Matthew 12:31-32 — The Unforgivable Sin
By Jeremy Myers
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Most Christians have wondered at some point in their life if they have committed the unforgivable sin. I have personally talked with Christians who were divorced, got an abortion, or committed adultery, and thought they had committed the unforgivable sin. Others think that suicide is the unforgivable sin. If a person commits suicide, then they are going to hell. Then I have talked with some who believe that the unforgivable sin is rejecting God. They believe that if you are a Christian and you go back to living like you aren’t a Christian, or if you curse Jesus, or deny that you ever knew Him, then this is the unforgivable sin.
Unforgivable SinI recently wrote a book about the unforgivable sin, which you can get on Amazon. It is titled, Why you have not committed the Unforgivable Sin.
You can read a short summary of the book here and learn about the unpardonable sin. Below is an the text of a sermon I preached on Matthew 12:31-32, which is where Jesus warns about the unforgivable sin.
All Christians can Commit All Sins
But did you know that there are people in the Bible who have committed one or all of these sins whom we all expect to see in heaven? Let me show you.
Take divorce first. Did you know that God is a divorced person? We read in Jeremiah 3:8 that God divorced Israel. Yet we certainly all expect to see God in heaven.
What about abortion? They didn’t really have abortion back then the way we do now, but if you believe, as I do, that abortion is taking the life of another human being, then we can call abortion the murder of babies. Abortion is a form of infanticide. Yet we know from Ezekiel 16:21 that many of the Israelites did this as a form of idol worship. They offered their children to false idols as human sacrifices. While not all Israelites had eternal life, some of those who did this will still be in heaven.
Then there is adultery. David, the man after God’s own heart committed adultery with Bathsheba (2 Sam. 11:4), as did many of the other kings and rulers of Israel. Paul sometimes writes about adultery among church members who will make it to heaven, but will lose their inheritance and reward there. Suicide is talked about too. Samson (Jdg. 16:29-30) committed suicide, and we believe he will be in heaven. King Saul also committed suicide (1 Sam. 31:4-5); 1 Chr. 10:4-5), and he will be in heaven as well. The most famous example of someone who rejected and denied Christ is Peter. He even used profanity and curses in denying any connection to Jesus Christ. Yet we know that he was forgiven and will be in heaven.
In fact, there are a whole host of other sins mentioned in the Bible that true believers have committed, yet we know from other Scriptures that these people will still be in heaven. The Bible talks about believers who commit idolatry (1 King 11:1-10). We read of others who believe only for a while and then fall away (Luke 8:13). We read of some who do not continue in the Word of Christ (John 8:31), do not abide in Christ (John 15:1-8), become disqualified in the race of the Christian life (1 Cor 9:24-27), resist God’s correction up to the point of physical death (1 Cor 11:30-32).
Others stray from the faith (1 Tim 1:5-6), shipwreck their faith (1 Tim 1:18-20), fall away from the faith (1 Tim 4:1-3), deny the faith (1 Tim 5:8), cast off initial faith to follow Satan (1 Tim. 5:12-15), stray from the faith by loving money (1 Tim. 6:9-10), stray from the faith by teaching false doctrine (1 Tim. 6:20-21), and deny Christ and live faithless lives (2 Tim 2:11-13).
We have the examples of people in the Bible who murdered and committed adultery, and yet were said to be saved (Jacob’s sons). Other men, like Solomon, Amaziah and Uzziah will most likely be in heaven, but did not live very faithfully to God during their lives. Some of them committed adultery, had multiple wives, committed murder, and fell into idolatry.
Then there is the righteous man who commits unrighteousness and dies as a result of it in Ezekiel 18, and the man in 1 Corinthians 5 who was involved in an incestuous relationship with his mother in law. Lot who committed incest with his daughters. Ananais and Sapphira in Acts 5 and so many other examples in Scripture of genuine believers who fell away.
The point of all of this is to show that the grace of God runs deeper and wider than most of us will ever know.
The ocean of God’s grace never runs dry. The limits of God’s grace never are reached.
But what about when someone commits the unforgivable sin?
Is There A Sin God Does not Forgive?
We have all encountered the troubling passage in Matthew 12:31-32 which indicates that there is a sin which the grace of God does not cover.
Matthew 12:31-32 is often pointed to as proof that we can lose our salvation. The sin mentioned in this passage is often referred to as the unpardonable sin or unforgivable sin. It is said that if you commit this sin, then no matter how good of a Christian you have been up to that point and no matter how much you repent or confess afterward, you will not make it to heaven.
Let us take a closer look at Matthew 12:31-32 to see what it really says. Let’s begin with Matthew 12:31.
Matthew 12:31. Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men.
We learn in Matthew 12:31 that every sin will be forgiven, except one — the blasphemy against the Spirit.
Let’s look first at this concept that every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men. We know what sin is. It is when we do something contrary to God’s character or will. When God tells us what He wants us to do, and we don’t do it, we sin. James puts it this way, “Anyone who knows the good he ought to do, and doesn’t do it, sins.”
