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We're turning in our Bibles to Matthew's gospel - the gospel of Matthew and chapter 12. As I've said on previous evenings, and I think it bears repeating, that what I bring to you is what I believe God's message is to people here in our gathering who are without Christ and even those that are backslidden, who have once known Christ and known the reality of walking with Him in fellowship but, for some reason, have lost sight of Him.

This is a message, perhaps, that you have never heard or have often wondered about, for I want to preach to you upon: 'The Unpardonable Sin'. Matthew chapter 12, and we'll begin reading at verse 22 to get the context: "Then was brought unto Jesus one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David? But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils. And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand? And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house. He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad. Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come".

Let us pray together: Our Father in Heaven, we tremble at Thy word, at the severity of it, in fact, the words of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Lord, we pray that we would be faithful to His words, that we would deliver it as He delivered it. But Lord, we pray that the Holy Ghost of God may come and that He may deliver it home to the heart of someone that is on the verge of committing the unpardonable sin. Lord, we need Thee. I feel the heavy weight of this responsibility O God. Fill me, I pray, and descend upon this meeting, in the name of Jesus Christ Thy Son. Amen.

Is there such a thing - maybe you've thought about it at times or discussed over the dinner table, or maybe at school even - is there such a thing as the unpardonable sin? Such a thing as something that we can commit, as sinners, that God cannot and God will not forgive? Is there such a thing? If you stopped a man along the street and asked him that question from the human standpoint you'd get very varied answers. Some people might tell you that rape is an unforgivable sin, or murder, or terrorism, or homosexuality, or abortion, or adultery, or coveting, or even converting to another faith. All of these things, in many people's minds, and their own little new-fangled religions, are unpardonable things. I wonder what you would say is the unforgivable sin?

I heard a story about a young girl who got married and they were planning all about it and then they went to the altar and they got married, and they went away on a lovely honeymoon and enjoyed a beautiful time together. They came home and the girl was to go to work the next day and she turned into work, and when she turned into work she found out that she'd got the times of her shift wrong. She was told that she could go home a little bit earlier. She went home and she opened the back door, and she walked up the stairs and opened the bedroom door, and there was her new, newly wed, in bed with another woman. Some people would look at that and say: 'That's unforgivable! How could anybody do the like of that on a young girl? Surely God couldn't forgive someone like that!'.

Or maybe you look over the ocean to America, and you see madmen, some of them even school pupils, that walk into a playground or into a classroom and open fire on innocent people, and stop lives in the peak. Maybe you think of child abusers - all sorts of perverts and criminals and people that are locked up to keep society and civilisation safe from them. But, my friend, I wonder have you ever asked the question of society at large, within the church, or in your own heart: 'Is there something that I could do or is there something that I could commit, and even the blood of Christ could not help me?'. If you've ever wondered about that, listen: Jesus says - now look at the verse, verse 31: "Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men".  Hallelujah! Now listen, there's no sinner too deep-dyed, there's no person so far gone in sin, there's no one individual, specific, particular sin that God says: 'I cannot forgive that'. Hallelujah! 'The blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, cleanseth us from all sin'. When He hung on that cross, and when He bled and died, and when He suffered God's anger, and God poured on Him - the Bible says - the iniquity of us all, it says that he bore in His own self, in His own body, our sins there on the tree. Paul says that He became a curse there - that God cursed Him instead of cursing us. He is able to forgive us but He didn't forgive His own Son for our sins. He poured out the wrath of a holy God upon Him and because of that, Jesus says, all manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men. What a glorious gospel!

But the Bible also says that there is 'a sin unto death'. What do I mean? There is an unpardonable sin. There is something that you can do spiritually, and it is not a specific, particular kind of sin, but there is a step that you can take as a spiritual being that will mean that God will never forgive you. What is it? In the book of Genesis, in the Old Testament, you find this sin. Genesis 6 and verse 3, and God is saying before He judges the world with a flood - He's talking about this judgement that is going to come upon people and, in that context, He turns to men whose lives are flowing away (we thought about it last night) like a vapour, like steam. They just disappear, and He says to them there, talking about their age: 'My spirit shall not always strive with man'. Have you ever heard that verse? He was saying this, my friend: 'You're not going to be alive forever'. Now, if you get your 'threescore and ten' you'll be doing well, but at that point your spirit will be taken from your body and you'll have to stand before God and, after death - which it is appointed unto all men - there is then the judgement.

