The Unforgivable/Eternal Sin

The Unforgiveable Sin

  • 26 For if we willfully persist in sin after having received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins 27 but a fearful prospect of judgment and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries (Hebrews 10:26-27)

Have you ever wondered, if Jesus’s death paid the sin debt in full, why there is an unforgiveable sin: blaspheming the Holy Spirit?  Our earliest gospel Mark comments:

  • 28 “Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter, 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness but is guilty of an eternal sin”— 30 for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.” (Mark 3:28-30; see also Matthew 12:30-32, Luke 12:8-10).”

This blaspheming the holy spirit is a type of breaking the 3rd commandment, knowingly perverting the will of God like those Jewish elite who pretended it was God’s will to kill Jesus, but in this case it means those whose hearts have been convicted by the Holy Spirit by the cross and resurrection but who still persist against the mandates of Jesus.  Hebrews comments that:

  • 4 For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened and have tasted the heavenly gift and have shared in the Holy Spirit 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come 6 and then have fallen away, since they are crucifying again the Son of God to their own harm and are holding him up to contempt. (Hebrews 6:4-6, see also 10:26-31)

It is not the popular interpretation of paying the sin debt that the cross accomplishes, but moral influence of awakening one’s own guilt and realizing how the sin of the world that is also in you wrongfully horrifically tortured and humiliatingly executed Jesus, God’s specially chosen one.  Luke comments that:

  • 39 One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come in your kingdom.” 43 He replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:39-43)

This is why Satan couldn’t be forgiven.  He knew who Jesus truly was but still worked against him.  The Gospel of John talks of how the whole world will be convicted by the Holy Spirit, which means the story of Jesus will be preached to the world, and once people see their guilt and Jesus’s innocence, if they don’t relent they will be lost.  Matthew comments

  • 13 “Enter through the narrow gate, for the gate is wide and the road is easy[a] that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. 14 For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it. (Matthew 7:13-14)

There is a decided break between the Hebrew tradition and the New Testament here because passages we find that are similar to the eternal sin passages in the Old Testament are qualified that they make forgiveness harder, but not impossible.  For instance, we read:

  • A very similar, although not identical, parallel to Matthew 12:31–32 can be found in the Avot of Rabbi Natan: But someone who profanes the heavenly Name has no possibility of repenting and waiting for forgiveness. Suffering will not cleanse him. Yom Kippur will not atone for him. They are all held over until death comes and cleanses him. This is what is meant by “This sin will not be forgiven until you die.  However, Talmudic sources in several places qualify the above and similar statements and explain it to mean only that repentance is made more difficult because of the severity of such a sin. The Talmud’s golden rule is that the gates of repentance are never, ever closed and, to quote Maimonides, ‘…even if one is a heretic his whole life and repents on his dying day, his penitence is accepted.’

Clearly, we have a development in the New Testament beyond the Hebrew tradition, because if there is one thing the God of the Old Testament always can do and does do, it’s forgive..  What is obviously going on here is the question of justice is being addressed, because if someone can be a Hitler but still be forgiven if they simply repent on their death bed, this isn’t justice.  So, the idea is if someone is terrible despite believing in their own guilt and Jesus’s innocence, they are guilty of the unforgiveable or eternal sin.  Clearly, the penal substitution interpretation of the cross is wrong, because the eternal sin isn’t wiped away as part of the supposed sin debt.  It is a Moral Influence cross.