Is Every Sin Forgivable? (Mark 3:20-30)
Talk about a portion of Scripture that has elicited all sorts of responses among people:
We get to the end and hear Christ declare:
28 “Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”
What on earth is Christ talking about?
Is there truly an unforgivable sin?
If so, what is it and are we able to commit it?
Every serious student of the Word has undoubtedly faced this portion and wrestled with it. In order for us to gain a better understanding we need to employ the three “C’s” of proper bible interpretation: Context, context and context! The key to understanding the unpardonable sin is right in this text.
“20 And He came home, and the crowd gathered again, to such an extent that they could not even eat a meal.”
We see that Jesus has returned to Capernaum and the crowds are back at it again. As always with the crowds comes confrontation. Some of the confrontation is actually shocking:
“21 When His own people heard of this, they went out to take custody of Him; for they were saying, “He has lost His senses.” 22 The scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “He casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons.”
So, who are the one’s challenging Him and what are they charging Him with?
1.) His family: Claiming Christ is insane.
2.) The Pharisees: Declaring Jesus to be a possessed liar.
Next week we will deal with His family’s reaction. This morning, however, we need to consider what the Pharisees from Jerusalem are doing. This needs to happen, because the entire reason Christ has spoken about the unpardonable sin is in light of their accusation.
So in order for us to understand what Jesus says we need to consider what they say.
Mark 3:8 tells us a great multitude from Jerusalem heard what Christ was doing and came to Him. These men were within this multitude. After they arrived they witnessed Christ cast a demon out of a man. Many onlookers are amazed and truly consider if Christ is the Son of David, which is another title ascribed to the Messiah. These men callously and foolishly chime in with two statements:
“22 The scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “He casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons.”
The first thing that should jump off the page at us is that they do not deny His power and authority!
What then do they deny? His claim to be God, The Son!
They reject His divine and Messianic claim, and attribute everything He does to Satan. In other words they are saying, “He is not working for God’s Kingdom, He is working for Satan’s”:
1.) “Satan gave Him the authority over the Word.”
2.) “Satan gave Him the authority over the spirits.”
3.) “Satan gave Him the authority over sickness.”
4.) “Satan gave Him the authority over disease.”
“He does not reject our Sabbath because He is Lord of it!”
“He breaks it because the lord of the flies possesses Him to do so!”
They looked at everything He said and did through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit and declared it was the devil. “You are not the Son of God, Jesus! You are just an object used by the evil one.”
Why do they do this? They could not deny the miracles, but they could certainly deny His claim.
For them to concede that Jesus did all of this by the power of God meant they had to concede everything He said was from God as well.
What is the issue? Everything Christ says condemns them!
Their proud rejecting hearts are hardened, so they say His power stems from Beelzebul. This was an audacious remark for them to make. Beelzebul was believed to be an immoral deity meaning dung-god or lord of the flies. It can also mean lord of the dwelling in which all evil spirits reside. They look at the Holy Spirit’s work in Christ and declare it is not God, it is Satan!
The Scripture reads:
“23 And He called them to Himself and began speaking to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26 If Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but he is finished! 27 But no one can enter the strong man’s house and plunder his property unless he first binds the strong man, and then he will plunder his house.”
If you did not catch on, this is Christ’s way of saying, “You are really stupid!”
First, consider the testimony of the demons Christ casts out in Mark’s gospel:
“23 Just then there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, 24 saying, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!”
11 Whenever the unclean spirits saw Him, they would fall down before Him and shout, “You are the Son of God!”
They know who Jesus is and they are afraid! Jesus does not have authority over them because Satan gave it to Him. He has authority over them because He is the Creator and they are His creation.
What do they do? They obey the Sovereign Whom they know will one day destroy them!
The Pharisees on the other hand witness who Christ truly is and disobey the Messiah sent by God.
Jesus presents logical reasons exposing the foolishness they have spewed forth:
He first highlights the absurdity of their claim by saying, “How can Satan cast out Satan?” It is illogical!
Why would Satan work against his very kingdom for the glory of God? The answer is obvious: He wouldn’t!
Jesus then presents two self-explanatory reasons Satan would not do that:
1.) If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.
2.) If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.
If we can recognize division ensures destruction in everyday situations then Satan knows what it will do to his kingdom; therefore, if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but he is finished!
Is Satan then going to work against himself? Obviously, no!
So not only is their assertion illogical, but Jesus provides one more logical claim towards His power:
“27But no one can enter the strong man’s house and plunder his property unless he first binds the strong man, and then he will plunder his house.”
How does a strong man get robbed? Someone stronger binds him.
Why is Jesus able to cast out demons? He is stronger than Satan!
By the way, there is only One being Who has the power and authority to do that and it is God! Jesus again asserts His sovereignty over creation.
He then makes the following statement:
“28 Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin—”
Blaspheme means to speak against reproachfully. To revile against. To rail against. To speak evil against.
