What Is the Unpardonable Sin?

Scripture: Matthew 12:31-32, 2 Samuel 12:9, Matthew 26:74-75
Date: 04/28/2012 
What is the unpardonable sin? Is there a point of no return in our lives? Can we silence the voice of the Holy Spirit? This sermon looks at what it means to blaspheme the Holy Spirit.
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Note: This is an unedited, verbatim transcript of the live broadcast.

Years ago, I heard about a man in Scotland that was visiting the country for the first time and he went to a place on the coast where there was some beautiful beach. And he walked along the beach. The hills rose up into a very steep rocky cliff that dropped down. But he was enjoying his time meditating and looking at the shells on the beach and he saw the tide was going out and it was exposing a lot of new beautiful rocks and shells. So he continued to walk along the beach so that he had the ocean on one side, the beach beneath him, but this sheer rock cliff wall that stretched for miles to his side.

As he walked along, pretty soon he came to a metal post in the ground at the beach with a sign, a metal sign, and it was painted in very bold clear letters, ‘Warning - Danger.’ It said ‘If you go beyond this point, you will not be able to return to the beach after the tide comes in.’ And evidently that was a part of Scotland where the tide comes in very quickly. And looked behind him and he thought, well, I’m not a marathon runner, but I can get back to the hills there where there’s no cliffs. I’d like to go a little further. This looks like some of the best shells and best rocks I’ve seen. The tide was all the way out. It exposed a lot of beautiful things. He thought, I can go a little further.

And so he walked on beyond the sign and he was so preoccupied with looking at the starfish that were exposed and the seashells and the little crabs running along and he meditated and he walked and he said, I’ll just keep an eye on the surf and when I see it coming back in, I’ll head back to the safe section of the beach.

But once he had gone beyond that sign, he really had reached the point of no return. And so he walked along and meandered. Pretty soon he saw that some waves were beginning to come in and he thought, well, I better turn around, but he had never seen a tide come in this fast. And he turned and pretty soon the waves began to just roar in, almost like a miniature tsunami, which it does in that part of the country during certain season. Then he began to run, but at that point, the waves were slapping against his legs and they were right up against the cliffs and then the bigger waves and the bigger waves came. And some people who were up above the cliffs saw him and had to watch helplessly as that man was finally knocked down by the waves and pummeled time and time again against the cliffs until he drown. He had gone beyond the point of warning. Yes, he was alive for a while after he passed that sign, but there was really no hope because he had reached the point of no return.

The bible teaches that there is a point that you can go in sin against God where your life may still be going, your lungs are breathing, your heart is beating, but you are doomed just as surely as if the gates of Hades had closed behind you. And that is a very frightening thought.

You know, we hear about sometimes these Navy helicopters that go on a mission or go to rescue somebody and as they’re flying out over the ocean from their aircraft carrier or from the shore, it might be a Coastguard helicopter or something, they have something called the PNR, the point of no return. It’s a gage, it’s a section on their gage when they get to the halfway point on their fuel, they know even if they can see the person they’re wanting to rescue just a little further in the distance, once they get where that alarm goes off, if they continue to fly away from their ship, as well-intentioned as they may be, based on all the walls of physics and all the calculations, they are going to run out of fuel before they get back and they’ll be ditching in the ocean.

There was one military mission I remember from World War II, the Flying Tiger. Some of you may still remember that group. The first bombing raid that they made there on Japan when the American military took off, they knew that they would not have enough fuel to get back to the carrier. The plan was they were just going to have to go down somewhere over China and hope they survived, but to go on a mission like that and know that you’ve reached the point of no return.

Some people in their lives, in playing with sin and quieting the voice of the Holy Spirit, they can reach the point of no return.

Now one of the most common questions that we get that comes in to Bible Answers on the radio program or comes to Amazing Facts in correspondence or in our counseling as pastors, people want to know, what is the unpardonable sin. That’s the title of the message today. What is the unpardonable sin? How can I know if I’ve gone too far. When do you reach that point of no return when you can’t come back? You know, it’s frightening that there is such a statement of Jesus. It seems so unlike Jesus, his never-ending benevolence to hear Jesus utter these words that it makes us shudder.

Matthew 12:31 - It’s in our scripture reading, ‘Therefore I say to you every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the spirit will not be forgiven men. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.’ It makes us shudder to hear Jesus say ‘not forgiven,’ something that will not be forgiven. And, you know, if we come to the judgment with something that is not forgiven, there’s only one destiny. So that ought to get our attention. We don’t want to tamper with the mercy of the Lord and especially if you know there’s something for which there is no forgiveness.

So what is this sin? When people begin to think about what is the sin that cannot be forgiven, they often go to the Decalogue and they look through the Ten Commandments where they try to conjure up what they think is the worst possible sin and they say that must be the unforgivable sin. And sometimes we summarize that by calling it the Tupus (phonetic). The unpardonable sin. What is that? People wonder, well, certainly life is the most important thing and if someone were to take an innocent life, murder, homicide, that would be the unpardonable sin.

