Mat 12:31-32 (NIV) "And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come."The unpardonable sin is to ascribe a clear endorsement by the Spirit of God to Satan, to reject what is obviously true because we just don't want to believe it for religious or emotional reasons (or any other reason, I suppose). As to why this unique sin is unpardonable, I will venture my meditations.
Mark 3:29-30 (NIV) "But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin." He said this because they were saying, "He has an evil spirit."
Jesus said even sins against Him would be forgiven, but not against the Holy Spirit (in this flagrant sense). So it is a question worth asking. Why should it, must it, be so? Why has God told us plainly that there is severe risk in rejecting the Holy Spirit's sanction? Isn't rejecting Jesus pretty much the same as rejecting the Holy Spirit? Well, when He was here, perhaps; and even now on occasion. But not all who hear of Jesus, or even study Him, have the Holy Spirit saying "YES!" within them every time. (Jn 6:44) When they do, and they choose to say, "Aw, it's of the devil", then they have sinned against the Holy Spirit. If such rejection of the Holy Spirit is persisted in and chosen as a decision, this graduates from doubt into a blaspheming of the Spirit of Truth. Without God taking the time to open ears or eyes or hearts, as Jesus said, "You can't perceive" (Mk 4:12). For those who can in the moment of clarity, and reject the revelation of the Spirit, there are grave consequences. For there is a moment for all of us (I believe) in life, where the Spirit reveals the truth of Jesus Christ. That moment, and what we do with it, has a lot to do with our eternal destiny.
For me, I remember this moment rather clearly. I fancied myself an anti-Christian, loving to eat Christians for lunch with trick questions and the like. I did not, and perhaps could not, honestly take the faith seriously. I remember one day I saw the light, or perhaps in my case more like a pin-prick of light. I would describe it like seeing a star in the night sky where if you keep staring at it you will never lose it, but if you move your eyes you will likely never find it again. This tiny bit of light for me was the first time it had dawned on me that Christianity might be true. Through all my stupid arguments, hatred, and attacks; it hit me that it just might be true. I kept staring at that little bit of light and knew I was being given a chance, perhaps my only chance (who knows?) to believe. I knew that this was a moment of ultimate decision, but still also knew that I could just turn my head from that little bit of light and I probably would never even remember the moment had passed. The fearful thing was that I knew this was a moment of epiphany, and that if I did not turn away that I might actually become one of the crazy Christians I so despised. My emotions were saying, "How would this look to all your friends? You have a reputation to uphold. You would look like the biggest idiot if you change your mind and became one of THEM." But I kept looking. I knew I was at a crossroads; and for me it was no dramatic miracle or angel appearing, but the slightest hint in my mind that Jesus might be God after all. This pin-prick of light was only a glance away from being thrown in the trash-bin of my memory, but I knew that if I kept looking at that light, it would grow brighter and bigger and, like the light at the end of a tunnel, it would eventually subsume me and I would move completely into it and into the warmth of the day and the sun. But then, just a pin prick, which if I glanced away, I might never find again, or even care about. Well, I kept staring, and it was just as I feared. <smiles> The light drew closer, and from a suspicion came a surety, and I became a nutty Christian and moved into the light. But what a moment of beginning, eh?
Now for my answer as to why rejection of the light given in the moment of "proposal" by God is unpardonable; and why in general it is not a good idea to blaspheme, or even grieve, the Holy Spirit. Another--and much less ostensibly spiritual--story will introduce my concluding point.
