Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 30, 1950
NUMBER 30, PAGE 10-11b

What Is The "Sin Unto Death"?

Robert H. Farish, Tarrant, Ala.

The blasphemy of the Spirit, which is an eternal sin, that is a sin which shall not be forgiven neither in this world nor in that which is to come, is a sin committed with the tongue. It is by the mouth that this sin is committed. This is evident from the context. In Matt. 12, after Christ has laid down the truth that forgiveness could be obtained for speaking a word against the Son whereas no forgiveness was available for the one who "shall speak again the Holy Spirit," he goes on to express and explain and emphasize the significance of the uttered word. In verse 33 he calls upon his hearers to acknowledge that the fruit of the tree infallibly reveals the nature of the trees—"for the tree is known by its fruits." The application is that the speech of the Pharisees revealed their true nature. Their speech is to them as the fruit is to the tree. Their speech was a calculated reflection and rejection of that demonstration of the Spirit which they had observed. Their corrupt speech revealed their corrupt nature. This is further amplified in the next verse (34) "Ye offspring of vipers, how can ye being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." The 35th verse presents the relation between the heart and the speech under the figure of treasure and what is brought out of the treasure. The nature of the things brought forth is identical with the treasure. The speech uttered is identical in nature with the treasure from which it is brought forth. The 36th and 37th verses are our Lord's conclusion. Every idle word must be accounted for in the day of judgment. "For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned."

This is further brought out in Marks account. Mark 3:30; "Because they said he hath an unclean spirit." It was what they said that brought forth this scathing denunciation and dread warning from Christ.

How did these Pharisees speak against or blaspheme the Spirit? So far as the record shows they didn't even mention the Spirit in their speech. Their words attributed a work of the spirit of God to Beelzebub. In their words there was revealed the corruptness, grossness and hardness of their heart. Their words were the expression of their rejection of the work of the Spirit. Christ by the Spirit of God was doing these signs—casting out demons. These signs were to confirm that Christ was the son of David—that he was a teacher come from God—John 3:2—that he was approved of God—Acts 2:22. Certainly those who were so adamant against acknowledging the proof of these signs, as the words of these Pharisees revealed them to be, could never give heed to the messenger and the message which the signs were designed to confirm.

A consideration and contrast of the effects of the Spirit's work upon different people will enlighten us as to the nature of the blasphemy against the Spirit. Notice the contrasting speech of the multitudes and the Pharisees. The multitudes observing the casting out of demons said, "Can this be the son of David?" The Pharisees commenting on the same work of the Spirit of God said, "This man doth not cast out demons but by Beelzebub, the prince of demons." The Pharisees blasphemed against the Spirit, the multitudes did not. Nicodemus revealed the condition of his heart by his speech, "Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that thou doest, except God be with him." Here is honest recognition of the divine design of the Spirit's work which was proving that Jesus was from God. The climatic demonstration of the Spirit was at the crucifixion and in the resurrection of Christ.

When our Lord was crucified that Spirit of God which in the beginning "moved upon the face of the waters" and brought order and system to replace the waste and void, and light to dispel the darkness moved again not to bring order upon the earth but rather confusion. The veil of the temple was rent from top to bottom—the earth quaked—rocks were rent—tombs were opened—darkness returned temporarily—these signs protesting the mad act of these fierce creatures, caused the centurion and those with him, watching Jesus to say, "truly this was the Son of God." Note the contrast with the speech of the chief priest and the Pharisees who said, "Sir, we remember that that deceiver said while he yet was alive, after three days, I rise again. Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest haply his disciples come and steal him away etc." In the resurrection the Spirit of God declared Jesus to be the Son of God with power. Rom. 1:4. What effect did this climactic declaration have upon the chief priest—they blasphemed against the Spirit of God for when their own guards came telling them "all the things that were come to pass," they gave them money saying, "Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept." Could anyone conceive of any power, compatible with divine justice, that could reach and save such characters? They by their speech reveal their utter rejection of the proof of the divine source of the gospel. The gospel is God's power unto salvation to them that believe. It is impossible for such as these to believe. They by their blasphemy of the Holy Spirit have manifested their rejection of the Spirit's work. These signs of the Spirit were designed to establish that Jesus is the Christ and thus cause men to believe. John 20:30,31. Hence as the gospel is God's power unto salvation to every one that believes, we see that it can not save the ones who have gone beyond the possibility of belief. It is impossible for them to believe. Impossible for them to be saved—they have committed an eternal sin.

Some spoke against—blasphemed—the Son but were not guilty of an eternal sin. Many who had a part in the crucifixion were present on Pentecost to observe another demonstration of the Spirit. Some of this number mocked and in their speech blasphemed the Holy Spirit. "But others mocking said, they are filled with new wine." There were also those of the other class present, those who had spoken against the Son but do not speak against the Spirit by attributing this sign to a condition of drunkenness on the part of the apostles. Rather after hearing the message that these signs were designed to confirm, they said, "Brethren what shall we do?" The mockers would be unable to believe what Peter preached when their convictions and attitudes were as cynical as their speech revealed them to be. That their hearts' were hardened and corrupt beyond the reach of any appeal is evident from their speech, "for the tree is known by its fruits."

The practical consideration for men today is can one blaspheme against the Spirit today, thus committing a sin for which there is no forgiveness. We have seen that a verbal reflection on the work of the Spirit is to blaspheme or speak against the Spirit. The Scriptures, God's revelation to man, is peculiarly the work of the Spirit. To speak against this work of the Spirit is to reveal that it has been rejected by the heart, "For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." Man can only know God through the Spirit's revelation. Such considerations should make apparent the danger of attributing the work of the Spirit to an inferior source. This is done by the modernist who allows no higher authority for the Scripture than man—who rejects the miracles of the Bible—teaches that Jesus was a great and good teacher but not the Son of God. Such language manifests the reasoning, conclusion and attitudes of the man. Naturally it is impossible for one to ever seek forgiveness.

Another thing that we should ponder well is the relation between a man's word and himself. The force of our Lord's words cannot be softened nor dare we ignore them. If the fruit is corrupt, then the tree is corrupt. In no other way can the corruptness of the fruit be accounted for. If the words are hard and corrupt, the heart is hard and corrupt.

Caution must be exercised to avoid skepticism of the scripture. There is no such thing as healthy skepticism. A skeptical attitude toward the scripture is dangerously unhealthy. The only healthy approach is with the view to increasing our faith.