The Unpardonable Sin

Mark 3:20-30

THREE of the Gospels (Matt. 12:22-45; Mark 3:20-30; Luke 11:14-36) relate the healing of the blind and dumb demoniac and the controversy that followed. While the people were much impressed, the Pharisees accused our Lord of being in league with the devil. His answer was withering: “If I am in league with Satan, then he is fighting himself. So then, by what power do your exorcists cast out demons?”

He then speaks of Himself as the “stronger man” who binds the devil. Either we are with Christ or against Him: “He that is not with Me is against Me; and he that gathereth not with Me scattereth abroad.” There is no middle ground. Our Lord also gave the parable of the man who cleaned up his house, made a superficial reformation, but ended more demon-possessed than before. Christ, the stronger man, must take the devil’s place in our hearts. The Christian life is not a mere cleaning-up, it is the possessing and filling of the life by Christ Himself. Otherwise it ends worse than it began.

Jesus also declared that since words reveal the heart, they will justify or condemn us in the day of judgment. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. He gave them the sign of Jonah, signifying His death and resurrection. Remember that all depends upon His being raised from the dead. If He rose not, our preaching and faith are vain (1 Cor. 15:14-19).

But what has concerned readers most in this passage is our Lord’s statement about the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, which has no forgiveness. Since words reveal the inner state, the blasphemy of the Pharisees in attributing Christ’s work to the devil revealed their inner condition, and it is that inner state, rather than any act, that is beyond forgiveness. The spoken blasphemy is but the expression of the condition of a heart that has become impervious to good—has so long hardened itself against the light and resisted the truth that it regards good as evil. It is possible to reach such a condition in which one is so calloused to the good that it no longer makes any impression. It is not so much that they could not be saved if they wanted to be, or that God refuses to save them, as that they do not want to be saved and manifest no interest whatever. Unfortunately, many people have worried themselves sick thinking they had committed this sin, when the very fact that they are concerned shows they are not in such a condition! The very mark of the unpardonable sin is utter indifference to the light and the pleadings of the Spirit. Those who are guilty are not worrying about it.

But there is here a warning not to resist too long the gospel call. Just as every day one goes barefoot the feet become more toughened, so it is with the soul that tramples daily the grace of God.

There is a time I know not when, a place I know not where,

Which marks the destiny of men to heaven or despair;

There is a line by us not seen which crosses every path,

The hidden boundary between God’s patience and His wrath.

How long may man go on in sin, how long will God forbear,

Where does hope end and where begin the confines of despair?

One answer from the sky is sent, ye who from God depart,

While it is called “today” repent and harden not your heart.

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