The Unpardonable Sin: Part 1

Scripture: Matthew 12:31, Mark 3:28, Luke 12:10
Date: 07/16/2005 
The topic of the unpardonable sin has good news and bad news. Since the Holy Spirit is the agency by which we receive the teaching of Scripture, so to refuse the convicting work of the Spirit closes us off from receiving salvation.
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Note: This is an unedited, verbatim transcript of the live broadcast.

“He that is not with Me is against Me, and he that gathereth not with Me scattereth abroad. Wherefore I say unto you, all manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men, but the blasphemy of the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh the word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him, but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world neither in the world to come.”

--Matthew 12:30-32

You know as our family are making their way back to their seats I just wanted to add my word of appreciation to the ASI young people that are doing these meetings and to encourage the members here if you have not yet been to one of the ASI meetings I hope that you will come out and support the good work they’re doing. Here this time of year when we’re having a heat wave to be coming out twice a night and to be sharing the gospel it’s inspiring. I went to visit some of the rooms where they’re helping take care of the children. You know most of our Sabbath School rooms have no air conditioning. And I’ve been to third world countries that had it easier so they are really dedicated and I sure appreciate what they’re doing. Young people that get involved in bringing others to Jesus are the ones that stay with the Lord. Can you say amen? And so I hope you’ll support them in what they’re doing at least with your prayers and for those who are coming and making decisions.

Before I open the Bible with you it occurred to me I didn’t say anything to you about the General Conference meeting. Probably oh fifteen, twenty people that are here may have been with us. I saw a lot of our church family and some of the Amazing Facts team, but you know we spent about ten days in St. Louis. For those who may not know, once every five years in the Seventh-day Adventist Church we gather together for what they call a General Conference and it’s something of a convocation where we report on the way the Lord has led. I think we’re right now at what? Twenty-two million members. Something like that. Baptizing thousands virtually every day and the churches are growing exponentially. It’s very inspiring especially the way the Lord is pouring out His Spirit in Central and South America, India, Africa. It is phenomenal. But what I especially wanted you to know was there as Karen and I and the boys walked around through the week there were between sixty and seventy thousand one report said Seventh-day Adventists that came and went. I think I stopped and posed with every one of them for a picture and the reason I tell you that, at the end of the day my face! I couldn’t smile. They’re watching the programs and they’re watching the Sabbath School, the church services, the other evangelistic programs. It is so encouraging to think that we’re having that kind of impact all over the world. And what was so much fun is people would come up to you. See they translate these programs in several languages. And folks would come up and they’d start jabbering in Russian, bless they’re hearts, and I’d just pick up a word every now and then. “Da da da TV! da da da program!” I’d say wow this is wonderful! They’re watching in Russian. Or they’d do this in Spanish or Portuguese and so it was very, very encouraging and we send your greetings from the world field. Some inspiring things happened and we wish you could have all been there. Next meeting is in Atlanta, 2010. God forbid we’re still here in 2010, right? But just in case you better book your flights now.

The message I’m going to share with you this morning is a difficult one. Matter of fact, I’ve thought about this several times over the last several years here with you and I’ve postponed because it’s a heavy subject. It’s the subject of the unpardonable sin. But the Lord’s been working on my heart and saying, “Doug, it’s in My Word. It’s an important subject.” And I thought you know I need to address it and because it is so important and the Bible deals with it so frequently that I think I’m going to need two messages, this week and next week, to talk about that. Now there’s good news and bad news connected with this subject. It’s like the pilot flying across the Pacific with a plane load of people and his instruments went out and he came over the loudspeaker and he said, “I’ve got some good news and some bad news. I’ll start with the bad news. We’re hopelessly lost. All our navigation equipment has gone out. The good news is, we’re making excellent time.” With the subject of the unpardonable sin there’s good news and there’s bad news. One reason I’m dealing with this, you would be surprised… maybe not, how frequently people write our office or we get questions on the radio program or in evangelistic meetings. You know what their question is? “I am concerned, I’m worried. I think I may have committed the unpardonable sin. What hope can you give me?” And you know my heart breaks for these people because in most cases the ones who are worrying about committing the unpardonable sin haven’t committed it. Maybe not in every case. I think Judas knew he had committed it. But in most cases the Holy Spirit is working on their hearts and it maybe it seems that the Lord has grown silent. And so I thought it would be very important for us to talk about this; and then the other thing to consider we need to be on our guard and examine ourselves lest we’re in danger of committing a sin that cannot be forgiven. The most dangerous issue is to commit a sin… I looked in my Bible and it troubled me to even type it into my computer “shall not be forgiven”. Those are troubling words. No forgiveness. Well, you find the phrase regarding the unpardonable sin three times. You might turn in your Bibles. One of them was in our scripture reading. I’ll repeat that Matthew 12:31 and I will try to intersperse the good news with the bad news as we go through this very important subject. Matthew 12:31, “Wherefore I say unto you,” Jesus said, “all manner…” now that’s the good news. “All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men.” I’m so thankful that the Lord is a God who forgives “all manner of sin and blasphemy,” but here’s where the bad news is. It’s scary. “…the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit shall not be forgiven unto men. Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man it’ll be forgiven him.” Right after they crucified Jesus and they were cursing Him, He said, “Father, forgive them.” “…but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Spirit (Holy Ghost) it shall not be forgiven him neither in this world neither in the world to come.” Even in the Judgment Day, the resurrection, there’s no forgiveness there either. No forgiveness. And then again you find a similar passage in Mark 3:28 (if you want to write these down). I think it’s on the screen here. “Assuredly I say unto you all sins will be forgiven the sons of men and whatever blasphemies they may utter…” God is so merciful. “‘…but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness but is subject to eternal condemnation’ because they said ‘He has an unclean spirit.’” I’ll get back to that in a minute. And then in Luke 12:10 here in this gospel you’ll find, “And anyone who speaks against the Son of Man it will be forgiven him but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit it will not be forgiven.” Now whenever people hear about the unpardonable sin… Some people just hear that phrase out of context and they try to conjure up in their minds what is the worst sin a person can commit and folks get very creative. And they think murder, maybe it’s suicide or maybe it’s child molesting or infanticide, killing children and they go through this litany of sins, and I’ve had people tell me you know when I preach my sermon on baptism of the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues, a lot of people misunderstand speaking in tongues, and when I speak against the most common misunderstanding regarding the use of tongues some people come up and they say, “Pastor Doug, you’re speaking against the Holy Spirit. You are committing the unpardonable sin.” Got a letter this week. Pray for Amazing Facts. We try to walk a thin line between preaching the straight message and still not offending people so that we lose our television time. We’ve been on the Inspiration Network for years. Got a letter this week and they cancelled our program and in their letter they said why they cancelled it. They said, “Some of your messages dealing with the gift of tongues offend our viewers and therefore we’re canceling your program on the Inspiration Network.” But that hurts, you know, when you hear things like that, but I’m not going to stop preaching the truth. I want to do it gracefully, but that is not blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. If people disagree on what the gift of tongues is and what the baptism of the Spirit is that’s not blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. What, first of all we ought to talk about what is blasphemy because it specifically says in all three verses we just read it is not just sin, not just sin against the Holy Spirit, it says blasphemy, blasphemy, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. What is blasphemy? According to the dictionary and this is the American Heritage Dictionary, “a) it is a contemptuous or profane act, utterance or writing concerning God or a sacred entity; b)” Now this is the one I especially want you to underscore, this part of the definition of blasphemy. “the act of claiming for oneself the attributes and rights of God.” I think this is closer to the definition we’re looking for in blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. “The act of claiming for oneself the attributes and rights of God.” And if you didn’t like the dictionary definition then let the Bible define itself. When you look in the Bible some examples of blasphemy are cited. You look in John 10:33. At one point the Jews wanted to stone Jesus. “And they answered and said to Him, ‘For a good work we’re not stoning you, but for blasphemy because You being a Man make Yourself God.’” Man putting himself in the place of God is a Bible definition for blasphemy. Did that make sense? If that’s not good enough go to Luke 5:21. In the mouth of two witnesses I want it to be established. Bible definition. “The scribes and Pharisees began to reason saying, ‘Who is this that speaks blasphemy?’” See, Jesus had said He could forgive the sins of this paralytic. And they said, “Who is this that speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sin but God alone?” So one of the definitions biblically for blasphemy is putting yourself in the place of God. In other words saying what you think is more important than what God says. Isn’t that putting yourself in the place of God? Some people maybe haven’t considered they’re at risk committing the unpardonable sin because they are taking the prerogatives of God. They’re making themselves their own God. They’re not listening to the word of God. They’re saying, “What I think and my reasoning is more important than the clear statements of God.” A man putting himself in the place of God. Taking the place of the third Person of the Godhead the Holy Spirit. Now if God can forgive sins against the Father; there are those who have cursed God and they’ve been converted. We know that people cursed Jesus that were later forgiven and converted. Paul tried to kill Christians and he was converted, but why is it that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit? If there is a varying authority among the godhead of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit it’s usually the Father seems to be the supreme authority. They’re all God, don’t misunderstand. But it seems that the Father is the One who delegates to the Son the work of judgment and creation and the Son is constantly acknowledging the authority of the Father and then the Holy Spirit is serving the Father and the Son so if there was varying steps of authority you’d have the Father. You would think that the Bible would say whoever speaks against the Father cannot be forgiven or at least the Son who came and demonstrated who God is. Why the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the godhead? I’ll tell you why. When you understand the work of the Spirit to blaspheme the Holy Spirit is a sin that cannot be forgiven because it is the Holy Spirit is the agency by which we obtain forgiveness. John chapter 14, verse 26, what is the work of the Spirit? Jesus said, “But the Helper the Holy Spirit will teach you all things.” So to blaspheme the Holy Spirit is to reject the teaching of the Holy Spirit. And again John 16:8, what is the work of the Holy Spirit? “And when He has come He will convict the world of sin.” To refuse, to reject, to harden and steel yourself against the convicting influence of the Spirit… Is it good to be convicted? I mean if you are standing in a spot that is beginning to catch on fire and your nerves are telling you to run but you ignore that pain you’re going to burn. And sometimes pain is a healthy thing if it helps you preserve your life. And the conviction of the Holy Spirit is what led the men to say to Peter, “What must we do to be saved?” They were convicted and so that’s a healthy thing. If you’ve got a child or a son or a daughter and they’re cursing and lying and they have no compunction about it, doesn’t bother them, would that worry you as a parent? Don’t you want their conscience to bother them about doing wrong? Do you want your children to feel good about doing bad or do you want them to be troubled? Isn’t it an encouraging thing for a parent when their child feels remorse about doing wrong? That’s a sign of growth but when they’re calloused and they don’t have any conviction that’s very dangerous. That’s when you become stubborn and hard-hearted and it requires a miracle of grace to break that shell. That’s what destroyed the pharaoh, would you agree? Hardened his heart. He would not acknowledge that he was wrong. Then again the work of the Holy Spirit, John 16:13, “When He the Spirit of Truth is come, He will guide you.” The Spirit leads us. He guides us. So He teaches us, He convicts us, He guides us and that’s just for starters. In order for us to obtain forgiveness what has to happen? I John 1:9, “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from” how much? all sins, all