But do we find examples in bible of someone who is guilty of murder and yet we believe they’ll be in heaven? Well, for one, you’ve got Moses. Exodus 2:12, it says there ‘The great prophet, he looked this way and he looked that and when no one was looking, he killed the Egyptian and buried him in the sand.’ And that was a sin. God didn’t want him to do that, but God will forgive him for that. How about David? 2 Samuel 12:9 - here the prophet said to David, ‘Why have you despised the commandment of the Lord to do evil in his sight? You have killed Uriah, the Hittite, with a sword and you’ve taken his wife to be your wife,’ so we could also include adultery here. But is murder and adultery the unpardonable sin? Was David forgiven? So, obviously, it’s not the unpardonable sin. I suppose it could be under some circumstances.

And then you think about the worst thing that people can do. In our culture, we think of when someone abuses a child or when they sexually abuse a child. And even if you were to go a step beyond that, infanticide, to kill a child. We hear about that. That’s in the bible, too. As a matter of fact, there were some Pagan nations, that was part of their worship, making their children pass through the fire.

It’s referenced in Psalm 106, one of the things that really was offensive to the Lord about the nations that were possessing Canaan before the Israelites came into some of their Pagan practices involved sacrificing of children. Psalm 106:37 - ‘Yae, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto devils.’ Now what could be worse than that? I mean, that’s about the worst thing you could imagine. But did you know that there’s actually somebody in the bible that did that and evidently they’re forgiven. You and I can’t even comprehend that.

We’ve all heard about Ted Bundy. Some of you remember. I keep forgetting that years go by and I’ve got generations now that don’t know what I’m talking about. This man who was guilty, he was a serial killer and killed a number of women. It was just ghastly in horrific ways. And when he was finally in prison on death row, he confessed and ostensibly he went through a conversion process and accepted Jesus. And Dr. James Dodson went to visit him before his execution and he came away believing that if it’s possible, God can even forgive someone who did that, as unimaginable as it is or impossible as it would be for you and I.

So what is the sin? How bad can the sin be? Oh, I didn’t tell you. Manasseh, Manasseh is the king in the bible who was guilty of infanticide. 2 Kings 21:6 - ‘He made his son pass through the fire and he practiced soothsaying and witchcraft and consulted spirits and mediums. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord to provoke him to anger,’ but you read on there and it tell us that in his affliction, he fully repented, he accepted the Lord, he came back and he implemented a reformation in Israel. It’s unimaginable that someone, after they get involved in witchcraft and child sacrifice could be forgiven. To me, that’s just as bad as it gets. God is so merciful. Much more than you and I. Amen.

So when Jesus says there’s a sin for which you can’t be forgiven, we think wow, that must be really, really bad. What is that sin? Is it denying Christ? Is that the sin? Can we think of somebody in the bible who denied Christ, one of his own followers? Matthew 26:74, 75 - speaking of Peter, ‘Then he began to curse and to swear.’ He included profanity in denying Christ. So in other words, with an oath, he’s saying I do not know the man and immediately the rooster crowed and Peter remembered the words of Jesus who said before the rooster crows, you’ll deny me three times. Publicly denying Christ, renouncing that you know him, doing it with an oath and foul language. Could that be forgiven?

What is the unpardonable sin? Some people wonder is it where you make this public loud denial, this oath, where you curse and defame God’s name. As insane as that would be and as sacrilegious as that would be, the bible doesn’t tell us that’s the unpardonable sin.

What about self-murder? Suicide. Now this is a delicate subject because I venture to say there’s not an adult here that is not acquainted with somebody through your life, either directly or indirectly, that you know that took their own life. Some moment of physical pain that was unbearable or circumstances or depression and they killed themselves. It’s always hard to know. Sometimes people leave a note and it leaves no guessing to it.

Now I’ve got to be very careful when I say this. When I answer the question about suicide, I’ve got to be very careful. You know why? Because I’m talking to two groups. More than that, probably. One group is, I’m talking to people who are thinking about it. We get the call all the time. They call the radio program and they say, they’re asking questions about suicide and I like to say, ‘Are you thinking of this?’ And sometimes they say, ‘Well, as a matter of fact, I am.’ Can I commit suicide and be saved, they want to know. What do you think I tell them? I discourage them every way I can. I tell them that if the last act of a person’s life is an act of hopelessness and faithlessness and if the bible tells us without faith it’s impossible to please God, then that wouldn’t bode very well for people, their eternal future, if the last act of their life is self-murder and faithlessness.

But I’m talking to another group and I’ve got to be very careful. You’ve got people out there with friends and family, sometimes children, that have evidently taken their lives. And those people are so devastated by the thought that a loved one’s next conscious thought is that they are eternally lost, that they do everything they can in their reasoning to widen that gate. And so I think we also need to be careful not to be dogmatic.

Are there examples in the bible of somebody, at least one I can think of, that did something that might be classified as a suicide that will be in heaven. Who do you think of? Sampson. It tells us there, if you read in Judges 16:30 - ‘Then Sampson said let me die with the Philistines and he pushed with all his might and the temple fell.’ Yes, it fell on the lords of the Philistines, but it fell on him, too. Now some would argue, well, they were getting ready to kill him anyway and he just thought he that he’d take his enemy with him and that was really more of a sacrifice than a suicide, but it was his action, really, that killed himself.

Will Sampson be in heaven? If you read in Hebrews 11, he’s listed among the faithful. And how could a person be lost if the last thing they experience is being filled with the Holy Spirit, where did he get the power to push down the temple? He prayed and he asked for God’s spirit as he had had it before and God gave him, he answered the prayer, filled him with the spirit. He did something superhuman, which in turn, killed him, but killed his enemies with him.

