October 16, 2021 - The Unforgivable Sin - A Reflection on Luke 12:8-12

“I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God. But whoever disowns me before others will be disowned before the angels of God. And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”

In today’s passage we come across something that has been a much debated topic in Christianity: the unforgivable sin. Jesus says that anyone “who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven”. It has given many Christians, including this speaker, anxious moments because there may have been times, especially before being “born again” that we have spoken against the Holy Spirit. So, what is this “unforgivable sin”?

And how can a sin be unforgivable when Scripture states that everyone can be saved. Hebrews 7:25 says that Jesus “is able for all time to save those who approach God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. Acts 10:43 says that “all the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” And 1 John 1:9 says that “If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

It is in these very verses, however (and similar ones) that we find our answer. God is able to save all who approach him. Everyone who believes in Jesus will receive forgiveness of sins. If we confess our sins, we will be forgiven and cleansed form all righteousness. But when we don’t do this, we are basically telling God that we don’t need his salvation or his Holy Spirit; effectively blaspheming the Holy Spirit. What forgiveness is there to be obtained then? None is sought.

But what if we accept salvation? Is it possible to blaspheme the Holy Spirit then? The short answer is: Yes. Because our life has to reflect our salvation. Jesus said: "the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you” (John 14:26). But we can shut our ears to the Holy Spirit, continuing to be worldly people. Take heed of what James says: “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?” (James 4:4).

Basically, when we do this, we tell God we have no use for his Holy Spirit and continue mindlessly in our sin. The author of the letter to the Hebrews has these chilling things to say to those who deliberately keep on sinning: “How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?” (Hebrews 10:29).

So, what can we do if we have been guilty of this? Turn to God in repentance. Let us do this now.