It’s not uncommon to worry that we have committed a sin so terrible that God could not possibly forgive us. We’ve seen already throughout our study the reassurance from Scripture that God is willing and able to forgive our sin. Why then, in our reading today, does Jesus mention an unforgivable sin? What if we accidentally commit this sin? Are we forever doomed?
It is important to note the context in order to understand the meaning of this particular verse. Jesus warns His disciples against the “yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” Secret sin will eventually be uncovered. No action done in private will be allowed to remain that way. In other words, “you may be sure that your sin will find you out” (Num. 32:23). Surface religiosity cannot conceal a heart that resists God.
Jesus then urges His followers not to fear physical death. First, God has ultimate authority over us. While someone might cause our physical death, they have no power over our eternal destination. Second, we are of value to God; “the very hairs of your head are all numbered” (v. 7). For that reason, we do not need to be afraid.
Jesus returns to the theme of consistency between our public witness and private belief. This has significant spiritual consequences: when we are willing to stand for Jesus, He will also claim us as His own (v. 8). But the corollary is also true; “Anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven” (v. 10). Remember the context about the warning against the Pharisees. While they had witnessed His miracles and heard His teaching, they refused to believe and attributed His power to Satan. In the same way, anyone who refuses to acknowledge the saving power of Jesus will not find forgiveness.
What about you? This passage presses us to consider whether our inward beliefs match our outward actions. Do we speak about our faith before others? Is our character consistent in private or public? We are to be followers of Jesus day in and day out. We must not turn our behavior on and off depending on our present company.