“And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God. And everyone 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. And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” Luke 12:8-12
Is there a sin that can never be forgiven? In today’s verses Jesus tells us that anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. John also mentions a sin that leads to death, “If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that.” (1 John 5:16 ESV) However John does not give us a clue as to what this sin is. Jesus does and here it helps to compare the similar account in Matthew to give us better understanding.
Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.” Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can someone enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come. (Matthew 12:22-32 ESV)
Matthew tends to do a more chronological account of Jesus ministry than doe Luke who tends to give the account in the order he sees as more important. Or maybe Luke wants to add additions things Jesus taught between the casting out of the demon and what Jesus said about blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
What can we learn from Matthew? After Jesus cast out the demon the Pharisees claim that Jesus is casting out demons by the power of Satan, Beelzebul. Jesus uses this claim to teach about how a house divided against itself cannot stand. And it is here that I found a new interpretation of the sin that cannot be forgiven. The Pharisees were claiming that the miracles Jesus did were the work of Satan. Could the unforgivable sin be attributing God’s work to Satan? Possibly. I had always thought that the unforgivable sin was denying God. But on reflection that seems to not be the case. After all if denying God is unforgivable then how to explain how the Gentiles were saved. How do we explain how an atheist can come to know Jesus.
Fortunately for the believer, we have the Holy Spirit to guide us. Jesus tells His disciples and us not to worry about how to defend ourselves against those who would persecute us. The Holy Spirit will provide us with the words we need.
If you are interested on further research I found an interesting article by Kyle Butt, M.A. posted on the Apologetics Press site called Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit—The “Unpardonable Sin”. It can be found here: http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=11&article=1218
Have a blessed day,