Recently in church someone asked if there is any sin which God won’t forgive. There is one sin which Jesus said will not be forgiven (Matthew 12:31-32, Mark 3:28-30). The exact sin and meaning of this has been debated. However not long before this, one of the churches I’m a part of read over this passage and the meaning seemed pretty clear to me. But I think it takes a bit of a shift in how we traditionally think of sin.
While the New Testament is about principles rather that rules, we often still think of sins in terms of rules. We think there is a specific list of sins, and if we do one of the things on the list, we need God to forgive us before we can be saved. We also think this way regarding “the unforgivable sin”. We think that there is one of the sins on the list which God won’t forgive if we break.
But what if it’s not quite like that? What if sin and salvation and forgiveness have more to do with character than rules? The context for Jesus talking about “the unforgivable sin” is after some of the religious people claim his miracles are the work of Satan. I think Jesus is saying, “if you see the power of God displayed but can’t recognize it as being of God, then what more can God do?” These people could be taken to heaven but they’d think they were in hell! So rather than God just arbitrarily deciding he won’t forgive people of a certain action, maybe he is just merely stating a logical type of fact.
(It is interesting to note that the Pharisee’s real problem is apparently pride. They had built up their religious system and beliefs, and they were on top of it. Jesus came and challenged both their beliefs and position. He didn’t fit their system, but rather than admitting they might be wrong, which would take humility, they held to their pride and claimed Jesus must therefore be wrong.)
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