Last updated on December 1st, 2019
Can you accidentally commit the unforgivable sin? Have you ever been afraid that you committed the unforgivable sin? I used to have those fears myself too. I even had a family member ask someone if they were just playing around as a kid doing it, would that count?
I’m going to show you that you don’t have to be afraid. Because as scripture seems to suggest to me, no person today can commit the unforgivable sin. It’s as simple as that. You can never worry about it again. Of course I’m sure you’d like an explanation first, so allow me to explain.
What is the unforgivable sin?
The unforgivable sin is known as blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. It’s only mentioned 3 times in scripture. For a sin that you could never be forgiven of, you’d think this sin would be mentioned more often to help make sure no one ever committed it. But as always, God knows what He’s doing, and does everything for a reason. Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is mentioned in Mathew 12:31, Mark 3:29, and Luke 12:10. Let’s read these verses together.
Matthew 12:31 “Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven.”
Mark 3:29 “but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”—
What Is Blasphemy?
Each of these verses basically expresses the same thing. A person won’t be forgiven for blasphemy against the Spirit. What is blaspheme/blasphemy? Well the Greek words for blasphemy used in the gospels were blasphēmia and blasphēmeō. The Strong’s definition defines it in a view different ways. To vilify, impious and reproachful speech to the divine majesty, evil speaking, railing, defaming, reviling, and so on. While this is a good definition to have, perhaps we can get a little more specific in this meaning. Let’s take a look at Matthew 12 again, and read from verse 22 to verse 32.
Matthew 12:22-32 states “22 Then a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute was brought to [a]Jesus, and He healed him, so that the mute man spoke and saw. 23 All the crowds were amazed, and were saying, “This man cannot be the Son of David, can he?” 24 But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “This man casts out demons only by [b]Beelzebul the ruler of the demons.”
25 And knowing their thoughts Jesus said to them, “[c]Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and [d]any city or house divided against itself will not stand. 26 If Satan casts out Satan, he [e]is divided against himself; how then will his kingdom stand? 27 If I by [f]Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? For this reason they will be your judges. 28 But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29 Or how can anyone enter the strong man’s house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house.
30 He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters.
31 “Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. 32 Whoever [g]speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever [h]speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.”
Matthew 12:22-32 Meaning
So Jesus healed a demon possessed man, and the Pharisees said he “casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of demons”. Jesus explains that the devil can’t cast out the devil otherwise his kingdom wouldn’t stand. Then he goes on to mention the unforgivable sin. It would seem to me that mentioning the sin after condemning the Pharisees accusation would suggest that was the sin they committed.
The Pharisees accusing Jesus of casting out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of demons seems to be unforgivable sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
Historical teachings on the unforgivable sin
Given the seriousness of this issue, many have attempted to try to give others understanding on this sin.
Catholic teaching has various conclusions on what blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is. From speaking insults to deliberately refusing repentance and salvation. Thomas Aquinas argued there are six sins that are blaspheme against the Holy Spirit. I won’t post them here because I don’t believe there’s any scriptural basis to the conclusions. None of the verses cited specifically mention the unforgivable sin. But Catholic teaching ultimately concludes any living person can have hope for forgiveness through baptism or confessional.
Eastern Christianity argues the unforgivable sin of “Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit” is conscious and hardened opposition to the truth. This is according to the words of Serafim Alexivich Slobodskoy in The Eighth Article of the Creed
Protestantism denominations have also had different conclusions on blasphemy. John Calvin is known for popularizing the doctrine of predestination and other ideas that are the foundation of Calvinism. He believed the sin was the act of being so constrained by the power of divine truth that one could not claim ignorance, but still resist the truth for the sake of resisting. Jacob Arminius’s views influenced some of today’s Christian denominations like Methodists and Seventh Day Adventists. He believed a rejection of Christ through hatred of Christ was blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.
John Wesley, who founded the Methodist church, argued blasphemy was when a person rejects Jesus after confession or declaring the works of Jesus as works of the evil one. Prominent televangelist Billy Graham believed it was refusing to turn to God and accept his forgiveness. Protestants in general conclude that one who has committed the sin is no longer able to repent. So they believe anyone fearful of having committed it has not done so.
Going back to what the Pharisees did in Matthew 12, you can find a similar sequence of events when Jesus mentions this sin in Mark 3:22-29, and in Luke 11:5 before Jesus mentions the sin in Luke 12.
Mark 3:22-29 states “22 The scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by [a]Beelzebul,” and “He casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons.” 23 And He called them to Himself and began speaking to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26 If Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but [b]he is finished! 27 But no one can enter the strong man’s house and plunder his property unless he first binds the strong man, and then he will plunder his house.
28 “Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”
Luke 11:15 states “ But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons.”
Now I understand the verse in Mark 3 states “whoever” but think about this. The Apostles never mention the unforgivable sin of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit to the Christians in any of their letters. If it was something we had to be so concerned about, why didn’t Apostle Paul or Apostle Peter write or speak about it to Christians in their teachings? Read all of Acts and the rest of the New Testament. To the best of my knowledge, blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is never mentioned again after being briefly discussed in the Gospels.
Can you accidentally commit the unforgivable sin?
All of this increases my leaning towards the conclusion that this sin was a sin committed by a specific people in a specific situation. The specific people being the Pharisees, and the specific situation of them speaking their false accusation against Jesus when he was performing miracles by the Spirit of God.
Therefore, it follows in my conclusion that one cannot accidentally commit the unforgivable sin. They can’t because Jesus is no longer in the flesh performing these miracles in our presence for any of us to speak the evil the Pharisees spoke against the power with which He was performing his miracles. Perhaps there’d be no hope for anyone who witnessed such miraculous acts and still denied the divine authority that Jesus acted in, claiming it to be works of evil. That would in fact seem unforgivable.
At best, if the unforgivable sin is a sin one can still commit today, it’s a deliberate sin. Meaning the Pharisees didn’t just stumble over their words to Jesus and commit blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. The verses don’t indicate in any way they accidentally said what they said. I would imagine that would be a very important part of the story the authors would have noted. The Pharisees came face to face with Jesus (not privately). They said what they said with no indication of hesitation in the text. And Jesus responded to it moments after they said it.
So can you accidentally commit the unforgivable sin? I conclude that it’s not possible today, but if it was, then it couldn’t be committed accidentally.
If the Bible instructs us to not worry or be anxious, then it’s a sin itself to even worry about the unpardonable sin. You can learn more about how worry is a sin in my previous post I wrote, “Is Worry a Sin? How God Delivers You Peace“.
I hope this eased yours fears about if one can accidentally commit the unforgivable sin. It’s my prayer that as many people as possible who’ve ever feared this will see this post, so we can all live in the comfort of the hope and salvation that we know we can all have through Jesus.
Peace to all those who are in Christ.