unrighteousness, all blasphemies. But what must happen? We must first repent and confess. What brings about that repentance and confession? The Holy Spirit. So blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is rejecting and refusing to respond to the leading, the teaching, the conviction of the Holy Spirit. It is closing the only door through which we obtain forgiveness. That’s why it’s the sin that cannot be forgiven. It’s the sin for which we will not repent and confess. Did that make sense? What is the unpardonable sin? I want you to go back with me to Matthew chapter 12 and look more carefully at the context of this verse and you find it best here in Matthew chapter twelve. Go to verse 22, here’s the context in which Jesus makes this statement. “Then one was brought to Him who was demon possessed, blind and mute.” This person is in bad shape. They’re blind, they can’t speak, they’re demon possessed. “And He healed him so that the blind and the mute man both spoke and he saw” and the demon is cast out and the multitudes were amazed and the people said, “Is this the Messiah, the Son of David?” Why would they say that? The evidence was overwhelming that He had the power of God against the devil to liberate this young man. He was healed. His sight was restored; his speech was restored. But when the Pharisees heard it they said, “This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub the ruler of demons.” Now that’s a very dangerous thing to see the obvious evidence of the working of God’s Spirit in power of the Spirit and to call that which is obviously the working of God the working of the devil. That’s blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. They were denying the influence of the Holy Spirit. Can you see that? That’s why just a little further down Jesus says, verse 25, Jesus knew their thoughts and said, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation and every city or house divided against itself will not stand, and if Satan casts out Satan he’s divided against himself how will his kingdom stand? And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub by whom then do your sons cast them out? Therefore they’ll be your judges. But if I’m casting out demons by…” what? You got your Bibles open? “…the Spirit of God.” They were refusing to acknowledge the obvious demonstration of God’s Spirit. The kingdom of God is come to you. Don’t reject it, don’t deny it, don’t mislabel it. How can someone enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods unless first he binds the strong man and then he’ll plunder his house. “He who isn’t with Me is against Me and he who gathers not with Me scatters.” He was telling the Pharisees if you’re not recognizing this as the power of God then you will be filled with the power of the devil. That’s why He says next, “Therefore I say every sin and blasphemy that men might commit against us will be forgiven but blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. This is the context in which Jesus makes that statement. They refused to recognize the work of the Holy Spirit. They rejected and refused to acknowledge the work of the Holy Spirit and if you and I refuse to acknowledge and recognize the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives we are at risk of committing the unpardonable sin. Now this is sometimes understood as spurning the Spirit. There are typically three ways you can think of a person might commit the unpardonable sin. Of course you’ve got the obvious person, when they hear the Spirit calling them and they are invited to surrender their lives they just say, “No! Not interested! Absolute no. I’m going to live for the world and I will refuse to even consider there might be a Holy Spirit and acknowledge the existence of God. I’m going my own way.” Just total rejection. Then you’ve got the second category and that’s the person who says, “I think that may be true and I probably ought to do something about that and I feel the Holy Spirit and I feel some conviction and I should be forgiven but now is not a good time.” They procrastinate. That’s a very big category and I’ll talk more about that later. But the third group is the one most people don’t really think about which is really the biggest group by far. It’s the group who says, “Yes, I believe in God and I want to be saved and I will come to Jesus and I will become part of the church,” but they don’t make a complete surrender. Keep in mind Jesus said there’s two groups in the last days. They both claim to be religious. The few that find the straight gate, they enter in, they are saved but then He says, “There’s many…” Now how do the many respond to Jesus in the judgment? They say, “Lord, Lord.” Jesus says, “Many will come to Me.” That’s a big group. And they say, “We went to church.” I’m paraphrasing. “We taught in Your streets. We cast out devils. We did many wonderful works.” Didn’t the sons of the Pharisees cast out devils? Didn’t Jesus just say that? Did you catch that there in Matthew 12? He said, “By whom do your sons cast them out?” They were involved in exorcisms, casting out devils, doing what appeared to be many wonderful works, but they weren’t doing it in the power of the Spirit. They went through all the motions of religion, but they did it in human devising. It was not a Spirit filled religion. God doesn’t have people saved where He’s got those that are partially committed, those that are three quarters committed, those that are 100% committed and they’re all saved. There’s only one group. Those who are a hundred percent committed. He wants us to make a total surrender. And the churches are often filled with people who have enough religion to give them a false sense of security but they really are not surrendered to Christ. He is not living out his life in Him. Now I don’t want to discourage you, friends, but I need to be faithful. There’s a lot of examples in the Bible and probably not today, maybe next Sabbath we’ll talk about some of the examples where the Bible tells us those who made the deadly mistake of procrastinating and others who were self-deceived. They spurned the Spirit. Now let’s give you a few. Acts 7:51, here Peter says, “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, you do always resist the Holy Ghost.” So one of the ways that people can commit the unpardonable sin is they’re resisting the work of the Spirit in their lives. I’ve done it. So have you. God’s Spirit brings conviction, He guides us and it’s uncomfortable, and you resist it and if you continue to resist the working of God’s Spirit in your life it can become very dangerous. It can reach a point of no return and that’s when it’s really serious. Ephesians 4:30, here the apostle says, “And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God whereby you are sealed unto the day of redemption.” If we grieve away the Holy Spirit we can be destroying the Person of the godhead that fills us and prepares us for the return of the Lord and to dwell among angels. Is there going to be anybody living in the New Earth that is not Spirit filled? There’s only two spirits. It’s the Spirit of God and the spirit of the enemy. And so if we’re going to be Spirit filled do we pray that that happens after Jesus comes? Or is that supposed to happen before He comes? Do we have evidence in the Bible that God can fill people with His Spirit here in this life? Aren’t we commanded to be Spirit filled? Isn’t