The Unforgivable Sin

“Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven” (Matt. 12:31).

- Matthew 12:22–32

The issue of unforgivable sin arises anytime we discuss eternal security. After all, Jesus did tell his disciples that one sin, the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, would not be forgiven (Matt. 12:31). If this is the case, then does not the Christian who commits this sin lose his salvation? How do we know that we have not committed this sin?

In order to answer these questions we will look at Matthew 12:22–32. Let us go first to verse 31 in order to make some quick observations about the sin in question. First of all, Jesus does not say that any sin against the Holy Spirit is unforgivable. Rather, only blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Secondly, remember that blasphemy is a sin having to do with words. It is committed primarily in speech, although it may also be committed in the heart.

What then does this blasphemy look like and why will God not forgive it? In this passage, Jesus has just healed a demon-possessed man, which prompts the people to suppose that Jesus just might be the Messiah (vv. 22–23). The Pharisees then claim it was the power of Beelzebul that enabled Jesus to cast out demons (v. 24). Jesus responds to this charge by telling the crowd that it was by the finger of God, that is, the Holy Spirit, through whom He was casting the demons out (vv. 25–30). He then uses the occasion to declare that blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven (vv. 31–32).

Thus, calling Jesus demonic evidences blasphemy against the Spirit. But how is this the case? Remember, the Spirit reveals truth to us. The Holy Spirit reveals truth not only to true believers, but also to those who, knowing who Christ is, never place their faith in Him. If He reveals to us that Christ is from God, but we verbally deny this truth, we have committed blasphemy against the Spirit because we have told the Spirit of Truth that He is a liar. Essentially, we have denied who He is as the imparter of truth. The Pharisees had come dangerously close to this sin. They, of all people should have heard the Spirit speak through the Word about Christ because they were well-trained in the Scriptures. They were close to denying Christ, not out of ignorance, but out of a conscious and willful suppression of the Spirit’s work. They were in danger of blaspheming the Spirit by calling His testimony about Christ a lie even when they would have known it to be the truth.

Coram Deo

Someone who has knowingly denied the Spirit of truth will be blissfully unconcerned about it. They will not care about the punishment promised because they have already called Him a liar. The next time you worry about committing this sin, remember that this worry is a probable sign that you have not blasphemed the Spirit whom you worship.

Passages for Further Study

2 Chron. 24
Jer. 36
John 16:13
Heb. 10:26–31

First published in Tabletalk Magazine, an outreach of Ligonier. For permissions, view our Copyright Policy.