What is the unpardonable sin?
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MATTHEW REVIEW: UNPARDONABLE SIN:PARABLES OF LUKE 15: THE SECRETS OF THE BODY NOT REVEALED
Take your Bible and join in with us for this study. Once you get into the Book of Books you just can’t beat it. It is just so fabulous. So many people have the idea it’s just a musty, dusty, old Book and just a bunch of Bible stories, and it’s not. Everything fits from cover to cover, and it’s all written so miraculously. That’s why we know it’s not an ordinary Book, but rather the Divine, inspired Word of God, and is everything that God said it is. As I’ve said before, I just want to look at the “overall plan of the ages,” as someone has put it, and hit some of the high points, and some of the passages that questions arise from.
In Matthew Chapter 12, beginning with verse 31, we have a few little verses that have raised so many questions. This passage used to bother me also, but when you come to any portion of Scripture, be ready to constantly ask questions from your own point of view. Right here we have what people normally call the “unpardonable sin.” When something is unpardonable, that means it’s going to be your doom. In other words, if you are guilty of the unpardonable sin, then you have no hope of glory, and are headed for the lake of fire. I’ve looked at these verses in the knowledge that, the only sin that is going to condemn anyone, Jew or Gentile, black or white, rich or poor is not any particular thing we have said, or deed we have done. There is only one thing that will condemn a person to the lake of fire, and that is “UNBELIEF.”
We are not talking about unbelief here, we are talking about something that is spoken. Let me prove my point. Before we look at Matthew 12, let’s look at the Book of Hebrews Chapter 3 for a moment. Maybe I can make my point from the reverse end. I don’t want someone to go through life scared to death that maybe they have committed the unpardonable sin, which most people feel, according to Matthew 12 is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Blaspheming the Holy Spirit is a sin, and there is no doubt about it. But if I understand Scripture correctly, there is no sin that the Grace of God doesn’t reach beyond. In other words, the most violent of sinners are still candidates of the Grace of God. But what do they have to do? “BELIEVE.”
I think the Apostle Paul wrote the Book of Hebrews that we are now going to look at. He is taking the experience of Israel having just come out of Egypt, with God leading them to the Promised Land. When they got to Kadesh Barnea, who’s idea was it to send in spies? It certainly wasn’t God’s. God had never intended for them go search out the land. God said, “Go in and take the land, and I’ll send in hornets ahead of you and drive the people out.” But Israel couldn’t even take God at His word at that point in time. So they hedge and say, “Well let us spy it out first.” God in His goodness then condescended to their request and said, “Alright, choose out twelve men and let them go in.” And that was one of the biggest mistakes that Israel ever made. Ten of them said, “Oh, we can’t do it. There is no way we can drive out the Canaanites, we are as grasshoppers in their sights.” God had already said that He would drive them out. So what was their problem?
“While it is said, `To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation (in other words, as Israel was there in the wilderness). For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. But with whom was he (God) grieved forty years? Was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that (what?) believed not?'”
They had committed many sins of immorality; the golden calf; all pagan practices of worship. But God is not holding that against them – He doesn’t even mention that, as vile as it was. He could forgive that kind of sin. But what was Israel’s problem? “UNBELIEF.” They couldn’t believe what God had said.
“So we see that they (the children of Israel) could not enter in because of unbelief.”
Has anything changed? No! God can forgive to the uttermost, any sin except the sin of UNBELIEF (when people refuse to believe that Christ died for them, paid their sin debt, and rose from the dead in power. And that’s all He’s asking). So believe it for your salvation! If a person refuses to believe that Gospel, then that person’s doom is sealed. Remember Hebrews 11:6 says to you and I in the Age of Grace:
“But without faith it is impossible to please him….”
Let’s go back to Matthew 12 and look at the unpardonable sin. We need to leave this verse right where it sits. This is God dealing with the Nation of Israel. This doesn’t mean that we can’t take some warning from it. I certainly don’t tell people to go out and blaspheme the Holy Spirit, because after all, God will forgive you. I would never do that. All I’m saying is that this is something that doesn’t fit Church doctrine. If you can learn to leave these things where they belong, you don’t have to pigeonhole them, and say you’ll come back to this at a later time. It’s so perfectly set. So to the Nation of Israel He says:
“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 (Christ), it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world (age), neither in the world (age) to come.”
Now let’s look at a parable that explains this so beautifully in Matthew 21. Jesus is speaking again to the Jews:
“Hear another parable: `There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country:'”
“And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants (to get some return on the investment that he had made) to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits (or profit) of it.”
“And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise. But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, `They will reverence my son.’ But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, `This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance.’ And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him, When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen (and remember this is Jesus asking the Jew). They say unto him, `He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.’ Jesus saith unto them, `Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?'”
