Nearly every Christian I have ever talked to fears that they have at one time or another committed what is sometimes called the unpardonable sin. They wonder what the unpardonable sin is and whether or not they have committed it. This sin is also sometimes called the unforgivable sin, or blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
Most of the fear about the unpardonable sin comes from the fact that there is much confusion out there as to what exactly this sin is and how it is committed. For Christians, this uncertainty steals the joy and assurance of salvation. For non-Christians who worry about this (few ever do), they lose the hope of ever being saved.
The primary Bible passage which talks about the unpardonable sin is Matthew 12:31-32, and you can read my sermon manuscript on this text here: The unpardonable sin in Matthew 12:31-32.
I also wrote a book about the unpardonable sin. It is available from Amazon and is titled Why You Have Not Committed the Unforgivable Sin.
Below is a brief summary of what I explain in my book on the unpardonable sin:
Basics to Remember about the Unpardonable Sin
First, Scripture is very clear that Jesus died for all the sins of all people throughout all time (Col 2:13; 1 John 2:2). His death covers all the sins we committed before we believed in Jesus for eternal life and after we believed in Jesus for eternal life. Since all of our sins were yet future to God when Jesus died on the cross, He is not surprised by any sin we commit, nor does He ever regret giving us eternal life and therefore take it back. Once saved, a person is secure in Christ forever.
Secondly, nowhere in Scripture do we ever find the term “The Unpardonable Sin.” People get this term from Matthew 12:31 where we read that “the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men.” Here we learn what the so-called “Unpardonable Sin” is — it is blasphemy against the Spirit. So the question is not “What is the Unpardonable sin?” but rather “What is blasphemy against the Spirit?”
Some people consider the blasphemy against the Spirit to be the “really bad” sins like fornication, adultery, murder, homosexuality, breaking one of the ten commandments, or something similar. But the blood of Christ was even shed for these sins. Paul reminds the Corinthian Christians that some of them had been washed from such sins (1 Cor 6:11). A study of the events surrounding David’s adultery with Bathsheba reveals that he broke all ten commandments, yet we know He will be in heaven.
So, what is the Blasphemy against the Spirit? To “blaspheme” means to speak evil or injuriously about someone. But notice that one can blaspheme Jesus and still be forgiven (Matt 12:32; Mark 3:28), so blasphemy against the Sprit must be something different.
Various Options about the Unpardonable Sin
Let’s look at the various opinions.
First, as already mentioned, some consider the blasphemy to be a certain “big” sin. But since many people in Scripture committed these “big” sins and were forgiven, we know that this cannot be the answer.
Second, Some think it is Israel’s rejection of Jesus as the promised Messiah. They look at the context of Matthew 12 and notice that it is the Jewish Religious leaders Jesus was talking to, and they did not accept Jesus as the Messiah, nor listen to the Holy Spirit’s testimony about Him. So they said that Jesus was from Satan, which was a blasphemous thing to say.
Those who hold this view say that since Jesus is no longer walking the earth, and since Israel has already rejected Him as the promised Messiah, this sin can no longer be committed by individuals today.
A few things can be said against this. Notice that Jesus says “anyone who” This means anyone, not just the Israelite people of that day. Also, there are other places where people accuse Jesus of acting according to the devil, and He says nothing there about blasphemy against the Spirit.
Third, some believe that it is unbelief of the Gospel. We know that those who do not believe will not go to heaven, and so will never be forgiven for their unbelief. They relate it to the Holy Spirit because He is the one who convicts the world of sin, of righteousness and of judgment (John 16:7-11). When people refuse to listen to Him, they are committing this sin. In this way, non-Christians can commit this sin even today.
But this seems to be a little too simplistic. The warning is quite strong. And if this were true, why wouldn’t Jesus have just called it the “sin of unbelief”?
