These are my notes from a sermon series I did through the gospel of Mark. It has not been proofed for spelling or grammatical errors. I present it to you as-is.
There is one sin that you can commit that will never be forgiven. Once you commit this sin your eternity is settled. There is no coming back. Jesus tells us about this sin in Mark 3. Let’s take a look at it. Mark 3:22 says, But the teachers of religious law who had arrived from Jerusalem said, “He’s possessed by Satan, the prince of demons. That’s where he gets the power to cast out demons.” 23 Jesus called them over and responded with an illustration. “How can Satan cast out Satan?” he asked. 24 “A kingdom divided by civil war will collapse. 25 Similarly, a family splintered by feuding will fall apart. 26 And if Satan is divided and fights against himself, how can he stand? He would never survive. 27 Let me illustrate this further. Who is powerful enough to enter the house of a strong man and plunder his goods? Only someone even stronger—someone who could tie him up and then plunder his house. 28 “I tell you the truth, all sin and blasphemy can be forgiven, 29 but anyone who blasphemes the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven. This is a sin with eternal consequences.” 30 He told them this because they were saying, “He’s possessed by an evil spirit.” (NLT).
Before we get into the details of this you need to know the following about God’s forgiveness.
God is a forgiving God.
First, God is a forgiving God. It is who He is. It is His nature, character, and at the heart of who He is.
- Psalm 86:5 says, “O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help” (NLT). God is not hesitate to forgive, He is ready. God is not reluctant to forgive, He is ready to forgive. He is more ready to forgive than you are to receive it.
- Psalm 103:3 says, “He forgives all my sins” (NLT). There is no sin that God cannot forgive. Let me repeat that, there is no sin that God cannot forgive.
- The Bible gives us examples of God’s forgiveness: When Adam and Eve committed sin, God forgave them. When Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob sinned, God forgave them. When Moses sinned God forgave him. When Paul sinned, God forgave him. When Peter sinned, God forgave Him. When you sinned, God forgave you.
- The very essence of the gospel of Jesus is about forgiveness. Ephesians 1:7 says, “He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins” (NLT). Without forgiveness you do not have the gospel of Jesus Christ.
God is a forgiving God!
God’s forgiveness is not limited to the degree of sin.
Number two, God’s forgiveness is not limited to the degree of sin. Even those who physically were involved in killing Jesus on the cross were forgiven. Jesus said while on the cross, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” Whatever you think is the worse sin anyone could commit, that sin can be forgiven by God. His grace is greater than any sin.
God’s forgiveness is not limited by the quantity of sin.
Number three, God’s forgiveness is not limited by the quantity of sin. A person can live their entire life committing one sin after another. They can one lie after another. They can steal one item after another. They can murder many times and hurt people with countless sins. At the end of their life they can turn to Jesus for forgiveness and all their sins will be forgiven. Just ask the thief on the cross who turned to Jesus in the last moments of his life.
God’s forgiveness is not limited by the type of sin.
Number four, God’s forgiveness is not limited by the type of sin. They can lie, steal, cheat, murder, rape, deceive, gossip, and commit countless types of sins throughout their life. Whether you think it’s a little sin or big sin, the kind of sin does not hinder God’s forgiveness. To say something like, “God could not and would not forgive that sin,” is not true.
God is ready to forgive. Jesus died on the cross for all our sins. The nature of the gospel is about forgiveness of sin. God’s forgiveness is not limited by the degree of sin, the amount of sin, or the type of sin.
So what does Jesus mean when He says, I tell you the truth, all sin and blasphemy can be forgiven, 29 but anyone who blasphemes the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven? In order to find out, we need to dissect this event and what Mark tells us within context?
Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit
Let’s start with verse 22, But the teachers of religious law who had arrived from Jerusalem said, “He’s possessed by Satan, the prince of demons. That’s where he gets the power to cast out demons.” Let’s talk about these religious teachers.
