The Unpardonable Sin - Matthew 12:31-32

The Gospel of Matthew: The King and His Kingdom  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented
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Jesus teaches about the unpardonable sin and how there is no forgiveness for it now, or in the age to come.

Introduction: We have a God who forgives. We read in Exodus 34:6-7,
6And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, 7 keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.”
In the New Testament, we read in 1 John 1:9,
9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Yes, our God forgives.
Our God forgave our first parents, Adam and Eve, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Israel, King David, and countless others throughout the Old Testament. Our God forgave His people for terrible and rebellious sins. As we move into the New Testament, we see that God forgave tax collectors (like Matthew) and sinners, as well as Saul who persecuted the early church and killed Christ's followers (Acts 9). God's grace and compassion are consistent themes throughout all of Scripture.
Corrie Ten Boom once remarked, “God forgives our sins and buries them in the deepest ocean, and then puts up a sign that reads, “No fishing allowed.”
Is there an unforgivable sin? Well, let’s jump into our text and find out what Jesus taught about this subject.

I. Every sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven men – 12:31a

31 “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men,
Remember, when you read a “Therefore” in the Scripture you are to pause and ask, “Why is it there for?”
Well, we must look back at verses 22-30, where the Pharisees had just accused Jesus of casting out a demon by the work of Satan. Considering this, Jesus says,
I say to you,
Jesus is speaking from divine authority.
every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men,
Please don’t miss that Jesus is very specific with His words. Jesus said that every sin and blasphemy would be forgiven men. The word “sin” means to miss the mark, to trespass, or to come short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23). And the word “blasphemy” means to speak evil. Jesus says that every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men. Thank God for forgiveness or we would all be in a very precarious position.
Here is a list of sins and blasphemy that I came up with. And I do not doubt that my list is very incomplete. Here are the sins and blasphemy that will be forgiven:
· Lying
· Taking God’s Name in vain
· Stealing
· Adultery
· Cheating
· Murder
· Gossip
· Profanity
· Cursing
· Drunkenness
· Immorality
· Covetousness
· Blasphemy – to speak evil of
Every sin and blasphemy is forgivable. Jesus said so! And I take “every” to mean every. I do believe that we must confess our sins to find forgiveness from them.
Now, is there an unforgivable sin? Well, that question brings us to our next point.

II. The blasphemy of the Holy Spirit shall not be forgiven – 12:31b

but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men.
Underline the word, “but”. The dictionary tells us that this word is used to introduce a phrase or clause contrasting with what has already been mentioned. Such as:
“he stumbled but didn’t fall”
but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men.
It appears that the blasphemy mentioned in the first part of this verse is just what we might consider everyday ordinary evil speaking. But the blasphemy mentioned in the second part of this verse is more direct and it is against the Holy Spirit.
The word blasphemy means, the willful, outwardly expressed, and impenitent slander against the Holy Spirit, when Jesus Christ’s mighty works, clearly performed by the power of the Holy Spirit, are attributed to Satan, thus subjecting Christ to public disgrace.
“Most scholars agree that the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit refers to attributing the miracles Jesus performed through the power of the Spirit to the evil one.”[1]
Let me share with you what has been taught by various Churches and church leaders about the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit:
· Eastern Christianity taught - "Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit" is conscious and hardened opposition to the truth, "because the Spirit is truth" (1 John 5:6). Conscious and hardened resistance to the truth leads man away from humility and repentance, and without repentance, there can be no forgiveness. That is why the sin of blasphemy against the Spirit cannot be forgiven since one who does not acknowledge his sin does not seek to have it forgiven.[2]
· Roman Catholic Church taught - The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that, while no sin is absolutely "unforgivable", some sins represent a deliberate refusal to repent and accept the infinite mercy of God; a person committing such a sin refuses God's forgiveness, which can lead to self-condemnation to Hell. In other words, one damns oneself by final impenitence (refusal to repent), as taught by John Paul II.
· Reformed Theologian John Calvin taught - I say, therefore, that he sins against the Holy Spirit who, while so constrained by the power of divine truth that he cannot plead ignorance, yet deliberately resists, and that merely for the sake of resisting.
· Evangelical Lutheran Synod taught - that it is a callous rejection of the truth on the part of one who would already have known and embraced the truth, and it also must include voluntary and atrocious verbal assaults against the Spirit. The sin of unbelief – by its definition – is a sin of which there can be repentance, even when we are discussing those who once embraced the truth but now do not (see Rom. 11:23). The end results for a person who persists in unbelief and for a person who commits the sin against the Holy Spirit are, of course, the same: eternal damnation.
· Methodist founder John Wesley - discussed the unforgivable sin in a sermon titled A Call to Backsliders, in which he wrote that "that this blasphemy is absolutely unpardonable; and that, consequently, for those who have been guilty of this, God 'will be no more entreated'."
· Southern Baptist Evangelist Billy Graham taught - continuing to reject Jesus is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
Now, as I read our text (Matthew 12) it seems clear to me that blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is attributing the work of Jesus to the devil, which was what the Pharisees and the scribes were doing (12:24).
The Bible tells us that Jesus Christ was Spirit-filled. In other words, Jesus did His miracles through the power of the Holy Spirit. It was the work of the Spirit that the Pharisees discredited. They said that Jesus Christ did His work not through God, but through Beelzebub, the prince of demons. This is the blasphemy that cannot be forgiven.
One author penned, “One view of the difference between these sins is that it is blasphemy against God's human messenger that can be forgiven, but blasphemy against God's divine messenger cannot.”[3]
When we attribute the work of God to Satan that is the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. And Jesus says here that this sin will not be forgiven men.
Why is this sin unforgivable? Because the avenue to forgiveness has been rejected. The only way that any of us can have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ is by the convicting work of the Holy Spirit (John 16:8-12). If we reject the work of the Holy Spirit, we cannot be saved.
Don’t be guilty of this unforgivable sin.

