Can a person who has deliberately, willfully, and by a conscience decision walked away from the Lord, ever be restored to him again?
This is a serious question which needs to be answered, because there are those who at one time walked with the Lord, who turned away from God, and who now believe there is no longer any hope for them.
I recently had someone in this situation write me, expressing that they wake up every day with depression because of their decision to walk away from Jesus so many years ago.
This dear soul is the reason I am addressing this matter, and make no mistake about it, there are others out there who feel very much the same way. What you are about to read is intended to help them, as well as equip my fellow Christians with an understanding of the teachings of scripture, so that they can help others as well.
When Jesus made the statement regarding the unpardonable sin it was aimed at the hardened, and unrepentant Pharisees who despised Jesus and wanted to put him to death. The Pharisees were not merely speaking out of poor judgment.
The Pharisees were leaders within the religious ranks of Israel, and those among them to whom Jesus was speaking, were hell bent on destroying him. Their speaking against him was an intentional effort to smear the reputation of the Son of God because they hated him so much. In their hatred for Jesus, they intentionally spoke evil against the work of the Holy Spirit, in and through Jesus.
In 1 Timothy 1:13, the apostle Paul referred to himself, before his conversion, as a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and an injurious man. He than adds: but I obtained mercy, because I did it IGNORANTLY in unbelief.
The unpardonable sin, is not a sin that can be committed in ignorance, or accidentally. Nor is it a sin which is committed by those who are overly tempted, or who draw back from walking with God because they are unwilling to live a consecrated life, etc.
The difference between Paul and the Pharisees whom Jesus rebuked in the gospel accounts, is that Paul blasphemed (against Jesus) because he was zealous for God according to the Law. The Pharisees, on the other hand, were power hungry religious leaders. Their blasphemy was a display of their hatred for God and that hatred was aimed at God’s Son, whom God had anointed with his Holy Spirit.
They were leaders claiming to see!
39 And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.
40 And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also?
41 Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth. ~ John 9:39-41
When the gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are examined closely, we find that the Pharisees, to whom Jesus gave such a stern warning, rejected Jesus, not out of ignorance, but as leaders within Israel. They willingly rejected the testimony of the God, whom they claimed to represent, when God through the Holy Spirit spoke to them by His Son.
When Jesus appeared to Paul at the time of his conversion, Paul humbled himself and said: Who art thou, Lord? The Pharisees, whom Jesus warned in the gospels refused to humble themselves in the presence of Jesus.
The Pharisees, as well as the scribes and the lawyers, were so corrupt that they were keeping the people from entering the Kingdom of God. When God, whom they were supposed to represent, walked among them in the flesh, rather than pointing the people to him, they taught them to despise him.
This is not a sin held to the charge of anyone who fears God, and desires to serve him.
Many years ago, when I was under a cloud darkness (spiritually speaking) I was fearfully tormented with thoughts that I had committed the unpardonable sin. Yet in that place of torment and fear, I determined that I was going to serve the Lord, even if I was condemned to hell; and I told Lord that very thing!
Only the Spirit of the Lord could have led me in such a proclamation!
If there is any desire for God in a person’s heart, that desire is because of the conviction of the Spirit of God drawing them.
Jesus said, No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him ~ John 6:44. And, no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. ~ John 6:65.
But what about those who have turned away from the Lord? Isn’t it an unpardonable sin to turn away from God once you have been saved?
The short answer is NO!
Please allow me to explain. First consider Hebrews 10:26-31.
26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,
27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.
28 He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:
29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?
30 For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.
31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. ~ Hebrews 10:26-31
This is a very sobering text, and one we need to understand correctly, or else things can get read into it that it doesn’t actually say.
Verses 28 and 29 are key to having a proper understanding, because despising the Law of Moses is the precedence for the punishment of those who do the same under grace.
According to the Law, the one who was worthy of death, could only be put to death at the testimony of two or three witnesses. Even if a person was worthy of death, they could not to be put to death on the testimony of one witness (Deuteronomy 19:15).
The author of Hebrews mentions the Son of God, the blood of the everlasting covenant, and the Spirit of grace in correlation to the two or three witnesses of the old testament.
This is very important because the sin being referred here is a deliberate renunciation of Jesus as the Son of God (the Messiah) just as the Pharisees who renounced his Messiah -ship and refused to believe that he is the Son of God.
Rejecting Jesus in this manner, consequently results in discrediting the saving power of the blood of the covenant, and causes a complete hardening of the heart against the Holy Spirit’s witness or testimony of the person of Jesus Christ.
This is not merely turning away from the Lord because of being overly tempted, or being unwilling to live a consecrated life.
Many who are backslidden still believe that Jesus is the Son of God, yet they are tormented with the thought of being damned forever because at one time they served God and drifted away from him, or at some point they deliberately turned away from him, or in of a moment of weakness, pain, sorrow, or being overly tempted: they said or did something which they now deeply regret.
