ghost. It is not something that they do against God or
against Jesus Christ, but against the Holy Spirit.
Seeing that this is such a serious matter, we
should spend a while finding out something about the Holy Ghost.
Who or What is the Holy Spirit?
There are a lot of people who have very little idea
of who the Holy Spirit might be. Most are rather hazy on the
subject. There are even some who believe that the Holy
Ghost is an active force or a power that comes from God.
They say that because the word "spirit" (Greek
'pneuma) can be rendered "wind", therefore the Holy Spirit is just
God's active force.
If this were the case we must also conclude
that God Himself is also an impersonal force. For in
John 4:24 we
read, "God is a spirit: and they that worship him
must worship him in spirit and in truth." In the R.S.V. it is translated "God is
In other words God is wind. However I assure
you that no Bible believing person would accept that God is wind,
for they have no doubts that God is anything but a real living
person. So you cannot apply this to one and not to the other.
Before we move on there is another text we
ought to examine,
"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood,
but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of
the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high
places." The margin says, "wicked spirits in high (heavenly) places."
The 'wicked spirits' can also be translated
"wind" or "wicked wind".
I assure you that St Paul is not warning us
about wicked wind, but rather about the unseen powers, the satanic
forces that are superior to men in intelligence as well (as) in evil
There are some who find it difficult to
understand how that God's spirit can be poured out as mentioned in
This is just figurative language which we find
sprinkled throughout the New Testament. For instance, how can a
person be baptized into Christ, but you understand what it means.
Some are unable to understand that if Holy
Spirit is a person, then how could He come upon Jesus as a dove,
again how could come upon the disciples as fire.
You will notice that the word 'like' is used.
Matthew 3:16 last part says, "... and he saw the Spirit of God descending
like a dove, and lighting on him."
Acts 2:3 says, "And there appeared unto them cloven tongues
like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them."
These are special physical or visible
manifestations which are used to impress men. God often uses the
physical to do this.
Deuteronomy 4:24 we read, "For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire..."
Hebrews 12:29 it says, "For our God is a consuming fire."
If God can appear as fire then not the Holy
Holy Spirit is a Real Person?
There is very strong evidence in the Scriptures
that the Holy Ghost is a real person.
Matthew 28:19 says, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the
It is interesting to notice that the Holy Ghost
has the same name as the Father and the Son. To have a name means that He is a person. Also
that He is a separate person from the Father and the Son.
If the Holy Spirit is not a person why are
we told to baptize in the name of all three?
It is interesting that the Father, Son and Holy
Ghost have the one name, for it distinctly says name and not names.
The name by which the Father is best known is
Jehovah which means "the Eternal One", the self existent One. That
name applies to the Holy Spirit also.
Hebrews 9:14 says, "How much more shall the blood of Christ who
through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God."
St Paul speaks of the Eternal Spirit, and that
is why He has the same name as God because that name means "the
Eternal One" or "Jehovah".
If we go back to the first book of the Bible we
read of the Holy Spirit.
Genesis 1:2 says, "And the earth was without form and void; and
darkness was upon the face of the deep, And the Spirit of God moved
upon the face of the waters."
The Holy Spirit took an active part in
"And God said, Let us make man in our image
after our likeness and let them have dominion."
If God is singular as some say, why does He use
the plural "Let us?" The word 'us' and 'our' requires the presence
of at least two persons counselling together, and those persons must
be of equal rank.
Genesis 1:2 tells us that one of those persons,
"the Spirit of God" or the Holy Spirit, took an active part in
Job 33:4 we read, "The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath
of the Almighty hath given me life."
So there is no question that the Holy Spirit
was one of the "Let us".
the Holy Spirit
So far we have not touched on the personality
of the Holy Spirit. There are important features to personality
such as knowledge, understanding, emotions, ability to teach, to
make intercession for others.
I want you to notice carefully what is said
about the Holy Spirit in the next few verses.
John 14:16,17 says,
"And I will pray the Father and He shall give
you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever: Even the Spirit of truth: whom the world cannot
receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know
him: for he dwelleth with you and shall be in you."
I am sure that you noticed the personal
pronoun, Him, He. This indicates a person.
