THE UNFORGIVABLE SIN

Christians brought up in a biblical atmosphere are often horrified to learn that Christ said that there was a sin that could not be forgiven in this world or in the world to come, an eternal sin. They wonder what it is and find their clergy cagey on the subject. And then they begin to wonder if they have – horror of horrors - committed it! But he who invented the eternal sin becomes guilty of the infinite malice of it.  It is vindictive wishful thinking – if you want somebody to be unlimitedly evil by committing a sin then that says how evil you are. It is pure evil to accuse people of such a sin. Jesus Christ was evil.

Jesus was supposedly casting demons out and the Jews said he was doing it by the Devil’s power. Jesus “refuted” the accusation that his exorcisms were done by the Devil’s power. He said that Satan will not put Satan out or he will have no kingdom left. Then Jesus said that the alleged absurdity of the accusation was the reason why those who insulted the Holy Spirit, who did his miracles, by attributing his works to the Devil, would never be forgiven – ever (Matthew 12:22-37). He claimed that they would not be forgiven in this world or in the world to come. This implies they will be condemned forever perhaps in the everlasting torment of Hell that Christians believe in.
 
Did Jesus say that the people who alleged that the healings and miracles he did were empowered by Satan committed the unforgiveable sin? Yes. And imagine what it is like if you say the big miracle of Jesus' resurrection was a satanic trick! And it is one way or another for even if Jesus was alive in some unexplained or unknown way after being reportedly crucified that does not amount to a resurrection. Satan inspired the Christian lie that it does! It is very harsh and bullying for somebody to say such a strong thing just because the true origin of their healings and miracles was questioned.
 
The same account in the Mark Gospel simply says that whoever says Jesus casts out demons by the Devil which insults the Holy Spirit will never have forgiveness but is guilty of an eternal sin. Jesus had not revealed Hell by then. Some thinkers say that nobody is forced to go to Hell and stay there. They simply go there because they refuse to repent and will never change. Hell is based on the idea of the damned person being unable to repent - whether by choice or by force. So his hearers would have assumed that he meant a sin that was committed in this life and which couldn’t be gotten rid of whether attempts were made to get forgiven or not. The sin would be beyond forgiveness.  By implication, if you survive death you will still not be free of the sin and are stuck with it eternally. All that is what he meant, for to interpret you must put yourself in the hearer’s shoes. Certainly Matthew interpreted Jesus that way when he felt he could clarify Mark’s wording by stressing the sin would never be pardoned in this life or the next.
 
When Jesus was so desperate to scare his critics into silence and into acceptance of his powers as having a divine origin with that ridiculous threat it shows that he was manipulative and wanted to stop people thinking straight. He was cruel and hard and deceitful. He was a clone of the Satan he pretended to hate for he didn’t want the people to consider the issue of the origin of the miracles objectively which meant that he believed himself that God had nothing to do with them. An honest man does not need to terrorize but an insecure fraud or Satanist does. It is absolutely certain that Jesus believed in forced conversion for it was his aim to force these people to see him as the infallible Son of God. What makes it worse is that the Jews knew and Jesus knew that just because it looked like he was casting demons out that it didn’t mean he was really doing so! Failed exorcisms or people who relapsed into possession were well-known.

But anyway what is this eternal sin?

Christians say that it is stubborn hatred of God. It won’t be repented which is why it cannot be forgiven for God forgives all who harbour genuine contrition.

The text does not actually mention ingrained hate or ingrained anything.  It just speaks of saying something against the Holy Spirit.  The text does not say whether or not the people saying that knew Jesus really came from God.  So nobody can be sure that they had set their hearts against God.  All hypocrites in religion cannot be complete fakes - you have to have a little sincerity in some things.  The lover fooling her or his victim has to have some affection for the victim otherwise it cannot be done.
 