Yet, they still believe that Jesus is the Son of God, they know he is the Savior of the world, and the precious lamb of God who shed his blood to redeem them. They struggle to overcome condemnation, fearing they have committed the unpardonable sin, but Jesus loves them. God patiently waits for them to return to him just as the Father of the prodigal son patiently waited for his son to return home. ~ see Luke 15:11-24.
Many years ago, when I was under the torment that I had committed the unpardonable sin ( I wasn’t backslidden, but tormented because of my past), I had a life changing experience.
I had gone to work one morning and was struggling terribly. I prayed a simple prayer and cried out to God, asking for him to relieve me from work that day so I could go and pray. Not long thereafter, the manager came over where I and some other employees were standing. He asked, “Who wants to go home?” I gently raised my hand and he gave me the rest of the day off.
From there I went to a wooded area to pray. While I was there praying, I remembered that the place where I attended Bible study was kept unlocked and I could go there to pray, so I did. While I was there praying, I noticed a magazine from a ministry that would become a great blessing to me.
I picked it up and began to read it. In this article, the minister addressed the lies of the devil concerning the unpardonable sin, and how Satan uses this lie to bring people under condemnation. Towards the end of the article I remember reading a line that said something like this: “don’t let the devil bother you about this anymore.”
I knew God was speaking to me!
In this article the minister also shared truth about the blood of Jesus. That was the moment when a desire for a strong faith in the blood of Jesus was conceived in my heart, and that is where my personal journey of learning, and teaching about the blood of Christ, the cross of Christ, and our redemption in Christ actually began.
So the things I teach today about the cross are more than what I have studied. They are the result of my desperation for God. Early on in my journey of learning about the power of the blood of Christ, Hebrews 10:19 became the lifeline that sustained me. Hebrews 10:19 says, having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus.
Through that one verse I latched on to the hope that if I had faith in the blood of Jesus, nothing could separate me from the presence of God. The same holds true for you!
Those who want Jesus in their life, but fear they have committed the unpardonable sin, have been lied to by Satan. They have been lied to about the character and nature of God. They have been lied to with scriptures which Satan twists to deceive many people.
Consequently they are deceived into reading the Bible through the lens of a wrong interpretation of the unpardonable sin, rather than allowing the context and the whole counsel of scripture to rightly interpret that sin.
The Bible teaches us that God established a testimony in Jacob (Israel) ~ Psalm 78:5. Accordingly, the author of Hebrews appeals to the Law (God’s testimony in Israel) as the precedent for the sobering words in Hebrews 10, which also properly interprets the words of Hebrews 6:4-6.
This is why we should consider the words of God through the prophet Isaiah to backslidden Israel.
Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the Lord hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have REBELLED against me.
The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.
Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. ~ Isaiah 1:2-4
Notice the indictment against Israel. God literally calls the heavens and the earth to record, to behold this astonishing thing, namely, Israel’s turning away from his Master: they have rebelled against me.
Think about that for a moment, and allow it to sink in: Israel had rebelled and turned away from God.
They not only turned away from God, but they did very wicked things in his sight. He indicts Israel of their sins, calling them (1) a sinful nation, (2) a people laden with iniquity, (3) a seed of evil doers, (4) children that are corrupters; and accuses them with FORSAKING THE LORD AND PROVOKING HIM TO ANGER.
If you are reading this, and you have feared that you have committed the unpardonable sin, think about this for a moment in view of your past: Israel had forsaken the Lord and provoked him to anger, but as we will soon see, he still extended mercy to them.
God tells them their whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint (v.5), and likens them to Sodom and Gomorrah: Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah (.10).
God also rebukes them for their corrupt temple worship because of their sinfulness:
11 To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight NOT in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats.
12 When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts?
13 Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; IT IS INIQUITY, even the solemn meeting.
14 Your new moons and your appointed feasts MY SOUL HATETH: they are a trouble unto me; I AM WEARY TO BEAR THEM.
15 And when ye spread forth your hands, I WILL HIDE MINE EYES FROM YOU: yea, when ye make many prayers, I WILL NOT HEAR; your hands are full of blood.
The indictment against Israel was severe.
If we were to stop reading at this point, and interpret what happens next based on the indictment against them, we might come away with the conclusion that God was absolutely done with them, and that there was no longer any hope for them – ONLY DAMNATION!
Yet with all this, God says the following to them:
16 Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;
17 Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.
18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: THOUGH YOUR SINS BE AS SCARLET, THEY SHALL BE AS WHITE AS SNOW; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
19 If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land… ~ Isaiah 1:16-19
Even though Israel had forsaken God and done very evil things in his sight – He still offered them MERCY! That is the truth about the Living God.
Those who are being lied to in their minds regarding the unpardonable sin, are being persuaded by Satan that God is not merciful. Yet God IS MERCIFUL !