Is there an unforgivable sin? Yes there is.
What is it? To speak against the Holy Spirit.
Now at the beginning I said the answer to understanding this statement was found in this text.
What is the key to understanding this statement? Verse 30.
“30…because they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.”
When is someone guilty of committing the unpardonable sin? When they blaspheme the Holy Spirit!
How does one blaspheme the Holy Spirit? When they speak evil of Him!
At this point some of you may be wondering whether or not you have committed this sin. If you are concerned you have not committed it. Those guilty of it are comfortably unconcerned. It should be noted this sin is not committed accidentally, unknowingly or carelessly. It is done with the fullest intention.
Look at these men:
1.) They unashamedly acknowledge every good work the Spirit is manifesting in Christ.
2.) They then say it is Satan working!
They declare Him, The Spirit, to be evil!
What are they doing? Declaring good evil, and evil good.
They are attributing the power, authority and goodness of God to Satan, the evil one!
So, can this sin still be committed today?
There are some who suggest it cannot be. Rather it could only be committed by those who observed the earthly ministry of Christ. As nice as it may sound, I believe we should avoid this view and understand it can still be committed. There are several reasons for this, but let us again remind ourselves this sin is not done accidentally, unknowingly or carelessly, but intentionally.
The premise of the view mentioned is that it cannot be committed today, because one obviously cannot physically observe the ministry of Christ. This is clearly true!
This view, however, unintentionally downplays the power and livelihood of the Word of God. Consider Peter:
1.) Peter was an eyewitness of Christ’s earthly ministry as these men were.
2.) Peter was also a witness of the transfiguration.
Peter tells us we have something better than what he physically saw; we have the Word of God:
“16 …we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.19 …we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. 20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, 21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”
What did the Holy Spirit do with their witness of His works? He wrote it down through them!
Listen to what He says through Luke:
“1 Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, 2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, 3 it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; 4 so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.”
Listen to what the Holy Spirit says through John:
“30 Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.”
What is the purpose of the gospel accounts? To reveal the earthly ministry of Jesus, so we may know He is the Christ! As a quick note this means when you read through the gospel accounts you should not be looking for yourself, but Christ!
So, are people today able to observe the earthly ministry of Christ? Yes they are!
Remember, Peter has already shown that what we observe in the Word of God is more stable than a physical observation, because God cannot lie. Therefore a person today is forced to make a decision as to Who the Christ is, and by what authority He operates. That is the whole point of the gospel accounts!
Just as these men could not deny the works Christ was doing, neither can an individual who genuinely considers the gospel accounts. One who genuinely considers the gospels is left with two options pertaining to Christ’s power:
1.) The Holy Spirit is working.
2.) The evil one, Satan, is at work.
Consider as well, a person can never be saved if they speak against the Holy Spirit. To speak against the Holy Spirit is to speak against the very agent necessary in salvation. No one can be saved without the Holy Spirit working in their dead, wicked and depraved heart; calling through the life giving gospel message. His work on the heart is necessary in salvation. There is therefore no hope for the one who looks upon the work of the Holy Spirit as evil.
The Holy Spirit speaks through His Word saying:
“’7…Today if you hear His voice, 8 do not harden your hearts…’”
Let us notice there is also good news in this text!
“28 Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter…”
Apart from the blasphemy of the Spirit this means it is neither too late, nor has someone gone so far that the forgiveness of God is unable to reach them!
May we as believers be reminded of all the sins we have been forgiven of.
According to Romans and 1 Corinthians: Indulging in sexual sin, worshipping idols, committing adultery, prostitution, homosexuality, stealing, greediness, envy, drunkenness, abusiveness, cheating people, hatred, murder, quarreling, maliciousness, gossiping, slandering, backstabbing, disobedience to parents, refusing to understand, breaking promises, heartlessness, and mercilessness.
Paul says to them so I say to you:
“11 Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”
How are people able to be forgiven of all these?
In love, Christ took on Himself all of the sins we have committed against Him and bore the just wrath we deserve for them. If you are hear today desiring to be forgiven of your sins trust in what Christ has done in your place! He bled and died the death you deserve, but the grave could not hold Him! He rose three days later demonstrating the Father was satisfied with His payment. Not only will He hear you when you call out to Him in faith, but because He lives eternally you too shall have eternal life in His name! Do not harden your hearts to Him as these men did, but be washed, be sanctified, be justified through faith in Christ alone! When Christ Who is our life is revealed, we too shall be revealed with Him in glory!
 Matthew 12:22; Luke 6:17-19
 Matthew 12:23-24
 Unger’s Bible Dictionary; Page 130
 Mark 1:23-24
 Mark 3:11
 Matthew 8:29
 2 Peter 1:16,19-21
 Titus 1:2
 Romans 1:29-31; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10
 Colossians 3:4