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Sins that Canít Be Forgiven

Pastor Gary Buchman
Emmitsburg Community Bible Church

(8/28) IThe Sin Problem Ė Sin, itís a word that we are accustomed to hearing in church. Itís the problem of the whole human race. The Bible speaks of it in various ways. Itís called, "Sin," which means to fall short or to miss the mark, or itís referred to as, debt, disobedience, rebellion, lawlessness, transgression, trespass, or other words that imply that it is something that is just wrong. Everyone in the entire human race is guilty of it. Everyone is born with a sin nature that is bent on ignoring God and doing what we want. Therefore, everyone falls short and has missed the mark of Godís Holy perfection. I have personally concluded that most of sin is doing what we want independent of the will of God. You know the verses that teach us this. Verses like: Eccl. 7:20, "There is not a just man in all the earth, who does good and sins not," and Rom. 3:9, "There is none righteous, no not one," and 3:23, "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God."

II. Sinís Passing- The problem of sin is that it is inherent to our race. That is; we are all born with a problem we have received from our parents who got it from their parents all the way back to Adam. Every human being born into this world has the problem. Look at Romans 5:12. "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinnedÖ" There is one sense in which it really isnít our fault. Sin is a natural tendency we all have to be self-centered. Just look at any 2 year old and you will see that even though their parents never taught them to be selfish, lie, throw a tantrum, or be disobedient, they just are. Children are not born with blank slates, they are born corrupted.

There is also the sense that we are all guilty intentionally. We have known when it was wrong to sin and we rationalized and with intention we did it anyway. We told lies, cheated on the test, and on our taxes, took what didnít belong to us, and used language that sailors shouldnít use. And Just like Red Skeltonís little boy character. "If I do it I get a whopping. I do it anyway," we knew better and did it anyway. That is the point of Ephesians 2:2-3, "in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others."

The problem of sin is that not only do we all have the sin problem and are we all guilty, we are all subject to:

III. Sinís Penalty. Sinís penalty is death. Not the end of existence, but separation from God and all that is love and good and peace. That, my friends is the warning of hell. No matter what you believe Hell to be, it will be the absence of love, goodness, peace and truth. Itís not because God is mean but that God is Holy and sin un-punished cannot be in Godís holy presence. Just as we separate law breakers from law abiders in our jails, God will separate sinners from His holy presence. (Gen 2:17; Isa. 59:1-2; Rom. 6:23, Ezek. 18:6, Rom. 5:12 and others.) But, (as the Geico commercial says), we have good news.

IV. The Sonís Provision Ė Paul wrote this in 1 Tim. 1:12-17, "This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." The Infinite Son of God paid the infinite penalty for all of our sins, when he died on that old rugged cross 2000 years ago. His resurrection is Godís evidence that He was satisfied with Jesusí payment for all of us.

V. The Sovereignís Promise- Who ever believes, (John 3:16), Who ever receives Jesus and his finished work, Who ever repents and calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved- rescued from the danger and penalty of sin which is eternal hell and damnation (Romans 10:9-13).

VI. The Sinnerís Pondering- This brings us to a good question in our Words in Red series in Matthew 12. Is there anything that God will not forgive? Is there an unpardonable sin and can I be guilty of it if there is? You see, we have a tendency to rate sins. Consider our Catholic friends that have mortal and venial sins (see last page). Some are big sins and some are little sins. Little sins are forgivable, big sins shouldnít be. Our problem is that with big sins comes big guilt. I would imagine that most of us have things in our lives that we have wondered, how could God possibly forgive me for that? We may have felt that we are not worthy of forgiveness. One particular inmate in the C.C.D.C. believed that what he did in Vietnam was un-forgivable. What He did exactly, he never said, so one can only imagine. But he believed he was beyond forgiveness. I know I have talked to plenty of people in jail who have felt this way and plenty of people in the pews who have felt this way. The truth is, that no one is worthy of forgiveness, no one. For all of you who wonder about this I have good news and bad news.

