The "Unforgivable Sin": What to do if you think you have committed it
I know you are scared right now; You read Hebrews 10:26-31 and think that because you willfully went along with a sin, that you have lost your salvation. Or a blasphemous thought about the Holy Spirit entered your mind and you distinctly remember Matthew 12:31-32. You might be frightened because you backslid, and you came across 2 Peter 2:20-22 and are now in despair over it.
First of all: DO NOT PANIC. We will take you through this step by step; for right now, know that God has NOT abandoned you, nor disowned you:
"Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." (Hebrews 13:5, KJV, emphasis mine)
"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand." (John 10:28-29, NIV)
Pay special attention to John 10:28-29: "NO ONE can snatch them". YOU, being "SOMEONE", cannot remove yourself from God's hand. And no one else can remove you either.
"The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9, NIV, emphasis mine)
God IS NOT looking for a way to "kick you out of the program", or to boot you into hell. If He sent his son to die for us on the cross, does that mean he's then going to turn around and drop-kick us into hell at the slightest whim?
But you are asking yourself:"what about those verses I read? What about what they say? Doesn't that mean I've lost my salvation?" Once again, NO, And I'll explain why.
Let's take these one by one, and I'll show you what they mean:
"And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come." (NIV)
You see those verses, and assume it's a slam dunk: you are DONE.
Read the WHOLE section:
"When they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see. All the people were astonished and said, "Could this be the Son of David?" But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, "It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons." Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, "Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. 2If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand? And if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you."Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can rob his house. "He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters. And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come."
In reading this, we see that the Pharisees called Jesus "Beelzebub"; essentially, they were saying his power was of the devil. The Pharisees knew full well who Jesus was and what he was doing, but they rejected him and his message entirely, preferring their own self righteousness. Now, how do you blaspheme a spirit?
Jesus gives us that answer: the same manner as you would worship God:
"God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth" -John 4:24, NIV
If the Holy Spirit is God, and God must be worshipped in spirit, then the only way to blaspheme the Holy Spirit is IN SPIRIT. And that means your HEART.
The Pharisees had PERMANENTLY hardened their hearts to Jesus' message, and thus the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Because of this, they had committed the unforgivable sin, and they could have cared less. This is why if you are scared you committed it, then you HAVEN'T: because the person who commits the unforgivable sin DOESN'T CARE THAT THEY DID!!!
2 Peter 2:20-22:
"If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. Of them the proverbs are true: "A dog returns to its vomit," and, "A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud." (NIV)
Once again, we need to read the WHOLE passage:
"These men are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity-for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him. If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. Of them the proverbs are true: "A dog returns to its vomit," and, "A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud."
If you read the whole chapter until verse 22 and pay attention to WHOM the chapter is talking about, it is :"But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you." (2 Peter 2:1) it is referring to false teachers who are deliberately using scripture to lead people astray. Reading the beginning of the chapter even further, it is speaking of THEIR destruction:
"But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them-bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping. " (2 Peter 2:1-3 NIV)
We HAVE to be careful that we don't "cherry pick" verses, or we lose much of the meaning, and in this case, DANGEROUSLY so. God wasn't talking about his children in this passage, but those wolves in sheep's clothing, whom know the truth yet lead astray those that seek the Lord. God is promising them that they will dearly wish they hadn't. (See Matthew 18:6-7 for further details.)
"It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, 6if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. " (NIV)
Once again, we need to read the WHOLE passage for CONTEXT:
"Wherefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so. It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned. Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are confident of better things in your case-things that accompany salvation. God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised."
The "falling away" mentioned here is a deliberate, final renouncement of Christ. This is what the Pharisees did in Matthew 12:31-32. Believers not only TASTE the goodness of the word of God, THEY DRINK IT IN. There is a major difference between those that simply sample what god has offered, and those that partake in FULL. The humbled sinner who is begging for mercy is a FAR CRY from this, and is NOT subject to these verses. If you're scared you have committed the unforgivable sin by backsliding, you haven't. This is talking about a complete "about face" that no one who is scared they have committed this sin could ever do.
"If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," and again, "The Lord will judge his people." It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." (NIV)
These verses, along with Matthew 12:31-32, seem to be the MOTHER of all "unforgivable sin" misunderstandings. By now you'll notice a common theme: deliberate, wholehearted rejection of the Lord and his mercy. All sin is done essentially willfully; that being said, this is a deliberate "in your face" to the Lord. You would be telling him in this that you no longer want anything to do with him for ALL ETERNITY. These are people who are committing an ultimate act of rejection against the Lord: they know the truth, yet they defiantly continue on in their SIN, and relish it. they have NO SORROW.
And you do have sorrow; this means these verses ARE NOT TALKING ABOUT YOU.
1 John 5:16
"If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, he should pray and God will give him life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that he should pray about that." (NIV)
Our final example here is equally misunderstood. Many assume that because it speaks of a "brother" and "a sin unto death", that it means a brother in Christ can commit the unforgivable sin. If we look at the example of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5, God does punish with death when he deems it appropriate. But taking it in the case of the Unforgivable Sin, the clue here is that we are told not to pray for it. Just as God cannot grant mercy for someone who has utterly and finally rejected him, it wouldn't so us any good to pray for such a person. Once a person's heart has turned to solid rock as it were, they are set.
Putting it all together:
I think by now, you have seen the common thread that binds all these verses together a deliberate, final, willful rejection of the lord's mercy and grace. And the reason why that, if you are afraid that you have committed the unforgivable sin, that you haven't. Simply put: the reason the unforgivable sin is unforgivable is BECAUSE THE PERSON WHO COMMITS IT DOESN'T WANT FORGIVENESS!!!
So, if you are agonizing over this, STOP RIGHT NOW. NONE of the previously examined verses are referring to you; God is talking about those that have "flipped him off" and want nothing more to do with him. If you WANT forgiveness, you are BY NO MEANS BEYOND IT.
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9, NIV)
"My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense-Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world." (1 John 2:1, NIV)
Right now, Go to the Lord in prayer. Ignore the voice in your head that's telling you you can't. Don't pay that any heed; that's the Adversary trying to keep you down and defeated...Just go to God the Father, confess your sin to him and ask him to forgive you. He's not going to get mad at you, nor will he throw you out:
"All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day." (John 6: 37-39, KJV)
If you happen to be reading this and are unsaved, this also applies to you; there is NO sin that, if you truly want to turn from it and turn to God through his son Jesus Christ, cannot be forgiven.
"That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Romans 10:9-13, KJV)
I apologize for this being so long, but I had quite a bit to say, I pray that this message reaches those that are frightened, and offers them some comfort and hope. I have been there, and i have felt the horror and dread of this.
I bid you peace.