And there probably are people who commit suicide, but you don’t know the physical pain. They might not be themselves because of depression or pain. And only God knows the hearts. So you’ve got to stop short of judging those people, but it’s no question. Suicide would be classified as breaking one of the Ten Commandments.

You know, the Lord can save so many people in so many circumstances, then what is that sin that he cannot forgive? What is that point of no return? That something you could do, where once you go that far, you can’t get back. You cannot be forgiven. We need to understand that.

Well, it uses the word there in Matthew 12, blasphemy. ‘Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit cannot be forgiven.’ What is blasphemy? Well, I’ve extracted a concise definition from a dictionary and in Greek it would be blasphemos and it really means to vilify, to speak impiously, to defame, to rail upon, to revile, to speak evil, to hurt or blast the reputation, nature or works of God. So to speak evil of God, to defame, to vilify God, to undermine him with your words is blasphemy. And there are some other definitions, but that’s principally the one that Jesus is use there. And he says, you can speak blasphemy against the Son of Man and it can be forgiven.

Can you think of an example in the bible of somebody who was forgiven of blasphemy? Does God forgive blasphemy? We’ve all probably committed it at some point or the other. You read about Paul, 1 Timothy 1:13 - Paul, will he be in heaven? ‘Paul said, ‘Although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor and an insolate man, I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant with faith and love.’ God’s grace to us is exceedingly abundant.

As a matter of fact, Romans 5:20 - ‘Moreover, the law entered that the offense might abound, where sin abound and grace abounded, much more God’s forgiveness is so abounding,’ Jesus is so benevolent, so what is it that he can’t forgive?

In fact, right there in Matthew 12:31 he says, ‘Every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men.’ All kinds of sin and blasphemy are forgiven. God is long suffering. He’s merciful. He’s not willing that any should perish. He’s extremely patient. Something for which I thank Him frequently, with me anyway. I get irritated He’s so patient with you. No, I’m just teasing you. But I’m glad He’s patient with me.

I can’t understanding why God is so patient with some people. Do you know what I mean? Some of the crankiest people I know live the longest. Have you ever noticed that? Have you ever observed that? And I’ve even had somebody say one time, that fellow is so ornery, he’ll probably live to 100.

So what is that sin God can’t forgive? He is so merciful. If God is known for anything in the bible, He’s known for His mercy and His love, for forgiving all kinds of sin. I just want to emphasize that before I give you the answer. Isaiah 1:18 - ‘Come now, let us reason together says the Lord, though your sins,’ multiple, plural, ‘are like scarlet, they’ll be as white as snow.’ He forgives scarlet sin. ‘Though they are red like crimson, they’ll be wool, pure, white like snow, like wool.’ He not only forgives all kind, he forgives them perfectly if a condition to forgiveness. ‘If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good of the land. But if you refuse and rebel, you be devoured by the sword for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’ So there is a criteria to being freely and full forgiven by God. It’s a willingness. We must have a willingness.

Isaiah 55:7 - what do we need to do? ‘Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts, let him return to the Lord and he will have mercy on him and to our God for he will abundantly pardon.’ So there’s a criteria, we must forsake our wicked way and turn to God and then he will abundantly pardon, though like scarlet, it will be like snow. The red-like crimson, it will be like wool. God is abounding in mercy.

But, you know, this is theology that’s become very popular today that God is so merciful he’s going to forgive you with your sin without your turning, without your appending. That’s I think where you’re nearing the land of the unpardonable sin. When you’re walking down the beach and God says this is a sin and you just keep on walking and you have no desire to turn or repent of your sin and you do not plead for victory over your sin, but you get comfortable in your sin, that’s where it gets really dangerous, friends.

And, you know, the devil is not bothered with people coming to church. As a matter of fact in the last days, virtually everyone’s going to go to church. What the devil doesn’t want is for you to be saved from your sin. Jesus came to save you, not in your sin, but from your sin. And so perhaps there’s a connection between the sin against the Holy Spirit and blasphemy against the Holy Spirit and people being content, to try to be saved and still cling to their sin. He wants to save us from that.

1 Corinthian 6:9 - All kinds of sin are forgiven. Paul says ‘Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators or idolaters or adulterers or homosexuals, nor sodomites or thieves or coveters or drunkards nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the Kingdom of God.’ But he goes on, ‘And such were,’ past tense, ‘such were some of you.’ In other words, the church that he’s writing to there in Corinth was composed of every type and stripe of sin. He says you were those things. Not just forgiven, they’ve been transformed. He says you were these, but you have been washed. You have been sanctified. You were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus by the Spirit, so the Spirit is involved in our being saved from sin.

So could it be blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is connection with our not listening to the Spirit when we are convicted of our sins? And we might go through all of the charade of religion, but not really allow the Lord to sanctify us, to wash us, to justify us. You know, grace is not just for the cover-up of justification. Grace is to keep us from sin and it’s for sanctification.

Jesus tells us what the work of the Holy Spirit is, ‘Nevertheless, I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away. For he said, if I do not go away, the helper will not come to you. But if I depart, I will send Him to you and when He has come,’ here’s the work of the Spirit, ‘he will convict the world of sin and of righteousness and of judgment.’

