Have I committed the unpardonable sin?

Q. Curses against God crossed my mind and this made me think I’d committed the unpardonable sin. I decided to look at the passage in the Bible about that. As I was reading it, curses once again swarmed my mind. An absolute feeling of despair came over me.  Was that the Holy Spirit leaving me?

I met with a minister and he said that the unpardonable sin was attributing the work of Jesus to Satan. I felt relieved by his words but the worry was not all gone. To this day I have not found genuine lasting peace. I don’t remember the vast majority of my thoughts, but I’m almost certain that one of those evil thoughts was me committing the unpardonable sin. I do not agree with those thoughts, but I’m afraid I allowed them to enter my mind.

I spoke with another pastor and he believes I have not committed the unpardonable sin simply because I’m worried about it. He is also convinced that God has a big plan for me. But I’m afraid God has given up on me.

It sounds to me as if you have already been getting some very good pastoral counsel, and I encourage you to take it to heart. But let me add some reassurance of my own, as a biblical scholar and a pastor myself for 20 years.

If you’re concerned that you’ve committed the unpardonable sin, you haven’t.

The “unpardonable sin” that Jesus talks about (as recorded in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke) is indeed the act of attributing the work of the Holy Spirit to Satan. The reason this sin “can’t be forgiven” is not because the person has done something so bad that it’s beyond the reach of God’s forgiveness. The Bible stresses that Jesus’ death on the cross is sufficient for the forgiveness of any and all sins that any human being might commit.

Rather, if we attribute the work of the Holy Spirit to Satan, then this will make us resist the work of the Holy Spirit, and His gracious influences will not be able to bring us to repentance and salvation. In other words, Jesus isn’t saying that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. He’s saying that it can not be forgiven, because it separates us from the very influence that’s meant to lead us to forgiveness.

God does not hold us morally responsible for every thought that pops into our heads.

As human beings, we think all kinds of things, for all kinds of reasons. Thoughts are suggested to us by our surroundings; by things we read, hear, and watch; by things that other people say; and, I truly believe, by spiritual forces that are trying to lead us either towards God or away from God. (More about this shortly.)

It is actually not within our power to keep thoughts from popping into our heads. So you should not consider yourself guilty of anything for “allowing” particular thoughts to enter your mind.

What truly matters is what we do with the thoughts that occur to us. And you have said yourself, “I do not agree with those thoughts” (i.e. the curses against God). To the extent that you had any moral culpability at all for those thoughts—and I don’t think you do—this constitutes repentance, and you can believe and trust God’s promise that “whoever confesses and forsakes his sins will find mercy.”

We are in the midst of a spiritual battle, and one of the main battlefields is the human mind.

From the story you’ve shared with me (which I’ve edited down here for length and confidentiality), I agree with the pastor who said that God has a big plan for your life. One reason I say this is that it appears to me that you have been under fierce spiritual attack.

Now I know we’re not supposed to see the devil under every sofa cushion. I’m very careful about what I attribute to evil spiritual forces. Anxiety can have emotional and psychological causes, and I encourage you to pursue those as appropriate. But the fact that the onslaught of dark thoughts you’ve described has deprived you of peace and the assurance of your salvation, and caused you such great anguish and trouble, says to me thatsomething additional is going on here. I’m convinced that spiritual forces are real and still operating in our world, and this appears from your description to be a case where they are having an influence.

By their fruits you will know them,” Jesus said. The “fruits” of these thoughts are so destructive, I don’t see them coming from your own mind and will. I recognize you as a person who sincerely wants to serve and please God. So I believe the thoughts are coming instead from the spiritual enemies of God, who want you to be paralyzed by false guilt and worry instead of serving God eagerly and energetically with all of the gifts and zeal that God has given you.

You need to fight back.

The best way to do that is to believe, once and for all, the Bible’s promises that Jesus is the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (that would be all the sin, of every kind) and that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” And in that confidence, discover your gifting and your calling and serve God with boldness, as a beloved son who has been freely forgiven and accepted in Christ.

Get out there and cause some trouble for the devil. You’ve let him cause enough trouble for you.