this what the Lord did? He said, “Wait in Jerusalem and I will send the Holy Spirit.” We need the filling of the Spirit now especially with all the work that God has to do in the world. He needs Spirit filled people doing His work and if we resist the working of the Spirit or grieve the Holy Spirit, Hebrews 10:29, very serious, “Of how much sore punishment suppose ye shall he be thought worthy who has trodden under foot the Son of God and has counted the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified an unholy thing and has done to spite… has done to spite to the Spirit of Grace.” It’s God’s Spirit of Grace that pleads with our hearts and to refuse, to reject, to push that Spirit away is a very dangerous thing. And I think many of us in the church, we toy with the Holy Spirit and you know what ends up happening… You know a few years ago I remember when I went to military school I had trouble getting up. We had to wake up early. And I had one of those Wesclock wind up alarm clocks and I had one that actually still had the little bells inside. I remember I took it apart one day and this little thing would vibrate when the alarm went off between two little bells and it was the most obnoxious annoying sound you could ever hear and it would wake you up. And I, before I went to sleep at military school I’d wind up my clock and I could hear it ticking very loud all night long. Anyone remember those little plastic Wesclock clocks wind up? And you either had to get up or throw it out the window because you couldn’t press a snooze button. You all know what a snooze button is? It did not have a snooze button. It had a clicker where I could turn it off, but it wouldn’t go back on again. If I turned that alarm clock off I might not get up again and that would scare me, and so when it went off I had to either get up or reset it for another time which by that time if you had went through all that you may as well just get up because it took too much concentration. But then they came up with these digital alarm clocks that have something called the snooze button. We all know about the snooze button. All the hotels I go to they got alarm clocks and they all have a snooze button. Now I almost never use an alarm clock. Karen, that’s not true, she sets it for me every now and then. On Tuesdays she sets the alarm for me. She asked me last night, “Do you need the alarm to wake?” I said, “No, I’ll wake up.” I’m pretty good about that. Tuesdays I have to wake up a little earlier because I have to get to Amazing Facts for worship on Tuesdays and that means I need more time for study so I wake up early. But, Karen, do I ever press the snooze button? No, I don’t ever press the snooze button because that’s bad practice. Karen does. But usually when she presses the snooze button she knows I’m up as a sort of a backup system. And the kids are another backup system. She’s got lots of backup systems to get her up. But I’ve stayed in hotel rooms where you have the paper thin walls and I know someone’s in the room next to me because when I go to bed at night I hear them making noise or I hear their TV blaring and then I the next morning I’ll hear their alarm go off. It’s just a constant buzz and then you can hear a slap and it gets quiet. Five minutes later buzz and then a slap. Five minutes later buzz slap! Now that’s happened and then I’ve had where I know there’s someone in the room because I’ve heard them there and in the morning I wake up because I hear the alarm but it’s not my alarm, it’s their alarm and they don’t wake up. I can only surmise that they have pressed the snooze button so many times that they just don’t hear it anymore. Are you with me? And I think this is how a lot of people commit the unpardonable sin. The Holy Spirit comes and you know it is especially true that when a person has that first love and they first come to Jesus and they’re baptized they want to do whatever God asks. They’re willing to make any sacrifice. They will lay aside their sins. They want deliverance. They want the Spirit filled life they are so grateful for what Jesus has done they want to go all the way. You know what I mean? They’ve got that first love and sometimes people in the church will notice their enthusiasm, they say, “Don’t worry. You’ll calm down eventually.” That’s unfortunately often true. After they come for a while both by experience and maybe observing the Laodicean attitudes of those around them they think, “Well maybe my, maybe my interpretation was wrong. Maybe it isn’t really necessary to turn from sin and follow the Lord with all my heart. Maybe it’s sort of a veneer that we’re supposed to have that gives us our security.” And the fire starts to go cold. They lose that first love. And you’ll notice often ten, fifteen, twenty years after a person is baptized… And I’ve now been in the church long enough to see people that I brought to the Lord thirty years ago and where they’re at now. And I know how on fire they were and how consecrated they were and how Jesus was the center of their life but then they get “churchified” and they have still enough conviction to get there once or twice a week, but that’s about enough. They don’t have enough to get them to heaven and they’ve lost that first love. It doesn’t happen overnight. It happens in little degrees. This is the largest group that I think we need to consider of those who little by little they hit the snooze button. And when they first came to the Lord, you know, they had this sin that was bothering them and they wanted to get victory, maybe they had it for a while but they slid back and then they, the Lord continued to labor with them and God is so merciful. Sometimes we presume on His mercy, we misunderstand His mercy as indulgence and because maybe they fall and God forgives them and then they fall again and God forgives them instead of staying in the forgiven relationship with the Lord and following Him they get comfortable in the lost condition and they think, “Well, maybe I misunderstood. Maybe instead of Jesus coming to save us from our sins what it really means is He saves us with our sins.” And they adjust their theology. They still go through all the motions, but they lose their first love. And that sin that once bothered them twenty years later they still got it but it doesn’t bother them anymore. They don’t hear the alarm anymore. They’ve pressed the snooze button so many times. It’s like a person who lives by the airport. You go visit them and you hear the jets roar over the end of the runway and you think, “How did they live here?” Everything is shaking on the shelves and the jets roaring overhead, they don’t even notice it, do they? They just get used to it. it’s hard for us to imagine but that’s the way it is with sin if we’re not careful. From the book Amazing Grace page 215, “Whatever the sin, if the soul repents and believes” whatever the sin “the guilt is washed away in the blood of Christ but he who rejects the work of the Holy Spirit is placing himself where repentance and faith cannot come to him. It is by the Spirit of God and His work upon the heart that men are saved. When men willfully reject the Spirit and declare it to be from Satan they cut of the channel by which God communicates with them. When the Spirit is finally rejected there is no more God can do for that soul.” The unpardonable sin is never forgiven because it is never confessed and repented of. You