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God Cannot Forgive...

God Cannot Forgive…

Many people say they believe in Jesus and live as they please, because they believe that God has to forgive them (since they believe in Jesus) and take them to Heaven when they die. They misunderstand the message of the Cross, and what it means to believe, and are ignorant of God’s conditions for forgiveness.

Forgiveness is one person’s willingness to bear the consequences of another person’s sin.” No vengeance, no getting even, you just bear the consequences of what the other person did and you do not hold it against them.

Jesus forgave us like that at Calvary. We sinned against God. The consequence is death.  Rather than have us suffer death, Jesus took our sin and its consequences and bore it on the Cross for us. He did not forgive grudgingly, in word only, but joyfully, in true love.

Heb 12:2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

An intimate relationship with God is now possible because our sin doesn’t separate us from God. We have been reconciled. Do you want an intimate relationship with God?

Think, then, how often our forgiveness falls short of the way Jesus forgives.  We often forgive in word only, saying (with an exasperated sigh), “I forgive you -- but don’t let it happen again!”  Sometimes we forgive only under the compulsion of conscience, doing it grudgingly and continuing to hold resentment.  Consider our Lord’s example on the Cross, and ask yourself, “Do I forgive like that?” If not, don’t take this lightly! Listen to what Jesus says.

Matt 6:14-15 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Yes, Jesus died on the Cross to atone for our sin and to give us forgiveness, and that is wonderful good news! However, Jesus is saying, if we cannot forgive others for things they have done, how do we expect God to forgive us! The truth is God cannot forgive us if we won’t forgive others. Therefore, forgive others for your own sake—so that God can forgive you.

There is something else God cannot forgive. John 8:3-11 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" "No one, sir," she said. "Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."

Notice what Jesus tells this woman caught in adultery, “Go now and leave your life of sin."

This is a command. After Jesus shows her mercy, He commands her to change, quit doing this. When God forgives us, He expects us to change our ways by obeying Him.

Some, however, continue to sin by thinking, “God will forgive me. He has forgiven worse things.” They are deceiving themselves. After receiving mercy and forgiveness, we cannot continue to commit adultery, fornicate, shack up, or sin in any form that we enjoy. Deliberate and unrepentant sinning is something God cannot forgive because we treat the Blood of Jesus, which cleansed us, as an unholy thing, and there is no other sacrifice for sin. Read it for yourself:

Heb 10:26-31 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," and again, "The Lord will judge his people." It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Therefore, if God has shown you mercy, “Go now and leave your life of sin." If you don’t, God cannot forgive you because you have not repented. You deliberately choose to continue to sin.

Furthermore, God cannot forgive those who remain prideful. The world encourages pride and rewards the arrogant. However, such people are God’s enemies. We must completely humble ourselves to enter the Kingdom of God. Listen to this warning and call to humility.

James 4:4-10 You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

If we continue in our prideful ignorance and defiant sinning, not only does God not forgive, where there is no repentance, God gives us over to a depraved mind.

Romans 1:25-32 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator--who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

Jesus died for the sins of even those with a depraved mind. However, God cannot forgive them if they refuse to believe, repent, and come to Jesus.

Acts 4:12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."

Anyone can come to Jesus and receive forgiveness, no matter what evil they have done. However, if we are unwilling to come to Christ, we will die and suffer eternity in Hell. It is totally unnecessary to suffer these consequences, for Jesus has saved us from this death and eternal damnation if we will come to Him. Forgiveness and salvation have been offered to us.

Will you accept it? That decision is up to you. The choice is in your hands. To come to Jesus, you must make Him Lord, Master, and Ruler of your life. If you choose not to come to Jesus and confess Him as your Lord and Savior, if you choose not to obey Him in baptism and repentance, then you are still an unbeliever and not forgiven, for God cannot forgive unbelief. For example:

Matthew 12:22-32 Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see. All the people were astonished and said, "Could this be the Son of David?" But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, "It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons." Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, "Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand? And if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. "Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man's house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can rob his house. "He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters. And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

A man who was both blind and mute has just been healed. This man was possessed by a demon, and Jesus ordered the demon out of him. Once the demon left, the man was able to see and speak.

It should have been a moment of great rejoicing, but the hard-hearted Pharisees were afraid of what Jesus had done. They could not deny His miracle, but they could attempt to explain it away. So they said, "It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons".

Jesus points out the absurdity of this accusation and then issues a warning. He says, "Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come".

Attributing the Holy Spirit’s work to an evil spirit is blasphemy. God cannot forgive those who speak against the Holy Spirit because that person will not let the Holy Spirit transform their heart and mind to receive forgiveness from Jesus. They have plugged their ears and blinded their eyes so they cannot hear or see the Truth, which causes them to speak against the Holy Spirit.

