The Unpardonable Sin
The Bible states, “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries” (Hebrews 10:26,27). Some get discouraged when they read the above passage and don’t understand the demarcation point between sinning and receiving forgiveness on one hand and committing the unpardonable sin on the other hand.
To sin willfully means to continue to sin willfully. As the context makes evident (Hebrews 10: 29), the reference here is not to single acts of sin committed in the full knowledge of their evil character, but to the attitude of mind that continues when a person willfully renounces Christ, rejects salvation, and refuses the Holy Spirit. This is deliberate, persistent, defiant sin. It is considered a rejection of the original decision to accept salvation in Christ and to yield one’s heart and live to Him. It is a intentional apostasy, and leads to the unpardonable sin.
Jesus referred to this sin, “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come” (Matthew 12:31, 32).
In this case, the conscience is hardened by continued resistance to the convictions of the Holy Spirit, and one may hardly be aware that he has made the deadly decision. Therefore, a person troubled with a constant fear that he has committed the “unpardonable sin,” has clear evidence that he has not committed this sin.
A person whose conscience convicts him may deal with the problem and remove the conviction in one of two ways: He may submit to the changing power of the Holy Spirit, and respond to the voice of the Holy Spirit by getting right with God and man, or he may harden his conscience and erase its continuous conviction by silencing the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30). The person who takes the latter path cannot repent, because his mind has been forever made insensitive, and he does not desire to repent. He has willfully put his heart beyond the reach of God’s grace.
Hope For the Repentant
All sinners are in a state of revolt against God (Romans 8:7). But, as Paul explained to the Athenians, before sinners have received the knowledge of the truth, God winks at their ignorance (Acts 17:30). Before the light of truth shines into men’s hearts, God does not hold them accountable for the darkness that prevails there (John 15:22; Ezekiel 3:18–21; Luke 23:34; 1 Timothy 1:13).
God loves sinners, and, indeed, sent His Son to save them (John 1:4, 5, 9–12; 3:16; Matt. 9:13). But when light comes and men choose darkness instead, they stand self-condemned before God (John 3:19), and “there remaineth no more sacrifice for [their] sins” (Hebrews 10:26; James 4:17).
But if the believer slips while struggling to overcome sin, then he can claim the following promise and be confident that the Lord will not just forgive his sin but also heal him and give him total victory: “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). Thus, the demarcation point of God’s rejection and forgiveness depends on man’s willingness to repent, when he hears the voice of God.
In His service,