 

Author: Christopher R Smith

The Rev. Dr. Christopher R. Smith is an an ordained minister, a writer, and a biblical scholar. He was active in parish and student ministry for twenty-five years. He was a consulting editor to the International Bible Society (now Biblica) for The Books of the Bible, an edition of the New International Version (NIV) that presents the biblical books according to their natural literary outlines, without chapters and verses. His Understanding the Books of the Bible study guide series is keyed to this format. He was also a consultant to Tyndale House for the Immerse Bible, an edition of the New Living Translation (NLT) that similarly presents the Scriptures in their natural literary forms, without chapters and verses or section headings. He has a B.A. from Harvard in English and American Literature and Language, a Master of Arts in Theological Studies from Gordon-Conwell, and a Ph.D. in the History of Christian Life and Thought, with a minor concentration in Bible, from Boston College, in the joint program with Andover Newton Theological School.

10 thoughts on “Have I committed the unpardonable sin?”

  1. Hello I had blasphemous thoughts against the nature of GOD so bad, i tried to block them out then in my frustration I agreed with the thought in my mind and ran straight to the LORD. Have I committed blasphemy against His Spirit by finally agreeing with the thought, even though I didnt mean to

    1. It sounds to me as if you “agreed” with the thought (probably along the lines of “oh, all right”) just to get rid of it, “out of frustration,” as you say, and then you “ran straight to the Lord,” which you wouldn’t have done if you truly “agreed” with this thought that was disparaging the nature of God. So I would say that no, you haven’t committed blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. That is certainly something that someone can’t do if they “didn’t mean to.” But I’d encourage you to seek out some good pastoral counseling to help you get your thoughts under control. I’d like to assure you that you’re not in trouble with God, but it sounds as if your thoughts are troubled, and I’d like you to get some help with that.

  2. I’m so thankful that I came across this article. I am young and willing to find God on my own, as I’ve been brought up a Christian and in church mostly. So when I read the Bible I must confess that sometimes reading scriptures such as Matthew 12:30-32, fill me with despair and fear as I don’t have a direct definition of what that unpardonable sin is. I have talked about it with family and a friend and they have said they are not sure what the unpardonable sin is but that it may be denial of Jesus. Whether it is the denial of Jesus or what you have defined it as, I know that the hunger for God in my heart means I have not committed it, through faith. As The Bible says it is impossible to please God without faith.
    I try to live my life, ignoring the evil voices ( I call them that because Jesus , our good shepherd, says His sheep will know His voice and even if sometimes God may not speak to me audibly, I try my hardest not to be influenced by the strange voices in my head that contradict themselves and the Word of God) in my head telling me everything I do is blasphemy against The Holy Spirit of God. However sometimes even though I know they are lying, there is still the fear that perhaps they are right… I just want to live in this world as God has called me, I don’t want to be a slave of fear but a child of God. I’m having on to His Word and His promises and my faith in who The Holy Spirit truly is, my Glorious Comforter.

    1. I’m glad the article was an encouragement to you. The Bible says, “Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God.” So you are dong the right thing by not listening to any voices that contradict the word of God. The Bible also says about the devil, “When he tells lies, he speaks what comes naturally to him, because he is a liar – in fact, he’s the father of lies!” So don’t believe those accusing voices. I hope you can find a supportive community of Jesus’ followers who will encourage you to stand against what is false and believe the truth that God has graciously accepted you.

  3. Hello I am concerned I have committed the unforgivable sin. I am a new Christain (just dedicated my life less than 4 months ago). I am deeply troubled that the unforgivable sin is sort of vaguely described in the Bible. I often get these thoughts in my head saying things like “God doesn’t love you” “God abandoned you”. I get thoughts that are against God or cursing God and they’re so horrible. One day I was having a really dark day and the thoughts stated trying to convince me that Jesus was evil and what the Pharisees said about Him was true. I only had the thoughts for a few minutes before completely rejecting them. I didn’t think of it as something I couldn’t be forgiven for and asked for God to pardon me and for the Holy Spirit to fill me up. I hate the idea of being separated from God because I love God tremendously. I wholeheartedly believe Jesus is the Son of God. The last two days I have been so afraid that I have finally messed it all up. I constantly ask God to forgive me and ask the Spirit of God to lead me and guide me. I want to live in peace knowing that God loves me and forgives me. I want to stop having an idol of fear and have God first in my heart.