Because they have a form of religion but deny the power of God, they create their own god in their image. They have locked the doors and windows between themselves and the one true God, who is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and will not let Him in. If the Holy Spirit cannot get in, God cannot forgive.

John 14:15-17, "If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever--the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.”

Notice that word, "Counselor." In some translations you’ll find the word "Comforter" instead. The Greek word here is "paraclete" and it means "one who stands alongside."

The Holy Spirit comforts believers in time of trouble or sorrow; He helps us to overcome temptations and to live the way we ought; He gives us gifts; He helps us to pray as we ought; and He bears witness that we are children of God. However, unbelievers know none of these things about the Holy Spirit.

Jesus also said two other very important things about the Holy Spirit. Did you notice them? He promised that the Holy Spirit would be with us forever, and He also said that the Holy Spirit would not be known or received by everyone. Although the people of the world, the people who aren’t Christians, don’t know Him, Jesus also tells us that the Holy Spirit is working on them.

John 16:7-11 But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.

That is exactly what the Holy Spirit is doing today, even at this moment. He uses every opportunity possible to convict us of our sins, to call us to righteousness, and to warn us about the judgment to come. The Holy Spirit’s mission is to reach man with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and save him from sin and its consequences. The Holy Spirit is God in the world, showing us His great love and offering us salvation through His Son.

Therefore, we need the Holy Spirit both to receive and to recognize God’s truth. To put it another way, the Holy Spirit is working on us, to cause us to believe in Jesus Christ, to bring us to accept Him as our Savior and Lord, and to conform us to His image.

If we consistently shut our eyes and ears to the Holy Spirit, and insist on our own way; if we continually refuse to listen to God’s Word and turn our backs upon the messages which the Holy Spirit brings; if we continue to prefer our own ideas to the ideas that the Holy Spirit is seeking to put into our heart and mind; then in the end, we will come to the stage where nothing the Holy Spirit does, will move or change us in any way.

That is the stage to which these Pharisees had come. They had their own religion. They had been blind and deaf to the guidance of God’s Spirit for so long; they had insisted on their own way for so long; that they had come to a stage where they could not recognize God’s truth and goodness when they saw it. They could look at God’s goodness and call it Satan’s evil. They could look on the Son of God and call Him the servant of the devil.

If we cannot recognize good when we see it, we can’t desire the good. If we do not recognize evil as being evil, we can’t be sorry for it, and hate it, and wish to change for the better. If we cannot love the good and hate the evil, then we can’t repent; and if we do not repent, we cannot be forgiven, because repentance is a vital condition for forgiveness. Repentance is NOT a one-time trip to the front of the church. Repentance is continual—a life style—an intimate relationship with God.

There is a dreadful warning here. So we must pay careful attention to God’s Word all our days so that our sensitivity to the Holy Spirit is never blunted, that our awareness is never dimmed, that our spiritual hearing never becomes spiritual deafness. It is the law of life that we hear what we have trained ourselves to hear. For example, a mother can distinguish her crying baby from all the other babies in a church nursery even when she is sitting in the sanctuary and singing hymns. Day by day, we must listen to God’s Word, so that God’s voice may become clearer and clearer until it becomes the one sound to which our ears are attuned.

What is "blasphemy or speaking against the Spirit?" It is the final and complete rejection of Jesus Christ. Therefore, speaking against the Holy Spirit is consistently saying “No” to Him, so that in the end, we no longer even recognize Him, even when He comes in all of His power. When someone reaches that stage, repentance becomes impossible; therefore, God cannot forgive them.

It is the Holy Spirit who bears witness to Christ and convicts the lost sinner. This sin of blasphemy is a denial of the Spirit’s message and rejection of the Lord’s deity. Jesus made it clear that all sins can be forgiven. Adultery, murder, lying, and all other sins can be forgiven. But God cannot forgive the rejection of His Son, for there is no other sacrifice for sin by which we can be saved.

The Pharisees had so hated and hardened their hearts against Jesus that for them, there was no turning back. They witnessed an awesome miracle. It should have convinced them that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. Instead, they called the power of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus, the work of the devil. Therefore, salvation is denied them, not because it is not offered, but because they have permanently rejected it.

Sometimes people wonder if they have committed "blasphemy against the Holy Spirit." A wise old preacher (not me) said, "If you’re honestly worried that you’ve committed it, you haven’t." He said that because such a concern is evidence that one’s heart is not irreversibly hardened.

If there are any sins on your heart today -- if the Holy Spirit is calling you to repent and obey the Gospel -- then don’t put it off another minute. Each time you hear the Holy Spirit and do not respond, your heart grows a little harder. As long as the Holy Spirit is convicting your heart, there is still hope. Before the years roll past and your heart grows hard, repent and come to Jesus! Lay your sins at His feet and be washed in the blood of the Lamb.