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“How do you explain the ‘unforgivable sin?’ I thought all sins could be forgiven by God.”—Steven
On its face, this passage (Mt. 12:30-32) poses a dilemma for those of us who believe that God can and will forgive anyone for anything if repentance and confession are genuine. We sometimes say, “No sin is too big for God to forgive …,” which is what we understand from many passages (e.g., I Jn. 1:9).
Surely, his grace is comprehensive and efficacious for all who gratefully receive it.
Scripture indicates however, that there is indeed a limit to forgiveness. Jesus himself tied together forgiveness and “forgivableness;” i.e., one must be forgiving if one is to receive forgiveness (Mt. 6:14-15; 18:21-35).
God is prepared to forgive but the “heart” condition of an unforgiving person is such that he may be incapable of receiving forgiveness.
By the same reasoning, persistent, fixed rejection of God and his kingdom and his grace is not, by definition, forgivable.
There is no forgiveness from God where there is outright rejection of God. He does not force his forgiveness on anyone.
The term “blasphemy” refers to defamatory or contemptuous language directed toward God. In Mt. 12:22ff, Jesus warned that attributing to Satan the miraculous acts of the Holy Spirit is blasphemous and cannot be forgiven.
Why? Because such doubt and cynicism are tantamount to resolute disbelief in God, the existence of which does not predispose one to seeking forgiveness from him.
Jesus admitted that it might be possible for the people who were there in the moment to misread his performing of miraculous deeds (Mt. 12:32).
He said, however, that a man who arrogantly denounces what is unmistakably God’s work as the devil’s work has placed himself in a position in which he is highly unlikely to recognize his need for forgiveness, much less accept it (see Acts 18:5-6).
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To send questions or to communicate with Pastor McCullough, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.