Now the work of the Holy Spirit, Jesus said I go and I send the comforter and one of those things that he does is he convicts of us sin. You can’t be saved of your sin if you don’t know that you have sin, so the Holy Spirit speaks to you. You need to somehow be able to hear that when the Holy Spirit is telling you that this is wrong. Not only does the Holy Spirit tell us what’s wrong, the Holy Spirit tells us what’s right. God isn’t just about don’t do this and don’t do that. God is saying do do this. He tell us what’s wrong and He tells us what’s right. He’ll convict the world of sin and of righteousness. It’s not just wrongeousness, it’s righteousness.

You know, when Solomon prayed for the Holy Spirit, he said “That I might know the difference between good and evil.’ The Holy Spirit gives you that recognition. So if we refuse to listen to that information the Holy Spirit is giving us, then please tell me, how is the Lord going to communicate his will to us if we reject the voice of the Spirit. So blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is not listening to the Holy Spirit when he’s telling you this is wrong or he’s telling you this is right. End of judgment. The Holy Spirit tells us that there is a limited amount of time that we have, that there is a day of judgment. So we need to listen.

So what is the unpardonable sin? I’ve just been teasing you this far with some of the answer, but I want to be as clear as I can be. 1 Timothy 4:1 - Some of these are not on the screen, so I hope you’ll look them up. ‘Now the Spirit,’ Who? ‘The Spirit speaks expressly saying that in the latter times, some will depart from the faith giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils, speaking lies and hypocrisy,’ notice this, ‘having their conscious seared.’ That word there seared, it sounds in Greek like the word cauterized. You know, back in the old days, if you had a serious wound and it was bleeding and it didn’t look like you could tie off all the capillaries, on the battlefield, they’d actually heat up a sword in a fire until it was red hot and they’d lay it on the wound and they’d cauterize it to help stop the bleeding. Now it’s not recommended today. They’ve got better ways of doing that, but that was sort of like battlefield emergency procedure. But you’d also kill some of the nerve endings and you might lose some feeling in that limb or near that. Any of you ever cut yourself and you kind of lose sensation around the cut? I did. I cut myself right here and to this day, it’s 30 years old, I cut my finger. My finger’s always been numb here on the left hand. It killed the nerves. Something could be going wrong there and I won’t know it.

And people can do that with their conscience. They can sear or cauterize their conscience so that they are so used to a certain sin they can actually get where they not only aren’t bothered by it, they can be very comfortable with it. They don’t feel it at all. Like that boiling frog, the proverbial boiling frog that we’ve all heard about.

You know, when you read in Mark 3, go to Mark 3:22. When I first read to you about the sin against the Holy Spirit, I looked in Matthew. By the way, it is mentioned in Matthew, Mark and Luke. There’s no question that Jesus said there is a sin for which there is no forgiveness. All three of the harmonic gospel writers mention this. Mark 3:22 - And we’ll read down to verse 30. ‘Now after Jesus healed the young man that was both deaf and dumb,’ he healed this young man that could not see or speak, ‘The scribes came to him from Jerusalem and said he has Beelzebub and by the ruler of demons he casts out devils.’ He cast out this devil that was causing this child to have these problems. And when the Pharisees and the rulers came down, they said, well, you know what that is. The only reason he’s able to do that is it’s through the power of Beelzebub. This was a Phoenician pagan god and it’s about the lowest god that you could have. He was really called the god or the lord of flies.

Someone wrote a book by that title once, knowing what this meant. Beelzebub. And you know, he was a god of filth. Because when there was some filth or scum or a dead body, the Phoenician noticed that flies would land on them and then soon worms would come out, maggots, and they thought somehow they have the power to give life. To me, it’s just revolting that anyone would think to worship a god of flies. It even sounds like flies when you say it, Beelzebub, right?

And so I just want you to know it was probably the vilest thing. It was the crudest insult that they could make to Jesus and the work of Jesus to attribute this miraculous work where a child is delivered from the devil and he’s filled with the spirit and he’s saved physically and spiritually and everyone’s rejoicing and to have someone come along and look at this work of the spirit and the work of Jesus and all that evidence and say, that’s really the work of the devil.

When Jesus heard that, that is the context, that’s the story in all the gospels when he finally makes the statement, he said be very careful. I’m loving, I’m patient, I’ll forgive all manner of sin. You can crucify me and I’ll say, Father forgive them. You can curse the Father and we’ll pray for your forgiveness. They’re stoning Steven, he says, Father, they don’t know what they do. Forgive them.

But when you sin against the evidence of the Spirit and the Spirit’s speaking in their lives and their hearts, if you refuse that evidence, what more will you have? What more can God use to bring you to repentance if you refuse that? That’s probably why he says in Hebrews 4, and this is another verse that really troubles people. Hebrews 6:4 - ‘For it is impossible for those who were enlightened and have tasted the heavenly gift,’ that would be the Holy Spirit, that’s the gift that Jesus sent, ‘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.’