All the Jews uttering the blasphemy couldn’t have been that stubborn. The sin cannot be the sin of obstinacy. Obstinacy involves blasphemy but it is not blasphemy. Jesus said the sin was blasphemy, insulting God verbally and sincerely by calling him evil. Also that is the sin that started him talking about all this so the context supports this. The blasphemy may be caused by hardness of heart but it is the blasphemy that is called unforgivable. He is not on about hardness of heart at all.
 
The interpretation that Jesus just meant a free and permanent rejection of God is absurd for you don’t say even of a stubborn sinner that they are guilty of an eternal sin!
 
In Matthew 12, where he speaks of the unforgivable blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, Jesus tells the Pharisees to declare a tree rotten and its fruit rotten or declare a tree good and its fruit good one or the other. He then says to them that they cannot say anything good for they are evil inside and are a brood of vipers. He tells them they are wholly evil. That in itself would not mean they cannot change.
 
Jesus said that whoever insults the Son of Man will be forgiven but whoever insults the Holy Spirit will not. So if the word insult meant insult until death without remitting then why did he say that those who blaspheme the Son of Man will be forgiven? If you stubbornly blaspheme the Son of Man forever you will not be saved either. He meant that you could be left outside salvation forever just for saying something about the Holy Spirit in a moment of anger even if you relent the next minute.
 
Don't forget that Jesus never said that the accusers were that stubborn and a person can mock the Holy Spirit without being incorrigible and he would have accepted the doctrine of the prophet Ezekiel that God could melt the most hardened heart. His meaning is that all who commit the sin are destined for everlasting perdition in Hades. We dismiss the view that the sin against the Holy Spirit is stubborn lifelong impenitence for it is sheer speculation. There is no justification for it in the text.
 
Others say that it is final impenitence, the sin of choosing to go to Hell as one dies. This sin cannot be pardoned for there is said to be no repentance beyond the grave for one who dies in hatred of God.
 
None of those people were dying. Dying isn’t mentioned. Again, Jesus said the sin was blasphemy, insulting God verbally and sincerely by calling him evil. Impenitence wouldn’t be described as blasphemy for that is too unclear.
 
Luke 12:10 merely has Jesus saying without qualification that whoever speaks against him will be forgiven but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven. He says it to his disciples not the Pharisees or scribes. There is no mention of him dealing with those accusing him of using Satan's power to do exorcisms in Luke. He says it clearly and simply. He meant what he said despite the efforts of liars in the Church to twist the meaning. No rational person would take him to mean anything other than the straightforward meaning.
 
Against this some state that Jesus never said his hearers committed the unforgiveable sin. He is said to have indicated that they were merely in danger of it. But the text as given in Mark 3:20-30 says they said his works were from the devil and he said that anybody who says that cannot be forgiven and the text says he said this BECAUSE they said he uses the devil to do his works. Read verse 30. The statement is an attempt to get around the text. Plus he spoke of people saying his works were from the Devil. He passes no comment on whether he thinks they meant it or not. Blasphemy means using speech against God. The sin was blasphemy pure and simple.
 
Another point, he said, "I give you my word." In other words, "What I am saying is not obvious so take my word for it."  Then he went on to say that all blasphemies men utter will be pardoned but whoever blasphemes the Holy Spirit carries the guilt of this sin forever and will never be forgiven. It is obvious that a person who will not repent cannot have a relationship with God.  So that is not what he is thinking of.  He is asking us to trust him that those who insult the work of the Holy Spirit will not be saved. 

He asks us to take his solemn word for it like it were an oath - that is how strong this is. He is emphasising that what he is about to say is to be taken on faith. It would be obvious that you cannot enjoy a relationship with God if you hate him. You would need somebody to tell you if a sin cannot be forgiven such as a particular form of blasphemy. That is what Jesus is doing.
 
How could the sin be final impenitence when Jesus says it will not be remitted in this world? There is no point in saying that when you are talking about a person who has just breathed the last breath. It would be nonsense to say final impenitence cannot be pardoned in this world if it only happens as you leave it. Jesus never mentioned deathbeds. It is the insult not the stubbornness he has a go at. It would be absurd to say that the sin of final impenitence will not be forgiven in this world for it is a sin that is only committed on the brink of leaving it and it is not forgiven for you die and it is too late then to change.
 