- These “teachers of religious law” had seen Jesus perform miracle after miracle. By now Jesus has cast out many (possibly hundreds or thousands of demons) and healed even more illnesses, sicknesses, and diseases. He has demonstrated his dominion and authority over both the physical world and the spiritual world. His power knows no limitations. His supernatural powers could no longer be questioned, either by the common multitudes or by the more educated and skeptical religious leaders.
- These “teachers of religious law” did not question or doubt Jesus’ power. They witnessed miracle after miracle. They had no doubt and were completely convinced that Jesus was a miracle worker. However, they could not accept the fact that Jesus was doing this by God or as God.
- These “teachers of the religious law” remained in denial about the true identity of Jesus and the source of His great power. They knew that the kind and level of miracles Jesus was doing were proof and signs of Him being the Messiah; but they also expected Him to come with royal fanfare and with military might. But instead of regal robes, sovereign authority, a throne, trumpets, swords, horses, chariots, and a mighty army, they saw a Man of compassion, gentleness, and humility – with a following of twelve ordinary men who He called apostles and a crowd of people whose loyalty could hardly be counted on. Because Jesus did not appear to be a conqueror or a king by their definition, the religious teachers would not accept or believe Him to be the Messiah, God in the flesh, God incarnate.
- According to Matthew, by the time we get to this point in Jesus’ ministry the crowd is beginning to ask the question, “Is this the Messiah? Is this the Promised One? Is this the Savior? Redeemer we have been waiting on?” The fact that the crowds were seriously wondering if Jesus might be the Savior and Messiah drove the religious leaders into a rage, panic, and intense irritation toward Jesus and everything He was doing. Their heart had become so hardened toward Jesus that they had concluded that Jesus was “possessed by Satan, the prince of demons” and “that’s where he gets the power to cast out demons.”
- These “teachers of religious law,” whenever they were asked their opinion about Jesus they would clearly and convincingly describe Jesus as someone working under the influence of Satan or filled with Satan himself. This was their answer to anyone who asking, “Is Jesus the Son of God? Has God sent us His Son to rescue us, deliver us, and save us?” Their answer was no and their intent was to poison the people’s minds against Jesus.
This was the only other option for the religious leaders. They didn’t deny the miracles of Jesus. They knew some of the people who were healed. They interviewed some of them. They never tried to discredit the healing of those who were blind, crippled, or full of leprosy. They agreed that miracles were happening and Jesus was doing them. They also were very aware of demon possession. They had encountered it before, but they had never seen the level of deliverance and authority over demons like Jesus was demonstrating. Again, they agreed and acknowledged that Jesus was casting out evil spirits and He had authority over them. The issue for the religious leaders was never… is Jesus doing these supernatural miracles, but how was He doing it? There was only two options:
- One, Jesus was doing it by the power of God and two, Jesus was doing it by the power of Satan. If they believed and agreed that Jesus was doing this by the power of God then it would point to the truth Jesus was the Messiah and He is He said He is.
- So their only option then was to assign His power Satan. Instead of being God-incarnate, Jesus was Satan-incarnate. Instead of being God in the flesh, Jesus was Satan in the flesh. This is why they said Jesus was “possessed by Satan,” not just some evil spirit but by Satan himself.
This brings us to verse 23, Jesus called them over and responded with an illustration. “How can Satan cast out Satan?” he asked. 24 “A kingdom divided by civil war will collapse. According to Matthew, Jesus knew “their thoughts” (12:25) so Mark says that Jesus called them over and responded with an illustration.
He begins with this question, “How can Satan cast out Satan?” A few thoughts on this.
- “Satan” is an intelligent being. Outside of the Trinity (God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit), Satan is the most intelligent being in existence, and he certainly does not assign his forces to fight against each other and internally destroy his own program. Satan is not about to cast out Satan, and he is not going to allow his kingdom to be divided and collapse.
