“Whosoever speaks a word against the Son of Man it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever speaks against the Holy Spirit it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world (age) to come.” (Matt 12:32)
This text teaches first that there is such a thing as forgiveness of sins both in the present Gospel age and in the coming, millennial age. The basis of all forgiveness of sins is in the fact that “Christ died for our sins.”
Secondly, it teaches that some sins are possible, which God will not reckon as a part of the Adamic sin which passed upon all men and which is to be forgiven all men. If men looked at Jesus and ignorantly supposed him an impostor and blasphemed him, it would be excusable and forgivable as a result of the fallen nature. Even should they blaspheme the name of God, and say they believed in no such being, etc., this too might be forgiven for the same reasons. But when God’s power (the Holy Spirit) was manifested in doing them good as it was manifested through Jesus, there certainly was no excuse for even the most depraved of men ascribing those good works to an evil power –Satan. And this is just what Jesus tells them, that such conduct cannot be classed as a part of the general human depravity, and it therefore CANNOT BE FORGIVEN.
Our text follows the conversation our Lord had with the Pharisees just previously (Matt 12:22-30) when on occasion they accused him of being in league with the Adversary, claiming that his ability to cast out demons was of Beelzebub, the ruler of demons. With all the wondrous works the Lord had performed before them even yet they refused to believe.
The light was shining so clearly, that though their eyes were nearly blinded by sin, they could not help realizing some of the light (Truth) as Jesus manifested some of “the powers of the world (age) to come.” As he said to them on another occasion, their “stripes” (punishment) in the next age will be in proportion as they have been able to comprehend and do justly and have not so done.
They whose moral sight and hearing have been totally destroyed by Adam’s sin and its results (if any such there be– the Lord knows) will have no stripes in the future, will be forgiven fully. They who see a little and could obey a little and do not so do shall be forgiven the things they did not see and could not do, but will be beaten (punished) with a few stripes for the few things they saw, and could, but did not do, they who saw more and whose ability to perform was less impaired by the fallen nature, and who fail to do according to their ability, are to be beaten with many stripes. (Luke 12:47, 48) Notice that all who receive “stripes” receive them for unpardoned sins, for if the sins were pardoned they would not be punished for them.
So it is with God’s law; all are sinners and condemned –guilty–on account of Adam’s sin, but the full ransom from that sin has been paid, and so though condemned before the court of heaven, it is announced that all of our imperfections traceable to that cause are freely and fully forgiven. But neither more nor less is pardonable. All sins against light and ability are unpardonable, cannot be forgiven at any time, and hence must be expiated (atoned for) by punishment–“stripes”. The world will have many such sins to be punished in the age to come, and even now in the present life, they receive in some instances much of that chastisement, “Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after.”(1 Tim 5:4) In a word, all punishment indicates unpardoned sin, for if it were pardoned it would not be punished as well.
Paul tells us of extreme cases of this sort of unpardonable sin. Men of the world who have a little light we have seen can commit it, but when a man becomes a Christian and has the eyes of his understanding opened–when he is brought from the condition of darkness and ignorance, into the light of knowledge of the Lord, to then “sin willfully” is terrible indeed. Due and full allowance is made for all our weaknesses and imperfections which come to us through our fallen nature, and which clog and hinder our doing as we should wish to do—our Father’s will: but no more. If we cease to desire to do God’s will, we cut loose from our Lord and begin to walk according to our own will as natural and no longer spiritual beings. This is the thing pictured by the proverb: “The dog is returned to his vomit, and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.” (2 Pet 2:22)
In Heb 6:4-6, Paul assures us that any Christian who has reached a full and mature development in the spiritual life, having “been enlightened,” “tasted of the heavenly gift,” “been made partaker of the Holy Spirit,” “tasted of the good (true) word of God” –if such shall fall away, it is impossible to renew them again unto repentance, WHY? Because this is an unpardonable sin.
But one may ask, ‘Can they not be punished for this sin and thus be free from it in time?’ (NO), with the above description of the Apostle, we understand that these had enjoyed all the blessings due them on account of Christ’s ransom: i.e., they were reckoned of God justified from all sin, as New Creatures had been brought to a condition of enlightenment and knowledge of the Lord’s will, and then, had deliberately and willfully acted contrary to it.
We do not here refer to a child of God stumbling or being overcome of the old nature for a time, but as expressed in Heb 10:26
“If WE (those begotten of the Holy Spirit, NOT the mere professing Christian, the nominally professor and certainly not father Adam who fells to have met any of the criteria mentioned above by the Apostle in Heb 6:4-6) sin willfully AFTER that we have RECEIVED THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUTH, there remains no more (a) sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation which shall devour (destroy) the adversaries.”
(Extracts taken from R260)