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 Sermon on

The Unpardonable Sin

By Brian Pepper

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.  

In Matthew 12:31,32 Jesus defines the 'unpardonable sin':
"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 amazed".

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 differently.

In 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 devil.

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 spirit..."

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, Ephesians 6:12.

"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 cunning.

There are some who find it difficult to understand how that God's spirit can be poured out as mentioned in Acts 2:17.

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, then 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.

In Deuteronomy 4:24 we read, "For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire..."

Again in Hebrews 12:29 it says, "For our God  is a consuming fire."

If God can appear as fire then not the Holy Spirit?

 

Is the 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 Holy Ghost,"

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 creation.

Now notice Genesis 1:26, "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 creation.

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".


Personality of
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 unto you."

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 this.

Notice John 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."

Now 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 sent them."

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 one more.

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.

Now notice 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 be uttered."

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 clear.

Ephesians 4:30 says, "...grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption."

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 solemn words:

"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.

 

 

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Thank you for posting some of (Brian Pepper's) sermons. It's like reading the very words Jesus has spoken to me and is a great encouragement. I cannot say that about many Pastors but I can say that about (Pr Pepper). Thank you. Robert @yeshuaskingdom.org (USA) ... more testimonials.

 

 
 

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