For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.
Many people run away from God because they aren’t perfect. They feel the need to be the best version of themselves for God to forgive them or love them. Unfortunately, after many mistakes or failed attempts at being righteous, a lot of people consider themselves unredeemable and give up.
If this describes you, let me be extremely clear. If God, the creator of the universe, can make a world out of nothing, He can forgive you of whatever sin you’ve committed and write your name into the book of life.
It truly doesn’t matter what you’ve done. It simply doesn’t.
And before you ask about the unforgivable sin, blasphemy, let’s talk about a common misconception…
The “Unforgivable” Sin… Blasphemy
Jesus, who is the only example of perfection and true righteousness in creation, said in Mark 3:28-30, “Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin.”
This same story, phrased slightly different, is recorded in Matthew 12:31-32. This verse reads, “Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.”
Ouch. But, let’s talk about the context of these verses and what Jesus actually meant by His words.
Jesus had just healed a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute. Many of the people were amazed, and they wanted to believe in Him. The Pharisees, who were considered the religious leaders of the time, were against Jesus and attempted to keep others from believing or following Him. They essentially said, “Nah. He gets his powers to drive out demons from the devil.”
The Bible doesn’t mention Jesus letting out any exasperated sighs or His eyes rolling before He explained how illogical their reasoning was, but I wouldn’t have blamed Him. In Mark 3:23-24, He puts the Pharisees in their place by asking a question in response to their accusations. “And he called them to him and said to them in parables, ‘How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.’”
But, the point is that the Holy Spirit was calling out to the hearts of these people and the Pharisees refused, refuted, rejected and revoked Him. The Pharisees were against Jesus and against people coming to Him. They weren’t only denying Jesus, but they were attempting to deny others the chance to know Him. Their sin was a blasphemy against the Holy Spirit because they refused to accept the call of Jesus. They were unwilling to drop their pride, come to Jesus, admit their sin, ask for forgiveness, and accept the salvation He was offering them.
That’s what it means to blaspheme the Holy Spirit. It means you’ve heard the gospel of Christ and you’re choosing to ignore it and reject salvation. Then you kick the bucket, so to speak.
If you’re willing to accept forgiveness and follow Jesus, it doesn’t matter what sins you’ve committed in the past. It doesn’t matter if you were once like the Pharisees and said things you shouldn’t have said. If the Holy Spirit is still calling you, and you feel the desire to come to Jesus, God can and will forgive you. That unforgivable sin? Well, it’s only unforgivable if you don’t seek forgiveness. It’s only eternal if you die before you change your mind. Jesus wasn’t trying to block anyone from coming to Him then, and He isn’t blocking you from coming to Him now.
Jesus Prefers Humility Over Perfection
In Luke 5:29-32, the same Pharisees were grumbling against Jesus because He was eating dinner and having a good time with sinners in the home of a hated tax collector with a bad reputation. But, Jesus answered them by saying, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
Written a while later, in Romans 3:21-24, another former sinner named Paul who we’ll read more about later, explained that the righteousness of God separates all who believe in Jesus Christ from the condemnation of the law. He says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”
God is perfect enough to cover any imperfection you or I have. We don’t have to be perfectly righteous to be perfectly forgiven. Jesus died to separate us from our sins and we’ve all fallen short of His glory. I don’t know what you’ve done, but I know it doesn’t matter. We’re imperfect, but we’re completely forgivable and unconditionally loved by a perfect Father. That’s what matters.
I remember the first time I accidentally took The Lord’s name in vain. I was in the fourth grade and I had been riding bicycles with a couple friends. One was a devout Christian, and the other attended church on Sundays but had never truly believed in God.
Anyway, I was riding along and the friend who wasn’t a believer said the phrase “Oh my God,” every time we hit a rock in the road. Our other Christian friend and I exchanged concerned glances every now and then. We weren’t judging her; we simply didn’t know how to respond. Her and I would both say, “Oh my Gahhh,” instead, thinking that might be better. After listening to it for several minutes, I hit a bump and, without even thinking, accidentally put a “d” on the end of Gahhh. Ironically, that was the same week I said the word “crap” for the first time.
I felt like a real rebel. Unredeemable. Trouble, with a capital T.
In that moment, I felt like Jesus hated me. The three of us continued to ride along silently as I broke out into a cold sweat. My chest turned red. I began to have a hard time breathing. Internally I was panicking about going to hell. I excused myself quickly and spent hours praying God would forgive me of my egregious sin. No, I shouldn’t have said it, but looking back I wish I could say that was the worst mistake I had ever made.
God knows our hearts and He knows our soul. He probably pursed His lips together disapprovingly when He heard my words, but I don’t believe He held it against me. He knows when we’re regretful. He’s slow to anger and quick to show mercy. I was thankful for it then, and I’m even more thankful for it now.
The Bible is full of imperfect people. I invite you to hang out with me as we study the lives of many of them. It’s my hope that you’ll realize how dearly God loves His children…those who are sinners, those with bad reputations, those who have done the worst things imaginable, and how dearly He treasures you now, despite anything you’ve ever done.
No, you aren’t perfect.
No, you don’t need to be.
Jesus loves you anyway.
Is there a sin you’ve committed that sticks out in your mind as something you feel regret and shame for? Be honest. This is just between yourself and God. It doesn’t have to be a public admittance. If any specific sin you’ve committed (or a multitude of them) keeps playing “on repeat” in your mind, this is your chance to get it off your chest.
What has been stopping you from coming to Jesus, or what delayed you in the past from coming to Him? Maybe you weren’t sure if you wanted to give up sin, and maybe you still aren’t sure. Maybe you don’t know what you really believe about God. Maybe you didn’t grow up in a Christian home. Whatever it is, it’s good to address it.
Is there anything in your life you’re feeling called by God to give up? Doubt in God, doubt in yourself, grief, fear, anxiety, addiction, sin that you’re holding onto that you aren’t sure you want to let go of…
There’s one last piece of advice I would like to offer you today…if you’re feeling called by God, pray. If you have questions for Him, pray. If you’re ready to accept Him or if you aren’t, pray.
Talk to God. Bring it all to Him. He’s a big enough God to handle any concern or fear you have. It can be silent or out loud. It might feel awkward to you, but it won’t feel awkward to God. You don’t have to be forgiven to pray. You don’t have to be sure you’re ready for salvation to pray. Even if you are really on the fence. Maybe even on the other side of the fence, holding onto it with one hand…just pray.