III. Speak a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven Him – 12:32a

32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him;
What does the word “Anyone” mean here in verse 32? It means just that, anyone. Jesus taught that anyone could speak evil of Him (blasphemy) and still find forgiveness.
Who speaks a word against the Son of Man,
Before I came to Jesus Christ, it didn’t bother me too much to use God’s name, or Jesus’ name in a blasphemous way. I was very flipped when it came to the name of God. I spoke just like the rest of the unsaved people around me.
Movies Abuse the Name of Jesus
How many actors and actresses use the name of Jesus in a blasphemous way? It’s almost impossible today to watch a movie and not hear God’s name or Jesus’ name taken in a blasphemous way.
Lost People Abuse the Name of Jesus
However, we don’t have to walk far away from this church building to hear God’s name or Jesus’ name taken in vain. Lost people are always using God’s name and Jesus’ name inappropriately or in a sinful manner.
Are you aware that orthodox Jews will not even speak the name of God for fear that they may blaspheme it?
it will be forgiven him;
How many times have you been guilty of using the name of Jesus in an unworthy way? Ten times? Perhaps hundreds of times. Thank God that we can confess our sins and find forgiveness (1 John 1:9).
May I remind us that just because we can find forgiveness when we speak against the Son of Man it doesn’t permit us to continue to do so. I would hope that we as Christians have moved on from sinfully using Jesus’ name.

IV. But whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven – 12:32b

but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.
Here we have the word “but” again. Underline it in your Bible. There is a contrast being mentioned here. In the first half of verse 32, there is forgiveness available, but in the second half of verse 32, there is no forgiveness.
William Barclay penned, “In the end, no one can be saved if they pridefully and permanently reject the Spirit of God. This is the Spirit who draws us to salvation, who alone leads us to repentance and applies God's forgiveness. We dare not reject His testimony to the Son. Even as we consider the danger of blaspheming the Son and the Spirit, we must be careful not to completely disconnect the two from one another, for ultimately to reject the Spirit is finally to reject the Son. As 1 Corinthians 12:3 says, "No one speaking by the Spirit of God says, 'Jesus is cursed,' and no one can say, 'Jesus is Lord,' except by the Holy Spirit.”[4]
Charles Spurgeon wrote, “Hardened hearts never repent, and consequently are never forgiven.”
I have also read the following about the unpardonable sin, “Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit has to do with accusing Jesus Christ of being demon-possessed instead of Spirit-filled. This particular type of blasphemy cannot be duplicated today. The Pharisees were in a unique moment in history: they had the Law and the Prophets, they had the Holy Spirit stirring their hearts, they had the Son of God Himself standing right in front of them, and they saw with their own eyes the miracles He did. Never before in the history of the world (and never since) had so much divine light been granted to men; if anyone should have recognized Jesus for who He was, it was the Pharisees. Yet they chose defiance. They purposely attributed the work of the Spirit to the devil, even though they knew the truth and had the proof. Jesus declared their willful blindness to be unpardonable. Their blasphemy against the Holy Spirit was their final rejection of God’s grace. They had set their course, and God was going to let them sail into perdition unhindered.”[5]
it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.
Jesus told the crowd that the Pharisees’ blasphemy against the Holy Spirit “will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come” (Matthew 12:32). This is another way of saying that their sin would never be forgiven, ever. Not now, not in eternity. As Mark 3:29 puts it, “They are guilty of an eternal sin.”[6]
What is the unpardonable sin today? It is the rejection of the work of the Holy Spirit to bring you to Jesus Christ for salvation. To reject the wooing work of the Holy Spirit is indeed an eternal sin. I assure you that you do not want to be guilty of this sin.
Conclusion: So, as we wrap up our study of God’s Word what are the takeaway truths from these two verses? They are:
1. We have a God that forgives every sin and blasphemy.
2. The blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men.
3. Don’t be guilty of attributing the work of Jesus Christ to Satan.
4. When the Spirit of God is at work in your life to bring you to Jesus, let Him bring you to Jesus.
5. Do not reject the avenue of forgiveness. The Holy Spirit points us to Jesus Christ.
6. Do not speak evil of the Holy Spirit.
7. There is a sin that cannot be forgiven in this age, or the age to come. It is an eternal sin.
[1]Moody Bible Commentary [2] Serafim Alexivich Slobodskoy, The Eighth Article of the Creed [3]William Barclay, 2:47 [4]Ibid [5] [6]Ibid
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