The Book of Mark
THE UNPARDONABLE SIN
Text: MARK 3:22-30
1. In Mark 3:22 we are told certain scribes “came down from Jerusalem” to Capernaum (2:1). Jerusalem is south of Capernaum, but in the Bible men are either going up to Jerusalem or coming down from Jerusalem.
2. This is because is situated on a ridge of mountains 2,300 feet above sea level. More importantly, it is because Jerusalem is the religious center of Israel (and will be the center of the whole world during the millennium). Our Lord said in Matthew 5:35, “it is the city of the great King.”
3. Psalm 48:2 says, “Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King.”
4. The scribes were not alone. Matthew 12:24 tells us the Pharisees were with them. Not being able to explain our Lord’s successful ministry in casting out devils, they said, “He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casteth he out devils” (Mark 3:22; cf. 3:10, 11, 14, 15).
5. It was a terrible accusation. Beelzebub was the false god of the Ekronites; he was known as “the lord of the flies.” To the Jews, this heathen deity was another name for Satan - “the prince of the devils” (Mark 3:22).
I. THE VICIOUS ACCUSATION
1. The Bible teaches that the religious leaders hated Jesus because they were envious of Him. Even Pontius Pilate, a worldly unsaved politician recognized this (cf. Mark 15:9, 10).
2. Observing our Lord’s growing popularity, they felt threatened (Mark 1:21, 22).
3. Even when our Lord performed great miracles and cast our devils, the scribes and Pharisees refused to believe that Jesus was the Messiah.
4. Our Lord said to them in John 8:24, “I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.”
5. Their hearts were very hard. But rather than repent, and accept the fact that Jesus was the Messiah, they made a vicious accusation, “He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casteth he out devils” (Mark 3:22).
II. OUR LORD’S RESPONSE
1. Our Lord responded by asking them, “How can Satan cast out Satan?” (3:23).
2. It would make no sense for Satan to cast out his own devils. And the Bible says they are his. Our Lord said in Matthew 25:41, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.”
3. Since the devils (demons) work for Satan, why would he cast them out?
4. Our Lord spoke to them in “parables” (Mark 3:23), and these parables need little explanation. The first parable is found in Mark 3:24. “And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.”
5. Satan has a kingdom, and some day it will fall, but not because it is divided against itself. It will fall when our Lord returns to set up His kingdom.
6. In the meantime, Satan will guard his kingdom and his house (3:24, 25). The only way Satan (“the strong man”) can be overcome is if someone stronger comes along and binds him (3:27). Christ entered the strong man’s house 2,000 years ago.
7. Our Lord said, “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out” (John 12:31).
8. When our Lord returns, Satan will be bound for 1,000 years (Rev. 20:2). Then when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and then cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, and he shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever (Rev. 20:7, 10).
III. THE UNPARDONABLE SIN (3:28-30).
1. Mark the solemn words of our Lord in Mark 3:29, “But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation.”
2. There are two other Scriptures where our Lord gave this warning (cf. Matthew 12:24-32; Luke 12:10).
3. This terrible sin is referred to three times in the Gospels, and the process involved, and the principle behind it are repeated over and over throughout the Word of God (cf. Acts 7:51-60).
4. Notice Stephen’s words in verse 51, “ye do always resist the Holy Ghost…” Resisting the Holy Spirit is the process that eventually leads to what is commonly referred to as “the unpardonable sin.”
5. Here is a good definition of the unpardonable sin from J. Vernon McGee: “The unpardonable sin is the voluntary and the willful refusal to accept the pardon God offers by the convicting work of the Holy Spirit.”
6. Dr. McGee also said: “I believe there comes a moment when a man steps over an invisible line and no longer does the Holy Spirit speak to him.”
7. In other words, if you are not saved, and you have heard the Gospel many times, and the Holy Spirit has been convincing you that you need to repent and get right with God - and you keep resisting the Holy Spirit - you are in danger of stepping over this invisible deadline.
8. If that happens, it means you will never get saved. You will no longer have any interest in getting saved. And you cannot get saved.
9. This is particularly important today in light of the perilous times we are living in (cf. II Thess. 2:9-12).
10. Our Lord said the Holy Spirit “will reprove (convict) the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:8).
11. Psychologists and psychiatrists try to remove feelings of guilt from sinners. This is wrong because sinners need to feel guilty over their sin in order to repent and get saved.
12. After assuring them that they are OK, the psychiatrist oftentimes prescribes pills for the guilty sinner. Now, instead of feeling guilty over his sin, he is docile and sedated.
13. But in order to get under conviction of sin, the guilty sinner should not be numb and tranquilized. He must be convinced by the Spirit of God that he is a rebel and he has sinned against a holy God.
14. He must understand that he is only an inch away from the jaws of hell, and it is only the grace and mercy of God that is keeping him from descending headfirst into the torments of eternal hellfire.
15. And it is not just the psychiatrists that are leading sinners down the broad road that leads to destruction. Many so-called preachers (Joel Osteen, Rick Warren, et al) and ministers are doing the very same thing. Multitudes of lost souls come to them, desperate to hear a word from God, but instead they are given a religious pep talk. Consequently they walk away more confused than ever and even deeper in sin.
16. I am convinced that this is the reason so many people listen all day long to loud rock and rap music - it helps them not to think. With the loud boom-boom-boom all day long, they’re unable to think clearly and don’t have to think about heaven or hell, or feel guilty over their sin.
17. Yesterday I parked my car in the Walgreen’s parking lot, and I saw some young people dancing and singing in the car next to me. You would think they were possessed by devils the way they were carrying on!
18. What is our Lord talking about in John 16:8? The Holy Spirit appeals to the judgment of man - to the place where man exercises free will; and He wants man to admit that he is a wicked sinner who has sinned against a holy and righteous God.
19. Man must accept God’s verdict. He must plead guilty. And he must cast himself upon the mercy and goodness of God.
20. But man is reluctant to accept God’s verdict. Like the proud Pharisees, worldly men have a hard time admitting they are sinners, deserving of God’s wrath.
21. The Holy Spirit convicts man of his greatest sin - unbelief (cf. John 16:9).
22. The Bible says that the Lord Jesus Christ was the true Light, “which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:9).
23. However, when that light is refused, the sinner steps further into darkness. There is a process, clearly explained in the Bible, over and over, in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. It is like this. First sinners:
· reject the light (Acts 24:24,25). Then there comes a time when there is no more light. A man approached the late evangelist Hyman Appleman one night and said: “One night I heard you preach, and I was under tremendous conviction. As you gave the invitation, beads of perspiration broke out and I could not help it but I started crying. I grabbed the pew in front of me, I wanted to go up, but I did not. Now, do you know what? I am not afraid of God anymore!” And he started cursing at the preacher. [PJB1] I have heard similar stories from other preachers.
· Bold rebellion against God and His Word (Ex. 5:1,2). Think of all the false cults that deny the deity of Christ and other fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith. After awhile, God just gives up on them.
· Continued indulgence in known sin (Rom.1:24, 26, 28). Homosexuals and other perverts admit that at first it was hard for them to indulge in their sins. But after awhile, it became easier and easier.
· Gradual hardening of the heart (cf. Pro. 29:1). I have seen this gradual hardening time and time again. I meet people knocking on doors. They seem friendly and open, but they will not get things right with God. Eventually, after several visits, they are unfriendly and even hostile.
· Persistence in unbelief (Luke 23:39-41). I will never forget a man I met knocking on doors on 217th Street in Queens Village. With a horrible grin he looked at me and shrieked: “It’s too late for me. I can never be saved! It’s too late! Too late!” And the poor wretch even laughed! I also recall an elderly Jewish lady who told Dave Hine and me that it was impossible for her to believe even though she would like to.
24. The unpardonable sin is sinning against God’s light. Our nation is now slipping into darkness: idolatry, pornography, rock music, drugs and alcohol, apostasy, materialism, abortion, euthanasia, lack of civility, etc.
25. The problem has always been in the heart of man. Please turn to Matt.12:25, and notice that “Jesus knew their thoughts.” It was not their words that condemned them. They were condemned before they even opened their mouths (Matt.12:25a, cf. 12:34 - “for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh”).
26. This is not to imply that our words are unimportant. They are very important (Matt. 12:36,37).
27. What I am trying to bring out is that the problem is in man’s heart. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9).
28. Oftentimes in the Bible we see God warning people to repent but they refused. They crossed the deadline. There was no more hope for them. Think of Cain. God said to him, “Why are thou wroth? And why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him” (Gen.4:6,7).
29. Immediately after this warning, Cain went out and killed his brother (4:8).
30. Remember Esau, Lot’s wife, Balaam, Judas Iscariot, King Agrippa, and many others in the Bible, who committed the unpardonable sin.
There is a time, I know not when,
A place, I know not where,
Which marks the destiny of men
To heaven or despair.
There is a line by us not seen,
Which crosses every path;
The hidden boundary between
God’s patience and His wrath.
To cross that limit is to die,
To die, as if by stealth,
It may not pale the beaming eye,
Nor quench the glowing health.
The conscience may be still at ease,
The spirit light and gay.
That which is pleasing still may please
And care be thrust away.
But on that forehead God hath set
Indelibly a mark,
By man unseen, for man as yet
Is blind and in the dark.
And still the doomed man’s path below
May bloom like Eden bloomed.
He did not, does not, will not know,
Nor feel that he is doomed.
He feels, he sees that all is well,
His every fear is calmed.
He lives, he dies, he wakes in hell,
Not only doomed, but damned.
Oh, where is that mysterious bourn,
By which each path is crossed,
Beyond which God Himself hath sworn
That he who goes is lost?
How long may man go on in sin,
How long will God forbear?
Where does hope end, and where begin
The confines of despair?
One answer from those skies is sent,
“Ye who from God depart,
While it is called today, repent,
And harden not your heart.” - author unknown.