Blasphemy is similar. The most basic definition of blasphemy is to speak evil or injuriously about God. So blasphemy is a sin of the tongue. A sin that uses words and thoughts rather than actions. So right away, all of this sins listed above that involve actions are not what Jesus is talking about. In fact, the only sin mentioned above that involves actions and thoughts is the sin of denying Christ and speaking against Him. So blasphemy against Christ is to speak evil or injuriously about Him. But jump ahead to Matthew 12:32. Look what Jesus says there. He says that speaking against the Son of Man will be forgiven.
So all of the possible sins we began with are now seen to be forgivable. Divorce, adultery, abortion, suicide all fall under the category of “every sin” and these are all forgiven. If you have committed any of these sins, you are forgiven! Jesus said it! All sins will be forgiven!
But what about blasphemies? Blasphemies will also be forgiven, even those spoken against Jesus Christ. If you have spoken a word against Jesus Christ, this too is forgiven. You have been forgiven.
It is only the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit that will not be forgiven.
But what does this mean?
What is Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit?
What is the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit? Matthew 12:32 helps us answer this question.
Matthew 12:32. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.
The sin that will not ever be forgiven is not speaking against Jesus Christ, but speaking against the Holy Spirit.
But what is this sin, and how is it committed?
Have you Committed the Unforgivable Sin?
So, how do you know if you have committed the unforgivable sin?
First, if you have believed in Jesus Christ for eternal life, then you have eternal life (John 3:16; 5:24; 6:47) and it is no longer possible for you to blaspheme the Holy Spirit in this way.
Since you have believed in Jesus for eternal life, the Holy Spirit has stopped working upon you as He does with non-Christians, and is now indwelling within you to mold you, shape you, and form you into Christlikeness. Yes, you can still sin against the Holy Spirit by quenching or grieving the Holy Spirit, but you cannot blaspheme the Spirit in the way Jesus talks about in Matthew 12:31-32.
So if you are a believer, don’t worry about committing the unforgivable sin. The chance to commit it is forever in your past.
If, however, you are not a Christian, and are worrying about whether you have committed this sin, be encouraged. Nobody who commits the blasphemy against the Spirit wonders if they have.
People who have committed the unforgivable sin do not care that they have committed it. They do not even wonder if they have. They simply don’t care about such things anymore because the Holy Spirit has stopped convicting them of sin.
The unbeliever who commits this sin has become so morally and spiritually blind that their heart is hardened to the point that they no longer care about spiritual things and will never believe in Jesus.
So if you are worrying about whether or not you have committed this sin, be encouraged … for caring about whether or not you commit it is clear evidence you have not!
If you still worry about the unforgivable sin, then make sure you will never be able to commit it. How? Believe in Jesus for eternal life (John 3:16; 5:24; 6:47). The Holy Spirit is drawing you to Jesus, and He wants you to believe in Jesus. If you believe in Jesus, then the Spirit regenerates, indwells, baptizes, and seals you, and you can never commit the unforgivable sin. Ever. Why not? Because this sin can only be committed by those who are not yet believers and upon whom the Spirit is working to draw them to Jesus. Once they are “in the family” the work of the Spirit changes from drawing you to Jesus to conforming you into the image of Jesus. And no matter what, He will never stop doing this. Never.
Yes, you might have committed some terrible sin. You might have said something you really regret. But guess what? Whatever sin you may have committed, whatever words you may have said, you are still being convicted by it, which is good. This means the Holy Spirit is at work in your life to point this out to you. God has not abandoned you to your sin. So simply confess this sin, and abandon yourself to the love of God.
God’s grace covers over all your sin, past, present, and future.
God wants all men to be saved, and through the Holy Spirit, He draws all men to Jesus Christ. The light shines in their lives and grace calls them to Jesus.
If a person wants forgiveness and desires the love of God, God will never turn such a person away. Not ever.
The person who has committed the unforgivable sin does not want forgiveness, does not desire the love of God, and does not even have a thought for God in their lives. People who blaspheme the Holy Spirit have so hardened their hearts that they do not realize the condition they are in, nor do they care. They are not crying out to God for light or help or salvation. They just live their lives without a thought for God or a care in the world for spiritual matters. The Holy Spirit has ceased to work on their hearts and they are completely given over to the darkness of their hearts and the spiritual blindness of their eyes.
Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is a serious sin that only unbelievers can commit, and even then, only when they have resisted the Holy Spirit for many years and have come to the point that they so completely reject what He is trying to do in their life, that they openly and verbally denounce Him and Jesus Christ and the feelings of sin and guilt in their own lives as the work of Satan in their lives.
Unforgivable SinI am not sure if we can ever know if a person has committed the unforgivable sin or not in their lives, but one thing we can know — if we have believed in Jesus for eternal life, we have already responded positively to the Holy Spirit’s work in our life, and so the opportunity to commit the unforgivable sin is past.
The unforgivable sin is not a sin a Christian can commit.
At the same time, if an unbeliever fears they have committed this sin, then they clearly have not, because someone who has committed the unforgivable sin would have such a hard heart that such thoughts would not even enter their mind.
If you’re afraid you’ve committed the unpardonable sin, stop worrying. Jesus is not a liar!
If you believe in Him for eternal life, then you’ve got it. It’s that simple. He guarantees it.
Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member