A. First, the Good News Ė There is not one thing that God wonít forgive, if you will do three things. You simply must Repent, Confess, and Accept Godís Forgiveness as a free gift. 1 John 1:9 (All Unrighteousness), Sexual Sins, Murder, Assault, Theft, Idolatry, and everything you can think of. (Mark 3:28-All sins). What does, "all," mean? All means all and thatís all there is to it. God can do this because Jesus paid for it all. Itís that simple. Now that doesnít mean that people will be as kind as God, or that the consequences of that sin will go away, but it does mean that God will no longer hold you accountable for that sin. And, that is Good News!

B. Now, the Bad News Ė

1. If you are a Christian, you can commit a sin that is un-forgivable until you do something. Now we know that as Christians we still sin. Hopefully, not near as much as before we were Christians, as my friend and Pastor would say, "Christians are not sinless, but they should sin less." 1 John 1:9 was written for us. As with all sinners, we simply need to repent, confess, and accept Godís forgiveness in Christ. Our unforgivable sin is one that can be forgiven but not until it is given. If we donít give it, we donít lose our souls or our salvation, but we do lose both our peace, and our closeness with our Father. It is the sin of Un- Forgiveness. Un-forgiveness is un-forgivable, no matter how much you confess it. You canít be forgiven of it until you give it. Un- forgiveness is a determined choice to hang on to offenses and to harbor anger, hatred, and bitterness, rather then to dispense grace as we have received it from God through Jesus. Clint Eastwood earned a best motion picture Oscar in 1992 for his movie of vengeance without mercy called Unforgiven. But our Un-forgiveness grieves God and destroys our peace (Ephesians 4:29-32, Matt. 6:14-15, Matt. 18:34-35, Mark 11:26).

2. If you are not a Christian, Your un-belief will not be forgiven, no matter how good a person or how religious you are. But it can be forgiven if you will simply repent of your sins and receive Jesus as your Savior and Lord. Your decision not to believe keeps you in the realm of the un-forgiven and if you die in the realm you will be in hell forever. Look at John 3:16-18, 36; 8:24. The principle meaning of the word, Ďbelieve,í is that I not only accept the facts of knowledge but I am fully resting in those facts. You can believe the facts without committing your life to those beliefs. James 2:19, says that you can believe in God and not be saved. Matt. 7:21 ff says you can do good things and still not be saved. Remember that everyone has the disease called sin, and sin results in death, and only faith in Jesus can forgive you and give you eternal life. He is the only solution (John 14:1-6; Acts 4:12). Unbelief, however, and even rejecting Jesus and His offer is forgivable if you will repent of your unbelief and confess that Jesus is Lord and receive Him and His gift of forgiveness. Itís that simple. But anyone who dies and has not believed and received Jesus will not be forgiven for all eternity.

3. There is a third thing and I want to say, that it arises out of un-belief and is, in fact, the epitome of willful rejection of God and His salvation. We find our Lord speaking of it in Matthew 12 and Mark 3. It is a sin that only non-believers could possibly commit and then only under extreme circumstances. Letís Look at Matthew 12:22-37. Notice again, every form of sin and every blasphemy, which is every evil thing you can say about God the Father and God the Son, can be forgiven while you are living. Paul was a bad man and by his own admission a blasphemer (1 Tim. 1:13). But Paul was ignorant of the truth. Every sin that is repented of, confessed and Godís grace received is forgiven. Except this one. This called the Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, cannot be forgiven. So, what is it and Why canít it be forgiven and have I done it?

First let me tell you, What it is Not.

1. It is not Lying to the Holy Spirit as Ananias and Sapphira did in Acts 5.

2. It is not Resisting the Holy Spirit as Stephen speaks of In Acts 7:51.

3. It is not Grieving the Holy Spirit as Christians can do when they donít forgive as in Eph. 4:30

4. It is not the Sin unto Death that John and Paul speak of 1 John 5:14-17 and 1 Cor. 11:28-32 and Acts 1:1-11.

5. Neither is it taking Godís name in vain, Rejecting Godís salvation, denying the Deity of the Holy Spirit, or rejecting the gifts of the Holy Spirit. All of these are forgivable if we repent, confess and receive Godís grace. Mark 3:28 says, "Assuredly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they may utter; and All means All, and thatís all there is to it.