- “Satan” is a deceiver. Satan may perform false miracles here and there in order to deceive people, but Satan is not going deliver people from his demonic hold on their lives, he is not going to heal people of diseases, sicknesses, and teach about forgiveness, hope, love, joy, repentance and the Kingdom of God. That’s what Jesus was doing and Jesus’ miracles served as glorious illustration of what He was teaching about God’s kingdom and Himself. Everything Jesus did pointed to the reality of God, His kingdom, and His salvation that He offers to everyone. Satan would never be a part of that program.
Satan would never do anything to hinder his own agenda. Satan would never cast out Satan. He would never oppose himself.
25 Similarly, a family splintered by feuding will fall apart. 26 And if Satan is divided and fights against himself, how can he stand? He would never survive.
To try to simplify this, Jesus says in verse 25, “Similarly, a family splintered by feuding will fall apart.” A house divided against itself will divide and become weaker, not stronger. Jesus is saying, “If I’m possessed by Satan and I’m going around casting out demons (my army) out of people and giving up what I fought for then you are crazy. The devil has not gotten control of so many people by letting them go.” So Jesus goes on to say, And if Satan is divided and fights against himself, how can he stand? He would never survive.
Then in verse 27 Jesus goes on to say, Let me illustrate this further. Who is powerful enough to enter the house of a strong man and plunder his goods? Only someone even stronger—someone who could tie him up and then plunder his house.
Could not the Pharisees see that everything Jesus said and did was opposed to Satan?
- Jesus healed sickness and disease, which were brought upon mankind by sin, which, Satan tried everything means possible to encourage people to embrace all kinds of sin which produced more heartache and sickness and disease.
- Jesus raised people from the dead, which was also a consequence of sin and indirectly the work of Satan (cf. Heb. 2:14-17).
- Jesus cast out demons, which, as He had just pointed out was in obvious opposition to Satan.
- He even forgave sins – something Satan neither would nor could do – and verified His authority to forgive sins by His power to perform miracles (Matt. 9:5-6).
- Every detail of what He taught and did corresponded to the teaching of Old Testament Scripture. And although the scribes and Pharisees often charged Jesus with opposing and violating their man-made traditions, they could never convict Him of committing sin or of teaching falsehood (John 8:46).
In order to help them to understand Jesus said, “Let me illustrate this further.” Jesus used the figure of a thief who planned to “enter a house of a strong man” and “plunder” it and rob it and take everything that was there. The thief knows that he would need to “tie him up” first before he could “plunder his house.”
Jesus’ point is this: “Haven’t I demonstrated before you My power over Satan and his kingdom of evil, darkness, and destruction? Haven’t I demonstrated beyond all doubt that My authority is higher than Satan’s? Haven’t I cleansed people of every kind of disease and freed them from every kind of demonic control and oppression? Haven’t I demonstrated My authority over both sin and death? Who could have such power and authority but God Himself? Who but God could “enter the house of” Satan and successfully “tie him up and then plunder his house”? Who but God could enter the domain of Satan, lay him out, and take all his property from him, but God? I have shown you that I can defeat Satan and a legion of his demonic hosts at will. How could I be any other than your divine Messiah?”
But they refused to see it. They refused to accept what was before their very eyes and what they heard with their ears. They had made a deliberate decision to reject Jesus no matter what miracle He performed, no matter how many people He blessed, healed, or delivered. They had intentionally hardened their heart towards Him and nothing He could say or do would change their mind. Their heart had become so hard toward Jesus that they were saying that He was from the devil and of the devil and the devil himself.
Then Jesus says in verse 28, “I tell you the truth, all sin and blasphemy can be forgiven.” Let’s notice the distinction here. There is general “blasphemy” and then there is “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.” Let’s talk about general “blasphemy.”
- General “blasphemy” is a conscious denouncing and rejection of God usually expressed with words. Blasphemy is when someone in defiant irreverence and intentionality speaks evil against God or defaming or mocking God in some way (cf. mark 2:7).
- The Bible tells us that in the last days blasphemy will be an outstanding characteristic of those who rebelliously oppose God (Rev. 13:5-6; 16:9; 17:3).
