The Unpardonable Sin...What is it (not)?

This morning I preached a message on the "unpardonable sin" in Matthew 12:32.  Because of the breadth and depth of false teaching on this subject, I intentionally spent a lot of time discussing what the unpardonable sin is NOT.  Since I went over them pretty quickly, a few people asked for this list tonight.  Here they are in the form of true statements designed to thrash oft-repeated fallacies.

1. A saved person cannot commit this sin.

If you are worried that you’ve committed it, you haven’t.  The person who has committed this sin can never be forgiven.  It is impossible, by definition, for an eternally-forgiven, eternally-secure person to commit a sin for which there is no forgiveness.

John 5:24 – “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life and does not come into judgment but has passed out of death into life.”

Here Jesus teaches 3 tenses of salvation.  As a believer, I have passed (past tense) from death into life.  I have (present tense) eternal life.  And I will not come (future tense) into judgment.

If you do not believe in eternal security, you will stay confused about many facets of the unpardonable sin.  The purpose of this post is not to teach that glorious Bible doctrine but the fact is, an eternally secure believer cannot commit the unpardonable sin.

2.  It is not teaching against charismatic doctrine.

Several people have accused me of having committed the unpardonable sin because of my teaching regarding speaking in tongues and being "slain in the Spirit."

First, I have never preached against tongues. I’ve merely said that what we see today IS NOT TONGUES. Secondly, even if I were wrong, the unpardonable sin is not a sin of ignorance.  It is not a sin committed by a mistaken interpretation of Scripture.  It is an eyes-wide-open sin committed in the face of a full revelation of light.

3.  It is not “dying lost.”

I've heard this one most of my life in various places.  Those who teach this limit the unpardonable sin to an act that is not ultimately committed until a person dies.  But think about it…a dead person cannot sin!

Dr. John R. Rice in his book, Crossing the Deadline writes, “All who die unconverted do cross the deadline. God’s Holy Spirit does cease to call. Such sinners are forever past repentance. So what happens to millions at death may happen to some before death.”

Jesus, however, is describing a sin committed by those who are VERY MUCH ALIVE. Though they may live another 100 years, the Spirit of God will never again deal with them about their sin, they will never feel the tug to salvation, and they are as destined for hell as if they were already there.

4.  It is not “merely” resisting or rejecting Christ.

Granted, all Christ-rejecters will die lost unless the Spirit of God enlightens their eyes and they repent before death.  But if "rejecting Christ" or "resisting Christ" was unpardonable then the only people ever saved would be those who respond the FIRST time they are convicted of sin.

This notion is also based on the false belief that everyone is going to heaven except those who reject Christ.  The Bible teaches exactly the opposite.  As sinners, we are all under the just condemnation of heaven.  Everyone is destined for and deserving of hell except those who receive Christ, not the other way around.

5.  It is not adultery.

Adultery is a terrible and horrible sin.  But, simply put, there is no such sin as “perpetual adultery.”

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (in part) – “Adulterers will (not) inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you; but you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”

Sorry to bother some readers, but if an adulterer has repented, he no longer has "2 wives."  Your grandma may have taught you that but the Bible does not.  There's no way to have "2 wives" without being an adulterer and the text above clearly teaches it's possible to be a FORMER adulterer.

King David, the woman at the well, and the "woman caught in adultery" could sing in 3-part harmony that there is "grace that is greater than all my sin."

6.  It is not murder.

David was a man after God’s own heart.  Yet he was a murderer.

Paul was complicit in Stephen’s death.  He described himself as a violent aggressor.  He goes on to tell Timothy (1 Timothy 1) that as the worst of all sinners, his salvation was an example that Christ would save anyone...even a murderer.

7. It is not suicide.

This thought is based on the false belief that you can lose salvation.  Presumably, a person who kills himself (at least by an instantaneous method) committed a sin without time to repent.

But a person's destiny in eternity is not determined by how they died but by what they did in response to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Interestingly, those who teach that taking your own life is an unpardonable sin do not often think about the sin of gluttony.  Many overweight and unhealthy preachers are killing themselves one porkchop at a time.

8.  It is not sexual perversion.

We live in a sex-crazed and sex-saturated world.  But the truth of the Bible is:

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 – “Neither fornicators…nor adulterers…nor effeminate…will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you; but you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”

The word effeminate = perverted = twisted.

I admit that if I were the Lord, crimes against innocent children might be unforgivable.  But thankfully, I am not the Lord.  He promises forgiveness for even the most heinous of all perversions.  Those trapped in bondage to sexual perversion can repent of their sins and discover the truth of the great old hymn,

There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel's veins and sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.  The dying thief rejoiced to see that fountain in his day.  And there may I, though vile as he, wash all my sins away!

9.  It is not profanity.

Admittedly, I cannot stand filthy talk.  And specifically, It makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck when people take God’s name in vain.

Those who teach that the unpardonable sin is profanity typically draw from Christ's use of the word "speak" when describing this blasphemy.  But the root of the sin is in the heart, not the mouth.  See Matthew 12:25.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (in part) – “Revilers will (not) inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you; but you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”

Several reliable commentators point out the the word "revilers" references people with filthy language.  They revile with their speech.

People often take the name of God the Father in vain.
People often take the name of God the Son in vain.
But I’ve never heard anyone take the name of the Spirit in vain as a curse word.

10.  It is not homosexuality

No sin in history has pushed and demanded more acceptance by the culture and the church than the sin of sodomy.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (in part) – “Homosexuals will (not) inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you; but you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”

In addition to reaffirming the sinful nature of homosexual relationships, this verse also teaches that it is gloriously and graciously possible to be a former homosexual.  One of the biggest lies that Satan whispers to people trapped in this lifestyle is "God made you this way.  Don't deny your own nature.  Be at peace with who you are as a homosexual because it can't be changed."  This text unequivocally teaches that there is freedom, liberty, and release from the bondage of this sinful life...and such were some of you!

Through the years many members of our own church have expressed their repentant spirit over this sin and they would each testify that they have found their pastor to be filled with mercy and grace. But my compassion and grace could never begin to compare to the mercy received from the Lord Jesus!

For these sins and all others except blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, there is free and full forgiveness to all who will repent.