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The Unforgivable Sin: Matt. 12:31-32
Now, the first issue is to address the claim that Christ took away all sin, since people do indeed continue to break not only the 10 commandments but Jesus' commandments as well as other biblical precepts.
WHAT IS SIN?
The study of sin is called Hamartiology. Sin in the most simplistic form is disobedience to God's desire, which does not require a stated command. This was the point of many of Jesus' lessons; that people could keep the letter of the Law but were breaking the intent or desire of God. God should not have to write out every little thing that constitutes a sin.
The word sin occurs 446 times in the Bible (ref). This includes the place name of an area called Sin. Lev 4:27-28 speaks of unintentional sin; breaking commandments without realizing it and that the person is still considered guilty. So, we should consider this as we investigate.
JESUS TOOK AWAY THE SINS OF THE WORLD
The first place we see implication that Jesus took away the sins of the world is in John 1:29 where we read:
Although the tense in the English could imply Jesus immediately took away the sins of the world or will do so in the future, further context of the Bible clearly shows that even Jesus considered people to still be in sin during Jesus' earthly ministry (John 8:7 for example).
So, where can we find this claim that Jesus has -- past tense -- taken away the sins of the world? One place is Romans 8:2 where we read Paul saying:
Note that it does not say people no longer sin, but that people in Christ; namely Christians are made from from the law of sin and death. A person may still sin but like any law that is not enforced with penalty, it is of no effect; at least not eternally. Sins can and do still affect a person simply by the negative ramifications if nothing else. God's commandments aren't merely imposed for His own good pleasure, but because of the positive effects they have on the life of people who keep the commandments.
Perhaps the next place we can glean that Jesus has taken away all sin is in Heb 9:26.
How then is sin taken away? By belief in Christ. Sin is no longer accounted to the Christian. It is like a person who has been charged with a crime and someone else coming along and paying the penalty for that person. Since the penalty is paid, even though by someone else, the person can no longer be found guilty.
The objection might be that a person who is considered guiltless, even though they obviously continue to sin daily as people do even today; that person might abuse that situation. The Bible addresses this in several places. Gal 2:17-21 says:
If there is continually unrepentant abuse of grace, where a person who claims to be Christian sins without any sort of conscientious remorse, then while we may not know if that person is ultimately "saved" or not; the Bible still calls for Christians to treat such a person as if they are not a Christian (see 1 Cor 5:9-15).
THE UNPARDONABLE SIN
The unforgivable or unpardonable sin as it is often called is found in Mt 12:31-32 where we read:
What does this mean? First, we often hear that God can and will forgive any sin no matter how small or great but clearly here is a point where the Bible is saying there is someone that will not be forgiven. It appears that a person can speak against Jesus and be forgiven but that if they speak against the Holy Spirit, it will not. So, what does it mean to speak against the Holy Spirit?
BLASPHEMY AGAINST THE HOLY SPIRIT
First, it is not really possible for a true Christian to speak against the Holy Spirit. A truly born-again, new creature Christian can never really speak against the Holy Spirit. This is made clear by the full context of Mt 12:31-32 which by the use of the word therefore indicates there was context preceding Mt 12:31-32. The context is the Pharisees saying Jesus did His miracles not with the power of the Holy Spirit but by Satan. These specific Pharisees were speaking against the Holy Spirit by attributing evil to the works of the Holy Spirit. Believers, even believers who are skeptical of miracles happening today would never ultimately attribute the things Jesus did to the Devil.
Interestingly enough, a person would need be a non-atheist to attribute the works of the Holy Spirit to the Devil. Atheists who believe neither in God or Satan might attribute the miracles of Jesus to trickery or embellishment but they would not attribute those miracles to an entity.
In conclusion, while it is true that Jesus has -- past tense -- taken away the sins of the world [all in the world who believe upon Christ], and that even Christians still sin but are not held eternally guilty for those sins; those without Christ are STILL in sin, even "unintentional sin". They are and will be held eternally guilty for sin and sins. Further, people can sin against the Holy Spirit but I'd be careful in saying who has and hasn't done so. Let's leave the unseen heart judging up to God. While verses like 1 Cor 5:9-15 may guide us in dealing with unrepentant so-called Christians, we must be careful not to over extend our judgment where God is the only Judge of the unseen heart.
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