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What Won't God Forgive?
by Wayne Blank
Humans Are Sinners
With the exception of Jesus Christ, every human that has ever existed was, or is, a sinner. The very best Christians are all still sinners because they are all still very much human. Claiming to be without sin is itself a sin!
"If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His Word is not in us." (1 John 1:8-10 RSV)
The apostle Paul was one of the greatest Christians that has ever lived, a man who actually wrote much of the New Testament, and yet at the same time, he honestly and openly admitted that he, like all humans, was a sinner:
"We know that the law is spiritual; but I am carnal, sold under sin. I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. So then it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (Romans 7:14-25 RSV)
Repent and Be Forgiven
Paul however was forgiven for his human weakness that caused him to sin. He was sorry, he repented, and was forgiven. There is no limit to God's forgiveness for the repentant.
"Take heed to yourselves; if your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him; and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, and says, 'I repent,' you must forgive him." (Luke 17:3-4 RSV)
Not A Christian Without The Holy Spirit
Humans can only become true Christians by means of the Holy Spirit of God, the spiritual light that makes genuine repentance and correct understanding possible.
"For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God's law, indeed it cannot; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh, you are in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Any one who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Him." (Romans 8:5-9 RSV)
Those Who Know Better Must Then Do Better
"The night is far gone, the day is at hand. Let us then cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves becomingly as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires." (Romans 13:12-14 RSV)
The Lake Of Fire - Defiant Sinners
On the other hand, true Christians who sin deliberately, not out of human ignorance or weakness, but knowingly and defiantly, with a conscious refusal to repent afterward, are another matter. They are rejecting the sacrifice that the Savior made for them, and God's offer of eternal life. Such people, by their own choice of behavior, are sentencing themselves to the lake of fire.
"if they then commit apostasy, since they crucify the Son of God on their own account and hold him up to contempt ... is worthless and near to being cursed; its end is to be burned." (Hebrews 6:6,8 RSV)
The Lake of Fire - Blasphemers Of The Holy Spirit
Some, if not all, of the Pharisees knew that Jesus was of God (John 3:1-2), that the Holy Spirit of God was in Him, and yet there were those among them that wickedly accused The Savior of having a demon - they knowingly blasphemed God's Holy Spirit.
"Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, "Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do, unless God is with Him." (John 3:1-2 RSV)
But, despite knowing that Jesus was of God, they told the people that He was of the devil:
"And all the people were amazed, and said, "Can this be the Son of David?" But when the Pharisees heard it they said, "It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons" (Matthew 12:23-24 RSV)
Their condemnation was their own doing -
"Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever says 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. (Matthew 12:31-32 RSV)
Fact Finder: What will happen at the time of judgment?
This Week's Bible Quiz
What's the missing word? (Revised Standard Version)
1. "Now John wore a garment of camel's hair, and a leather girdle around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild _______."
2. "Now when he heard that John had been arrested, He withdrew into Galilee; and leaving Nazareth He went and dwelt in _______ by the sea"
3. "As He walked by the Sea of _______, He saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen."
4. "Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to _______ them."
5. "And when Jesus entered Peter's house, He saw his _______ lying sick with a fever; He touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and served Him"
6. "Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the _______ are few"
7. "And they took offense at Him. But Jesus said to them, "A _______ is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house."
8. "And Jesus entered the Temple of God and drove out all who sold and bought in the Temple, and He overturned the tables of the _______"
9. "As he sat on the Mount of _______, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign of Your coming and of the close of the age?"
10. "When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named _______, who also was a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him"
For the answers to this September 25 2001 quiz, see the Bible Quiz Answers Page