THE UNPARDONABLE SIN, PART 1
By Rev. Ted Pike
3 Mar 14
Editor's Note: This is the transcription of my recorded Bible study at Truthtellers.org.
Jesus held up the belief of a little child coming to Him as the height of sincerity. Why? Young children in their simplicity take reality for what it is. They do not manipulate or evade it. They are dependent on adults and the truths adults tell them. They are guileless. The unfeigned sincerity and simplicity of a young child is a quality we need as adults in our relationship to God. This sincerity makes it possible for us to move forward directly to God and His salvation in response to the Holy Spirit. Sincerity is our most precious gift, to be nurtured, treasured, and protected. It makes possible honest communication with God.
Most people lose their childlike sincerity when they realize that truth and reality restrict their pleasures. Rather than loving truth, they prefer rationalizations and evasions to excuse sin. This breaks off fellowship with God. We must cry to God in desperation that He will forgive our sins and all the insincere mind games that justified them. Otherwise, we will languish in insincerity, trapped in the labyrinth of our own self-delusion. Childlike sincerity can only be restored when our will and His grace work together.
When a person has grown up in an insincere worldly environment and knows little else, he has hope of finding sincerity. He has largely sinned in ignorance. It is far more dangerous to have known the whole truth and consciously chosen to deny it and rationalize sin. This is an incredible insult to Christ. God may reject such an apostate permanently, leaving that person in the state of insincerity he chose over truth and fellowship with his Creator. He literally cannot sincerely repent or cry out to God because the Holy Spirit will not draw him to redemption. He may have committed the unpardonable sin mentioned by the apostle John. (I John 5:16) God has, however, shown grace to many who have backslidden and given them the ability to cry for mercy.
When has a person sinned the unpardonable sin? The traditional theological criterion is that if this question worries you, then you probably haven’t committed it. The unpardonably sinning could not care less because the Holy Spirit is not gifting them with concern for their souls. The unpardonable sin is described in Scripture as committed by persons so loathed by God that He cut them off, unable to find sincerity for true repentance.
I believe the unpardonable sin is more common today than most realize. Let's turn to Numbers 15:27-36:
27 ‘Also if one person sins unintentionally, then he shall offer a one-year-old female goat for a sin offering. 28 The priest shall make atonement before the Lord for the person who goes astray when he sins unintentionally, making atonement for him that he may be forgiven. 29 You shall have one law for him who does anything unintentionally, for him who is native among the sons of Israel and for the alien who sojourns among them. 30 But the person who does anything defiantly, whether he is native or an alien, that one is blaspheming the Lord; and that person shall be cut off from among his people. 31 Because he has despised the word of the Lord and has broken His commandment, that person shall be completely cut off; his guilt will be on him.’”
32 Now while the sons of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering wood on the sabbath day [rebelling against the known will and law of God]. 33 Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation; 34 and they put him in custody because it had not been declared what should be done to him. 35 Then the Lord said to Moses, “The man shall surely be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp.” 36 So all the congregation brought him outside the camp and stoned him to death with stones, just as the Lord had commanded Moses.
Scripture says, "A man who hardens his neck after much reproof will suddenly be broken beyond remedy." (Prov. 29:1) The apostle Paul confirms that fearful possibility: "For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries." (Heb. 10:26-27)
Esau is an example. He was born into a family with an incredible amount of knowledge of God. As grandson of Abraham, he knew the story of Abraham being willing even to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, in obedience to God. He knew he inherited the birthright of God’s special relationship with Abraham. Yet he sold his birthright for a bowl of soup. As a result, God hated Esau and would make his inheritance an abomination. Scripture tells us Esau was never able to muster enough conscience to come with sincere repentance to God. (Heb.12:16-17) Scripture says he wept, probably fearing punishment, but could not actually find repentance.
King Saul was very popular with the Hebrews, a spectacular specimen of young manhood who showed himself very meek in his beginnings. He was so frightened about becoming king that he hid! But he very quickly realized he had the ability to become a popular leader and turned to his own resources and judgment. Scripture says he presumptuously disobeyed God's command to kill everything that breathed among the wicked inhabitants of Amalek. Instead, he brought back the king and the best of the sheep. He tried to justify himself before Samuel but failed. As a result, God never would communicate with him again (I Samuel 15 and 16:1).
The rebellion of Korah in Numbers 16 is also one of the most flagrant rebellions against God in Scripture.