Fourth, some think it is attributing the work of the Holy Spirit to the work of Satan. In other words, if you see someone doing something when they claim to be under the power of the Holy Spirit, you better not hint that maybe they are actually under demonic influences, because that might be the blasphemy against the Spirit.
But this seems to go against much of what Scripture says about “testing the spirits” (1 John 4:1), and ignores warnings about how false prophets come in sheep’s clothing (Matt 7:15). It is a Christian’s duty to question whether something is from God or not.
All of these then, are not quite what the passage and the overall message of the Bible is teaching. What is this sin then?
What is the Unpardonable Sin?
I believe it is this. There are two sins against the Holy Spirit which an unbeliever can make: resisting (Rom 1:18-20) and blaspheming. We do know from John 16 that the Holy Spirit’s job in this world is to convict the world of sin and righteousness and judgment. When non-Christians resist the Holy Spirit, they are trying not to hear what the Holy Spirit is telling them. They try to drown out His still small voice with constant music and recreation and entertainment and sex and alcohol and drugs. They listen to people who tell them they are “pretty good” people. It appears that every non-Christian is in a state of resistance to the Holy Spirit.
But from this condition, one of three things will happen. First, the person may stop resisting, and submit to what the Holy Spirit is saying, and so, having understood that they are a sinner and in need of salvation because judgment is coming, they will believe in Jesus Christ for eternal life. They are now and forevermore a Christian.
Second, the non-Christian may continue to resist throughout his or her life, and will die in a state of resistance and so go into eternal separation. They never believed, and so do not receive the benefits of eternal life. Such a person has not committed the unpardonable sin, but they do finish their life in a state of unbelief, and so are unable to enter into life with God after death.
Finally, a person may get tired of always resisting, and may lash out in anger and blasphemy against the Holy Spirit for what He is trying to tell them. This person knowingly and maliciously rejects and slanders the Holy Spirit for His efforts to bring them to eternal life. This third and final option is the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
The result is that the Holy Spirit stops trying to convict them. They have once and for all chosen their path of rebellion. He will no longer convict them of their sin, of the offer of salvation, or of impending judgment. They have demanded to be left alone, and so their request will be honored.
Have You Committed the Unpardonable Sin?
So, how do you know if you, or a friend, or relative, have committed this sin? If you have believed in Jesus Christ for eternal life, then you are saved, and it is no longer possible for you to blaspheme the Holy Spirit. You’re safe and secure in the arms of Jesus. No one can take you out of His hands, or His Father’s hands (John 10:28-29). Nothing can separate you from the love of God – not even yourself (Rom 8:38-39).
If you, or your friend or relative is not a Christian, then be encouraged. Almost nobody who commits the blasphemy against the Spirit wonders if they have. They don’t care about such things anymore. 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.
But nevertheless, some people are afraid they have. To them, I would simply say, “Worrying about it pretty much proves that you haven’t. So in order to make sure you never will be able to, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved. Whatever sin you may have committed, you are still being convicted by it, which is good. God’s grace will cover over that sin, and all other sins if you will just believe in Jesus for eternal life.”
Do you fear that you have committed the Unforgivable Sin?
Fear not! You are forgiven. You are loved.
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George Richard Frey says
Thank God for his amazing grace. Though I am handicapped and am not able to get around with double vision, I do desire for the unsaved to know my Lord. I pray for his direction in my life. Galations 2:20
Jeremy Myers says
George, I am glad it was helpful. The Grace of God truly is amazing!
Benjamin Williams says
It seems hard to justify being encouraged by the fact that an unbelieving friend does not worry about whether they have committed the unpardonable sin if the consequence is eternal torture.
Jeremy Myers says
Never stop worrying or trying to get them to see their sin. I don’t think we can know for sure if anyone else has committed the Unpardonable Sin, and we should never assume that somebody has. Beg, plead, and pray with others, no matter what!
I agree, Benjamin. As the mother of such a one, I live in constant torment of that fact; after burying one child already, this is by far my most tormenting heartbreak.