- Jesus makes clear that “all sin” including “blasphemy can be forgiven.” Listen to what Paul said about himself in 1 Timothy 1:12, “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength to do his work. He considered me trustworthy and appointed me to serve him,13 even though I used to blaspheme the name of Christ. In my insolence, I persecuted his people. But God had mercy on me because I did it in ignorance and unbelief. 14 Oh, how generous and gracious our Lord was! He filled me with the faith and love that come from Christ Jesus” (NLT). Paul understand what it means to blaspheme God and be forgiven of it.
- You can doubt God, blame God, accuse God, ignore God, and reject God but if you repent and ask for forgiveness God will forgive you. You can call God all kinds of names, try to belittle Him, lie about Him, and spread false information about God to others but if you repent and ask for forgiveness God will forgive you. You can get angry at God and cuss Him out but if you repent and ask for forgiveness God will forgive you. When Jesus says all sin and blasphemy can be forgiven, He means it… except one.
So Jesus says, “but anyone who blasphemes the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven. This is a sin with eternal consequences.” So, where does all this take us?
- To “blaspheme the Holy Spirit” involves deliberate rejection. The religious leaders saw what Jesus had done and they had listened carefully to what Jesus had taught. They were given overwhelming evidence of His deity and the power of the Spirit of God working in and through His life. They had experienced Spirit anointed teaching time and time again. As the evidence kept piling up their rejection of Him kept increasing. They were determined to not believe regardless of what evidence was placed in front of them. This was “blasphemy” against everything “the Holy Spirit” was doing and demonstrating through Jesus.
Let’s be clear here. This is not talking about misjudging, belittling, or discrediting Jesus from the vantage point of incomplete information or inadequate understanding. That is forgivable. Paul rejected Jesus and His people and blasphemed Jesus repeatedly in this manner, but God forgave Him when Paul repented and turned to God.
This is the deliberate rejection accompanied with a determined choice to not believe in Jesus after all the evidence is placed in front of you. You have made a resolution to not believe no matter what. This is where your heart becomes so hard and so calloused toward Jesus that it will not matter what God says to you or does in your life, nothing will change your mind. You have once and finally decided to not believe. You have decided to explain Jesus away by some other means.
Then Jesus says that this blasphemy against the Holy Spirit “will never be forgiven.”
- This does NOT mean that God cannot forgive this sin. God’s forgiveness can forgive all sin. This does not mean that God is unwilling to forgive this sin. There is no limit to God’s grace or mercy. There is no sin greater than God’s grace and forgiveness. When Jesus died on the cross for our sins it was for all our sins, not all of them except one. This does not mean that God has chosen not to forgive this sin.
- The reason it will never be forgiven is because the person will never ask for forgiveness. Their heart has become so hard toward Jesus they will never see it as a sin needing repenting of and therefore will never ask for forgiveness. As a result it “will never be forgiven.”
To be clear about the seriousness of this sin Jesus says, “This is a sin with eternal consequences.” They will never be forgiven which means they will die still in their sin and separated from God for eternity.
Mark concludes this section by saying, [Jesus] told them this because they were saying, “He’s possessed by an evil spirit.” That statement was evidence of how far their heart was removed from receiving God’s truth and how hard their heart had become toward the Son of God. They had gone as far as they could away from the truth. They had settled in their heart they would have nothing to do with Jesus, no matter what.
Definition: In summary, the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is to deliberately reject everything the Spirit of God has done through the Son of God to the point your heart has become so hardened against Jesus Christ that you will never believe and never ask for forgiveness. Since you will never repent and ask forgiveness, you will be separated from God forever. That is the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.
How do I know if I have committed this sin? First of all, if you are concerned that you may have committed this sin then your heart is not that hard. The person who has committed this sin is not concerned they have committed it.
Seek God. Seek His forgiveness in Christ. Come to Him today. Do not hardened your heart any longer.