When the Lord proclaimed His Name to Moses, God said, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.” So that the Lord is compassionate and gracious is without doubt. That He forgives is without doubt. All through the Old Testament and New we find occasions when God is asked to forgive fallen ordinary people, and He always does. Even when He is asked to forgive grievous sin, He does. Murderers (Moses and Paul), adulterers (David), drunks (Noah), liars (Abraham and Isaac), deceivers (Jacob) and fools (Samson) – all of them find God gracious and merciful and forgiving when they look to Him.
One could come to the conclusion then that there is no sin that God will not forgive. Indeed, it certainly could even be stated as such. But Jesus Himself noted that there is one thing that God will not forgive, “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.”
Blasphemy is “Profane or contemptuous speech or writing about (or action toward) God.” To blaspheme is to insult God to the point of cursing Him. One might do that by equating God Most High to be nothing more than an idol, or by refuting His character to those who witness for Him. Of course people do that all the time, because they do not know God. Those who do not know God say all kinds of foolish things about God, and do all manner of foolish things to provoke God. These things, Jesus says, are forgivable offenses. They can be washed away by the blood of Christ. But blasphemy of the Spirit is not a forgivable offence. That is because the Spirit is only recognized by what He does (for we cannot see His form), and what He does is act in divine power. In fact, every evidence of the Spirit of God is a power encounter with God. It is undisputable evidence of God’s presence and God’s character. So to be present to such (as we were on the day of our salvation) – and yet deny God all the same – is to blaspheme God to His face, and that after He has moved to save you.
That, Jesus says, is unforgivable. Both in this present life, and in the life to come.
People who know the presence of God by the power of God but deny God as God anyway are doing exactly what the devil himself did. There is no recovery for that. Not now, and not when this present age is replaced by the manifest Kingdom of God.
To this point the book of Hebrews stern warns us, “It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.” And so it is, “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.”
It is one of the most shameful things in the world to use love’s forgiveness as an excuse to go on sinning.William Barclay
Our view of who God is and what He has done for us will either lull us to shameful complacency or it will propel us to passionate and sacrificial service.