Since the fall of man, God has been very patient despite man’s constant rebellion. Though God has also disciplined man in many ways, He has always been very forgiving. In the Bible, you can find many verses that tell us that God is merciful, gracious, forgiving, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love (e.g., Exodus 34:6, Numbers 14:18, Nehemiah 9:17, Psalms 86:15 But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, long suffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.). But there is also the reality of eternal damnation in hell, where sinners who have not been forgiven are destined as a consequence of an unrepentant life (Luke 13:3). So, is there a sin that God cannot forgive?
In Matthew 12:22-32 and Mark 3:22-30, Jesus speaks of the “unpardonable or unforgivable sin.” This sin is blasphemy; specifically, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Blasphemy is the willful disrespect of the name, being, or the work of God through verbal or written means. To characterize God, His work, or His name as evil or to negate the good that ought to be credited to Him is also regarded as blasphemy.
In this particular account of the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, Jesus had just exorcised a man possessed by a demon that had caused the man to be deaf and blind. The people who saw the miracle were amazed and started wondering if Jesus really was the long-awaited Messiah. But when a group of Pharisees heard them, they immediately stifled the crowd’s growing faith in Jesus. The Pharisees said, “This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils (Matthew 12:24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.).”
Despite the undeniable evidence that Jesus performed miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit, the Pharisees still chose to accuse Him of being possessed by the devil, thus blaspheming the Holy Spirit by discrediting Him as the source. Jesus then told everyone, “And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come (Matthew 12:32 And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come. KJV).”
However, despite the gravity of this blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, the “unpardonable sin” is no longer applicable today. Jesus would have to be on earth like before and people would have to witness Him perform miracles personally and then accuse Him of relying upon the power of the devil. But Jesus is not on earth anymore. He already ascended and was seated at the right hand of the Father. Hence, the unforgivable sin cannot be repeated anymore in our time.
Yet, living an unrepentant life can still bring a person to eternal damnation in hell when he or she dies. The Bible says that the wages of sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23), and the only way to be saved is to repent of all sins and receive forgiveness and redemption through accepting the death, resurrection, and Lordship of Jesus Christ (Romans 10:9).
Because of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, all sins can be forgiven. Regardless of how numerous and severe we think our sins are or that we think that they are unforgivable, God’s forgiveness is vast enough to pardon them all. For there is now no condemnation due to Christ (Romans 8:1). Because of this assurance, we no longer have to live in fear of the eternal consequence of the law but can live in awe and reverence to the Lordship of Christ. We now live a life of repentance—not that we no longer need to repent of any later sin we commit after receiving Christ – that would be abusing God’s grace – but that we are enabled by the Spirit to overcome sin and live a renewed life.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
(1 John 1:9 KJV)
Because of God’s great love for us, we have been given the sacrificial gift of salvation through Christ (John 3:16). So, regardless of what they’ve done, for those who have no relationship with Christ and have not received Him as Lord and Savior, He is always waiting to come into their lives, provided they invite Him.
“The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.”
(Psalm 103:8-12 KJV)