What Is the Unforgivable Sin?
The following is an edited transcription of the audio.
What is the unforgivable sin?
Jesus said that all sins against the Son of Man will be forgiven but that sin against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven (Matthew 12:32). So what is it? What is this unforgivable sin against the Holy Spirit?
My own understanding is that it is not any particular word you might speak. I've had people come to me over the years with tears in their eyes saying that they're scared they said something horrible in their past that qualified as the unforgivable sin.
I don't think any particular words are the issue here. I think the issue is that when the Holy Spirit begins to work and testify to the living Christ in your heart, and you continually resist, there comes a point where your resisting is unforgivable. That happens when you can no longer repent.
Esau is the example of this in Hebrews 12:17. He sought repentance with tears but couldn't find it. Notice it doesn't say he sought forgiveness with tears and couldn't find it. It says he sought repentance.
Anybody struggling with this question should know that any sin which you can authentically repent of and embrace Christ for will be forgiven.
The unforgivable sin is when you have resisted him so decisively that he has forsaken you and you can no longer repent. You try to repent and you can't repent. You can't be genuinely sorry for your sin or turn away from it. That is a horribly frightening situation to be in.
But any listener who is now broken-hearted for his sin and does not despise Christ can be forgiven for every sin, no matter what he might have said to the Holy Spirit or however long he might have resisted him.
He can be forgiven, because the Bible holds out that promise for him. Whoever believes will be saved (John 3:16; Romans 10:13). It's the inability to repent and believe which marks one as having gone over the line.
© Desiring God Foundation. Distribution Guidelines
Share the Joy! You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in physical form, in its entirety or in unaltered excerpts, as long as you do not charge a fee. For posting online, please use only unaltered excerpts (not the content in its entirety) and provide a hyperlink to this page. For videos, please embed from the original source. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by Desiring God.
Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By John Piper. © Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org