Blasphemy is ‘taking on the attributes of the Holy Spirit and leading worship away from Him’…therefore the unpardonable sin must be that of the coming antiChrist. The pope does that with Christ…that is forgivable but look around…the weeds are growing with the wheat.
Jeremy Myers says
Where do you get that definition of blasphemy?
I came across your blog, when I was searching for the answer to a bible question, but then I saw what you wrote about the unforgivable sin. What you said is not true, according to Matt. 12; 31-32.
The unforgivable sin is blasphemy against the Holy Ghost. Read Matt. 12; 31-32.
“Whosoever speaketh a word against the son of man, it shall be forgiven, but … against the Holy Ghost … it shall not be forgiven in this world or in the world to come.”
Jeremy Myers says
Did you even read the article? I wrote about Matthew 12:31-32 above.
Terry Zeyen says
Jeremy, where is my previous comment?
Terry Zeyen says
Sorry, I see it is under the full length article, thanks!
Hi there. Thank you 🙂 This answered my question. I have another though. What should I as a Christian do when people are blaspheming Jesus/God/The Holy Spirit? I tend to feel overwhelmed by anger as if my spirit could burst out of me. But I try my best to be calm and fight this evil with a scriptural response. What should I be doing?
Jeremy Myers says
How do you know they are blaspheming? I am just curious how you define it.
At the bare minimum, if it makes you uncomfortable, you could just walk away. Depending on who they are (do you know them personally?), and what they are saying, you could speak up, but that really depends on a lot of factors. God usually does not need our defense.
So the Holy Spirit will leave you alone forever just because you got mad at him?
Jeremy Myers says
Uh, no. That is what some people teach about the Holy Spirit, but not at all what I believe, or what is said in this post. I said exactly the opposite.
I read your statement, which I already knew that the only sin that God cannot forgive is when men with all his clear conscious reject the gift of salvation by his Creator. However, God is love and He will not give up in reaching the lost sheep until his or her last breath exhale.
What I’m saying is that not you or me knows that the Holy Spirit will give up in a person. The Holy Spirit will continue until the last breath of air comes out from the lungs. He doesn’t want for no one to perish, but to have eternal life.
Would you do the same for your children? I believe that you will. Then, how much more God for his children. We know that not many will believe, and God knows that…but no one knows the mysterious ways of how God works.
But I know this much…the job of the Holy Spirit is not about give up, but keep stirring the heart of the lost soul.
The Holy Spirit stop trying to convict the ones that rejects the gift of salvstion when they still alive? Please, show me the Scriptures where the work of the Holy Spirit stops. Even in the book of Revelation tells us that the Holy Spirit still present…even though that many will not want God, but still present His work.
I’m not a guru, but I know that God is full of mercy, Grace and love …until the end.
Jeremy Myers says
I completely agree with you. It sounds like you trying to correct me, but I do not believe that God ever gives up on a person. God never completely removes the presence of the Spirit from the world. I absolutely agree that God is full of mercy, grace, and love forever.
hi Jeremy I feel like GOD ABANDONED ME because blasphemed against HOLY SPIRIT CALLING HIM devil HOLY SPIRIT IN MY MIND…. DID GOD LEFT ME
Matthew 12:26 says If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand?
Matthew 12:28 says But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
Matthew 12:31says And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.
Jesus is talking to the Pharisees making them aware of the fact that they cannot acknowledge God and not Jesus and the Holy Spirit. That is blasphemy. You cannot divide God’s kingdom
You said: “This person knowingly and maliciously rejects and slanders the Holy Spirit for His efforts to bring them to salvation The result is that the Holy Spirit stops trying to convict them”. I think that is where GIOVANNI was coming from in his comment that you thought was trying to correct you.. If you believe the trinity is one then what you said was God gives up on us. No, No. But that is a whole new conversation.
