I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin. MARK 3:28-29
When Jesus warned the Pharisees that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit was unpardonable both in this world and in the next (Matt. 12:32; Mark 3:29-30), it was because they were saying that he exorcised demons by being in league with Satan (Beelzebub). His warning revealed his view of their spiritual state.
He could, and later did, pray for the forgiveness of those whose blasphemy against himself was the fruit of ignorance: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). But that was not how he saw the Pharisees.
It is possible for people to be enlightened to the point of knowing inwardly that Jesus is the divine Savior he claims to be, and still not be willing to admit it publicly, because of all the behavioral changes that such an admission would make necessary. It is possible to try to make oneself feel good about one’s own moral dishonesty by inventing reasons, no matter how absurd, for not treating Jesus as worthy of one’s allegiance. Jesus evidently perceived that in calling him Satan’s servant the Pharisees were doing exactly that. They were not ignorant; they were stifling conviction and smothering real if unwelcome knowledge; they were resolutely shutting their eyes to the light and callousing their conscience by calling it darkness. The madness that Jesus exposed in what they were saying (Matt. 12:25-28) was an index of the pressure of conviction that they were feeling; irrational reasoning is a regular sign of conviction being resisted.
By attributing exorcisms wrought through the Holy Spirit (Matt. 12:28) to Satanic power, the Pharisees were blaspheming (speaking impiously) against the Spirit. Such a sin would become unforgivable when the conscience had been so calloused by calling good evil that all sense of the moral glory of Jesus’ mighty works (which were in a real sense his credentials: Matt. 11:2-6; John 10:38; 14:11) was destroyed. This hardening of heart against Jesus would preclude any remorse at any stage for having thus blasphemed. But nonexistence of remorse makes repentance impossible, and nonexistence of repentance makes forgiveness impossible.
Callousing one’s conscience by dishonest reasonings so as to justify denial of God’s power in Christ and rejection of his claims upon one is, then, the formula of the unpardonable sin. Another version of it, this time in professed Christians who fall away from Christ, is described in Hebrews 6:4-8. Christians who fear that they may have committed the unpardonable sin show by their very anxiety that they have not done so. Persons who have committed it are unremorseful and unconcerned; indeed, they are ordinarily unaware of what they have done and to what fate they have sentenced themselves. Jesus saw that the Pharisees were getting close to committing this sin, and he spoke as he did in hope of holding them back from fully lapsing into it.
Title: Concise Theology: A Guide To Historic Christian Beliefs
Section: God Revealed as Lord of Desiny
Author: Packer, J.I. (James Innell)
Index: Concise Theology index – CLICK HERE