Now Korah…[and other leaders of Israel] took action, 2 and they rose up before Moses, together with some of the sons of Israel, two hundred and fifty leaders of the congregation chosen in the assembly, men of renown. 3 They assembled together against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, “You have gone far enough, for all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is in their midst; so why do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?”4 When Moses heard this, he fell on his face; 5 and he spoke to Korah and all his company, saying, “Tomorrow morning the Lord will show who is His, and who is holy, and will bring him near to Himself; even the one whom He will choose, He will bring near to Himself.
Rebels of Korah were eminent princes of the congregation. Did they, and the multitude of Levites they gathered around them, sin ignorantly? Hardly. These were people who saw all of God's miracles in Egypt and His spectacular deliverance through Moses. They walked with their children and livestock through a corridor in the Red Sea, divided by the wind, while Pharaoh's army was drowned. They knew the mighty works of God and that those works had been wrought through the faith and obedience of one humble man, Moses. Theirs was blatant, in-your-face defiance, not just of Moses but of God Himself. And yet they postured as being on God's side against the usurper, Moses.
Sinners, rebels, apostates, false prophets from the beginning of time have always said, "Let the Lord be glorified. We don't have any problem with the Lord. We have a problem with Elijah, or with Jeremiah, or with Jesus the Nazarene. We have a problem with that unwelcome person who is telling us what we don't want to hear." The Babylonian Talmud, anti-Bible of the Pharisees, constantly repeats the phrase about God: "Blessed be his name." In reality, the Talmud, like the rebels of Korah, does everything it can to subvert God's law as revealed by Moses.
God says, "I have the right to send my message, even my unpleasant message of reproof and judgment any way I want to. I can even send it through a braying donkey, as I did to rebellious Balaam." If people are truly of God's flock, eventually they will hear the Master's voice, the voice of the Good Shepherd, through such an oracle, unpopular and imperfect as it might be.
It is possible to reject the Holy Spirit by consistently despising those humble servants who come with a burden from the Lord, attempting to tell people what they need to hear. You do not have to go out and shake your clenched fist against the sky and loudly blaspheme the Holy Spirit. That seldom happens. But it routinely occurs that people being chided by the Holy Spirit for their sins reject the messenger, the one God has sent, and that is perilously close to rejecting the God Who sent the messenger. This borders on sin against the Holy Spirit, the One Who labors to bring us the whole truth. Jesus said the Holy Spirit is not lightly insulted -- that if people rejected Jesus the Messiah they can find mercy, but their sin against the Holy Spirit would never be forgiven (Matt. 12:32). Jesus is the Saviour, but the Holy Spirit is the One who convicts us of sin and draws us to repentance, so if we reject Him, we have no hope of salvation (John 6:8-11).
Thus, the rebels of Korah gathered together in concerted rebellion against the authority of Moses and the God Who had called him. This threatened to sabotage not only the existence of the nation of Israel but God's plan to use Israel to bring forth Jesus. Together, the rebels re-wrote history:
13 Is it not enough that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey to have us die in the wilderness, but you would also lord it over us?
In reality, when slaves in Egypt, they were not even getting straw to make their quota of bricks. But now they portray Egypt as a land of milk and honey, accusing Moses of going down to Egypt in some grand plan for selfish political gain, to make himself prince over a nation of slaves.
14 Indeed, you have not brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey, nor have you given us an inheritance of fields and vineyards. Would you put out the eyes of these men? We will not come up!” 15 Then Moses became very angry and said to the Lord, “Do not regard their offering! I have not taken a single donkey from them, nor have I done harm to any of them.”
31 As he finished speaking all these words, the ground that was under them split open; 32 and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, and their households, and all the men who belonged to Korah with their possessions. 33 So they and all that belonged to them went down alive to Sheol; and the earth closed over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly. 34 All Israel who were around them fled at their outcry, for they said, “The earth may swallow us up!” 35 Fire also came forth from the Lord and consumed the two hundred and fifty men who were offering the incense.
But this terrible judgment from God did not turn the people who followed these leaders from their wickedness and discontent because the very next day:
But on the next day all the congregation of the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron, saying, “You are the ones who have caused the death of the Lord’s people.”
Here we see the difference between sins of omission and ignorance, passion, or partial understanding versus blatant rejection of tremendous light and truth. God is making it clear He will not be mocked and that He can bring swift judgment on defiant rebels, or He can judge them by denying them the grace to sincerely cry out to God. In this case, His judgment was immediate. He brought plague on the rebels not swallowed up by the earth, killing 14,700.
Tomorrow, Part 2 of "The Unpardonable Sin."