I’m scared I committed it . I got mad at God because I asked him to give me a peace about something I was praying and I said very sarcasticly in a song I made up . “He didn’t lift me up when I was down . And I yelled at God and said I asked you to give me a measly peace and you didn’t do it for me . After that I felt like I had blasphemed the Holy Spirit and I was doomed forever . It haunted me for a long time .
Stella Godwin says
please I want to know if a pastor tells you that God wants you to sing for him in the choir and you don’t do it, is it blasphemy against the holy spirit? secondly if a pastor does a miracle and you call it fake, is it blasphemy against the holy spirit? please help it has been disturbing me.
Craig Giddens says
No. Your pastor isn’t God. He isn’t the Holy Spirit. He’s flesh and blood like you and me. His main responsibility is to pray, study, and preach and teach the word of God to help believers grow in the faith. He can, of his own accord, ask you to sing in the choir, but God isn’t going to tell him to tell you to sing in the choir. If you’re doing something clearly contrary to the teachings of the Bible, he (or any other believer) can point it out to you and recommend you turn away from it. Other than that something such as singing in the choir is your choice. If he’s one these people who goes around telling people God told him to tell you something then …. get out of that church!
David Roberts says
Blasphemy in this case is to speak out a direct pointed comment towards the Holy Spirit. As did the person in question in Mathew. To refer to Him as being that which the person in question did. You cannot rely on comparing it to scripture elsewhere by saying ” it was said elsewhere and Jesus didn’t reply to it with this answer. This meaning is taken from the context of his immediate reply, just as if you said to “what you do, you do because of you mother” my reply being, “you can insult me or my brother and be forgiven but insult my mother and you won’t ever be ( of course I’m a moral and would 🙂 because my mother is not the Holy Spirit ) if you said a pastor’s claimed miracle is fake ‘He isn’t the Holy Spirit’ remember Jesus being the son of God (no pastor has His status) said you can be forgiven if you blaspheme me. If you got angry with God that’s not good, seek forgiveness in Jesus name, but you weren’t directing an insult at the Holy Spirit. Hope this helps you, David 🙂
Is calling the Holy Spirit a name blashemy? Because I think I may have done it.
Craig Giddens says
Calling the Holy Spirit a name may have not been a nice thing to do, but its not blasphemy. If you’re saved, then you are indwelt and sealed by the Holy Spirit unto the day of redemption. God is not oversensitive and wishy-washy like man. He knows your heart and knows where you are in your spiritual growth. Everything He does in your life will be to make you grow deeper in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
A christian says
What about people from non christian religions? You seem to be under the false impression that firstly, ALL atheists end up becoming Christians. There are no religions that have been confirmed, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they are true. Secondly, you seem to think that the Holy Spirit “Speaks” to people. God does not say a word to people (In Judaism, God won’t speak to people, and he has Metatron do it for him.) How is the infidel supposed to believe the Holy Spirit is talking to them if it doesn’t speak to them literally vocally. And NO, you cannot say that all other religions are fake or lies from satan or some other prejudice, absurd, or arrogant hogwash. Also, I don’t know about you, but eventually, they will probably ask what will happen if they don’t believe, and your gonna have to tell them the truth. Either they won’t look at god favorably for the thought of Him throwing them in hell for simply not believing (I’m sure atheists can follow the seven heavenly virtues without being Christians) Or they will, and worship Him, for fear of Hell, and I don’t know if the bible has anything to say about that, but I can tell you that God may not take kindly to people believing out of pure fear, and an omniscient beings not going to fall for that. If you read about Pascal’s wager, you’d know about that. To sum up, the only real Unpardonable sin is taking the mark of the beast, and from the way you talk, you make it sound like people from non-christian religions should be pestered day and night with “BELIEVE IN GOD OR BURN IN HELL!” statements. If they don’t believe, then let them not believe. If they believe in some other deity, then you should respect their beliefs and leave them alone. Saying something on the line of “The Holy spirit is trying to speak to you (He isn’t. Not in a way that noticeably so you know the Christian isn’t just trying everything he can to get you to convert or your not being sent by one of THEIR evil beings to get you to stray them from their path.) is really weak, and all in all, it’s up to the individual to believe. Saying “ALL NON-CHRISTIANS ARE GOING TO BURN IN HELL” is not very intelligent and is arrogantly assuming your religion is correct over others. We don’t know the correct religion, and therefore, we can only hope the Deity/Deities that DO exist will be merciful.
