I have a question about the unforgivable sin. It is named in Matthew 12 and also in 1 John 5:16. John recommends us not to pray for people who are fallen into this sin.
1. What exactly is this sin?
2. How can you recognize this sin?
With regard to these passages I have found the comments of Matthew Poole to be very balanced and helpful. Jesus said this:
"All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come" (Mt. 12:31-32).
Poole identifies the sin mentioned here as "maliciously speaking to the highest reproach of the Holy Spirit, contrary to the rational conviction of their own consciences." Here are his comments:
"... if any person hath been instructed in the things of God, and hath made a profession of religion and godliness, and afterwards falleth off from his profession, and becomes a bitter enemy to it; saying that those things are the effects of the devil in men, which his heart telleth him are the operations of the Holy Spirit, and be so hardy as to persecute and seek to destroy such persons for such profession: the interpretation be to those that hate us, and to the enemies of our God...."
He adds this qualification:
"...not words spoken ignorantly or hastily, or according to our real judgment and opinion; but words spoken maliciously, in order to destroy God or Christ, if it were possible...."
The passage in 1 John says, "If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it" (1 John 5:16).
Poole says that this refers to "... such as have apostatized from a former specious profession into heresy and debauchery, and continue obstinate therein, against all methods of recovery; that are, as Jude 12, even twice dead...."
As to your questions:
1. What is exactly this sin?
I do not believe that a person can unknowingly or unconsciously commit the unpardonable sin. It would seem that the unpardonable sin is a deliberate act of apostasy committed by someone who has known the truth and made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ.
2. How can you recognize this sin?
When someone who has professed Christ denies the faith and becomes a bitter enemy to the faith, maliciously trying to destroy Christ and His church.
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