In last week’s article, we sought to explain what constitutes “blasphemy against the Spirit” (Matthew 12:31-32; Mark 3:28-30), and concluded that it was a deliberate and continuous rejection and/or belittling of the Holy Spirit, specifically by attributing His works to Satan, despite exposure to and evidence of the truth. This week we will consider whether or not the “eternal sin,” as “blasphemy against the Spirit” is called in Mark 3:29, can still be committed today. Respected preachers, commentators, and scholars take opposing views on this issue.

Those who insist that “blasphemy against the Spirit” cannot happen today typically point to the fact that “the circumstances under which the sin is described cannot prevail today” since “the age of miracles has ceased.”[1] We must concede that Paul indicated that there would be a time when the miraculous “manifestation[s] of the Spirit” would no longer be needed. In 1 Corinthians 13:8-9, Paul indicated that miraculous gifts (such as prophecy, tongues, and knowledge) would eventually “fail,” “cease,” and “vanish away,” because they were partial revelations rather than complete revelations. As a result, miraculous gifts would no longer be necessary once “that which is perfect has come” (1 Corinthians 13:10). “That which is perfect” is a reference to God’s inspired Word compiled in what we now refer to as the New Testament, since it is the source of information for “the man of God” to “be complete” (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and to know everything that “pertain[s] to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). Based on Paul’s statements here in 1 Corinthians 13, it is quite obvious that he expected the age of miracles, which existed for the expressed purpose of confirming God’s message (Mark 16:20; Acts 8:5-7; Hebrews 2:3-4), to come to an end when God’s self-confirming Word came into existence. Thus, proponents of this position contend that one cannot commit this sin today since the conditions under which it occurred, namely the age of miracles, no longer exists.

Those who insist that “blasphemy against the Spirit” can happen today point to the fact that Scripture itself is a work of the Holy Spirit, since “no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21); therefore, if one deliberately and continuously rejects and/or ridicules the work of the Spirit as provided on the pages of the Bible, then he or she has blasphemed the Spirit. Proponents of this view say that although “no one today can commit the ‘eternal sin’ in precisely the same way as did the Pharisees,” one can by rejecting “the New Testament evidence that undergirds the Savior’s credibility…in principle [exhibit] the same attitude and actions as did the Pharisees.”[2] Thus, proponents of this position contend that one can commit this sin today since one can reject the evidence of the Spirit by rejecting the Word of God that He brought into existence.

Obviously both positions cannot be correct, so which one is? Maybe, the issue is not so much whether or not one CAN BE FORGIVEN of a particular sin, but whether or not one WILL SEEK TO BE FORGIVEN of a particular sin. Consider for a moment what bearing other so-called “unpardonable” statements in Scripture have on our understanding of the “eternal sin.”

John said in 1 John 5:16-17 that “there is sin that leads to death” and “there is sin that does not lead to death.” These two statements lead some to conclude that there are types of sin that can be forgiven and there are types of sin that cannot be forgiven, but that does not appear to be what John is saying. Earlier in this same letter, John said in 1 John 1:7, 9 (emphasis added),

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from ALL sin…If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from ALL unrighteousness.

By saying that “all sin” and “all unrighteousness” can be purified by the blood of Jesus, John indicated that there is nothing unforgivable for the one who “walks in the light.” In other words, John indicates that those who are “in Christ,” to use the language of Ephesians 1, are forgiven of all sins. Therefore, “the ‘sin unto death’ in 1 John is not a specific sin for which it is impossible to receive forgiveness, but rather, is any sin for which a person will not take the proper steps demanded by God to receive the forgiveness available.”[3]

Another so-called “unpardonable” statement appears in Hebrews 6:4-6, which says,

it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.

It is important to note what the author of Hebrews is saying and what he is not saying. The text is not saying that it is impossible for those who have fallen away to be forgiven; instead, the text is saying that “it is impossible” for those who have fallen away “to [be] restore[d]…to repentance.” In other words, it is a reference to the hard hearted nature of those who have made a deliberate decision to reject the faith despite having once believed. Therefore, “the message in Hebrews 6 is not that those who fall away have committed sins that God will not forgive, it is that their hearts have become so hard that they will not repent.”[4]

Based on these “unpardonable” statements in Scripture, it appears that an “unpardonable” status is associated with a persistent hardheartedness that is not so much preventing God from forgiving the individual as it is preventing the individual from taking the necessary steps to seek forgiveness. In the context of “blasphemy against the Spirit,” it is worth noting that “only Jesus’ enemies [were] in danger—those that never professed any allegiance to him and, at least in the pages of Scripture, never do.”[5] Therefore, even in the first century context of the “eternal sin,” an unbelieving, hardhearted, and impenitent attitude toward God appears to be the ultimate basis for an inability to be forgiven. And such an attitude is definitely something one can be guilty of today.

[1] Kyle Butt, “Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit—The ‘Unpardonable Sin’” Apologetics Press (2003). Accessed April 5, 2018,

[2] Jackson, Wayne. “What Is the Eternal Sin?” Access date: April 5, 2018.

[3] Kyle Butt, “Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit—The ‘Unpardonable Sin’” Apologetics Press (2003). Accessed 5 April 2018 at

[4] Kyle Butt, “Hebrews 6:4-6 and the Unpardonable Sin” Apologetics Press (2015). Accessed 5 April 2018 at

[5] Craig L. Blomberg, Matthew. New American Commentary, Vol. 22 (Nashville: B&H Publishing, 1992): 204.