Now some people get discouraged here and they think, Pastor, does that mean that anyone who was once saved, if they’re back-slidden they can’t be saved again? No. When it talks about people falling away, it means if you reject that experience, then what more is God going to give you? If you’ve experienced the best that God has to offer and you say that’s not good enough, falling away means rejecting that experience. What else is He going to send you? They’ve tasted the power 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 they put him an open shame for the earth which drinks in the rain, then often comes that rain being a type of the Holy Spirit in that verse. ‘And it bears herbs useful to those for whom it is cultivated. It receives the blessing of God. But if it bears thorns and briars, it is rejected and near to be cursed who’s end is to be burned.’

In other words, if God showers the Holy Spirit on you, and in spite of all the blessings and the evidence that He gives you, you just producing thorns and briars, what more can He send? The Holy Spirit is God. God the Spirit. He is sending Himself to you and if we speak against that, if we protest it, we resist the Holy Spirit in our lives, then we’re reaching that point of no return and we’re going beyond where He can reach us.

Now can you think of some examples in the bible of people who maybe did that? They went too far down the wrong road. I can. There’s several. You can think for instance about Noah. Back in his day, was there a time when the door of the ark closed in Noah’s day and there was no more forgiveness? He stood in the door of the ark and he pleaded, please come in, the door’s going to shut, the flood’s going to come. Unless you’re in the ark, you’re lost. And probably a lot of people in the crowd, some may have even worked as contract workers to help him build the ark and they said, you know, I think Noah’s probably right. It is a wicked world and one of these days when I see the rain, then I’m going to get onboard. But you know the door was shut before the rain came. And I think a lot of people thought about it and they said I’m going to wait and when others get on board, so far it’s just Noah and his family, probably the time’s not right. I’ve still got time. The rain hasn’t come yet. He made his final appeal. He and his family went inside. They disappeared and then an angel came and shut that massive door and however angels seal and lock it, they sealed and locked it because life went on for seven more days outside the ark, but the people outside the ark had committed the unpardonable sin, Tupus, and there was no more way of escape for them. They may have gone on. Life went on for seven more days, but they were lost. They had gone too far. The door was shut.

You perhaps remember the parable that Jesus told about those ten virgins; five wise, five foolish. The wise ones had a reserve of oil. The Holy Spirit. They had stored, they had received extra spirit. And the others, they just had a little bit and they burned up, they ran out. In other words, the spirit went out for them. The light went out for them. They tried to get more and they came to the wedding feast. It was too late, all the shops were closed. And the man said, I’m sorry, I don’t know you. And the door was shut and they were outside weeping. They were still alive, but the door was shut. Those that had the oil went in. Those that did not were locked out. Their probation had closed.

Perhaps you remember the story in the Exodus about the Pharaoh. I mean, talk about having the evidence of the spirit. What monarch saw more miracles than the Pharaoh of Egypt? And Moses would come in and he’d even schedule the miracles. He’s say there was going to be a miracle tomorrow. There’s going to be another miracle on a plate and you’re going to see the power of God. I mean, how stubborn can you be to see a pillar of fire separating you and Israel, to see the Red Sea part, see the children of Israel marching through the sea and to be so bent on resisting the evidence of God’s power and spirit that you would still continue to charge on after them and attack them. I wouldn’t want to be in Pharaoh’s army.

Can you imagine how nervous those soldiers were? You see obviously God is with these people. You want us to do what? You want us to still attack them after all these plagues to deliver them? God is obviously with them. How stubborn, how proud, how ornery can someone be? You’d have to be possessed by another spirit to be that stubborn to chase after the children of Israel down in the Red Sea. But the Pharaoh did.

King Saul, now here’s the example of somebody. He was a church member, raised in the church, chosen by God, filled by the spirit of God, given victories by God. But then he became proud and when God spoke to him through Samuel and other prophets, he got to where he said, look, I’m going to do my own thing. And he just didn’t humble himself. He would not listen. Years went by and God bear with him. Saul several times tried to kill David even though he knew David was chosen by God. He publicly confessed that David was chosen by God and then he’d get upset again and then he’d try and kill him again. He grieved away the Holy Spirit. The bible says the Spirit of God withdrew and the devils came and tormented him. He’d even call for David to play the harp to try and make his depression get better.

Finally, Saul pushed it so far, 1 Samuel 28:5 - ‘And when Saul saw the host of the Philistines just before battle, his heart was greatly afraid. He trembled. And Saul inquired of the Lord and the Lord answered him not, neither by dream or by Urim or Shunem or prophet.’ He wouldn’t speak to him anymore. You see, Saul had gone so far in rejecting the voice of God that it’s like when you hear on a radio announcement and when you first hear an emergency announcement, they play deliberately a very annoying noise. Have you ever heard that before? You’re listening to the radio or the TV and all of a sudden you hear, beep, beep, it’s not normally what you hear on TV. But they found if they do too many tests of the Emergency Broadcast System, people get to where when they hear the test noise, they don’t even listen anymore. They figure it’s another test.

And that’s what happened with Saul. The volume of the Holy Spirit just got turned down. It’s like someone living by the railroad track. After a while, they don’t even hear the train. I know somebody that they bought a house near an airport and when they first moved in, every time a plane went over and everything would rattle, they’d think why in the world did I do this? But they lived for a while and pretty soon they got where they never even noticed it.