God simply will not pardon the sin of speaking against the Holy Spirit whether or not it is repented.
  
The sin cannot be final impenitence or an incorrigible stubbornness so it must be the sin of simply saying God's work is nothing more than the work of Satan.
 
Jesus said that any insult could be pardoned except the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. He didn’t mean, “If you stubbornly refuse pardon and refuse to repent you will not be pardoned”. That is as strange as saying, “If you take the plane to Spain you will not get there by plane without the plane”. The sin was distinct from impenitence.
 
Though Jesus is not on about incurable hate for God, what if you commit this sin and God prevents repentance in the person who commits it?  That is a different subject.  It is the difference between becoming stubborn and God making you stubborn.

Christianity teaches that God only accepts repentance that is supernatural in motive and cause and origin. All the repentance in the world will make no difference unless it is this kind. The sinner could believe that he or she has really repented for insulting the Spirit and get a surprise on judgement day and learn that the sense of peace with God was an illusion. The Bible warns that feelings and beliefs are worthless and that the only light is the word of God. It is the final arbiter.
 
We cannot give God the repentance he accepts for forgiving sin unless he helps us. If the sin is unpardonable only for the stubborn then Jesus would have said so but he didn’t. So God refuses to give the grace of the repentance that he accepts to the person who blasphemes the Holy Spirit.

Jesus and Paul believed that there was nothing a human being in its natural state could do that was not tainted by sin so even the good works are full of spite against God. This is absolute proof that the eternal sin was simply heresy and heresy is the blasphemy of accusing the truth of God of being hellish in origin. Once you committed the heresy of ascribing evil to what was really divine you would be excluded from Heaven and not even God himself would change that.

Jesus has made it an unforgivable sin to knowingly speak ill of the Holy Spirit. God either ignores those who repent it or he deprives them of the grace they need to repent it. Christians have to accept the latter view for they hold that there is no real goodness in life without divine assistance.
 
This interpretation has the support of tradition. The earliest tradition is in the Didache an early record of the apostles teaching. This book claims to be without error. 6:1 See that no one leads you astray from the way of this teaching, since all other teachings train you without God.
 
It is clear that the sin against the Spirit is not just about offences against Jesus but against anybody who speaks for the Spirit and who is dismissed without justification.
 
Here is the data from the Didache regarding how its an eternal sin to insult the Holy Spirit.
 
11:4 Let every apostle who comes to you be received as the Lord.

11:5 But he must not remain more than one day, or two, if there's a need. If he stays three days, he is a false prophet.

11:6 And when the apostle goes away, let him take nothing but bread to last him until his next night of lodging. If he asks for money, he is a false prophet.

11:7 In addition, if any prophet speaks in the Spirit, you shall not try or judge him; for every sin will be forgiven, but this sin cannot be forgiven.

11:8 But not everyone who speaks in the Spirit is a prophet; only he is a prophet who has the ways of the Lord about him. By their ways will the false prophet and the prophet be known.

11:9 Any prophet who orders a meal in the Spirit does not eat it; if he does, he is indeed a false prophet.

11:10 And any prophet who teaches the truth, but does not do what he teaches, is a false prophet.

11:11 When a prophet, proved true, works for the mystery of the church in the world but does not teach others to do what he himself does, he will not be judged among you, for his judgment is already before God. The ancient prophets acted in this way, also.

11:12 But whoever says in the Spirit, "Give me money," or something else like this, you must not listen to him. But if he tells you to give for the sake of others who are in need, let no one judge him.

The idea here is that judging helps a person reform but with that sin there is no point.,
 
CONCLUSION: Jesus said that saying the works of the Holy Spirit come from evil is an unpardonable sin for God simply will not forgive it or grant the grace of repentance to the one who commits it. The Church agrees that he was saying that those who say this suffer a basic evil in themselves (see the note in the NAB for Matthew 12:33-37). He incites hatred against them. He says they are basically evil as persons.