“Therefore say I unto you, `The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.’ And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables (plural, not just this one, but everyone that He had spoken), they perceived that he spake of them.”
They suddenly understood that Jesus was pointing His finger at them. Now what was the parable all about? God called the Nation of Israel out, and gave them the Covenant promises. He called them His son, His favored nation. And He dealt with them through the Old Testament years by sending the prophets. What did they do to the prophets? They killed them. We always like to talk in terms of the Trinity. So let’s look at it this way. Remember the Jew only knew about God the Father. So God the Father sent the prophets to His Covenant people and they killed them, or threw them in the dungeons. They refused to hear them. Did God cancel the Nation of Israel because of that? No. God sent His only Son next, The Christ. And Christ presented Himself to the Nation of Israel, on the basis of the covenants that we have been emphasizing for months. And what did they do with the Son? They killed Him. So these Pharisees are picking up on it. He’s talking about them. And so it is in all of Jesus’ parables.
But we have one Person of the Trinity left out. The Holy Spirit. Let’s look at the Scripture that pertains to the Holy Spirit. And if you can’t go along with this, don’t worry about it. I’ve always said in my teaching there is room for you to disagree on some things, and this is one of them. But to me it makes sense in light of the fact that there is one sin that condemns us, and that is unbelief concerning the Gospel. In other words, I maintain, someone could blaspheme the Holy Spirit tomorrow or next week and God can still save him in this Age of Grace. But let’s not lose sight of what the unpardonable sin is dealing with, and that is Israel the Nation! She is the one that is coming under this anathema of God.
Now go to Acts Chapter 6. Israel has rejected the overtures from the Father by killing the prophets. They rejected the overtures of the Son by killing The Christ. But how are they going to deal with the Holy Spirit, because here is the unpardonable part now – how they deal with third Person of the Godhead. He could forgive the first two, but not the third one. We have, in Acts Chapter 6, the appointment of seven men, normally referred to as deacons. They get the word “deacon” from the description of their duties. We find in verse 3 that the early Jewish church in Jerusalem was having some problems and so the following happened:
“Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.”
“And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost,…” Now we have the Holy Spirit mentioned twice in two verses. So Stephen comes before this whole Jewish crowd.
“And all that sat in the council, looking steadfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.”
What is permeating Stephen? The presence of the Holy Spirit. It was so radiant they could see the difference. Go to Chapter 7 verse 2. Now watch the language of whom Stephen is addressing:
“And he said, `Men, brethren, and fathers (all Jews), hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham,…'” Can any Gentile claim that? Of course not.
If you ever want the history of the Nation of Israel in a nutshell, read this whole chapter. It even gives a lot of little details that the Old Testament leaves out.
“And when they (these Jews) heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.”
“But he, being full of the Holy Ghost (do you see the emphasis over and over that the Holy Spirit is on display here?), looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus (not sitting but rather) standing on the right hand of God,” In a future lesson, we’ll pick up the reason these Jews got so mad when they heard Stephen say that Jesus was standing.
“And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, `Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, `Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep (died).'”
From this point on, what is the future as we see here in the Book of Acts concerning the Nation of Israel? All down hill. And why? Because they had now committed that unpardonable sin of not only rejecting the Father and The Son, but now had also rejected the Holy Spirit. And for nearly 2000 years, what has the Jew been going through? Suffering, turmoil, in a state of spiritual blindness. Here in America they are pretty fortunate, but overall for all this time, basically they have been going through the mill. But when this age ends and we come into the next age, which is the millennium reign, Israel is going to come into God’s goodness and Grace. If you don’t like that approach about the unpardonable sin you don’t have to agree. But for me it fits so beautifully, because we have left it in place. Notice we didn’t take it out of the Nation of Israel and try to put it in the Church Age, but left it right where it was, with the Jewish economy.
Another point I would like to make is this. After the stoning of Stephen and the Holy Spirit aspect, the next event of importance in the chronological unfolding is the conversion of what great man? Saul of Tarsus (Paul). Even though Peter will go to the house of Cornelius in Acts Chapter 10 (after Saul is converted in Chapter 9), Chapters 11 and 15 mention Peter, and from there to the end of the Book of Acts Peter is never mentioned again. Why? Israel is now falling out of all the things that God had been promising, and now here comes Paul with the Body of Christ, the predominately Gentile Church. When we study the Book of Acts, I’ll show you the transitional aspect of this Book, how God deals with His Covenant people Israel under the Law with all the Old Testament promises; and how when they rejected it, God now does something totally different – something the Old Testament knew nothing of. He turned to the Gentiles with the Apostle Paul.
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