    1. I hope you will read and re-read through this post carefully, because I believe it addresses your concerns. You can take particular comfort in the thought that “if you’re concerned that you’ve committed the unpardonable sin, you haven’t.” Also recognize from the post that one of the main battlefields in our spiritual war is the human mind. I hope you will believe in and accept God’s unconditional love and forgiveness for you, based on the work of Jesus, the Son of God. May God bless you and give you peace.

      1. God works in mysterious ways. Praise be to our Lord in the Highest Heaven and may God be with you. I have been touched and baptised by the “Holy Spirit” who told me to go forth and heal…and yes, this was precisely what one Catholic Priest (a family friend) told me when I related my experience to him…he shot me down saying it was the work of the “devil”…if it was, it wouldn’t have told me to go forth and heal and yes, evil begets evil where only the most evil person can evoke the greatest evil. I was just talking to a young Pastor (5 years into the clergy) , in fact just yesterday, who seemed very cautious of what he wanted to say when I mentioned “JESUS”never said he was “God”…and quoted Peter…”surely you are the son of God” when asked by Jesus of who he was. In the research of what BBC did on the missing years of Jesus…yes, it inflicted a series of doubts albeit its mentions of miracles happened from his last 3 years before his death, age 33. The very mentioned and acknowledgement that miracles did happened should conclude Jesus divinity…”praise be to our Lord”. To the layperson, I can only say…”literally” you can curse God or Jesus but never on the “Holy Spirit”…unless you are totally “evil” with absolute “evil” intentions there is nothing to forgive… and yes, the “unforgivable sin” laws in Heaven upon the laws of mortals.

      2. Even though I fear, I decided in my mind with all my being that no matter what, I live a life of praising Jesus as the Son of God, even if I don’t go to heaven. After that, I heard a sermon today in church saying that in every situation, if you rely on the Holy Spirit, God will give you victory. “Not sometimes and no buts” but ALL situations. I still get the voice in my head convicting me of sins, even the tiniest little thing. I believe the Holy Spirit still dwells in me. I hope with all my heart He does, and that I have not offended Him. Even if I have, I have asked for forgiveness. In the Bible, it says that if you come to Jesus He will never turn you away. I think the problem was that my mind really likes to play “devil’s advocate”. But God cares about the Heart. And I love God and believe Jesus is the Son of God and His power came and comes from the Holy Spirit, in my Heart. I didn’t really understand what the Holy Spirit was before because I went to a youth group that doesn’t believe in Spiritual gifts. So when I got those thoughts (my mind playing devil’s advocate) that Jesus wasn’t what He said and His powers were bad (makes me wanna throw up just typing it), I had no real concept that His power came from the Holy Spirit and I didn’t understand the unforgivable sin or how the Pharisees committed it, since I didn’t have the education. That’s what’s different about me from the Pharisees. They purposefully spoke against the Spirit and denied Jesus as God as man and Savior. They were not repentant. It came out of their mouths, and Jesus says that what comes out of the mouth is what condemns a man. I didn’t do any of these. Billy Graham said the unforgivable sin is not asking God for forgiveness, for denying Jesus as Savior and therefore denying the Holy Spirit of God’s Ministry in your life because your heart is so hardened, so much that you don’t care. Since I care so much (I have probably read literally every article and verse in the Bible that speaks about this topic to make sure I am okay), I believe it is the Holy Spirit convicting me, and that there is hope for me yet.

  4. Thank you. The “hope” has always been there but the indifference of people of different religion and ideology are slowly changing that; hopefully the Lord will show them the way. May the Holy Spirit falls upon them to show them the way…let us speak through the heart and not through the mind.
    Acts 16 /5 …”so the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers”.

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