What It Is. Ė In the context of the two passages we find it in, the Pharisees knew that Jesus our Lord is the promised Messiah, there is no doubt, and they knew it. They heard Him say so in 11:27, 12:9, and John 5:16 and they asked Him if He was going to heal on the Sabbath, meaning they knew He could He do it. Yet, rather than admit He is God with us and receive Him as their Lord and Messiah, and rejoice that Godís kingdom had come, they ascribed the love and grace of a good and holy God to that of the worse source of evil in the universe- Satan. This is the height of hatred for the Holy, and the ultimate form of deliberate rejection of God. This goodness, and grace, they were saying, is not from heaven, it is from the pit of hell.

You see they knew as John did that if Jesus is the Messiah, His increase meant that they would have to decrease (John 3:30). They had already decided that they wanted to kill Him. Look at Matt. 12:14. They would not give up their positions of power or influence to this Messiah.

The Context here is that a tremendous miracle had occurred. The crowd was amazed (v. 23), a word meaning to be totally astonished, completely overwhelmed, or Ďblown away, like whoa, dude.í The people had drawn a conclusion- This has to be the Messiah, the Son of David as Promised in the scriptures. These Pharisees were in a dilemma, they knew that such power could only have one of two possible sources. Either it is the goodness of God or the evil of Satan. If it was from God they would have to bow and honor Him, and that, they refused to do. So, they said, that He only does this by Beelzebub, a popular name for Satan, so that the crowds wouldnít follow Him. They said, rather than lose face, that He was in league with the devil. This is the height of Hatred for God and rejection of Godís grace. For their own temporary glory, they forever rejected Godís grace. This was not a question of doubt or disbelief, but deliberate forever rejection of God that was no different than what Satan did in heaven. They had heard John the Baptist testify of Him. They heard Him speak the truth of God and about the kingdom of God and knew that no one ever spoke like Him. They saw the miracles and knew that no one had ever done such things. They knew the scriptures about the Messiah and knew that Jesus was the one promised by God. They knew all of this and yet they ascribed to Him, not the glory of heaven, but the evil of hell and sealed their own condemnation. They became dead men walking.

Listen to this commentary from H.D. Spence in the Pulpit Commentary said that the sin unforgiveable was "that hatred of holiness, that awful love of self, whichÖ.induced the Pharisee leaders to ascribe {Christís}loving works to the spirit of evil and of darkness. The accusation was no chance one (not) the fruit of impulse or of passion. They who accused Him knew better. They had heard Him teach not once, but often; they have seen His works; and yetÖ in order to compass their selfish ends {simply because they felt His life and teaching would interfere with them}, they dared ascribe to the devil what their own hearts told them came direct from God." (The Pulpit Commentary: the Gospel of Luke. p. 333)

Can you or have you committed this sin? No. Even people like Paul (before His salvation) did atrocious things, because He was ignorant of the facts, but when confronted with the truth, he received the Lord.

Can you commit this sin today? I personally donít think you can. Though I guess it is possible that someone could hate God so much that knowing His goodness and grace might ascribe His goodness to an awful evil trick of Satan, but one would have to see Jesus, Hear Jesus, and know that Jesus is God, beyond any doubt and still curse Him as being in league with the devil; the embodiment of ultra-evil to commit this sin. But:

The Good News is that all manner of sin is forgivable. This is what you must focus on.

ē He forgave the determined hatred of Christians, in the evil of Saul whom we know as Paul. (1 Tim. 1:12-17)

ē He forgave the deliberate denials of Peter. (John 21)

ē He forgave the affair, murder, and attempted cover-up that David committed. (2 Sam. 12)

ē He forgave the horribly wicked King Manasseh who had sacrificed his own children to idols and was the epitome of evil, in 2 Chron. 33

ē He forgave the sinful prostitute in Luke 7

ē He forgave the adulterous woman in John 8

ē You may be laden with Guilt because of the pain that you have caused for yourself or others and you may wonder, "Can God forgive me?" The answer is, "Yes." Any one that repents, and confesses to God, and willingly receives His grace is forgiven and released from all condemnation from God. Thatís the promise of 1 John 1:9; John 5:24; Rom. 8:1. Will there still be human consequences? Yes. But there is freedom from guilt and the sure hope of heaven, and a life of redeemed purpose until then.

Today mankind will be only be condemned for one reason, they have not believed in Jesus as their sin bearer and Savior. (John 3:17-18, 36.)

