Can you help me understand the “unforgivable sin”? Can a believer commit it?
The sin you are referring to is commonly called the unpardonable, or unforgiveable sin. Two gospels, Matthew and Mark, record Jesus’ words as follows:
He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters. “Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven men, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. “And whoever shall speak a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever shall speak against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age, or in the age to come. (NASB) Matthew 12:30-32
and in Mark,
Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin” – because they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.” (NASB) Mark 3:28-30
The table below shows which sins can be forgiven and which will not be forgiven.
Mark 3:21-22 tells us there were so many people that Jesus and His disciples did not have time to themselves. There were people everywhere. The people had overwhelmed Him and His followers. They were amazed at the miracles Jesus was performing and they were asking, “This man cannot be the Son of David, can he?” (Matthew 12:23) Apparently, this was a question the people were asking their “spiritual leaders.” The Greek text says that His own family came to “seize” Him because they believed He had “lost His senses.” But the Pharisees had another opinion. The Greek text says the Pharisees were constantly, continually telling the people, “This man casts out demons only by Beelzebub the ruler of the demons.” In essence, they were saying, “No! This is not the Son of David – he is empowered by a devil.” I cannot help but picture the laymen being excited, believing Messiah was present and wanting to know who Jesus was. So they went to their “leaders” for spiritual guidance. What a sad situation – trusting people who are seeking truth from “spiritual leaders” who have evil motives. We need to pray for our leaders . . .
Holy Spirit Ministries
How did Jesus react? Matthew 12:25 says Jesus knew their thoughts – He knew what they were saying and doing. I would not have wanted to be a Pharisee. What Jesus tells them must been a shock. They were dangerously close to blaspheming against the Holy Spirit, if they had not already done so. That means that Jesus considered the Holy Spirit to be God. But more importantly, it means the works Jesus did perform were done by the Holy Spirit.
Did you know that Jesus lived His life in the power of the Holy Spirit? Look at these verses,
The testimony of Peter, the apostle, is that Jesus performed His miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit.
. . . how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good, and healing all who were oppressed by the devil; for God was with Him. (NASB) Acts 10:38
Why is this helpful? The gospel of John gives us the key,
Many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name. (NASB) John 20:30-31
The miracles that Jesus performed were the proof He was God. And since the “proof” was the work of the Holy Spirit, anyone who concludes that Satan did them has blasphemed. Anyone who saw Jesus’ miracles and heard His teachings and then come to a final conclusion that Jesus’ miracles were caused by Satan has rejected Jesus as the Christ, the Savior of the world, and there is no salvation possible for them either now or in the future.
Can the unpardonable sin be committed today? The answer is yes because anyone can read the gospels and conclude that Jesus did His miracles by the power of Satan – crediting Satan with the work God did. That is blasphemy. If that is their ultimate conclusion, they have rejected Jesus and their future is the Lake of Fire.