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The Unpardonable Sin - Matthew 12:31 PDF Print E-mail
Written by W.M. Mitchell   

October 1884


Wherefore I say unto you, 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. Matt 12:31-32.

During the last year or two we have had three or four requests from brethren in difficulties for such views as we may have of what is called the “Unpardonable sin;” but knowing that several brethren have, at various times, written upon it without giving much satisfaction to inquirers, and feeling that our ability to instruct is far less than many others, we have been reluctant to say anything less we might darken counsel by words without knowledge. If what we may now write is found not to be in harmony with the general principles of salvation as taught in the scriptures, and experienced by each individual believer, who has the faith of God’s elect, we hope that those who have clearer light will instruct us, and correct our errors.

Taking this text in its full connection, there is a clear distinction in the final results of sins against the “Son of man,” and those which are against the Holy Ghost. The one class of sins are all pardonable; the other, none are forgiven, neither in this world, nor that which is to come. They remain against them forever, not because the sins are greater, nor more heinous and aggravated, but because they are against the Holy Ghost, and not imputed, nor laid upon Christ as the great Atoning Sacrifice and the only name through which forgiveness of sins can come to any sinner.

I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men. This is a very forcible and emphatic expression from the mouth of the Son of God himself. All manner of sin and all manner of blasphemy is to be forgiven unto men. This explodes the idea at once which a great many honestly entertain, that there is some particular sin that men or women may now commit that is too great to be forgiven. There could be no other sin nor any greater than that which is included in “All manner of sin,” and all manner, or all kinds of blasphemy. So far, therefore, as the kind or nature of the sin is concerned, or the greatness and magnitude of it, there can be none greater than all manner, and all kinds of sin, and yet the Lord Jesus Christ most emphatically says unto you, all these, or whatever degree or kind, “Shall be forgiven unto men.”

There have been many of the redeemed of the Lord, when groaning under a feeling sense of sin, in their conviction and guilt, greatly distressed with the thought that they had been guilty of some particular sin, which would forever stand against them as unpardonable. But we wish to say here, for the comfort of every child of God who may be tempted or annoyed with this horrid thought, that there can be no sin whatever for which Christ has died and made atonement, but what is pardonable. There seems to be a deep seated tradition among many people that Christ has atoned for, and put away all sin, except the big sin that will damn men eternally at last. If this were true, who could be benefited by such atonement? If it does not put away all sins, especially such big sins as are supposed to damn one eternally, then it had as well not have paid any of the debt at all. If all debts are paid except one big debt for which a man shall be hung, it would have been just as well, so far as he is concerned, to have hung him at first.

Forgiveness of sin is predicated upon atonement for that particular sin, and for the particular person who is guilty of it. No matter what the sins may be, whether many or few, great or small, unless they are specially represented in the atonement, and laid upon the victim who dies for them, no forgiveness can follow. There are thousands of people, and many professed gospel ministers who talk much about atonement, and yet they seem to know nothing of the most important thing necessary to constitute atonement. The very name atonement is without meaning if reconciliation and forgiveness of sins do not follow. And where there is no forgiveness, nor any evidence of it, it would be idle to talk about an atonement being made for that individual, no matter whether his sins be considered great or small: Men talk much about general atonement and universal redemption of all Adam’s race, but how silly is such talk? To say that a man and all his sins are represented in Christ and an atonement made for them, and yet these sins are still charged against him and no forgiveness for him, and that he is redeemed from the curse and condemnation of the law; and yet that same curse and death sentence stands against him, would indeed be very silly talk. Silly, however, as it may be, it is the way the most learned and popular ministry of this day speak, and the doctrine that men and women generally believe. Truly the world by wisdom knows not God, nor does it know the doctrine of God. “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”—Prov. xiv. 12.

In the text which we are considering, it is not only said that “All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men,” but it is further qualified and explained as being limited to sin and blasphemy against the “Son of man.” We should not lose sight of this feature of the text, that “All manner of sin” is forgiven, or shall be forgiven unto men, provided such sin and blasphemy is against the Son of man, even Jesus the Saviour of sinners. And there are no sins or blasphemies of any men against him as a Mediator and Saviour, save the sins of his own chosen people. He is their head and representative, their Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. He bore their sins, whether great or small, in his own body on the tree of the cross. By virtue of the suretyship of Jesus the sins of all his elect people were laid upon him. “Surely,” saith the prophet, “He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; he was wounded for our transgressions; he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” Healing, reconciliation, and forgiveness of all manner of sin, must follow and flow out from atonement for sin. But where no atonement has been made for neither the man nor his sin it hath never forgiveness, neither in this world nor in that which is to come, neither in time nor in eternity, but is in danger of “eternal damnation.”—Mark 3:29.

It will be seen by the careful reader that our view of the blasphemy and sin against the Holy Ghost is, that it embraces all sins and all sinners who have sinned against God as a Spirit, having no Daysman, or Mediator, the Man Christ Jesus to bear their sins, nor make reconciliation for transgressors. In the great covenant of redemption Christ Jesus is the surety for the payment of the death penalty for his people alone. Their sins are laid upon, and imputed to him, and his righteousness is imputed to them. Forgiveness of sin is preached in his name, because he has made atonement for it. Hence it is written, “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.” “All manner of sin and blasphemy” of Christ’s people are against him, and all are “covered” in that one offering when he offered himself without spot unto God. The efficacy and virtue of that perfect offering will purge the conscience from dead works to serve the Living God. There is forgiveness. “Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren that he might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.”—Heb. 2:17.

The child of God, who is manifested as such by the Spirit of the Lord, is still liable to sin against God as a father and Christ as a brother and law-giver, and his only hope of forgiveness for his sin, as a child, is in the efficacy of the blood of atonement for sin. “If we walk in the light as he is in the light we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” Here we see the apostle is speaking of such as have eternal life manifested to them, and who are so identified in Christ’s death that his atonement cleanseth them from all sin. They have therefore encouragement, when stung with the guilt and sorrows of sin, to pray and confess their sins, with a hope of forgiveness. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”—l John 1:9. But he who has no marks, signs nor evidences of being begotten and born of God, nor any experience of a death unto sinner of forgiveness for Christ’s sake, nor any very serious concern about it, cannot be regarded by any discerning christian as one of the redeemed of the Lord. There is no forgiveness of any sin, whether great or small, except through the redemption that is in our Lord Jesus Christ.—M.


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