Have You Committed the Unforgiveable Sin?

Nearly every Christian in a position of leadership has had someone ask them about the “unforgivable” or “unpardonable” sin. The question involves the story in the New Testament when Jesus said that anyone who blasphemes the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven “either in this age or in the age to come.” (Matthew 12:22-32) It appears a lot of people worry that they may have committed this sin and that they now have no hope of heaven.

Shall I explain what it means?

Nope. Decided not to unless someone asks…

BUT I have a passage to share here that is much easier to understand, and that says much the same thing, that apparently doesn’t worry anybody much. Personally, I find it much scarier, if you think in terms of actions that prevent forgiveness.

What passage? It comes right afterthe model prayer that Jesus gave us in Matthew 6:7-12.  After teaching us to pray for forgiveness “as we also forgive” those who sinned against us, He followed the modeled prayer with only one bit of teaching. He said, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (verses 14 & 15)

Did He, in fact, teach about an unforgivable or unpardonable sin in this passage? You might like the terminology unforgiven or unpardoned better, but the point is the same. Though He didn’t throw in the “in this age or the age to come” line, He gave the same consequence here that He gave for that of blaspheming the Holy Spirit: He said “will not be forgiven” in the HS teaching and “will not forgive” in the forgiveness teaching. You might want to argue verb tenses, but the message is the same. God will not forgive a person who blasphemes the Holy Spirit and He will not forgive a person who does not forgive those who sinned against her.

If I were explaining the Holy Spirit teaching,  I would point out to you that I do not believe that you can commit that sin today as they did back then. I also believe that the reason that they would not be forgiven is because they knew what they were doing was wrong and stubbornly stuck to it anyway. Similarly, those who refuse to forgive those who hurt them are people who typically know it is wrong to live with a spirit of unforgiveness, and that if they cling to it, that unforgiveness gives birth to anger, rage, and bitterness. Real bitterness. Potentially life-long bitterness.

According to the scripture, as long as they hold that hardhearted resentment and unforgiving spirit toward any human, God will not bestow the blessing of forgiveness on them. Why? The better question would be, “Why would He forgive someone who refuses to forgive?” If we cannot show mercy and grace to another, we certainly have no right do demand mercy and grace from Him. Besides, we wouldn’t have an appreication for, or any level of understanding of, what being forgiven means if we have not forgiven those who sin against us.  How can we comprehend something that we have never experienced?

1. To experience forgiveness, one must practice forgiveness. That gives us a glimpse into the heart of God who can forgive in spite of all the pain we cause Him.

2. To experience forgiveness, one must accept forgiveness. The only way to believe we have received it is to have experienced giving it to someone who hurt us deeply. Only then in our deepest hearts can we truly believe that we can be forgiven for what we have done. As long as we cannot or do not forgive, we hold deep within us the belief that neither can anyone forgive us. If we see it as impossible for us to do, we see it as impossible for anyone to do. Even God.

If you fear you may have committed the unpardonable sin, here’s the best suggestion you’ll hear: Forgive others so that you can KNOW that God forgives you. With that knowledge, the emotions will eventually follow. Not only will you lose your resentment or bitterness toward others, you will receive in your own heart the peace of knowing that no matter what you have done, you ARE forgiven.

And all others who have learned to forgive will understand and rejoice in your freedom and fullness. And all others who do not forgive, will be angered and resent that you have freedom and fullness.

Do not live under their curse.

Live free.

Forgive.

(For more, see previous blogs about forgiveness and reconciliation.)

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2 Comments

  1. Connie Erisman

    Joe you are right on about forgiveness. I attended one of your New Beginnings for marriage in crisis about 7 years ago. It was the most amazing work shop I have ever been to. My husband at the time would not commit to working on our marriage as he was engaged in an affair. I remained open for reconciliation for nearly two years but he was committed to her and I began the healing process through divorce care and counseling. I talked with you on one occassion and you prayed with me…
    Even though our marriage wasnt saved I have reccomended and sent several couples to other New Beginnings weekends over the years.
    I hated the mistress for a long time and prayed over and over to forgive. I had never hated before.
    I love sharing the bible with others and God brought across my path a woman who walked through our church doors. I exchanged numbers with her and she kept contacting me with many problems and I felt too weak with my own situation to help her. But God persisted. As we sat across from each other starting our first bible study, she confessed to me former drug addiction, prostitution and purposely going after an attractive preacher who was married with small children at her parents church.
    My husbands mistress pursued him fervantly…as she poured out her heart to me I wept and said silently to God.
    I am the wrong person to study with her God. What were you thinking??? Almost angry with God I asked others to study with this woman of the world whos issues were too close to home.
    She latched onto me and kept reaching out. I had compassion for her, fell in love with her spirit, continued to study with her and saw her as desperately needing our Lord.
    God knew exactly what I needed. My relationship with this visitor to our church was the first step of my journey to forgiving the mistress.
    I kept feeling called to study with the mistress…was I crazy???? I fought God, argued with Him, begged for someone else to do it. I consulted with my new male friend who would soon become my husband. He feared for my vulnerability but he soon told me that if I was feeling led by God to do it then I should listen to God!
    My exhusband very much wanted me to do this. I told no one at first as I must be crazy and what might they think??? I did later recieve persecution for studying with her.
    As the mistress and I sat across the kitchen table from her for the first time in my old house that my ex and I had designed and built and lived in for many years, I knew that i was supposed to be at this place, at this time for such a time as this! I felt an overwhelming peace as this woman wept and expressed sorrow for the pain she had caused my family. She loved my ex and wanted a life with him and she couldnt believe I was doing this and she expressed gratitude. She seemed to genuinly desire to understand God and his word.
    She was baptised into Christ a few months later and God had completed a work in me. He had answered my prayers to help me forgive! Because He knew I NEEDED it! I understood for the first time why it was so important to God for us to forgive. We cannot experience His peace without it! The bitter root not only robs us of His joy, but it slowly can steal our sanity, our concentration, our effetiveness in His kingdom, our ability to function in general.
    I was released, I was set free to pursue a new life with a most amazing man who lost his wife to death at an early age. We share Gods work, my children adore him, two grown, and one teen at home and I adore his two grown boys.
    The mistress and I went our own way, I knew my task was done and God would do the growing. I was not meant to be her best friend. I could not do that but by following Gods tug on my heart He saved me…and her.
    Thank you for all you do for marriages. I still believe in marriage and praise God for all I have learned. I would not wish what happened to me on anyone but I am thankful for the ways I watched God work, for the wisdom I gained, and for the life lessons I learned about forgiveness.
    God is AMAZING!

    Reply
  2. admin0

    Yes, God is amazing. So are you.

    Family Dynamics continues to do A New Beginning. I now do an advanced version that I think you would find even more powerful. Feel free to refer couples to it, if you wish. It’s called LovePath 911 and people can find out about it at http://www.MarriageHelper.com.

    May God bless you bountifully.

    Joe

    Reply

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