But you find a little bit more in the Old Testament. You find the 'Weeping Prophet', Jeremiah, as he's weeping for the people. Listen now, God came to him and God said to him, three times, on three occasions, not to be praying for certain people because there was no hope for them. God said of His tribe, Ephraim - and we talked about it on a night gone by - He said: 'Ephraim, do you see Ephraim? He is joined to his idols. Let him go! I can do no more for him. He has rejected Me. He has said for the final time, 'I will not have this Man to reign over me''. Oh, we often hear the verse: 'Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved' - Romans chapter 10, verse 13 - and that's true! That's God's word! We often hear that those that seek God and search for God with all their heart shall be found of Him. If you cry to God, the Bible says, you shall be heard; but listen to this message tonight from Proverbs chapter 1: 'Then shall they call on me and I shall not hear'. Have you ever heard that one? Have you ever read John chapter 12 and verse 39 where Jesus went into a certain town and, it says, that He was performing miracles, and they looked upon it, and they would not believe. It says later: 'They could not believe'. Something had happened - they had taken a step, and God had said that they had taken the last step. It says in the book of Romans that there are people walking around in our world, and they feel that they are alive as alive can be, but God has given them up!

There is no sin - now listen - there is no sin that cannot be covered over. There is no hell too deep that the blood of Christ cannot reach. There is not a particular kind of sin of filthiness - think of the demoniac of Gadara; he was filled with a legion of demons. A legion could have been anything up to 600 or more demons within this man, and Jesus was able to forgive him. Hallelujah! He was full of the devil, and a man or a woman that's full of the devil, if they do what he did, and run to the feet of Christ and fall at His feet, they can be made whole. David was a murderer and an adulterer but David cried unto the Lord, and the Lord heard him. The Lord lifted him up out of the miry clay and set his feet on a rock, and put a new song in his heart, even praise unto his God! And God was able to forgive him!

Noah, the great man, who was chosen to continue the civilisation and the human race after the flood - only 8 of his family and himself were saved in the ark  - yet when Noah landed there on Mount Ararat, it says that he became 'an husbandman', a farmer, and he planted a vineyard and he got drunk. Praise God, drunkenness can be forgiven. Hallelujah! Because there's some of you here tonight that wouldn't be here, and saved, and cleansed, and on your way to heaven if drunkards couldn't be saved. There is no sin - what can wash away my stain? Nothing but the blood of Jesus!

So what is this unpardonable sin? Well, it's spiritual suicide. It's not a specific sin, but it is an act of a condition of the soul. It is an attitude that continues to a certain point, that no matter how much God speaks, no matter how much the word of God pricks your heart and troubles your conscience, and softens your heart, and troubles your soul, no matter how much you continually reject God - and God says 'You've done it one too many times! I'm not going to speak again'. It could be any sin, any sin that takes you over that line. But there is a line!

'There is a time, we know not when;
A place, we know not where,
That marks the destiny of men,
From glory or despair.

There is a line, by us written
By which each path is crossed,
Beyond which God Himself hath sworn
That he who goes, is lost!'.

What is it? It's rejecting Christ one too many times. Have you committed that my friend? Maybe you have spent sleepless nights worrying whether you have committed the unpardonable sin, worrying whether you have done something that will never be forgiven. People say: 'Oh, I'm afraid, pastor, that I've committed the unpardonable sin'. They come to their missionaries, they come to a gospel evangelist, and they say, 'Have I committed this thing? I'm so afraid'. You see, if you're like that - now listen - and you're afraid that you've committed it, praise the Lord! Do you hear me? Praise the Lord, because that is a sure evidence and sign that you have not committed it. If you're still sensitive to the word of God in such a way, John 12:39 says about the Jews: 'They could not believe'. They'd went so far in rejecting Christ and His gospel, and what He was doing, that God had blocked their ears, He had blinded their eyes, He had hardened their hearts, and they could not believe!

You don't need to worry about it. You need to be saved now! You need to hurry up and be saved, but don't think that you've committed that sin. But listen - anybody in this meeting that would rather be in the public house right now, or would rather be at home watching the television, or even you would endure going shopping rather than be in this place tonight and listening to a message such as this - and if you do not fear God, if you don't tremble before the word of God, and the gospel of Christ, if you can look and see the crucified Lamb of God bleeding and expiring for you on the cross and it means nothing to you: you may well have committed it! For the man or the woman, whatever they feel, they feel nothing in their conscience, they cannot act upon anything - and maybe you're here and that's you - I say, in Christ's name and in God's place as I represent Him tonight, if there is a little flame, a little spark of feeling within your soul that God is able to blow on, fan it, oh man! In God's name seek it out, because if there's nothing there my friend what have you?

We see this all around us, but we're that blind that we don't see it. You see, this is a law of nature and it says this: that if a man will not do a thing in time, there will be a time when he's bound not to be able to do it. Do you get that? If you don't do a thing there will come a time when you won't be able to do it. If you tie your arm up in a sling for a year I guarantee you that, when you take it down, you'll hardly be able to use it. If you cover your eye with a patch for a year, I guarantee you when you take it off your sight will be marred, and you maybe won't be able to see. If you tie your leg up and you begin to limp and take a stick - even if there's nothing wrong with you - my friend, once you stop using that thing wilfully, by your own choice and will, there will come a time when you won't be able to.

