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What is the Unforgivable Sin?

Matthew 12:22-32

When I served as pastor of a church in North Alabama during the early 1980s, there was an usher in our church named John. He was a sweet man who was always present in his regular spot to greet people and hand out bulletins, but John was a very troubled man. On several occasions, I met with him, and he began to weep as he told me that during World War II he had done something he thought was so evil that he was certain he had committed the unforgivable sin.

I tried to help him by telling Him God could forgive every sin except the sin of unbelief, but that didn't change his mind. John never told me what he had done, but he was convinced he never would go to heaven. He attended church and served the Lord faithfully. His family was active in the church, and his children were talented singers; but he was tormented with the belief that he had committed the unpardonable sin and never would make it to heaven.

I haven't heard from John for many years; and based on his age, chances are he already has died. From everything I knew about John and his life, I think he's in heaven; but he missed out on so much peace and joy in this life because he was tormented by the belief that his sin was unforgivable.

John isn't the only person who has expressed fear to me of having committed the unforgivable sin. Dozens of people have told me the same thing. Maybe you've wondered if you've committed the unforgivable sin. Let me start by saying what I tried to tell John: If you are concerned that you have committed the unforgivable sin, the fact that you are burdened about it means you probably haven't!

I often say there is a parable in every miracle and a miracle in every parable, so let's look first at the message we can glean from the miracle. Then we'll talk about the implications of the parable.

The Miracle: Jesus Can Deliver the Most Hopeless Person!
The Bible says, "They brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could talk and see." The phrase "demon-possessed" is actually a mistranslation. The literal term is demonized, so a better translation would be "under a demonic influence."

There are many levels of demonic influence. The blind and mute man in this passage was the victim of demonic influence, which makes us wonder, "Is every blindness or sickness the result of demonic activity?" The answer is, "No." This is one of the few times in the gospels that demonic affliction is associated with physical impairment. There were many times Jesus healed sickness that wasn't related to demonic activity, and there were many times Jesus delivered people from demonic influence when there weren't any symptoms of sickness.

There isn't any elaboration about this miracle, it simply says Jesus healed the blind and mute man so he could talk and see. How tragic it must have been for this man living in darkness and unable to talk! His family and friends must have thought his case was hopeless, but no person is beyond hope when Jesus is present.

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