We are told in 1 John 5:16 (NIV) “If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, he should pray and God will give him life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that he should pray about that.”
So there is one sin that will not be forgiven. I like everyone before me wondered just what that particular sin was. It is kind of frightening to think there is a sin that will not be forgiven. I don’t know about you but it scared me to think that I might have committed it, or that I might in the future. Not knowing what that sin was I could not be sure of my salvation. I also didn’t understand why I shouldn’t pray about the one unforgivable sin. It seemed to me that if the sin was unforgivable I certainly should pray about it, but I am told not to.
I didn’t understand this, just like many things in the Bible when I first read them, but I was, and am, sure that everything in the Bible will be revealed if anyone asks and believes God will answer. I did and He did, so let me try to explain it.
First things first, all sins lead to death. The unsaved or those who refuse to accept the free gift of salvation that Jesus died to offer anyone and everyone who will accept it, will die because of their sin. The only way sin can be paid for is with death. If not by the death of Jesus then by the sinners own death. I am not speaking about physical death as we all must face that death. I am talking about the second death which is separation from God and all of His blessings. I am saying this to make it clear that the verse is not speaking about everyone, but only about a brother in Christ.
It would be great if once we turned to God that we would no longer sin, however that is not the case. We are given the Holy Spirit to teach us the ways of God, not to control us completely. If the Spirit would control us we would not sin, but we do.
When we accept Jesus as our Savior “all” of our sins are forgiven, so at that time there is no unforgivable sin. God does not control us or make us do anything, so He did not make anyone turn to Him. It is true that He has done everything to offer this salvation to us, but He doesn’t make anyone accept it. Nor will He make anyone continue to be a Christian.
This is the unforgivable sin, “To turn away from God after turning to Him.”
We are told in Matthew, Mark, and Luke that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is the unforgivable sin. One who has not accepted Jesus does not have the Holy Spirit, so he can not speak against that which he does not know, but when anyone turns and accepts Jesus they are given the Spirit and He becomes one with the believer. That person is still free to reject Jesus, just as he was free to accept Him, so that “brother” can commit the unforgivable sin.
This explains why we should not pray about the unforgivable sin. We would be praying that God would take away the persons free will and make him or her be a Christian. If God were going to make us be Christians then there would be no reason for Jesus to die on a cross. God would just say the words and we would be forgiven, but His plan is that we should accept Him of our own free will and not be programmed, or commanded, or made to accept His salvation. We would be praying that God change His whole plan of salvation.
For the unbeliever the unforgivable sin is not accepting Jesus as their Savior and for the believer the unforgivable sin is rejecting Jesus. The sin is the same for both. The only difference is that all of the sins of the unbeliever are unforgivable and only one sin is unforgivable for the believer.