notice it says, “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just.” We must be willing to confess and repent. And don’t forget the other verse. It says, “Whoever confesses and forsakes…” Now there are three aspects to salvation. God wants to save us from the penalty of sin, the power of sin, and the presence of sin. That may happen in steps. Notice. The penalty of sin is Egypt. That’s justification. That’s the courtyard. That’s where you first come to Jesus just like you are. He accepts you just like you are. He saves you from the penalty of sin. Then you move into the wilderness. You move into the Holy Place and He begins to wash you. Don’t forget the last thing that happens when you leave the courtyard is the laver, the Red Sea, when you come out of Egypt you’re washed, baptism. Now you’re going through a process of sanctification. He’s saving you from the power of sin that controls you. God wants to save you from the power of sin and those who think that He saves us just from the penalty and they park there and they let the power of sin control their lives, the Bible doesn’t teach that, friends. That’s a dangerous thing to believe. I believe God has the power to save us from our sins. How many of you have experienced victory from any sin? It might have been drugs or drinking or alcohol or cursing or immorality or anything. If He saved you from that sin He can save you from any sin. And to deny the power of God to save you from sin is in effect saying that the devil is more powerful than God. Yes, I believe the devil can tempt you to sin, but I don’t believe God can keep me from temptation. How can the Lord save someone from that attitude. And then of course the third. Penalty of sin, power of sin, presence of sin, that’s justification. That’s when ultimately we’re in the Holy of Holies, we’re in heaven and there’s no more sin anymore, right? We’re saved from the very presence of sin. Penalty of sin, justification. Power of sin, sanctification. The presence of sin is glorification. He can save you in all three categories. Why does God save us? For what purpose? You come to Jesus in the great invitation. Anybody can come no matter what their sins are He’ll save you, He’ll justify you, then He sanctifies you when He sends you out. You come to Jesus in the great invitation then you go for Him in the great commission. He expects there to be the fruit of salvation in our lives. What is the fruit of the Spirit? Galatians 5:22, love, joy, peace. He wants these fruits of the Spirit in our lives. Mark chapter 11, verse 13 and 14, how many of you remember when Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem for the last time He did something that may seem very bizarre. It looks like He lost His temper and took it out on a tree. He cursed a fig tree. I remember I used to play my brother chess. He was older than me and probably smarter and when I could see that he was getting near checkmate it would really bother me when I saw the situation was hopeless and I’d knock all the pieces off the board. Sort of an immature saying I’m not going to give you the satisfaction of saying checkmate. Anyone else have a fit like that before? Just get mad. And Jesus came to this fig tree hoping to find fruit, but there’s no fruit on it. He said, “Well, I’ll teach you!” and He curses the tree and it withers up the next day. It’s withered 24-hours. Why did He do that? Did Jesus lose His temper and take it out on a tree? I mean, after all the abuse that He dealt with through His life did He finally lose it with a fig tree? No, you know why He did that? It was a demonstration. That fig tree represented the Nation of Israel for one thing. It also represents the church. Fig tree, next door neighbor, member here, has a fig tree. I get to see it all year long. When it has full blown leaves it also has ripe fruit. It’s unlike a lot of trees. Many trees they get their leaves and then later the fruit comes but with a fig tree when the leaves are fully mature the fruit is mature. This tree had the pretense of being mature and it should have had fruit. He went for fruit and it had the pretense and no fruit. Like a lot of churches and like the Nation of Israel they had all the forms and the rituals and the ceremony and the garbs and the prayers and not the fruits of the Spirit. God wants the fruit in your life. What happened at that fig tree? Jesus said, “No man will ever eat fruit from you again!” Let’s face it, that tree committed the unpardonable sin. Never again would it have fruit and it withered and died. It died fruitless. Now that relates to some other examples in the Bible. Jesus says, speaking of the vine and the branches, John chapter 15, “Every branch…” I’m going to read verses 2 and verse six. “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away.” What does the Lord want from us? He wants the fruits of the Spirit. “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes it away. If a branch bears fruit, He prunes it that it might bear more fruit.” Now I think that’s important to understand. Sanctification is a process. If you walk in the light as He is in the light His blood cleanses you. The Bible promises this. Do you have to walk in the light or just see the light? Walk in the light, right? And if we’re walking in the light as He is in the light His blood cleanses us from all sin. And He’ll prune us and we’ll bear more fruit. There’s growth in the Christian life. but one of the greatest concerns and where a lot of people commit the unpardonable sin is they get into the church and they park. Just baptized Darren and… I would talk about Velma, but I was in the dressing room with Darren not Velma. And when we were in there I said, “Now this is not the end. This is the beginning.” Just a few minutes ago, you can ask him, I told him that. I said, “This is the start. God has a work for you to do” and we need to grow in the Spirit. Some people think that once they join the church, and I’ll admit some churches fail, we say, “Ah! We conquered another soul. We caught this fish!” and we leave him to dry on the beach. We need to nurture people and grow and disciple them. And he prunes us that we can have more fruit. Keep going here. Still in John chapter 15, “If anyone does not abide in Me he is cast out as a branch and is withered and they gather them and throw them in the fire and they’re burned.” That’s pretty serious. He wants fruit. Hebrews 6:4 a serious verse that deals with the same issue. Matter of fact, I may get as many phone calls on this verse when people talk about the unpardonable sin as any other verse. It’s very disturbing. Bear with me as I read this. I’ll try to explain it. Hebrews 6:4, “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come if they fall away to renew them again to repentance since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame...” Now notice, a lot of people stop right there. Keep reading. “…for the earth that drinks in the rain…” That’s a symbol of the Holy Spirit. “…for the earth that drinks in the rain that often comes upon it and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated receives the blessing from God.” When the rain falls and the ground is productive then that’s great. That’s the way it’s supposed to be, but if that rain continues to fall on the ground and there’s no fruit… “But if it bears thorns and briars it is rejected and near to being cursed whose end is to be burned.” Now