A gracEmail subscriber asks: “What is the sin mentioned in Matthew 12:31-32 which Jesus says will never be forgiven?”
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This warning statement follows Jesus’ exorcism/healing of a man who had been both blind and mute (Matt. 12:32). Since the Pharisees reject Jesus’ authority as a teacher, they cannot afford to acknowledge the divine source that empowers his works. Yet they cannot deny the superhuman work Jesus has just performed. Caught in this dilemma, the Pharisees charge that Jesus is working as an agent of Satan (v. 34).
Jesus responds that it makes no sense for Satan to fight himself (v. 25-26) and that the Pharisees’ accusation against him implicates their own children who also cast out demons (v. 27). His works signify that God’s coming kingdom is present already in his person and activity, Jesus explains (v. 28-29). There follows a word of warning (v. 30-32) and a stern admonition (v. 33-37). Only God can forgive sins. He does that through Jesus, whom God’s Spirit empowers. To identify God’s Spirit as satanic is also to reject the only means of forgiveness either now or later.
No one can commit this “unpardonable sin” who acknowledges Jesus as the Son whom God sent into the world to bring sinners back to himself. In truth, it is more nearly accurate to speak of the “unpardonable sinner” rather than the “unpardonable sin.” God can forgive any sin by any sinner who will repent of it and receive God’s forgiveness. The very fact that today’s questioner is concerned about that possibility is clear evidence that he need not worry, because such holy anxiety itself arises from a desire to be right with God.