And that’s what happens if we continue to resist God’s spirit when he speaks to us, we keep on eating that forbidden fruit, that sin in life, and God says, you know, you shouldn’t be doing that. You go, ha ha, well, one of these days. And gradually over time we get a callous. We sear our conscience. We get a callous on our spiritual ear. The volume goes down and little by little the sin against the Holy Spirit is not something that necessarily happens one day where you commit this one sin. It’s usually a process, a grieving away the Holy Spirit. It’s step by step walking past that sign that says ‘Danger, you’re reaching the point of no return,’ and to keep on going and keep on going. And think that, well, it may have happened to other people, but I’m going to be different.

Did Judas commit the unpardonable sin? Can you imagine living with Jesus? How many of you would like to have walked and talked and camped with Jesus? To see all those miracles that Judas saw and then to deny it all? This is what was happening to the people in Christ’s day. The time came, John 13:27 - at the Last Supper, Jesus washed Judas’ feet. And I think up until that point, Judas still had an opportunity to repent. I think he felt the Holy Spirit struggling in his heart and he said I need to confess to Jesus what I’ve done. I made a deal to betray him. Lord, just forgive me. And yearned to confess, but he was so proud. He said no. If he was really the Son of God, what would he be doing down here on the ground washing my feet. That can’t be the Messiah. If he’s really the Messiah, then when they come and arrest him, he’ll do some miracle to deliver himself. And he resisted the urgings of the Spirit.

Finally at the dinner, Jesus even said, ‘One of you is going to betray me.’ Judas had the audacity to say, ‘Is it I?’ And Jesus said to John, ‘It’s the one to who I give this bread dipped in the gravy.’ Now after the piece of bread, Judas took it and didn’t say anything, Satan entered him. And you read on, it says having received the piece of bread, he went out immediately and it says, ‘It was night. I think there’s a connection there, between it saying Satan entered him and it was night. The sun had set on his soul forever. He had committed the unpardonable sin at that point. Yeah, he lived a little longer and he killed himself, just like King Saul ultimately fell on his sword. Sin will make yourself destruct.

Can a professed Christian permit the unpardonable sin? Is it possible? Now, here’s where I disagree with some people. I’ll tell you a couple of things. You know, in preparing for this message I did a little research and read one pastor who said, ‘Nobody can commit the unpardonable sin today. It was only in the time of Jesus. If you saw the miracles and heard the preaching of Jesus, if you rejected him, then you committed the unpardonable sin, but that was only applicable for the time in which Jesus was alive on earth back then. Nobody can commit the unpardonable sin today.’ I heard a preacher say that and I thought, oh, he’s dead wrong.

Of course, Jesus said that for all generations. He said, ‘I’m going to send Heaven and sin against the Holy Spirit, not me.’ So obviously it’s something that applies for after the Holy Spirit is sent, to blaspheme the Holy Spirit. And, you know, I gave you that verse a little while ago from Mark. Jesus went on and when they began to call the works of Jesus the work of the devil, Christ said to them, ‘I’m not Beelzebub. How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom can’t stand. And if a house is divide against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but has an end. No one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods unless he first binds the strong man and he’ll plunder his house. Assuredly I say to you,’ and what Christ is implying there is I just cast the devil out of this young man. Obviously I am stronger than the devil. And so it’s not Satan casting out Satan, it’s one stronger than Satan casting him out.

And then he goes on and says, ‘All sins will be forgiven the Sons of Men. And whatever blasphemies they may utter.’ I’m so thankful for that part of the verse. But he who blasphemes the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation. Now don’t miss this. If you’re wondering what it meant, Mark makes it clear. I’m now in Mark 3:30 - ‘Because they said he had an unclean spirit.’ When you call the spirit of God and the power of God and Christ working in somebody, the devil, and you reject the means by which God is going to work to save someone, what more is God going to do?

So the question still stands. I often heard someone say, well, those in church don’t worry whether or not you’ve committed the unpardonable sin. The fact that you’re in church means that you’ve not committed the unpardonable sin. I’d love to tell you that, but that’s not true.

You know, the people who crucified Jesus went home and went to church the next day? So the idea that people who are churchgoing people cannot be guilty of the unpardonable sin, I’d love to tell you that. What I will tell you is when you start to worry about whether you’ve committed the unpardonable sin, that’s a good sign you haven’t because it’s the Holy Spirit that bring conviction, right? But just being in a church or being raised in a religion, that doesn’t mean that you can’t commit the unpardonable sin.

In the last days, someday, the whole world is going to commit the unpardonable sin. Isn’t that right? The time is going to come, it says in Daniel 12, when Michael stands up. You read there, ‘Michael stands and there is a time of trouble such as there never has been since there was a nation. When Christ ceases his intercession for simple humanity and he declares, as it says in Revelation 22, ‘Let him that is just be just still. Let him who is filthy be filthy still. Let the righteous be righteous, the wicked are wicked.’ There is no more changing teams. You are on one side or another.

And when that time comes, God will withdraw his spirit from the world in the capacity where it saves people. Those who have the mark of the beast, they’ve got the mark of the beast. And then the other group that has seal of God, they’ve got the seal of God. Life may go on for a little while on the planet, and the bible tells us that’s when the seven last plagues fall. The plagues fall on those who have the mark of the beast. You read that in Revelation 15, ‘Fearful time.’ You will have the majority of the world at that time, a lot of people still alive, but they’ve committed the unpardonable sin.