there’s some examples I’ll share with you in the next presentation where that was borne out in the Bible. If there’s no fruit what can God do? If He pours the Spirit and the fullness and all that God can do. If a person absorbs everything that is available from God and they’ve tasted the heavenly gifts, if they turn away from the best that God has to offer, you answer me, what else can He do? Now that doesn’t mean a person who falls away cannot be saved. This is where people get confused. Did the prodigal son fall away? Was he received when he came home? Did Peter deny Christ? Was he forgiven? Did David deny the Lord and get into big trouble with adultery and lying and murder? Was he forgiven? So it’s not saying that those who backslide cannot be restored. The Bible is full of examples where that is true. It’s telling us in this verse that if we refuse to respond to the best that God has to offer there’s nothing more He can offer. What more is He going to offer? There’s nothing left. If you reject the Holy Spirit what else, what other means is God going to use? You know I think a big danger in our thinking, we’re waiting for God to do something beyond what He’s already done. We’re thinking that well you know I need a total conversion and maybe one of these days God will do it to me like Paul. Well the difference was Paul didn’t know better and you do. Paul really thought he was serving God and he just didn’t know better and God had to miraculously intervene. Most of us know what God wants us to do; we just don’t want to do it. We don’t want to surrender. And so it’s a dangerous mistake to think that God is going to use something beyond the Holy Spirit working in your heart right now. If you respond to the convicting influence of the Spirit and you come to the Lord now He will send more. He’ll send more power. He’ll send more guidance. He’ll send more teaching. But if we refuse the leadings of the Spirit that we have now what else is God going to use? The Spirit is the person that He uses. Spurning the Spirit is a dangerous thing to do. Another parable dealing with fruit Luke 13:6. That’s why I’m making this into two messages. I don’t want to go back to this subject. I’ve waited twelve years so I’m going to hit it, I’m going to hit it hard, and then I’m going to move on. Luke 13:6, I want to be thorough. “He also spoke this parable: ‘A certain man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it…’” Now what is that fig tree? Well, in the Old Testament it tells us the fig tree was Israel. You read in Isaiah chapter 5 it says the land of Israel is His vineyard and Jerusalem and the temple let’s say that’s the fig tree, God’s people, His church. And he’s looking for fruit. And it says, “I’ve come three years seeking fruit on this tree and found none.” Now if you’ve got a mature fig tree in three years you find no fruit. Sometimes they have a good year and they have a bad year. You all know that. Every fruit tree is like that. Some of you say, “I had a good crop this year.” “Not so good this year.” But three years no fruit you’d start thinking, I’ve got a dud. It’s not just a bad year, it’s fruitless. You know here in Sacramento we want to plant trees for shade but we don’t want the fruit bearing tree and so I bought a fruitless plumb tree. They’re very pretty. They have these purple leaves and it provides shade and but you don’t want the fruit because you’ve just got to clean it up and it messes up your driveway. So it’s kind of strange. We go around looking for fruitless trees, but God is looking for fruitless trees. Matter of fact, they had a law, there’s a law in the Bible in Deuteronomy I believe that when they conquered an alien nation or city they could cut down the trees to build war machines, but He said, “Don’t cut down the fruit bearing trees because it is man’s bread.” And it takes years for a fruit bearing tree to get to that point and so God strictly commanded them, you want to cut down the fir and the evergreen, the sycamore and build your things, make your spears, fine. Don’t cut down the fig trees, the pomegranates, the date trees because that’s man’s life. That was sort of an unwritten code back then. God wants the fruit. Man had a fig tree in his vineyard. He came seeking fruit. He found none. He said to the keeper of the vineyard, this is Jesus, “Look! For three years now I’ve come seeking fruit on this tree and I don’t find any. Cut it down. It just uses up the ground!” But he answered and said, “Sir, let it alone this year also. Give it some more time. I will do everything I can humanly do.” (I’m paraphrasing.) He says, “I’ll dig around it. I’ll irrigate it. I’ll fertilize it. If it bears fruit then, well. If not, then cut it down.” See what He’s saying? Jesus is saying, “I want to do everything I can possibly do for you to have the fruits of the Spirit.” And don’t forget the fruits of the Spirit are not for His benefit. One of those fruits is joy. He wants you to be happy. You’re never going to be happy without surrendering to God. Not really happy. He says, “And if it doesn’t bear fruit after that then cut it down.” You know this parable is very interesting because He never tells the end of it. You know why? Because everybody applies it differently. He says, “I’m going to keep working in their lives to do everything I can to help them to have a fruitful life. I’m not going to give up. I realize they’ve been fruitless. They’ve been here in the vineyard for years and nothing!” And there’s folks who’ve been in the church for years, nothing. They come and they sort of occupy pew space and they critique the sermon from week to week, right? They go home and have the pastor for dinner but they don’t ever produce. You know one of the things that’s a special annoyance for me is some of the folks that I’ve observed that are the most critical do the least to bring others to Jesus. I think it’s just that their conscience is bothering them and so they sort of have this ricochet effect. They try to deflect the guilt and talk about everybody else because they’re really, they don’t have any fruit. They’re not happy. He doesn’t tell us how this parable ends, but I like the truth that He doesn’t give up easy. He says, “Give it more time.” God is so patient with us. The Holy Spirit must be embraced as a gift. It is a precious gift that must not be presumed upon. Can a person know whether or not they’ve committed the unpardonable sin? Not very easily. You know they’ve got this program online. Have you ever checked your credit report to see what your credit is? To see if your credit is any good? You probably don’t need to do that unless you want to borrow money or get another credit card. I must have good credit, Karen and I, because we get credit card offers every single week and in my quiet moments I have this fiendish plan. Save all those applications. I’d have three hundred and sixty at the end of the year. Sign up for all of them at the same time. Run all of them up to the limit borrowing on them. Give it to the church and leave the country. My credit would be shot but hey! Hey and don’t, don’t, please don’t do that. Don’t try this at home. That was not a recommendation. But some people they go to find out what their credit is and they find out that their credit is destroyed and they wonder what happened. Well someone got their identity and began to misuse their credit information and ran these debts up and didn’t pay