THE UNPARDONABLE SIN, PART 2
By Rev. Ted Pike
4 Mar 14
Editor's Note: This is the transcription of my recorded Bible study at Truthtellers.org.
Contrary to many people's image of the Old Testament, it very frequently reveals Jehovah not as a God of wrath but of incredible willingness to forgive those who have most grievously sinned against Him. David is one of the greatest figures in Scripture, a man after God's own heart. He killed the Philistine giant and remained faithful to God through great tribulations in the wilderness, fleeing Saul. But when he came to power, he seems to have been carried away with a tremendous rush of monarchial power and instant gratification of pleasure. Despite everything he knew, he lusted after a married woman, Bathsheba. This impaired his spiritual judgment to such a degree that he actually committed adultery with her, perhaps more than once. Finally, when it was found that she was pregnant, he gave orders that her husband, righteous Uriah the Hittite, be virtually executed by putting him in the very front ranks of battle. But when David was approached by the prophet Nathan and it was pointed out to him that he was the unrighteous man who had killed the beloved lamb of the poor man, instantly the sword of that reproof pierced David's heart. He realized how grievously he had sinned and repented with total sincerity.
Why did God show David mercy? Although both Korah and David received great light from God, David had a soft heart that could be entreated. He repented immediately and without excusing himself. So he found a place of grace, a stay of execution from the damnation that would have occurred otherwise. On the other hand, the curse was laid on David that for the rest of his life he would have trouble. Bloodshed would not depart from his house. This was a heavy sentence, and he did not escape the consequences of his sin.
Another king who found grace after great sin is described in I Kings 16:29:
Now Ahab the son of Omri became king over Israel in the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty-two years. 30 Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord more than all who were before him.31 It came about, as though it had been a trivial thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he married Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and went to serve Baal and worshiped him. 32 So he erected an altar for Baal in the house of Baal which he built in Samaria. 33 Ahab also made the [l]Asherah. Thus Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel than all the kings of Israel who were before him.
Then we go to I Kings 21:20:
Ahab said to Elijah, “Have you found me, O my enemy?” And he answered, “I have found you, because you have sold yourself to do evil in the sight of the Lord. 21 Behold, I will bring evil upon you, and will utterly sweep you away, and will cut off from Ahab every male, both bond and free in Israel; 22 and I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah, because of the provocation with which you have provoked Me to anger, and because you have made Israel sin. 23 Of Jezebel also has the Lord spoken, saying, ‘The dogs will eat Jezebel in the district of Jezreel.’ 24 The one belonging to Ahab, who dies in the city, the dogs will eat, and the one who dies in the field the birds of heaven will eat.” 25 Surely there was no one like Ahab who sold himself to do evil in the sight of the Lord, because Jezebel his wife incited him. 26 He acted very abominably in following idols, according to all that the Amorites had done, whom the Lord cast out before the sons of Israel.
Ahab was a pedigree Jew, king of the northern ten tribes of Israel, but he killed a righteous man so he could steal his vineyard. However, when this thunderous rebuke came from God's man,
27 It came about when Ahab heard these words, that he tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and fasted, and he lay in sackcloth and went about despondently. 28 Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, 29 “Do you see how Ahab has humbled himself before Me? Because he has humbled himself before Me, I will not bring the evil in his days, but I will bring the evil upon his house in his son’s days.”
Isn't this remarkable -- considering this tremendous backlog of the very kind of provocation against God that we have been talking about, which earned instant damnation for the rebels of Korah -- Ahab softened his heart and repented. This shows that, although there are general standards by which some are cut off and some may find repentance, it is up to God to decide when He will cut the sinner off, when He will consider his sin unpardonable.
With this in mind, let's consider the prevailing Protestant theological interpretation and its opinion on how God responds to rebellion from Christians. Calvinism says if you have once been soundly born again you can rebel against God to His face and go to heaven without repentance. Calvinism points to David’s story but draws a very false conclusion: that if David had not repented and had died in adulterous intercourse, he would still have gone to heaven. The Bible does not say this. David was restored only after repentance.
