Many Christians who come across either Matthew 12:31-32 or Mark 3:28-30 have great concern as to whether or not they have committed some offense for which they cannot obtain forgiveness. This concern may keep some up at night even!
To understand this unpardonable sin let’s first take a look at Matthew 12:20-32: 20 “And He came home, and the crowd gathered again, to such an extent that they could not even eat a meal. 21When His own people heard of this, they went out to take custody of Him; for they were saying, “He has lost His senses.” 22The scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “He casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons.” 23And He called them to Himself and began speaking to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? 24“If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25“If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26“If Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but he is finished! 27“But no one can enter the strong man’s house and plunder his property unless he first binds the strong man, and then he will plunder his house.
28“Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; 29but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— 30because they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.”
For the sake of keeping this blog short we will not post the entire text which starts back at verse 1 of Matthew 12, so I encourage you to read the entire chapter. To summarize what happened leading up to Matthew 12:20, Jesus demonstrated his authority over nature through healings and his authority over the spiritual world through the casting out of demons.
In verse 22 we find the Scribes accusing Christ of casting out demons by the power of Satan. This is after they witnessed all that he could do, which no one else had done since the beginning. In other words, it doesn’t get any better than having the Son of God on earth performing miracles for all to see.
While rejection of Christ would certainly lead to eternal damnation it is not rejecting him that is being referenced here. It is the act of attributing the true manifestation of the Holy Spirit’s power to Satan. The only way this sin could be possible was during 2 occasions:
- During Christ’s 3-year mission on earth (30-33 AD)
- During the Age of the apostles (approximately 33-100 AD)
While God is capable of performing miracles today, the miraculous age of supernatural power being demonstrated for the purpose of kick-starting the Church (God’s Kingdom on earth) has ceased and died out with the Apostolic Age (see I Corinthians 13:8-13).
We also see the reason why Jesus said that the sin was unpardonable in verse 30 of Matthew 12: “because they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.” Because we are not actually capable of seeing Christ perform these miracles in the context of Matthew 12, we must conclude that this is not a sin that is committable today.