I have just read your other post about real meaning of “salvation”.
Is this one here written before, from the old you-when you used these expressions like everyone else does, or after?
Kind of off topic the following question:
Do you know if the greek words used in the bible which are translated as “to believe” have another or broader meaning?
To me and many-in spite of believing in Jesus not out of fear but by experience-it sounds simply not like Jesus this obligation/condition/negotiation to believe to gain whatever.
Jeremy Myers says
Wow! Good catch. Yes, this one was written “before.” I wasn’t as careful back then about how I used the word “salvation.”
I am not sure what you are asking about “believe.” Sorry!
Hi! It always sounded bizarre to me and other folks Jesus oblige us to believe. Either you believe or you dont. Either you were convinced, it all made sense or not. If he says you have to, you either try just to garantee eternal life(out of fear) or you already believe in him. Either it is such good news you believe…or it is hard to believe but there is a serious threath to the unbeliever.
No sense to oblige someone to believe on something one knows it is good. Fantastic.
Specially it is the Holy Spirit that is behind you believing in Jesus.
I wonder if the word translated from greek in many passages of Bible as belief has different meanings like the two words both translated as “forgive”but they mean different things(u wrote about this) or if believe had a broader meaning in greek. I read pisteuo can mean believe but also transformation, fidelity, trust or maybe a better and more accurate one.
Anyway it seems you can have certain control on your fidelity…but not on your beliefs. And fidelity implies trust in the cause. It is more than belief.
Or maybe there are other possibilities.
Hope I was clear.
Even demons “believe”!!!
Maybe “believe” again doesnt express well. Demons “know” Jesus is who He is.
I think I committed the unpardonable sin because 3 weeks ago I often had a pressure on my heart to tell total strangers about Jesus but I was too afraid and ignored the Holy Spirit. Now I feel so empty. The holy spirit doesn’t convince me of my sins anymore. Is it to late for me? Please reply and pray for me. : (
If you feel emptiness in your heart , but still want forgiveness in fear of committing the unpardonable sin, can you still be forgiven?
Hhm. I think you have left out another possibility. Attributing the work of Satan to the Holy Spirit. For example, those who claim absolut determinism and say God also authors/causes the evil in this world for his glory.
Jeremy Myers says
I did mention that one. It is the fourth option mentioned above.
Ok. I didn’t read it quite that way. If I understood you correctly, your fourth point is this: calling something evil (from Satan) which is good (from the Holy Spirit). That, as you said, is a case of discernment and we should be “testing the Spirits”.
I was thinking of the opposite…Calling something good (from HS) which is unmistakably evil. It’s the claim that sin/evil is guided by the Holy Spirit because God has determined absolutely everything. It’s like God setting your house on fire and just before the house collapses he rescues you and says, “What a great God am I! I rescued you from the burning house! I deserve all the glory and praise!” Here God is the arsonist and the rescuer. It’s a house divided and seems to me claiming this comes very close to being unpardonable. But thank God, it’s up to a merciful and gracious God to determine what is unpardonable. In the end, it’s always about the heart. “For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks…For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matt 12:34b&37
So anyway, you make a really good case for your explanation for the Unpardonable Sin, just wanted to add my thoughts.
