The Unpardonable Sin

The preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom by John the Baptist and the Messiah laid upon the chosen nation, Israel, the demand for a decision. This demand was openly present in all the early preaching of the Kingdom Gospel. The imperatives were “repent,” “believe,” “receive,” “confess,” and “follow.” No room was left for neutrality: those who heard the message must either be for the Messiah King or against Him (Matt 12:30).

It was the religious leaders of Israel who rejected Jesus’ Messiahship, and they would ultimately lead the nation into the same rejection. The basis of the rejection was demon possession, for the leaders claimed that the source of the Messiah’s power came from “the prince of demons” (12:24).

Rejecting Jesus as the Messiah on the basis of His being demon possessed led to His charge that the leadership of Israel, and by extension the entire nation, was now guilty of the “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (12:31).

Dr. Alva McClain gives a seven-point elaboration of the in his “The Greatness of the Kingdom”: First, the blasphemy committed was definitely related to the Kingdom of God, for that is the concept running through the context. Second, the blasphemy committed involved a question regarding the regal credentials of Christ. Rejecting Him as the Messiah also meant rejecting Him as King, and, therefore, a rejection of the Kingdom offer.

Third, this specific sin was declared a blasphemy against the Spirit of God. Since the miracles of Jesus were by the power of the Holy Spirit and through these miracles the Holy Spirit gave testimony to the Messiahship of Jesus, to ascribe these miracles as resulting from the power of Satan was to speak against the Holy Spirit.

Fourth, this was declared to be an unpardonable sin (12:32). Since God the Father sent the Messiah to be the Savior of men, in the Messiah all sin can be forgiven without limitation. Therefore, the sinful resistance of the Holy Spirit, Who testifies as to Jesus’ Messiahship, puts the rejecter outside the Messiah. Since it is morally impossible for God to forgive sin outside Christ, this rendered the sin unpardonable.

Fifth, the specific ones involved in this sin against the Holy Spirit were the religious leaders of Israel. Sixth, the responsibility for this sin is not limited to the leaders, it also extended to the whole nation of Israel, for they ultimately followed their leaders in the rejection. This corporate responsibility of the people of Israel is clear from the several uses of the term “generation” in the same context (12:39-45).

By the same token, the responsibility for the unpardonable sin is limited to the Jewish generation of Jesus’ day and is not extended to subsequent Jewish generations. Seventh, the specific penalty for this sin was a national judgment, and immediate judgement within the history of that particular generation. For that generation it was the judgment of A.D. 70 when within the time span of a single generation, judgment fell in the destruction of Jerusalem and the world-wide dispersion of the nation.

Nevertheless, while an entire generation has lost its historical opportunity, and with dire results (other than Spirit blasphemy—NC) for many succeeding generations, the nation of Israel itself could not irrecoverably lose those ancient rights (Kingdom promises to subsequent Jews outside the blasphemy sin—NC) which had been guaranteed by the God of Israel.
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