them and they discover that they can’t ever borrow if they want to. Their credit is destroyed. They go to take out a loan and they thought, “Well, I’ve got great credit.” And they say, “No, we would never lend you anything in a hundred years. Your credit is awful!” Could it be possible that a person has committed the unpardonable sin and they don’t know it? I think it is possible. The people who were outside the ark in Noah’s day after the door was shut, did they know for six days that they were doomed. No, you know what Jesus said? They ate, they drank, they married, they builded and just the same thing before the fire fell on Sodom and Gomorrah when the sun came up they were beginning another day of energetic wickedness totally oblivious that their doom was sealed. Most people don’t know. As I said, I have found, it’s been my experience that typically those who call me and write me… I got a letter last week. A member here, “Pastor Doug, I wonder if I’ve committed the unpardonable sin.” I don’t worry as much about those people because it tells me the Holy Spirit is still convicting them. And generally those people, they’re seeking after God, they’re making an effort, they’re concerned about their soul. It’s the ones who have this smug indifference that are oblivious. That’s where the danger is. Psalm 51:11, King David prayed, “Do not cast me away from Your presence and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.” Now that prayer teaches us a couple of things. For one thing, David knew that it is possible to have the Holy Spirit taken away, and there’s something we could do to pray that God will not take away His Holy Spirit. We should plead with God, please, like David, don’t take Your Spirit from me. Don’t give up on me. Keep digging and fertilizing and irrigating and I want to bear fruit, Lord. We should pray for the Holy Spirit. But it also is a sober warning that it must be possible for the Holy Spirit to be withdrawn or he wouldn’t have prayed that prayer. Jeremiah 29:13 & 14, “You will seek for me and you’ll find me when you search for me with all your heart and I will be found by you says the Lord and I will bring you back from your captivity.” We may have backslidden but we can return to the Lord if we seek for Him with all of our heart. Is that good news? John 12:35, “And Jesus said to them, ‘Yet a little while and the Light is with you. Walk while you’ve got the light lest darkness come upon you.’” There is a very real danger that people will presume upon the light and it grows dark about them. What happened to those bridesmaids, those five foolish virgins? Did their lights go out? They forgot to have oil in the lamp. What is that oil? It’s the Holy Spirit. Does everyone here know that? They ran out of Holy Spirit if you can imagine such a thing. You want to know that you’ve got the fullness of the Spirit. II Thessalonians 2:10 another verse and this is where a lot of people I think step in enchanted ground. They refuse the teaching of the Holy Spirit. Some area in their life where they’re being led and taught by the Spirit because for whatever reason it’s not popular, it makes them uncomfortable and they don’t really want to follow the word and they can convince themselves to really sincerely believe something that isn’t true and they could reach that point of no return. “And with all…” this is II Thessalonians 2:10. “And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish…” Why? “…because they do not receive a love of the truth that they might be saved.” And when we reject the truth that God sends us, whatever element of that, first of all, Jesus is the truth. And any truth that you reject in any degree is in some degree rejecting Christ. He is the truth and if we continue to reject the truth the Bible says we’ll come to the place where we believe a lie. It says, “For this cause God will send them strong delusion...” And that simply means He’ll withdraw His Spirit and when God’s Spirit is withdrawn the devil comes in with delusion. “…that they should believe a lie...” Are they sincere? They absolutely believe it. “…but they might be damned who did not believe the truth but they had pleasure in unrighteousness...” How did they get to the place where they believe a lie? They “had pleasure in unrighteousness and they would not accept the truth to turn from their unrighteousness and their forbidden pleasure.” You know I’ve seen even among our people there is a brand of theology that is deadly poison. I mean it couldn’t be any more poison than if you guzzled radiator fluid. And they’re still in the church. They reject the idea that God saves us, the teaching that God saves us from our sin and they’ve come to embrace the idea that it’s just the love and the grace of Jesus. He doesn’t really expect us to be changed. In spite of all the scriptures that talk about how He wants us to be transformed they are so self-deluded into thinking that it’s just stopping with justification and I’ve talked to these people. I’ve showed them scripture after scripture and they just wave it off. They say, “Aw, it’s legalism, Doug. You think that God wants us to change. Nobody can really change. He saves us with our sin.” And they get to the point where they’re very, they seem to be so comfortable. You know they say just before a person freezes to death they’re overwhelmed with a sense of warmth. Have you heard that? When a person is freezing to death they go through this phase where they get extremely comfortable and they’re overwhelmed with this sense of warmth. I remember reading a book. True story. They actually I think they made a movie about this guy named Jeremiah Johnson. His real name was John Johnson. He was a mountain man. At one time he had to cross a hundred miles of snow-covered field up around Yosemite. He was being pursued by natives and he had to flee. And he was so cold at night he would dig down into the snow and he’d make a shelter. And he noticed one night he was drifting off to sleep and he was overwhelmed with this sense of warmth, in his diary, and he wanted so much just to give in and go to sleep. It felt so good. But he knew that that meant he would never wake up again and he had to crawl out of the hole during a blizzard at night and expose himself again to all of that miserable weather that he might be saved. Some people get to the point where they feel warm. “I like that teaching. You mean He’ll save me where I don’t have to change? Just like I am. I can stay like I am.” Well, you know, my God loves me too much to leave me the way I am. He wants to save me from my sin. And that’s… oh, I worry about these people. Some of them are friends of mine. My heart breaks for them. I know some of them they were under conviction about rock music. They threw away all their rock CD’s and they knew it had a diabolical influence on their relationship with the Lord and then they began to embrace this teaching. And next thing I know, I hop in the car with them, they turn on the radio and with absolutely no shame there is just diabolical rock coming blaring over the speaker system. And they’ll say, “You know, Doug, I used to be convicted about this but the Lord has given me peace. It doesn’t really matter. That’s legalism.” I think, “Lord, have mercy.” They got the place where they believed a lie because they had pleasure in unrighteousness. Now you may not have a problem with rock music. It could be something else but if