Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Unforgiveable Sin

A common debate among Christians is what the unforgivable sin is. Sometimes it a serious discussion; we really want to know what it is so we can avoid it. Sometimes it’s more of an intellectual exercise; debating for the sake of debate. But, at least among the Christians I know, there’s never any doubt that there is an unforgiveable sin. Jesus said anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. (Mark 3:29).

There’s probably a deep theological explanation of what He meant and I won’t ever understand it. But here’s the story of a sin that God refused to forgive. 

Eli’s sons defiled the temple sacrifices. God gave the Israelites a lot of detailed instructions about the sacrifices. There were different kinds – sin offerings, guilt offerings, thanksgiving offerings . . . and they all had specific instructions. But one thing is clear. They were all intended for His worship. The sacrifices belonged to God.

So Eli’s sons took something that belonged to God and defiled it. One of the instructions in Leviticus is that the priest who offers the sin sacrifice should eat the meat in a sacred place. But Eli’s sons sent a tough guy to take the meat from whoever was making the sacrifice and bring it to them to enjoy in what was presumably not a sacred place. They interrupted the ritual to make sure they got what they wanted.

Back in the days of Israel, the nations all around them were also making sacrifices to their gods. They had worship rituals that made sense to them, but they were idolatrous. God’s purpose in the rules about sacrifices was to keep His people’s worship pure. He wanted them to worship Him alone. So the sacrifices had to be made in the temple, not in the fields, to ensure that a priest who had been purified brought the people’s worship before God, not idols.

Worship belongs to God alone.

It matters so much to Him that He made a bunch of rules to protect it.
It matters so much to Him that He won’t forgive men who defile it. 
It matters so much to Him that He will destroy entire generations of families who take what is His.

Because Eli’s sons sinned against God there was no one to mediate for them. God told Eli, “I will honor those who honor me, and I will despise those who think lightly of me.” His sons blasphemed God by defiling the sacrifices, so their sins couldn’t be forgiven by sacrifices and offerings. Their sin was unforgiveable.

God is holy and He requires pure worship. But God is also merciful. And by His mercy and grace, I do have someone to mediate for me. I have dishonored God; I have thought lightly of Him. But my mediator, Jesus, became the sacrifice for my sins. I have been forgiven. 

I never want to commit the sin that can’t be forgiven. But when I understand why it can’t be forgiven, I realize there’s something more important than the state of my soul. I don’t want to blaspheme the holy God who saved me. I pray that He will keep me from dishonoring His sacrifice and the worship that belongs to Him alone.

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