My ski-boat was losing power. So I took it to the shop for repair. The last problem had run up to $1000 including full engine removal and transmission repair <ouch>, so I was already feeling an acute pain in my wallet. In this case, a tune up actually made the problem much worse. The next expensive thing tried also did not fix the problem, and it was no fun taking people out on the lake and idling around; as the engine would barely run. I told the mechanic I was going to come work with him and camp in his shop till we figured out what was wrong. So here we are, the two of us in his shop on a Saturday, up in the boat with the hood open, with the LOUD (boats use water as a muffler, and a hose doesn't really cut it) engine blasting. Now I heard a nasty little clicking noise coming from the crankcase and my heart sank into my wallet, as I figured anything that deep in the engine was going to cost a fortune to fix. He says, "Do you hear that?" and I could not afford to hear it (pun intended), so I said "What noise" and sure enough it sort of faded away, and our minds drifted into other rabbit trails. I had heard it, but denied it because I did not want it to be true. We worked for a few more hours, hot, greasy, noisy, and could find nothing wrong. We checked the timing, fuel system, etc., again and again. Then, he said "I hear that clicking again, coming from deep inside the engine." I wanted to slug him, thinking "That couldn't be it", or rather, "That had better not be it". Dollar signs flashed madly in my eyes. I did not want to hear it, or believe it, but he was insistent. "Listen, there it is again" as he put his head down. "I know what it is, and you are lucky." He shut down the engine, and put in a new set of ignition cables. "That'll fix it. You had a slight break in one of your cables. The clicking we heard was a spark arcing across the breach, which drains the power. It must have got bent too far when we installed it a few weeks ago." So, it just sounded like it was deep within, because we were hearing a spark as a click. Now comes the bill, some $400 for all the time and hours wasted. That is a hefty price for something so simple, that I had thwarted the fixing of early on. If I had just been honest to the truth when I first heard the noise, I could of saved us both time and me a lot of money. But I figured I could not afford to perceive what was obvious, and denied what I knew was true. I reflected on this later, in terms of rejecting the conviction and ministrations of the Spirit, for I felt then (and now) that God was gently showing me the risks of rejecting the truth--however small the truth--for ulterior reasons. It never gets easier if we do so, and we call disproportionate painful consequences into our lives. In the ultimate sense, we risk ultimate judgment if we reject or deny the truth.
Here is my concluding illustration, after all this warm up.
Imagine a foolish person who does not like what he sees with his eyes and just keeps them clamped shut to avoid the view. While this would keep him from seeing the ugly truth around him that he desired to avoid, it would cramp the eyes after a while. When the eyelids eventually popped open, there would be whatever he did not want to see. Now imagine he finds some acid in the garage or by the pool, and takes an eye dropper and puts a drop into his eyes. Instead of the darkness of shut eyes, or the ugly scenes of reality, now there are dazzling colors and art-like patterns of a fascinating sort, even with the eyelids open; and little pain as the eyes have few nerves. So our foolish man puts in a few more drops and finds that now he can still see enough to basically make out shapes, but has "fixed" forever the problem of cramped eyelids vs. unwelcome, sharp, clear reality. He now walks along in a daze, having blinded himself forever into a happy bliss.This is my parable on the unpardonable sin. It is one thing to shut your eyes to the truth, and we all have done it. I did it especially when I was an unbeliever. Yet it is another thing to put acid in your eyes. If you just shut your eyes (deception) they might open again. If you put acid in your eyes (the unpardonable sin) then you have forever wrecked your ability to perceive the truth. And for what, to get through a painful or uncomfortable moment? One is a temporary sin which can be "got over", the other a serious, permanent, and ultimate matter and choice. To reject the moment of clarity, the proposal of Jesus through the Holy Spirit, to reject the light of truth, is like putting acid in the eyes of the soul such that there is no more capability from that point onwards to ever see again. Even Jesus' death on the cross cannot repair such damage, for this is an elemental, core choice of a soul to mutilate itself and its ability to perceive the truth. The "perceiver" within is acid'ed out; the spiritual bridge is burned; the last chance is missed; the capability to ever see again is sacrificed for a moment of emotional or religious comfort; the Spirit of truth is slandered as being a demon... the unpardonable sin is committed.
Lord, please help us not be like that, even in the little revelations we come across day to day. Transform us to take You as You are, to respond rightly to You. May the fear of You be the first step in the path of wisdom, for without You we can do nothing. Heal us, open up our eyes, and make us receptive to who You are whether our idolatrous notions about You like it or not. For You are the Living God, and we only see You now as through a glass, darkly. I pray that rather than resisting Your Spirit of revelation, we count all of our opinions and reaction as so much dung, and learn to rejoice in Your truth rather than grind our teeth at it; so that we might soar when You appear rather than be found clinching our fists in That Day. Save us, O God, in the highest way; from our instincts out. Amen.
Mat 13:14-16 (NIV) In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: "'You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.' But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear."