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Unpardonable Sin

= Mocking Tongues?

In the following e-mail exchange, the e-mailers' comments are in black and enclosed in "greater than" and "lesser than" signs. My comments are in red.


Exchange #1

>I'm afraid I've committed the unpardonable sin. Please guide me to the truth on this issue. Thanks!!!!

One who needs help,

Matthew, please e-mail me.
2/22/2000<

Since you are concerned that you have committed the unpardonable sin, then you have not done so. Someone who has committed the unpardonable sin has their heart so hardened that they are not responsive to the promoting of the Holy Spirit. That is what is meant by "blaspheming the Spirit." But since you are concerned, then you are responding to the Sprit's promoting.  

So whatever you have done, God can and will forgive you. You simply need to repent and trust in Christ's death on the cross for your forgiveness. Then you need to accept you are forgiven, and that can be the hard part. But you need to trust what the Bible says on the matter:  

My little children [or, My dear children], I am writing these things to you* so that you* should not sin. And if anyone should sin, we are having a Counselor [or, an Advocate] with the Father, Jesus Christ, [the] righteous.

And _He_ is [the] propitiation [or, appeasing sacrifice] concerning our sins, but not concerning ours only, on the contrary, also concerning the whole world’s! (1John 2:1,2; ALT).


 Exchange #2

>"Whoever speaks a word against the Spirit" - What if I spoke a word saying that a certain instance of tongues was of the devil? <

 Many Christians have done so. So you're not alone. 

>I can't remember ever attacking the Spirit.... I can just remember thinking that tongues were stupid.< 

So have I, and many, many others. All that means is charismatics and non-charismatics disagree; it is not cause for self-incrimination. 

>1Cor. talks about tongues being for unbelievers.... I've never heard an interpreter.< 

Me neither. 

>Since I've never heard an interpreter, may I assume that it was o.k. to question the tongues?< 

That's a very good reason for questioning it. So you are not being rebellious, just following Acts 17:11, and testing all things by the Scriptures. Where's the blasphemy?

 >Lev. 23 or 24 says that men were stoned for blaspheming the Name.<

There were dozens of crimes for which the death penalty was warranted in the OT, such as picking up sticks on the Sabbath. If I do so today, am I damned? 

My point is, we are saved by grace, not works. That is the whole point of the Gospel. We are sinners, but God forgives us! Anything short of that and we would all deserve damnation if we were judged by the Law.

 [What] a wretched person [am] I! Who will deliver me out of the body of this death?

I am thanking God, through Jesus Christ our Lord; so consequently, _I_ myself on the one hand with the mind am serving as a slave to the law of God, on the other hand with the flesh, [the] law of sin (Rom 7:24,25; ALT).

 >Have my words of attributing the works of the Spirit brought condemnation on me..... I've mocked tongues.

Sincerely,
Matthew
2/23/2000<

I don't think questioning tongues is the same as mocking them. Now I don't think Christians should actually "mock" what other Christians believe and do, but I see nothing wrong with us disagreeing, and checking the Scriptures to determine what is so. And even if you have "mocked" tongues, ask for forgiveness; God will forgive you.  


 Exchange #3

>Dear Gary,

Hi, my name is April and I read an e-mail exchange that took place between you and a fellow named Mathew back in February of this year in regard to the unpardonable sin = mocking tongues? 

I too have gone through a 10 week long fear of having committed this sin.  I too had said once in an assembly of God church that the tongues spoken there once sounded demonic.  Now I too am afraid I've blasphemed the Holy  Spirit.  Could you let me know what ever became of this fellow named Mathew?  I would like to e-mail him if I could.  Maybe talking to him might help me. 

April
8/15/00<

Since you've read my response to Matthew, I really don't have much to add. I will just emphasize that since you are concerned about it, I doubt very much you have committed the unpardonable sin. One who has would not be concerned about it. 

Otherwise, it is not my practice keep track of the e-mail addresses of every e-mail I post on my site, nor to give out people's e-mail addresses to others. So I'm sorry, but I am not able to put you in contact with Matthew. If it is a major concern, I would suggest talking to your pastor.


Follow-up

 >Hi, Gary,

I just read the page on "Unpardonable Sin=Mocking Tongues."  As I suspected, it was written to you by a fellow named Matthew.

Here's my own exchange with him.  I was a lot more verbose than you (much more time on my hands!).

 >>>>>>HIS MAIL>>>>>>>>>

I'm afraid I've commited the unpardonable sin. Please guide me to the truth on this issue. Thanks!!!!

One who needs help.
Please e-mail me,
Matthew

>>>>>>My Reply>>>>>>>>>

Hi, Matthew,

I doubt that you have done anything that could not be forgiven by God.  Our God has an extremely rich bank of forgiveness and love to bestow upon His people.  I would like you to tell me what it is you have done so that I may be of help guiding you to repentance, but first I will offer these thoughts.

The verse in question is Matthew 12:31, "Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men." 

Baptist pastor W.A. Criswell wrote on this verse, "The unpardonable sin is a knowledgeable, verbal, and continuous attributing of the work of the Holy Spirit to Satan.  Jesus' miracles were authentications of His Person and mission as the Son of God.  Rather than admitting that His supernatural power was a manifestation of the Holy Spirit in Him, they ascribed it to hell.  Thus the fatal sin is the denial of the Holy Spirit's testimony to Jesus as Savior and Lord, and results ultimately in the rejection of the Son of God." 

Truly, looking at the precise wording, you can see that the "blasphemy" referred to here is a continual action.  It is not, "a blasphemy" shall not be forgiven, but "the blasphemy."  If God convicts you of sin, God is also willing to forgive.  God does not convict you just to make you feel bad! God only convicts you of sin in order to bring you to repentance. 

If that were not true, this statement from the Bible would not be true, either:  "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9).

This "blasphemy of the Holy Spirit" is a continual action right on down to the grave.  And in the resurrection, it is the unforgivable sin. 

So, please let me know what it is you have done that you feel constitutes the unforgivable sin.  Even if you do not want to tell me that, which I can understand, I would like you to also answer one question for me:  What do you understand it takes for a person to go to heaven?

 I will be praying for you.

 >>>>>>HIS REPLY>>>>>>>>>>

I have made fun of tongues......... I have had my mind say that Christ's works were of the devil....... 

I believe that salvation is the Holy Spirit's application of Christ's work to the Father's elect. The instrument by which this occurs is faith. Christ alone is our basis for boasting. We are saved through faith alone, by grace alone.

 I fear that I've slandered the Holy Spirit by my words (attributing the works of the Holy Spirit to Satan), and so have forfeited the idea that I was ever a child of God.

--Matthew

p.s. If the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is unpardonable, then it only takes one time to do it.

>>>>>>MY REPLY>>>>>>>>>>

Hi, Matthew, 

You wrote:

>>>

I have made fun of tongues......... I have had my mind say that Christ's works were of the devil.......

[...]

I fear that I've slandered the Holy Spirit by my words (attributing the works of the Holy Spirit to Satan), and so have forfeited the idea that I was ever a child of God.

>>>

I have had so many people write to me because they have been victimized by the charismatic groups and their bad doctrines.  I am not saying that tongues are evil.  Tongues from God are surely not evil.  But the teachings of some of these groups definitely are.

Let me give you an example.  The most common thing people victimized by charismatic teachers ask me is, "Can I possibly be a Christian?  I don't speak in tongues, and charismatics say you have to if you're a Christian."  

The fact is, you can be a Christian if you don't speak in tongues.  In fact, Paul plainly said that not all Christians speak in tongues in 1 Corinthians 12:30, "Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?"  These questions were rhetorical questions, which are based on an obvious answer.  

Now, the reason I shared that example with you is to show you that many charismatic teachings are based on very poor Bible interpretation.  Another typical charismatic teaching is that to seek the higher gifts means to seek tongues.  But Biblically speaking, tongues is the least of the Spiritual gifts.  1 Corinthians 12:8 says, "And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues."

I'm not maligning tongues by saying that, just giving them their proper place.  According to Paul, they are the least of the Spiritual gifts.  Any spiritual gift is of course wonderful, and those who speak in tongues are mightily blessed by it -- but it is not a "make-or-break" gift in any believer. 

Another thing charismatics say is that speaking in tongues is the proof you are a Christian.  But you know what?  There are unbelievers who speak in tongues.  Did you know that most practitioners of voodoo speak in tongues? Mormons are not believers; they say that God is just one of a million gods, that He used to be a man, and that Christ is a result of God having sex with Mary.  But many Mormons speak in tongues.  As a matter of fact, Mormons were speaking in tongues over 50 years before the first Pentecostal denomination was formed.  There are real tongues, but there are also counterfeit tongues.  

Now, the reason I told you these things is to show you that some of the charismatic leaders do not know how to interpret or to teach the Bible, and so their interpretation of Matthew 12:31 is highly suspect.  I strongly suspect you have been influenced by false charismatic teachers when you say,  

>>>

p.s. If the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is unpardonable, then it only >takes one time to do it.

>>> 

You're making a very big mistake there.  Do not believe the charismatics on this point.  They say it as a result of their very poor seminary system that doesn't teach them the original languages of the Bible and does not teach them sound Bible interpretation principles. 

Consider these verses from 1 Corinthians 6:9-10:  "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God."  

Now, we know that Jimmy Swaggart, a Pentecostal, is a fornicator and an adulterer, but he believes he is forgiven now that he has stopped.  Jim Bakker, also a Pentecostal, is a fornicator, a thief, a covetous person, and an adulterer, but he believes he is forgiven, again, because he has stopped.  

How can that be when these verses say that neither of them could ever inherit the kingdom of God? 

Well, the truth is, in the Greek, the continual tense is applied to all of these sins.  What the Bible is saying in the Greek is, if you continue to be a fornicator, or an idolator, et cetera, you will not inherit the kingdom of God.  But if you cease, you have no reason not to expect to be forgiven.  

Would you agree with me that God never changes?  Malachi 3:6a says, "For I am the LORD, I change not."

 Well, God said that whoever stops any kind of sin will be forgiven.  Ezekiel 18:27-28 says, "Again, when the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive.  Because he considereth, and turneth away from all his transgressions that he hath committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die."

Therefore, "the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit" is also continual.  Do not let the unsound interpretation by these people fool you.  God does not change. If a person turns from sin, God will forgive.

It is essential that you do not really blaspheme the Holy Spirit by refusing to believe that He will forgive.  1 John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."  What kind of unrighteousness?  "All."  Including blasphemy. 

What I find so astonishing is that when these charismatics or their friends sin through fornication, theft, covetousness, drunkenness and so forth, they will allow the possibility to be forgiven because they are willing to recognize these as continual sins.  But they would say a person like yourself could sin one time and cannot be forgiven.  Jesus spoke of this type of person when He said, "Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers" (Luke 11:46). 

I presume you have already seen this page?  If not, it may be of some help to you.  It offers another perspective on the problem you are having that I think you may find reassuring.  But I'll tell you something: If you believe Ezekiel 18:27-28, that is about all the "theology" you will ever really need to know.  If you repent, GOD WILL FORGIVE.  It's that simple. 

I want to let you know one more thing. 

You wrote,

>>>

I believe that salvation is the Holy Spirit's application of Christ's work to the Father's elect. The instrument by which this occurs is faith. Christ alone is our basis for boasting. We are saved through faith alone , by grace alone.

>>>

You are correct.  Do you know what that means?  It means that the Spirit of God is working with you.  The natural man cannot know this truth.  Paul wrote, "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Corinthians 2:14).  

You could be simply repeating something you have heard someone say, and do not really believe it, but I think that you are honest and really do believe this.  If you really do believe this, then the Holy Spirit cannot be offended by you, because only through Him could you understand this. 

Now, I recommend that you stop looking to the things that are behind you, the mistakes you have repented for, and look ahead to the wonderful life and eternity you can spend with Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, with full faith that when He says He will forgive, He truly will forgive!  Otherwise, we call Him a liar, which truly is blasphemy.  Do not allow yourself to be defeated by the devil and bad doctrine; be quickened by the Holy Spirit Who desires so much that you would come to Jesus for forgiveness.

 God bless you,

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Just thought you'd be interested....

God bless,
Reese
3/11/2000<

This discussion is continued at: Unpardonable Sin = Mocking Tongues? - Part Two

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