The Unpardonable Sin
Some of the scribes who were present and witnessed the casting out of the demons went to an extreme measures in attempting to discredit Jesus. It was undeniable that Jesus had cast out demons by the power of God, yet the scribes were so hardened in their hearts that they are willing to accuse deity of consorting with devilry.
Jesus replied to the accusation of the scribes with a two-part answer. First, Jesus exposed the irrational logic of the scribes by stating, “And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself, and is divided, he cannot stand, but has an end.” (Mark 3:25-26). Obviously, it makes no sense for Satan to overthrow his own plans by casting himself out of people. Jesus went on to teach that in order to do what he has done, he must be stronger than the devil; this would make Christ equal with God and is a claim to deity.
The second part of Jesus’ reply is a rebuke and a warning; He warned the scribes that any sin can be forgiven except the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. The reason Jesus gave such a rebuke is because the Holy Spirit was the power through which he was establishing his ministry. The scribe’s accusation struck at the very core of Christ’s authority and claim to deity. If Christ allowed such accusations to go unchecked, everything that He came to accomplish would be undermined.
A parallel situation that should be considered in connection with Jesus’ warning is the story of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5. Ananias and his wife Sapphira sold a possession, kept back part of the money, and brought a certain part of the money to the apostles claiming to have brought the full amount. Peter asked Ananias “Why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself?” (Acts 5:3) Immediately Ananias fell to the ground and breathed his last. Later that day Sapphira came home and was asked by Peter if she and her husband had sold the possession for the amount her husband had claimed. When Sapphira agreed with her husband’s lie, Peter replied, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord?” (Acts 5:9). Immediately Sapphira fell down and breathed her last in the same manner as her husband.
The reason God struck both Ananias and Sapphira down was not because of lying (for many have lied and not been struck dead because of it), but because they “lied to the Holy Spirit” (Acts 5:3), and “agreed to test the Spirit of the Lord.” (Acts 5:9). Ananias and Sapphira had conspired together to test and undermine the apostle’s authority. God killed both Ananias and his wife to prove a point: the apostles are inspired of the Holy Spirit, and their authority is not to be questioned.
Back in Mark 3, Jesus placed a high penalty on the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit because of the Spirit’s vital role to the salvation of the world. Jesus was willing to be mocked, mistreated, slandered, and suffer personal offense, but if the will of God was to be accomplished, the Holy Spirit must be defended and hallowed. The extreme measures of the scribes called for an extreme warning and punishment to be issued by deity.
So, can one today commit the sin of blaspheming the Holy Spirit and never be forgiven of that sin? The answer is “No.” Since miracles have ceased (1 Corinthains 13), it is no longer possible for people to witness a miracle and attribute such power to the devil as the scribes attempted to do. However, if one rejects the gospel that the Spirit came to establish, he or she will not inherit eternal life (Romans 1:16).