Friday, April 27, 2012

Unpardonable Sin 4

... continued from yesterday
A couple features of this issue have caused great discussion over the years.  One is the question of the unpardonable sin.  When Jesus' opponents suggest he performed miracles by the power of Satan, Jesus warns them starkly.  Attributing the work of the Holy Spirit to Satan is serious business, a sin that will not be forgiven.

Many a sensitive soul has struggled with this concept in self-doubt. Have I committed this sin?  I heard of a man once who participated more faithfully in a church than anyone else and yet was convinced there was no hope for him. In his mind he had committed the sin from which no one can return.

In that light, a bottom line is in order.  If it is the Holy Spirit that draws us to God in the first place, then anyone who truly is seeking God cannot have committed such a sin. In other words, anyone who has committed this sin will not want to come back to God. If you are truly seeking God, you are good to go.

Of course what does it mean to seek God truly?  Many a child is sorry she got caught rather than truly remorseful for doing something bad. Perhaps it is not exactly what Hebrews 12:17 means, but the wording is interesting when it says that Esau, "found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears" (NASB). A truly repentant heart is something deeper that realizing you're in trouble.

But the person who thinks God is always hiding around the corner, waiting to give you a "sinning ticket," has a false picture of God.  God is standing out in the open, looking for any chance to reconcile and welcome you.  The other picture is unhealthy and often leads us to pass on legalistic judgment to others as well.

The take-away from the unpardonable sin is for us to be careful not to miss the working of the Spirit in others.  For example, for years many people in my church wondered if those who spoke in tongues were demon-possessed. I hope that for most it was a sincere question rather than an accusation. Why even take a chance on such a thing?  If speaking in tongues can be from the Holy Spirit, then attributing it to Satan is very similar to the unpardonable sin of Mark 3:28-29. [1]

In general, we should be very careful about judging others (Matt. 7:1) or assuming that God can't work in others in ways he doesn't work with us. It's not just that it is the wrong attitude on our part. It's that we ourselves may miss out on a blessing by way of others.

Another issue raised by Jesus' healing of the paralytic in Mark 2 is the authority to forgive sins...

[1] There is of course a third option, that some speaking of tongues can be a psychological phenomenon that some human brains are wired for. In fact, the gift of tongues could be the Holy Spirit blessing individuals with this sort of wiring. This would explain why we sometimes find tongues-speaking in other religions.


Angie Van De Merwe said...

"Sin" is a religious term that only has definiton within a particular religious context. This is why I am weary of religious terminology."Sin" is a correspondence view of truth, not a coherent one. Correspondence uses Plantonic or transcental "understanding" via a text/tradition to come to terms with "truth" and "sin".

Our nation's principles are based on the prinples of liberty. But, the religious are upset over the lines and definitions of "sin".

Liberty in our society is a principle that protects individuals under the principles of Constitutional government (the Bill of Rights). But, those that want to prescribe a "God" usually do so under an "order" that underlies our Constitution. This is a natural rights/law argument. But, such is also the theological understanding of government, which brings a rational base for human order. But, such an understanding also allows for resistance or appeals to government as government was not an absolute, only the individual under government.

Liberalism will undermine Constitutional government for a view of evolutionary development of human history that uses the "natural rights" or "natural law" argument for the liberal principles of "human rights". Conservatives want to protect the "rule of law", or the Constitution that grants/protects rights to individuals within our own society. Idealistic or transcendental understanding versus a practical and realistic assessment of human realities.

One uses transcendental appeals to "the human", while the other is practical in their understanding of government and the protections it is to uphold. And such use of "the human" is the liberal agenda of using religious conscience to appeal to universal principles. There are no "universals" in practical realities, there is only the indivdual within context.

Individuals within context understands how group behavior can be intolerant and inhumane becauase group identification are prone toward defending their identity. We were a nation that didn't grant any authority over the individual other than his own consicence. This was the reason why our government did not establish religion, because the Founders weren't prone toward transcendental realities, but practical ones...

Smitty101 said...


I had a question on this. There is a very popular form of charismatic belief that very much seeks to avoid the problem of blaspheming the Holy Spirit.

The form it takes it "speaking against the Lord's anointed." Many people I know are genuinely afraid of the consequences of this and thus never speak out against Benny Hinn? or other disreputable faith healers.

How would you approach this if people in your church were struggling with it?

Norm Smith