Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.” Mark 3, verses 28-29.
This is going to be tough to wrestle with, especially if we use only these verses to interpret their meaning. Verse 28 says all sins can be forgiven, but then verse 29 effectively negates the word “all” and replaces it with “everything except one,” right? Is Jesus contradicting Himself?
Let’s remember first principles. Our sins are forgiven. Verse 28 says that, and it’s a concept that goes back to the beginning of time. In Eden, God prophesied that Jesus would crush Satan, vanquishing sin. That required forgiveness, yet mankind kept sinning. Despite our sins, centuries later the prophet Jeremiah said, “I will cleanse them from all the sin they have committed against me and will forgive all their sins of rebellion against me ” (Jeremiah 33:8). God loved His people and willingly forgave them. Don’t believe me? Think about Israel finally entering the promised land. Or how God restored King David. Or how Nehemiah rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem. God loved His people and forgave them, time and again, when they truly repented and returned to Him.
And still we kept sinning.
Later, Jesus modeled the very essence of forgiveness. John 21 tells of how Jesus restored Peter after Peter personally, publicly disowned Jesus. He restored Peter’s faith and confidence, and then sent him off to live boldly for the Gospel. Peter’s friend, John, also reminds us (in 1 John 1:9), “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Confession is the key. Owning up to our wrongs, then taking them to Jesus. After all, with every sin we commit, isn’t Jesus the first who is hurt? We are simply grasping what Jesus has already done.
But there’s more. We are to freely forgive each other. Later in the book (in 11:25), Mark says, “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” And, in chapter 26, verse 28, Matthew speaks of Holy Communion, quoting Jesus: “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Jesus forgives ALL of our sins, so we are to do the same.
So what about that contradiction? Don’t forget a few key things. In Matthew 10:33, Jesus says “But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.” He’s talking about people who deny His existence.
Do you or I deny who Jesus is? Do we turn away from Him, denying Him to other people? Do we deny that He is who He said He is? Do we do it in words or our hypocrisy? Is it any wonder, then, that God would deny us His eternal reward, that such denial would be a curse against God? Remember: all that is not of God is sin, yet is freely willing to forgive any wrong we commit against Him. Taking that to a logical end, denial of God is blasphemy. Where blasphemy is cursing God, this makes sense. If we mean it in our hearts when we say “I don’t believe in Jesus,” then we are blaspheming God. When you think of it in that light, there really is no contradiction.
Lord, forgive me yet again.
Read Mark 3, verses 23-30.