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The Sin God Won’t Forgive

Matthew 12:22-32



Thank you for all the Pastor appreciation you showed in October, and all year round.  The cards, gifts, sentiments mean so much to us, and we’re honored that God called us to spend our lives in such a wonderful ministry with such a church family as you.  When one of our deacons came to the front after the closing prayer last Sun. PM I didn’t know if it was good news or bad news!  J

Good news/bad news for a preacher:

Good News: You baptized seven people today in the river.
Bad News: You lost two of them in the swift current.

Good News: The Ladies Bible Class voted to send you a get-well card.
Bad News: The vote passed by a margin of 12 to 11.

Good News: The deacons accepted your job description the way you wrote it.
Bad News: They were so inspired by it that they also formed a search committee to find somebody capable of fulfilling the position.

Good News: Mrs. Smith is wild about your sermons.
Bad News: Mrs. Smith is also wild about "The Gong Show," "Jerry Springer" and "Texas Chain Saw Massacre."

Good News: The building committee finally voted to add more church parking.
Bad News: They are going to blacktop your front lawn.

Good News: Church attendance rose dramatically the last two weeks.
Bad News: You were on vacation.

Good News: Your elders want to send you to the "Holy Land".
Bad News: They are stalling until the war w/ Hezbollah flares up again.

Good News: A group from your church came to your house for a surprise décor housewarming.
Bad News: They are the teens, it's in the middle of the night and they are armed with toilet paper and shaving cream. 



The Bible teaches that there are sins we can commit against His Holy Spirit…several of them…and one of them is “The Unpardonable Sin” as we know it, and for this sin there is no forgiveness.  Today we’ll talk about all these sins.  Thankfully, I’m happy to report right from the very beginning of this sermon that the unforgivable sin we’ll discuss, though it is extremely serious and desperately dangerous…is easily avoidable!  We’ll come to that in a minute, but first, we need to lay some groundwork.

Some churches worship God the Father only, not believing that Jesus is God.  Some groups focus on Jesus only, placing no importance on God in His other persons.  You may say, well, that’s ridiculous.  The Father and the Son are both very important.  You would be right.  But be careful:  You see, we can be critical of such groups if we want to, however, we in our movement are often not much better--as we place so little importance upon the Holy Spirit of God, one of God’s 3 equal persons.  We have allowed some groups who give ALL the prominence to the Holy Ghost [a place in the spotlight He doesn’t crave] to rob us of a big portion of Who our God is.  We cannot do this.  If we want to consider ourselves Bible literalists, maintaining the doctrinal fundamentals of the faith, then we need to get reacquainted with the Spirit of our God!

Charles Spurgeon wrote: "Common, too common, is the sin of forgetting the Holy Spirit…the Church will never prosper until more reverently it believes in the Holy Ghost."

We need to be more aware of the Holy Spirit’s presence, to understand how He wants to perform in our lives, and to become submissive to His leadership. It is not enough to know about the Holy Spirit. We must get to truly know Him intimately and begin to experience the remarkable difference he can make in our lives personally. The Holy Spirit is God, come to live within us. He can perform incredible works in our lives as we yield to Him – or he can be stifled and frustrated by our ignorance or neglect.

Because of much confusion these days surrounding our text, we will begin by examining what is often referred to as the unpardonable sin.

What is the unpardonable sin?

I. Rejecting the Spirit (Matthew 12:31-32; See also Mark 3:28-30)

 A.   Examination

1.   Christ had performed a miracle, healing a demon possessed man. Those who witnessed it responded in one of two ways:

a.    Some saw it as proof that Christ was the promised Messiah. Verse 23

b.   Others accused Jesus of casting out demons by "Beelzebub," the name of a pagan God. They insisted that Christ was a subordinate of the devil - a demon possessed man. V. 24, Mark 3:30

2.   Christ demonstrated the inconsistency of this claim.

a.    Jesus reminded them that if Satan was divided against himself, his kingdom could not stand.

b.   He also reminded them that others had cast out demons but were not condemned as collaborators with Satan.

3.   Christ issued a warning against speaking against the Holy Spirit. (Verses 31-32) Notice two things:

a.    The assurance that all manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men.

  • Sometimes people identify certain sins (suicide, murder, adultery, etc.) as the "unpardonable sin," but Jesus clearly states that all manner of sin, including these, are forgivable.  Some would say the Hitlers and Husseins of this world are the unpardonable…but Jesus’ words conflict with our emotional and logical takes on this subject.

  • Jesus also expressly declared that a person could speak a word against Christ and receive forgiveness.

Of course, no sins can be forgiven if we don’t confess them and ask for forgiveness!  [I Jn. 1:9]

b.   The assurance that resisting the Holy Spirit is going too far.

 B.   Explanation

1.   Contrary to what many believe, the Pharisees did not commit an unforgivable sin. Jesus didn’t describe what they had done, but what they were in danger of doing.

a.    They rejected the witness of His words.

b.   They rejected the witness of His works.

c.    But they had not rejected God’s final witness, the Holy Spirit.

2.   The only unforgivable sin is to reject the witness of the Spirit and to refuse to accept Christ.  The unpardonable sin is rejecting Christ and not getting saved.

a.    In Old Testament times, God witnessed to men through His miracles and special revelations.

b.   During the days of Christ, He Himself [Jesus] was God’s witness to the world.

c.    Today, the Holy Spirit is God’s witness to the heart of man.