Calvinism says it is wrong and disheartening to warn saints who are blatantly sinning against great light that they might no longer find restoration. I once heard the very popular Calvinist radio Bible teacher J. Vernon McGee say if a homosexual had ever been soundly born again but died in the middle of sex with another man he would go straight into the arms of Jesus. However, my observation over a lifetime has been that those who were once Christians but sin against great light, expecting to repent and be restored after their sin, usually cannot find the necessary sincerity and conscience they once had. Their conscience has been seared. They may go to church three times a week and cherish their religious reputation. But there is something dead about them, even within all their pretense and enthusiasm.
Scripture does not contain the Calvinist view of an ever indulgent God always drawing the rebellious back to Himself. The Bible portrays a God who, like the Good Shepherd, leaves the 99 in the fold to rescue a single soul who will allow Jesus to cradle him in His arms. Jesus commanded us to forgive 70 times 7and set the example of going not only the extra mile but beyond all seeming reason. But God may or may not lead us to expend that kind of prayer, intercession, and self-sacrifice for those who have blatantly rebelled against Him and great spiritual light.
Scripture says it is a dreadful thing to "fall into the hands of the living God.” (Heb.10:31) It is a fearful thing to be in such a state that you have lost your sincerity, humility, and the advocacy of the Holy Spirit drawing you to repentance. There could be nothing worse than to no longer be wanted by your Creator.
In September and October in western Oregon we have little caterpillars ("fuzzy wuzzies") who crawl around the ground. They are dark orange and black and absolutely fearless. They walk in front of cars and cross streets. They just move along slowly. When you pick them up, they curl into a ball. Why are they so indifferent? Every one has a parasitic wasp eating its insides out. They have lost their inhibitions. They are literally walking around in a semi-dead state. That is the fearful state which an Esau or a Saul gets into. God came down and very quickly sent the rebels of Korah into the pit, but that fearful state of abandonment by God can last the rest of your life, if, having grievously and persistently offended the Holy Spirit, your conscience has been "seared with a hot iron" while you yet live (I Tim. 4:1-2).
That we have a conscience or any sincerity at all is the gift of God who imparts the conscience and empowers the choice of our free wills. His grace and the Holy Spirit assist us in nurturing these attributes of our moral nature which are more valuable than anything we can imagine. Remaining shockable, sensitive to sin, and spiritually tender must be nurtured by the Christian and protected against the desensitizing, even searing effect of the influence of the world. Esau did not value the things of God. He valued fun, games, and sex with Canaanite women, which caused him to despise the great birthright God had entrusted to his care. He entered a state where he simply could not repent. When Jacob last saw him, he was having the time of his life, fathering the Edomites, confirming the fact that when we do commit the unpardonable sin, we could not care less. The last thing on his mind was, "Lord, save me or I perish!"
Ultimately, every person who goes to hell has sinned the unpardonable sin—whatever sin was their last before death. The threat faces us all: the threat that God may be done with us and we may end our lives in a state of unrepentance. This is why we are told to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” Only the fool takes it for granted that there will be time to repent later. When our lifeline is as fragile as the beating of our heart—when a split-second car accident could end the inflating of our lungs—how can we ever procrastinate about repentance? We have no way to know which sin will end Christ’s intercession for us. Whether our lives end at that time, or go on afterward in a state of walking dead, hardly matters. What matters is that God is a “consuming fire” whose mercy is never to be taken for granted. Every person who goes to hell has worn out His grace.
C. S. Lewis said, “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “All right, then, have it your way.”” To hear from God that He will give us in hell the independence from Him that we choose by sinning is the worst, eternal death sentence. That sentence can occur at the moment of death or years before. If there is unrepented sin in your life at this moment, and you have any ability to repent and choose Christ, do not delay. His Spirit is speaking to you at this moment. Who knows when He will fall silent?