Jesus said in John 16:2 - ‘Yes, the time is coming whoever kills you will think he’s offering service to God.’ It’s a wrong concept to believe that just because a person is religious that they couldn’t have committed that sin.

As a matter of fact, there are three ways that I think you can commit the unpardonable sin. Let me see if I can tie this off for you. One way is not that common, actually. It’s for a person to say, I hear what the Holy Spirit is saying. I hear what you’re telling me about God and the plan of salvation. Look, I’m just not interested. I don’t believe it. I am comfortable where I’m at. I’m content. If you say I’m lost, I’m lost, leave me alone. So you’ve got the person who just shuts the door and says I have no interest in the things of God.

Then you’ve got the other group, group two, and the Holy Spirit brings them conviction and they realize that sin is bad and righteousness is good and they need to change. They can’t do it without God’s help, but they’re not willing and obedient. They don’t surrender all to Jesus. They keep holding back and they say today is not a good day and one of these days I’m going to make a change here or there, but not now. And they keep putting it off and they put it off and they keeping going one step after another beyond that sign that says, ‘Danger, warning.’ They keep thinking, well, I feel okay.

It kind of makes me think about the person who, you know, one day their heart starts to race and they go to the doctor and they say, you’ve got a little high blood pressure. You need to make some changes in your diet. And they think, all right, I’ll do that. Maybe for 24 hours they make changes in their diet and their heart goes back to the normal rate and they think, I guess I’m cured and they go back to their old diet. And then pretty soon they have shortness of breath a few months later and they go to the doctor. The doctor says, you know, you’ve got to do something about your diet. Oh, that scares them. They go home and they do something about the diet. Pretty soon, their breath returns to normal, they feel pretty. They say, hey, they open the refrigerator and it looks pretty good. And they slip back to their diet.

Now, I know I’m being really cruel right now because what I’m saying applies to all of us, doesn’t it? And then they have a heart attack. But the doctor, they get there in time and they zap them with the electric rods and they bring them back and the doctor says, hey, you’ve got to do something. You’re struggling to breath, your heart is racing, your cholesterol is filling your veins. You’ve got to change your life. And they say, boy, I mean business now. So they try it for a little while, but as soon as they start feeling better, they say, I’ll cheat a little here, cheat a little there. Pretty soon, life is all a cheat again. And that forbidden fruit is filling their veins with cholesterol.

You realize I’m just illustrating. Whatever your sin might be, we begin to rationalize and we just keep going and going and going. And then pretty soon, everybody’s gathered at their service saying, they knew they had a problem, but they just never did anything about it. Now you might be thinking, Pastor Doug, you’re being cruel, you’re describing me. I’m describing me, in case you were wondering. I want to change. I know I need to make some changes. I know there’s something in my life and who knows what your sin is, friends. It might be what you’re watching or reading. It could be what you’re eating, your shopping, it could be an affair, you’re thinking. I mean, we all know what sin is, right? But we keep hanging onto it. We get comfortable with our sin. And we never come to the point of surrendering it to Jesus.

You’ve got to finally come to the place where you say, hey, Lord, I believe it. I’m going to listen to the alarm that’s ringing in my ears. I’m going to turn around. That’s what repentance is. You don’t keep walking down the beach until the waves destroy you. You see the sign and you say, I believe it. I’m turning around. I want to live a different kind of life. And you avoid continuing on the road to destruction until there’s a point of no return.

Then there’s the third category and this is probably one of the most dangerous. And those are the ones in the category Jesus described. They refuse to admit the voice of the Spirit, but they continue through religious motions. Maybe they go church, they get baptized. They may not have any major moral failure in their life that you could identify, but they come to church and they park in the pew and they never grow in Christ. They become stagnant. They are not living in a vital relationship with Jesus. And they can get to where they are just lukewarm and they don’t have the Holy Spirit in their lives and they are the ones who are the most amazed in the judgment when they come to the Lord and they say, Lord, we went to church and we said our prayers and we gave our offerings twice a week and we weren’t extortioners, like that Pharisee that bragged. But Jesus said he did not go home justified. And he’ll say I don’t know you. That’s a dangerous group and that’s a big group.

Jesus said the hour is coming when many people in the world will be killing Christians thinking they’re serving God. They think they’re zealous. Paul was in the category, but Jesus got his attention, didn’t he? Paul was just on fire for God. But he was going the wrong way. He, of course, he said, I did it in ignorance.

So what do we do? You know, it happens by developing a habit of listening to the Holy Spirit when you hear it. When you see the evidence of God working around you, a lot of it has to do with timing. You know, with farming, timing is everything. There is a time when you can sow your wheat and there’s a time when you can throw wheat on the ground and nothing’s going to happen because it’s not the season for wheat.

There is a season in everybody’s life when the Holy Spirit speaks to them. And if they wait too long for that season to pass, then they may not get a crop. You can’t always choose when you’re going to decide to listen to God’s spirit. Some people know the truth, but when they finally think this would be a good time to repent, they have lost the capacity to repent and all they can do is say the harvest has passed and we are not saved. So it’s a question of also timing.

