When I was growing up, in Sunday school they taught us about the unforgivable sin. Looking back, I think it was a ploy to keep us in line. Actually, pretty smart.
Because of certain statements of Jesus it was taking the Lord’s name in vain. So all good Christian boys followed the rule that no matter what happened it was ok to swear like a sailor but don’t use God’s name in vain.
Actually that lesson took. If I still hit my thumb with a hammer I can use very colorful language but never that one.
Then later on suicide was added to the list. If suicide is a sin then when you commit it you obviously can’t ask for forgiveness.
Seriously, that one became troubling to me because of friends who’ve committed suicide.
Then in seminary the enlightened ones expanded that list to include any sin which you hadn’t asked forgiveness for.
That got a little oppressive. Frankly, there were days I just couldn’t keep up.
I found myself living in a kind of suspended fear.
Wondering, “Did I commit some sin I don’t remember? Am I in or out?”
All of this came from a statement of Jesus.
He had just miraculously healed a man. Yet, the religious leaders replied, “See we knew it. He heals by the power of Satan. This proves he’s evil.”
Jesus responded, “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.”*
And so was born the idea of unforgivable sin.
Yet, let’s look at the context. Jesus had just worked a miracle. No one disputed that. Yet, these religious leaders because of their own agenda didn’t want Jesus usurping their position. So they slandered him.
And lest we be too critical how often does that happen now?
People look at this universe and world that are unimaginably complex and virtually impossible yet assign its existence to random acts. Yet, if we told our friends that our brand new BMW mysteriously appeared in our front yard after the garage across the street blew up they’d be checking us into a psych ward.
Or after someone experiences a true miracle yet they respond, “Wow, what luck.”
See the only person who’s unforgiven is the one who refuses to ask for God’s grace. He remains unforgiven not because God rejects him but because he rejects God.
When we finally come to the place of accepting that God exists and ask to live with him because of his grace he accepts us no matter what sins we’ve committed.
And we remain part of his family no matter what we do in the future like our own children remain a part of ours.
The only unforgivable sin is refusing to accept forgiveness.
What are your thoughts?
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*Matthew 12: 31-32 (NIV)