The One Sin God Cannot Forgive
John ShoreBesides here on Crosswalk, John blogs on JohnShore.com.
- 2008 Dec 01
Have you ever wondered whether there's any sin so bad God can't forgive it? You have? Why? What are you planning on doing, anyway?
Sorry. If St. Thomas Aquinas taught us anything, it's that humor and theology go together like confession and hand puppets. So I apologize.
As it turns out, the Bible tells us there is one sin beyond forgiving. We find it at Matthew 12:31-32, where Jesus says, “And so I tell you every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.”
Like just about everything Jesus said (and there's no shame in admitting this) this is at first a deeply confusing statement. For centuries theologians, philosophers, pundits and others basically unsuited for normal employment have bent their minds trying to decipher what exactly Jesus meant by that quote. If Jesus and the Holy Spirit are one being, they've pondered, how is it okay to blaspheme against one, but not the other?
I believe that what Jesus meant in the above quote is that he understands why people might reject him; he has, after all, presented himself in mortal form, which is bound to leave some people unconvinced.
I believe that what he is saying there is, "Fair enough. I can forgive you if you insist that I, Jesus Christ, the Son of Man---the human-seeming person you see here today---am lying, am not who I say I am. Apparently raising the dead just isn't enough for some people, but whatever. That's why I gave you free will; everyone has the power to doubt. But once the Holy Spirit has eradicated your reason to doubt the reality of who I am by awakening within in you the certain knowledge of it, you and I have bonded. Then the truth is within you. And if you later reject that truth---if, having accepted me into your house, you then kick me back out again---then you have visited upon yourself a woeful state that even I cannot relieve."
This means (yay!) that a Christian cannot commit the one unpardonable sin, because doing so would mean they're not Christian, since it's impossible to simultaneously believe in Christ and reject him. So we believers can rest assured that there's nothing we can do---and nothing we have ever done---for which Christ, in his boundless mercy, cannot lovingly forgive us.
Whoo-hoo! Bust out the hand puppets!
Now, if you don't believe in the vibrant, transforming power of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit---well, then, all I can say is the obvious: God help you.
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