Now let us look at
verse 26, "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost,
whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things,
and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said
One thing is very certain, a blind force cannot
teach. For to be able to teach several things are necessary: the
ability to hear, to think, to speak. And we find that the Holy Ghost can do all
16:13, "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth is come,
He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself;
but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will shew
you things to come."
You will notice that He speaks of that which He
hears. In order to hear He must have ears. To be able to speak He
must have a mouth. Also He must have a mind to work it all out.
Listen to this text,
Romans 8:27, "And He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what
is the mind of the Spirit, because He maketh intercession for the
saints according to the will of God."
There it is. You could not get anything clearer
than that. But not only does He have a mind, but is able to
intercede on behalf of God's people.
What the Holy Spirit has Said
In the Holy Scriptures there is recorded some
of the things that the Holy Ghost actually said.
Acts 13:2 says, "As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted,
the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work
whereunto I have called them."
Did you notice the words "I have called them?" He does not say "the Father has called them..." or "the Son has called them" but rather I have."
Acts 10:19,20 says, "While Peter thought on the vision, the
Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee. Arise therefore,
and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have
This time He says "I have sent them".
Acts 8:29 says, "Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near,
and join thyself to this chariot."
There are other texts. perhaps I should turn to
Acts 21:11 says, "And when he was come unto us, he took Paul's
girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the
Holy Ghost. So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth
this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles."
Not only did the Holy Ghost speak, but He also
foretold the fate that would overtake the apostle Paul.
The reason we do not have a great deal recorded
of what the Holy Spirit said is because Jesus clearly stated that He
would not speak His own words, (John 15:26) but rather He would
testify or speak of Christ.
The Holy Spirit is a Real Person
Now let us turn to
Acts 5:3. "But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled
thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the
price of the land?"
You cannot lie to an impersonal force or power.
These people lied to a person and that person was the Holy Ghost.
verse 4, "Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and
after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou
conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men,
but unto God."
St Peter says that when they lied to the Holy
Ghost they actually lied to God, for He is God.
Romans 8:26 says, "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our
infirmities for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but
the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot
For some reason the translators of the King
James version dropped the personal pronoun in this verse.
Why they did it is not known but it should be rendered "The Spirit Himself"
as you find it in the R.S.V. and many other translations
including the N.K.J.V.
In considering this verse and the statement
that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us in glory, we need to keep in
mind that the Holy Ghost is the Comforter (Paracletos) which means
"One called to the aid of another."
The important thing is that this word is
applied to persons and so the use of this word in connection with
the Holy Spirit marks Him as a person.
I like the way this text is expressed in the
Jerusalem Bible: "The Spirit too comes to help us in our
weakness. For when we cannot choose words in order to pray properly,
the Spirit Himself expresses our plea in a way that could never be
put into words, and God who knows everything in our hearts knows
perfectly well what He means, and the pleas of the saints expressed
by the Spirit are according to the mind of God."
I have always had difficulty in understanding
this verse as it reads in the K.J. version. The above makes it very
Ephesians 4:30 says, "...grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of
There is one thing very certain, you cannot
grieve an impersonal force or power. You can only grieve someone who
has feelings and emotions.
This makes Jesus' statement much clearer when
He said, "Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin
and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men; but the blasphemy against
the Holy Spirit shall not be forgiven unto men."
Blasphemy is sinning against a person. The
conscience is seared by the continued resistance to the promptings
that come from the Holy Spirit, and this is the unforgivable sin.
Committing the Unpardonable Sin
The work of the Holy Ghost is to guide men and
women into an understanding of the Word of God and in search for
truth. We need to remember that He is God's
representative on earth. He has been given the responsibility of
carrying on where Jesus left off when He went to heaven.
When the message of salvation comes to each
one of us the Holy Spirit directs our hearts heavenwards. But if we
refuse to be led to be guided in that direction, if we refuse to
follow God's leading, there isn't much that the LORD can do for you.
To the individual who keeps on putting off, fighting the Holy Spirit, there comes a time
when the Holy Spirit can do nothing more for him. So He has to cease
His work on the heart and mind of that person and leaves him for
evermore, and that is what Jesus had in mind as He spoke those
"All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be
forgiven unto men but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not
be forgiven unto men."
If the Holy Ghost speaks to our hearts do not
resist Him as did the Pharisees but rather let him lead you and
direct you in your heavenly journey.