But, I will also tell you this, every time anyone decides not to decide or deliberately says, Ďnoí to God and His grace, their heart gets a little harder and it becomes easier to say, Ďnoí to such grace the next time. Why not say, Ďyesí to Jesus today?

Christian, how about you? Are you living with bitterness, anger, hatred, and no peace, it will only stop when you forgive the one who has hurt or offended you. Turn your hate into grace or at least pity for the one who has offended you and extend the same mercy to that person that God has extended to you. It may not make the pain and hurt go away, but it will give you peace in your soul and it will honor your Father. Tell that person, "I forgive you." Then do something good for them.

Or has your soul had a bath lately. Have you taken the time to be honest with God and allow him to search your heart, your mind, or your mouth and wash the dirt of those thoughts, those words, or the results of those actions away? Have you repented for those things you know you should have done but didnít do? David would say in Psalm 32, "Man does it ever feel good to be forgiven. I canít believe I lived with so much stress for so long when I had to do was confess it to God and He forgave me, and He will do the same for you. Letís do this right now. Letís talk to our Father about it.

If this or any of these lessons have helped you to grow closer to God, or grow stronger in your Christian faith, would you write and let me know. It would be encouraging. Or if I can answer any question about following Jesus, just ask. My email address is pastorgarybuchman@gmail.com, or you can write to Pastor Gary Buchman, Emmitsburg Community Bible Church, P.O. Box 1201, Emmitsburg, Md. 21727, or call me at 301-447-6565

Mortal versus Venial Sin (EWTN web-site)

A serious, grave or mortal sin is the knowing and willful violation of God's law in a serious matter, for example, idolatry, adultery, murder, slander. These are all things gravely contrary to the love we owe God and, because of Him, our neighbor. As Jesus taught, when condemning even looking at a woman lustfully, sin can be both interior (choices of the will alone) or exterior (choices of the will carried into action). A man who willfully desires to fornicate, steal, murder or some other grave sin, has already seriously offended God by choosing interiorly what God has prohibited.

Mortal sin is called mortal because it is the "spiritual" death of the soul (separation from God). If we are in the state of grace it loses this supernatural life for us. If we die without repenting we will lose Him for eternity. However, by turning our hearts back to Him and receiving the Sacrament of Penance we are restored to His friendship. Catholics are not allowed to receive Communion if they have unconfessed mortal sins.

Venial sins are slight sins. They do not break our friendship with God, although they injure it. They involve disobedience of the law of God in slight (venial) matters. If we gossip and destroy a person's reputation it would be a mortal sin. However, normally gossip is about trivial matters and only venially sinful. Additionally, something that is otherwise a mortal sin (e.g. slander) may be in a particular case only a venial sin. The person may have acted without reflection or under force of habit. Thus, not fully intending the action their guilt before God is reduced. It is always good to remember, especially those who are trying to be faithful but sometimes fall, that for mortal sin it must not only be 1) serious matter, but 2) the person must know it is serious and then 3) freely commit it.

These two categories of sin are explicitly to be found in Sacred Scripture. In the Old Covenant there were sins that merited the death penalty and sins that could be expiated by an offering. This Law was a teacher that prepared the way for the faith (Gal. 3:24). In the New Covenant these material categories are replaced by spiritual ones, natural death by eternal death. There are thus daily faults for which we must daily ask forgiveness (Mt. 6:12), for even the "just man falls seven times a day" (Prov. 24:16), and mortal faults that separate the sinner from God (1 Cor. 6:9-10) for all eternity.

(Note, most Protestants, this author included, do not hold to such a division of sins. The reason is, that it was not anything like rape, robbery or murder that brought death, and condemnation to mankind, along with the curse of Gen. 3:15ff, it was one act of disobedience. All sin is contrary to the Holy nature of God and must be dealt with. God by His grace dealt with all our sins on the cross of Jesus. This is why Jesus taught us to pray whenever we pray, "Forgive us our debtsÖ." Christians need to wash themselves daily in the grace of Jesus [see 1 John 1:7-10] to enjoy the fellowship of God our Father. "His blood keeps on cleansing us from all sin.")

Benediction

2 Thess. 2:16-17, "Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, 17 comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work. Amen

Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman