What Is the Unpardonable Sin?

Sin is the transgression of God’s law (1 John 3:4). Except for Jesus Christ, all humans have sinned (Romans 3:23). The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). But when a person truly repents of sin, Christ’s shed blood pays the death penalty for that sin (Acts 2:38). Then the repentant individual can go on in faith to obey God and develop more of God’s character.

But there is a sin that cannot be repented of. This is known as the “unpardonable sin.” Anyone guilty of this sin cannot be in the Kingdom of God, but will face eternal death! What is this sin?

Essentially it is willful sin, where the sinner refuses to repent, even with full knowledge that he or she is defying God. This is unpardonable.

There are two types of sin:

1. Willing sin, through human weakness, which is pardonable upon repentance. It is either sinning in ignorance, or sinning while being aware of breaking the law but fighting against it and losing the battle through human weakness.

2. Willful sin, where the sinner refuses to repent, knowing he or she is dealing with God. This is unpardonable.

A person who refuses to repent when he knows the truth is in danger of committing the unpardonable sin (Hebrews 10:26-27). It does take time to overcome sins, especially if they are deeply embedded in one’s mind. But if the attitude is one of refusing to repent, even after correction, that person is on dangerous ground!

Notice how Herbert W. Armstrong explained this deadly attitude in The Incredible Human Potential: “If, once having been converted, having received God’s Spirit, and tasted of the joys of God’s way, one deliberately rejects that way, makes the decision, not under stress of temptation, but deliberately and finally, not to go God’s way, then God says it is impossible to renew such a one to repentance. He would have to repent of that decision. But if he willfully made it, not in a time of temptation, but calmly, deliberately, willfully, then he just will not ever repent of it.”

God will not forgive a person who refuses to repent.

The other way to commit the unpardonable sin is through neglect. If a person has God’s Holy Spirit, he or she can neglect it to the point of losing it! 1 Timothy 4:14 tells us not to neglect God’s Spirit. God’s people are told to stir up God’s Spirit through daily prayer and Bible study (2 Timothy 1:6).

Notice further how Christ defined the unpardonable sin: “Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy [Spirit] 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 [Spirit], it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come” (Matthew 12:31-32).

The Greek word for blasphemy means intentional indignity of God or a sacred thing. The scribes and Pharisees of Christ’s day rejected Him, even though they had proof that He was the Son of God. They didn’t have God’s Spirit, but they were on very dangerous ground because they rejected what they knew to be of God. They said the works of God’s Spirit were actually of the devil! (Matthew 12:24).

Mr. Armstrong summed up the unpardonable sin this way in The Incredible Human Potential: “It is only the one who quits and gives up (Hebrews 10:38)—who rejects God, and God’s way, and rejects Christ as his Savior—who neglects or turns from this direction of God’s way, in his mind and heart (in his inner intent)—who deliberately and intentionally in his mind—or from continued neglect—turns from Christ—who is lost. But anyone who fears he may have committed the ‘unpardonable sin’—is perhaps worried about it, and hopes he has not committed it, and still wants to have God’s salvation—no such individual has committed it—such a one may repent and go right on to salvation if he wants to!”

For a deeper study on this topic, read our free reprint article “The Unpardonable Sin.”