the Holy Spirit is working in your heart you’re far better off saying, “Lord, I know it’s wrong. Help me! Change me. Maybe I’m not ready now, but keep me under conviction.” At least don’t lie to yourself. Don’t become self-deluded. Acknowledge it’s the truth and then God can still work with you. But it’s the ones who begin to reject the truth that are in danger of freezing to death spiritually. Well I want to end on… I’ve given you a little bit of bad news. I want to end on some of the good news I was telling you about. God will forgive those that come to Him in sincerity. It doesn’t matter how far you may have wandered. What kind of sins does God forgive? All manner of sin and blasphemy. Does the Lord forgive blasphemy? I Timothy 1:13, Paul says, “Although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, an insolent man, I obtain mercy because I did it in unbelief.” He did it in ignorance. Does God forgive murder? Does He forgive adultery? What did Nathan say to David? II Samuel 12:9, “Why have you despised the commandment of the Lord to do evil in His sight? You have killed Uriah the Hittite with a sword. You have taken his wife to be your wife.” Was David forgiven? You can be forgiven for that. Then matter of fact you can jump to I Corinthians. I’m out of time. I could go through a whole list of Bible characters that gained the victory. Moses murdered. Lost his temper. I Corinthians 6:9, this sums it up, I Corinthians 6:9 through verse 11, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t be deceived! Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revelers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.” It doesn’t stop there. I’m so glad it doesn’t stop there. “And such were some of you.” The church was composed of people that were fornicators and adulterers and homosexuals and covetous and thieves and drunkards. He says this is what you were “but you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified,” notice not justified only, sanctified “in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of God.” It is through the Holy Spirit we are transformed. That’s why if we reject the working of the Spirit of God in our lives, if we refuse to accept the evidence of the Spirit of God that’s when we’re seriously at risk, but if we embrace the Spirit of God working in our lives and say, “Lord, keep working on me. Don’t give up on me.” He will finish what he started in your life. Amen? He forgives all kinds of sin. “Come now,” Isaiah 1:18, “let us reason together, sayeth the Lord, though your sins be as scarlet…” That’s as red as it can be, the hardest stain. “…they shall be as white as snow. Though they be red like crimson, yet they’ll be white like wool. If…” Is there a qualifier? “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just…” “If you are willing and obedient you will eat the good of the lamb, but if you refuse and rebel you’ll be destroyed, you’ll be devoured.” God has given us this wonderful opportunity to live forever but you know what we need to do? Respond to the voice of the Holy Spirit, the leading of the Spirit, the teaching of the Spirit, the conviction of the Spirit. As long as we’re still responding He’ll keep leading. It’s when we begin to harden ourselves that’s when we’re in danger of committing a sin. Oh what a terrifying thought. It’s a horrific statement. A sin for which there is no forgiveness. We’re so used to the mercy of God it makes us shudder to think about a sin for which there is no forgiveness. You don’t need to worry about that if you’re walking in the light that He gives you. Amen? If you’re willing to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit. You know I’d like for you to reach for your hymnal and while you’re seated I want you to turn to our closing hymn. What number is it? Is it “I Surrender All”? I should know. I picked it. 309 “I Surrender All” and I’d like to invite our singers to start singing it and I want you to be praying as you sing verse one and be thinking about is there any area in my life where I’m resisting the working of the Spirit? I’m going to give you an opportunity to come now. Let’s sing.

All to Jesus I surrender; All to Him I freely give; I will ever love and trust Him, In His presence daily live; I surrender all, I surrender all; All to Thee, my blessed Savior, I surrender all.

Now before we sing verse three, I was going to have you respond by raising your hands and I think I’ll still do that. If the Holy Spirit has spoken to you and you recognize there may be some area in your life where He’s calling, teaching, leading, convicting, and you’ve been resisting that’s a dangerous thing to do. And you could ask, “Lord,” like King David, you could pray right now, “Lord, take not thy Holy Spirit from me.” The Holy Spirit is how we receive forgiveness and without the Holy Spirit the only thing that’s left is the sin that can’t be forgiven. How many of you would like to say, “Lord, I want to cooperate in every way with the working of Your Spirit in my life whatever it takes. Please, Lord, don’t take your Holy Spirit from me!” Amen. Let’s sing verse three together.

All to Jesus I surrender; Make me, Savior, wholly Thine; Let me feel the Holy Spirit, Truly know that Thou art mine; I surrender all, I surrender all; All to Thee, my blessed Savior, I surrender all.

Now I’d like to make a more specific appeal. There may be some of you here who have wondered or fretted or worried before, “Have I committed the unpardonable sin?” You’ve wondered, “Have I gone too far?” You know as we sing this third verse don’t worry about the people that are here. They’re all in the same boat as you. And there may be some who are watching this program or listening to the tape, if you have a special request for God’s assurance, He wants us to know that we have everlasting life and not to be deceived. You can know that. You know when the Holy Spirit is in your heart. And if you’ve got doubts and you want to have that assurance, would you like to come? We’ll have prayer together as we sing the last verse together. “I Surrender All” verse four.

All to Jesus I surrender; Now I feel the sacred flame. O the joy of full salvation! Glory, glory to His name! I surrender all, I surrender all; All to Thee, my blessed Savior, I surrender all.

Loving Lord, we are so thankful for the first part of that verse that promises all manner of sins and blasphemies will be forgiven for the sons of man. Lord, we pray that we can find comfort in that truth that if we come because of the conviction and the leading and the teaching of the Spirit that we can know that we can be forgiven. Lord, you’ve also promised that if we confess our sins you are faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us not just from some but from all unrighteousness. You’ve promised, Lord, that even though our sins might be scarlet, red like crimson, they can be like snow and white as wool if we come and we are willing. Lord, we are willing. We want to listen to the voice of the Spirit. At times we may be convicted, but we know that life is a gift and we pray that we’ll respond now. Now we listen to your voice. Be with each of these people. Help them to have that comfort. Help us to know what we might do to walk in full assurance of salvation. Bless us all with that truth and that experience. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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