I’ve been struggling with this for the past couple of days, I had a lot of fear but I don’t feel to bad today but I just wanted to ask a question. I have OCD apparently and when I read the passage of the phraseees my mind just kept repeating those thoughts in my head, I don’t want to repeat it but it was regarding when Jesus was doing his miracles. I didn’t want them thoughts and it put me in a lot of fear leading to a couple of days of depression, heartbreak and feeling of being doomed, it was awful. At the time, I sort of new it wasn’t from my heart but since my mind kept thinking about it, it made me feel like I did mean it and that caused me more fear. I prayed a lot and feel a burden has been taken off my shoulders, more of a sense of peace. I’ve been reading a lot on how Jesus is holy to assure myself also. That has helped also because I’m still sort of new to the faith and before I read that passage I was still seeking assurance, I feel I’m still in the process. I feel since this has happened, I feel more in need of Jesus, I’m more aware of sin now, i feel more of a connection when praying and i just want Jesus. Do you think I’ve blasphemed the holy spirit, its caused a lot of fear in my life. I do feel better now due to prayer and talking to different people, but with OCD people tend to need more assurance. Please help me
I am literally going through the same experience as you and it is awful, just horrible, upsetting and you feel as if you’re hopeless and unforgiving. I love Jesus with all my heart but since reading about the unpardonable sin first in 2014, I’ve had thoughts similar to you and the Pharisees and have seen a lot of videos online about this Sin. According to those videos, I’ve done it and can’t escape for eternity, but then again there is the factor that those who commit cannot be brought back to repentance and hate Jesus, which neither you or I feel. We just have to cling onto that hope no matter what it takes, but it feels so much better to know that I’m not the only one who is going through this. Yes, I have OCD and doubt like there’s no tomorrow, and the more I read about our lord, the worse it seems to be.
Thank for the articles, so the sin is a person who keep saying no to Jesus that had reach a point where they are not able to come to God anymore. Can I ask if it able to tell if a person has reach the point in their life?
Sue Holt says
I feel if you truly and sincerely want to come back to God. He will not turn you away.because of the example in the bible of the prodigal son. His father welcomed him back with opened arms, put a rob on his back, a ring on his finger and threw a big party for him because his son who was dead in sin had come back to life again!! Praise God. Thats how our heavenly Father is. He wants us to return from our backsliding. Run to your heavenly Father and ask for forgivingness in the name of Jesus, and i believe you will find it His mercy is everlasting and He desires the salvation of all mankind
wmba dams says
what is necessary and sufficient to be saved. are there any time conditions or other contingencies that need to be included?
I’m kinda late to the game here but If I’m understanding the Holy Spirit correctly, He doesn’t convict us of sin but of righteousness. I believe He keeps trying to convince you of what you can have when you believe in Jesus and what He died to give you. Just to be brief…Jesus died to take all sin, and the consequences of sin, away. Past, present and future. Consequences are anything that causes destruction of our earthly bodies. The Holy Spirits role is to guide us into all truth, not make us feel guilty.
With that being said, I want to share something I read this morning by Graham Cooke: “We can live life from the inside out! In Christ we are not pursuing the Presence of God. We are in the Presence, and the Presence is in us. It is our awareness of Him that is increasing, therefore, we are hosting the Presence of God through the Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation that is enlightening us in all our situations. We can look for signs of Him. We see His footprint; we know His hand upon us. He never leaves us nor forsakes us. How do you seek Someone who never leaves you? You learn to look for Him with expectation of discovering His Presence.”
Have a blessed day “in” our Savior!
Christine Talley says
Thank you, Jeremy, for this writing. I’m a Christian who was lost for many years after I found my first husband hanging when I was pregnant with my first son. I tried to keep my faith but felt abandoned by God. I was also furious at God for many years until God brought me back to Him. I have even had fleeting thoughts of blasphemy that I immediately regretted. So, I have wondered if I had committed the unpardonable sin. Thank you for assuring me that God still holds me in the palm of His hand and that nothing can separate me from His love.