I don’t know about you, but for years I had one of those alarms, you still find them in some hotels, that had -- you could set the alarm, but then it had a very convenient feature on top called the snooze button. And especially when I travel from California to the East Coast and I’ve got to wake up at 3 in the morning, my body feels like it’s 3 in the morning because it’s an 8 o’clock meeting back there, it feels really early. And the hotel alarm goes off and I think, oh, man, just five more minutes. I’ve got to keep my mind clear. Snap and I’m out. And then the buzzer goes off again. Five more minutes. Eventually, you know, I get up. I’m not so bad about that. But, you know, some of these college students. We’re the parents of one of them that told us he slept through a class. And you probably have. Any of you ever sleep too long and miss an important appointment?

You can get to the place where you’re so used to hitting the snooze button and the alarm’s going off and you’re not reacting to it, you can subconsciously program yourself, but when the alarm goes off, you get where you don’t even hear it anymore. You don’t need to reach for the snooze button. You just ignore it.

So is the Holy Spirit speaking to you? Have you surrendered everything to Jesus? Have you listened to the voice of Him calling? The way that we prevent committing the unpardonable sin is by listening to the Holy Spirit, by knowing when God is telling us what the right thing is and what the wrong thing is and then by His grace and power, being willing to do His will. If you’re weak, we’re all weak, and if you struggle, we all struggle. But when you hear Him, are you willing to respond.

I’d like to pray with you today, Lord. Pray the Lord for each of you today. And I’d like to ask Him to speak to your heart and if there’s some area in your life where maybe you’ve been going one step too far past that sign or you’re playing games with the fuel gauge where it says point of no return. But you keep reaching out one more time for that forbidden fruit thinking that it’s just going to change all by itself someday.

Now, one day there will be no struggle involved in coming to Jesus. And we’re really playing with eternity when we do that, but today God is saying, look, today is the day to surrender all to Jesus, to come to Him. I’m calling you.

I’d like to pray with you, but before we do, reach for your hymnal and let’s turn to our closing hymn. We’ll be singing the first and the last verse of Softly and Tenderly, No. 287. Let’s stand, please. Let’s sing together.

We’ll be singing the last verse in just a moment, but I’d like to talk to you right now for just an additional minute. Do you believe Jesus came to save sinners from their sins? Do you believe he wants to save you from your sin? Now we all stumble and fall. I’m not talking about that and chances are that after our prayer today you may trip in the future. But I’m talking about sin reining in our lives.

Is there some area in your life where you are continuing to do something that you know is not God’s will? And you’re praying that he’ll forgive you, but you’re not really praying that he’ll take it away, that he’ll deliver you from it. If you’re willing and obedient, if the wicked with forsake the wickedness. You have to be willing.

Now, without the Lord, how much can we do without Jesus? Not only will the Lord forgive all kinds of sin, he can save you from all kinds of sin. He can change you from all kinds of sin. Can you think of an alcoholic that can’t be saved from alcohol? You don’t think the Lord can save a smoker from their cigarettes or the adulterer from their immorality? I believe that Jesus can save us from all those things and help us be new creatures. Today he wants to save you. He’s calling.

I think the world’s going to end soon, friends. I don’t think we have much time left, so I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to wait until Jesus stands up and probation closes. I don’t want probation to close for me before that time. And of course everyone knows that when you die, your probation is closed. We don’t know when that is. All the more reason for us to listen to the Holy Spirit when he’s speaking. During that season.

You know, as we sing this last verse, I’d just like to pray with you first. Are there some here that maybe would like to say Pastor Doug, pray for me. I have something in my life that I’d like God to deliver me from and give me victory over and maybe I’ve been procrastinating. I need to be changed. Would you be willing to lift your hands and say, Lord, I’m in that category. I want you to save me. I want you to help me. Don’t worry about anyone else’s hand represents, just think about what the Lord is saying to you right now.

Father in Heaven, I just pray that you’ll be with each of us here. Those who may be watching or listening, we’re talking about the nuts and bolts of the Christian life, not only coming to you for salvation, Lord, but really wanting to be new creatures, to be saved from our sins, to be delivered from these besetting vices and I pray that you’ll help us to experience that deliverance, Lord. Be with each person. You know what it means in their life.

I pray that you’ll show yourself a savior who is mighty and able to save and deliver and transform, give us new hearts and give us love for you, Lord. That must be the motive. And, Lord, right now we’re listening to you. And as we sign the final verse of this song, we just want to pray that the prayer that we’ve prayed right now might become reality, that we are coming to you. And we ask all this now in Christ’s name. Amen.

Now, I’m doing things different. I want to sing the last verse with you. Softly and Gently, verse three.

You know, I’d like to add, I’ve made a general appeal a moment ago because I was speaking to a lot of our regular members. But we may have visitors here today and the Holy Spirit was speaking to you for the first time and you really haven’t ever made a decision to surrender your life to Jesus. We’re going to have some Pastors that will be at the door to greet everybody as they leave and I hope that you’ll come up to us and say, you know, Pastor, I’d like to know more about what it means to live the Christian life. Maybe you’d like to study the bible or find out what it means to be baptized and be a Christian. Please come and talk to us. You’ve made a decision in your prayers today. Please let us know about it so we can help ground you in that decision and maintain a new beginning.

Now may the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord be gracious unto you and lift up the light of his countenance upon you and give you peace. We pray in Christ’s name. Amen.

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