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Unpardonable Sin

What is the Assemblies of God belief concerning the unpardonable sin?

Matthew 12:31, Mark 3:29, and Luke 12:10 speak of an unforgivable sin. All three Gospel authors describe the sin as blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. The immediate context of Matthew and Mark indicates that the act of committing this sin involves attributing the work of Jesus done through the power of the Holy Spirit to Beelzebub, the prince of demons. However, a careful analysis of the relevant passages reveals four important aspects of the unforgivable sin.

First, it involves a deliberate or willful act of unbelief. Note that Mark 3:22 describes the Pharisees "coming down from Jerusalem." A survey of the preceding narrative (Mark 2,3) shows a pattern of opposition to Jesus’ ministry and suggests that their coming down was with the same intention. This sin was not committed in ignorance. These Pharisees (Matthew 12:24) and scribes (Mark 3:22) were experts in the Law. Matthew tells us their blasphemous accusation came after they heard the people asking whether Jesus could really be the Messiah. They had just witnessed the healing of the blind and dumb demoniac. Certainly, they if anyone should have known that Jesus’ deeds were in agreement with scriptural prophecies (see Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:16-21; 7:18-22) concerning the Messiah. This sin is not a single momentary act. While it may appear as such on the surface, the Greek rendering of Mark 3:22 is best translated, "they kept saying," indicating that the scribes were dogging Jesus’ footsteps making this accusation repeatedly. Finally, this sin was committed in full view of a demonstration of God’s power. Luke 4:18 indicates that Jesus went forth "in the power of the Holy Spirit." Consequently, the rejection of Jesus by the scribes and Pharisees constitutes a rejection of the Holy Spirit’s witness to Jesus as the Messiah.

From these four aspects we must conclude that the unpardonable sin or blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is more descriptive of a spiritual state or condition than a single act of sin. The act described in the Gospels witnesses to a final state in a process of rebellion on the part of those who have continually rejected the Holy Spirit’s witness to Christ. Such rejection and denial of the authentic work and person of the Holy Spirit results in the inability to discern "light" (the work of God) from "darkness" (the work of Satan) even when confronted by the Holy Spirit’s miracle witness to Jesus.

CONCERNS:

Often in the church we encounter individuals who are disturbed over their lack of spiritual sensitivity or progress. Some may even doubt their salvation harboring a haunting suspicion that they have at one time committed the unpardonable sin. These individuals need to be carefully guided through the Scriptures to realize that their very concern is evidence that they have not committed the unpardonable sin. They need to note that those in the Gospels who committed this sin were persistent in their rejection of Christ, showed no remorse or repentance toward their sin of unbelief, and displayed no desire to understand the truth of Jesus’ words. They need to see what the Scriptures clearly teach: that genuine (godly) sorrow for sin will lead to repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10), that one who comes to Jesus in repentance and faith will never be cast aside (John 6:37), that "whoever calls upon the name of the Lord" will find salvation (Romans 10:9), and that the believer who confesses his/her sins has a faithful and just Savior who will provide forgiveness and spiritual cleansing (1 John 1:9).


The above statement is based upon our common understanding of scriptural teaching.

All Scripture quotations are from the New International Version (NIV) unless otherwise specified.