  • He bears witness to Christ. John 15:26

  • He convicts men of their lost condition. John 16:7-11

  • He is God’s final call. Every time a person rejects His witness, he moves one step closer to eternal judgment and condemnation.

We live in the wonderful age of grace. The Bible proclaims that "whosoever will" may come. Through the preaching of the Word and the witness of believers, the Holy Spirit convinces men of their need of Christ. He calls to all who will listen, He chooses to save all who choose to receive His offer of the gift of salvation.  And who are the elect?  They are all who elect to be saved!  There are ‘whosoever wills’ and “whosoever won’ts.” 

God is patient and longsuffering, but eventually their time is up!  They are offered the opportunity to receive Christ and a complete forgiveness of sin. Yet no one knows when he has been extended his last invitation. Every time a person puts off receiving Christ, they are in danger of rejecting God’s final invitation. Should the Holy Spirit never pass their way again, they will die in their sins, and they will enter eternity with the realization that they committed the unpardonable sin – rejecting the witness of the Holy Spirit.

Thank God that though this sin is terribly, irreversibly serious, it is easily avoided.  You can be saved today!

Now, assuming most of us have been saved, let’s look at other sins we can commit against the Spirit of God.  These sins are not as easily avoided, but thank God they can be forgiven and we can learn about them and grow to do better…

II. Grieving the Spirit (turn to Ephesians 4:30)

 A.   The Seal of the Holy Spirit

1.   The salvation of a believer is secure and eternal because the Holy Spirit of God has sealed him until his redemption is complete.

a.    The Holy Spirit both imparts and sustains our salvation.

b.   He joins himself to the Believer, securing his soul, until the day he is completely and finally delivered from sin into the eternal presence of God.

2.   What Paul would have us realize is that the Holy Spirit is our life-long companion.  He moves into our beings at salvation, taking up residence in our bodies as His temple.  He goes where we go, joins our every activity, listens to our every word, and knows our every thought.

 B.   The Sensitivity of the Holy Spirit

1.   Paul draws attention to the fact that the Spirit is "Holy" and "of God."

a.    Holy speaks of His character. He is absolutely without sin. It is against His very nature to sin; thus, sin in any form is disgusting and detestable to Him.

b.   "Of God" speaks of his origin. He was sent from God to indwell the believer. He is not of this world and could never be a part of it in its present condition.

2.   Because of the Spirit’s character and origin, He is grieved when a Christian sins or becomes a friend of the world.

a.    The preceding verses emphasize that the Christian should demonstrate a lifestyle that is distinctly different from the world and his former, unsaved condition.

  • It should be characterized by honesty. Verse 25

  • It should demonstrate a forgiving attitude. Verse 26, 31-32

  • It should be known for its unselfishness. Verse 28

  • It should be marked by encouragement. Verse 29

b.   If the Holy Spirit is not being allowed to transform your life – if you persist in sin and worldly attachments – the Spirit is grieved. In a similar way, He rejoices when we submit to Him.


III. Quenching the Spirit (turn to 1 Thessalonians 5:19)

 A.   A Command to be obeyed – "Quench not the Spirit"

1.   The word "quench" means "to extinguish." It was used of putting out a light or smothering a fire. When used of a person, it would mean to obstruct or to stifle.

2.   This command was written in the context of public worship.

a.    This is just one of a string of commandments to be observed when the church gathers for public worship.

  • There is to be a habit of rejoicing. (Verse 16) The person and works of God should be celebrated with praise, excitement, and zeal. [so put your hands together once in a while!]

  • There is to be a habit of prevailing prayer. (Verse 17) One of the ways we demonstrate to the world the reality of God is through answered prayer. [so share both your requests and praises!]

  • There should be a habit of gratitude. (Verse 18) It is God’s will that we express our thanks "in everything." [so focus on all that’s right, not just what’s wrong!]

  • There should be a habit of Bible study and application. (Verse 21) [so get in the Quiet Time habit and see real spiritual progress!]

  • There should be a habit of moral, social, and doctrinal separation. (Verse 22)

b.   In the church, there should be a habit of cooperation with the Holy Spirit.

 B.   Conditions to be Considered.

1.   The Holy Spirit did not come to be a spectator in the church; He came to be in charge.

a.    He is quenched when we do not seek His leadership.

b.   He is quenched when we substitute programs and traditions for genuine worship.

c.    He is quenched when rejoicing is absent, prayer is neglected, gratefulness is uncommon, truth is ignored, and compromise is tolerated.

2.   In public worship, we should expect the Holy Spirit to speak to us through the Scriptures and move us to respond appropriately with all our being.

Each of these sins emphasizes the fact that the primary responsibility of man in relationship to the Holy Spirit is yielded ness.

·       The lost person needs to respond to the Spirit’s conviction and receive Christ as personal Savior.

·       The Christian needs to submit to the life-changing power of the Spirit.

·       The church needs to seek the Spirit’s leadership and then follow.

The Holy Spirit is the greatest force of change present in the world today, but He can do nothing without our willing cooperation and submission.


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