Some of you have been hardening your hearts to the gospel since you were a child. You've seen it on the railings of churches. You've seen it on the wayside pulpit. You've heard it in the gospel missions so many times that it's a disgrace that there are people in the world that have never heard it once - and if they heard it once they would come to the feet of Christ, but they haven't a chance. You've been spoilt, my friend, perhaps in a Christian home - a mother who's read Bible stories, prayed over you, implored you, pleaded with you, brought you to church and hoped that you would hear something that your soul may be saved - and you've walked over it! There'll come a day when you'll harden your heart and you'll cross that line, and you'll never be able to come back.

It's a law of nature. It's also a law of psychology. It's a psychology of sin, and it says this: that age hardens the soul. You see, after - you know well! - after you say 'no' the first time, it gets easier to say 'no' the second time, and every gospel meeting you've gone into and the older you are the easier it gets. It's the law of metaphysics. It's something in our mind, and people who are educated in these things tell us that the first thought of this subject - the gospel - the first moment a decision comes to you, and you decide that you're going to reject the gospel, your brain, in the future, every time that decision comes again, will recall the first decision that you have made. And the chances are, it's 'no, no, no, no', until all the 'no-s' of your lifetime, and all the 'no-s' of every gospel meeting are combined into a rubber ball and thrown in the face of almighty God - and the 'no' comes one too many times.

Some people say to me 'You know, it's strange the way not a lot of old people get saved'. Is it? Is it really? Think about it! Some of you here, and you've hardened yourself. You've desensitised yourself; perhaps running into your sin to numb yourself to the gospel, plugging your ears, coming into a meeting like this and counting the rafters, trying to ignore the gospel, thinking about what you're going to do so that it takes your mind of the whole thing, my friend. Is it any wonder? Is it any wonder the children come? And 90% of Christians came as boys and girls. You know what I'm talking about. That young houseman in the hospital, and he wants to be a surgeon and he's able to use the knife. He gets to that stage and he passes his exams, and he's in a very important operation and it's his first chance to prove himself. And as he's there he watches the machine and the life is just going out of his hands and he can't do anything about it. And that man dies and it's his first patient that he's lost. He's devastated.

Go now to the consultant, 65 years of age, and by that time he's got used to it. Isn't that true? We talked one night about the frost, and how layer upon layer makes it harder and harder and harder, but it's also hard not just because of the layers, but because the night is falling. My friend, if you have no sensitivity to your sin, to the gospel, to your guilt, to hell that is before you, for your need to trust Christ and repent of your sin - if you have no thought of Christ on the cross dying for you, it's probably because night's coming. What is night? It is where the sun has set, and for some of you it's been almost one too many times and the night is coming and the Sun of Righteousness is about to set on your life. Jesus Christ is about to walk away for the final time, never to speak again, never to say another word, never to prick your heart again with a gospel text or with the word of a family member. My friend, do you not see the danger that you're in? God knows, I can see it! I can feel it, but you could be so far gone - you're maybe one step away from the line, and that one step could be out of that door tonight - and you don't see it! How can you avoid it?

I heard two stories: one of a young man. He was intellectual, no religion, and he's lying dying, and the doctor who was a believer came to him and said: 'Sir, do you know that you will meet your God?'. 'God? I don't have a God. I have cursed the name of God. I have fought against God. I've fought against my mother's prayers, and if it means that today I will be in hell, in hell I will be!'. His mother fainted and his father began to sweat on his brow, and that son looked into the eyes of his father and castigated him and cursed him because he had brought him on his wayward road. That young man, coughing and spitting and screaming and cursing and blaspheming, went into hell. Occasionally, an older man or woman sniffles and whines for mercy on their deathbed, but that's the exception. That's the exception! These deathbed conversions are in a lot of peoples' head, you know. It's a wee hope that they have, and they've made it reality because it's the way that they want it to be for them. They want to live their life up and they want to, just at the end, just get in by the skin of their teeth, and never live a life for Christ. But, you know, the line isn't always death. The line could be your final rejection of Jesus Christ, and it could be here tonight.

The second story is of an old man. He shows no signs of conviction - listen - no signs of guilt for his sin, no sign of waiting or going towards an afterlife. And he's lying there and his minister walks in. He says: 'Do you want a Bible?'. 'No!'. 'Do you want me to pray with you?'. 'No!'. 'Are you afraid of dying?'. 'No!'. 'What about meeting God?'. 'No!'. Do you know what Paul calls that? 'Past feeling'.

Can I plead with you again - if the bleeding Lamb of God means anything to you, if your sin, and the weight of it, you can feel it in the slightest little ounce or gram - in God's name, will you listen to the word of God? If you're a backslider tonight, don't think you're exempt from this. You'll never be in hell - that's true - but in the epistle of John we read about a sin, a Christian sinning unto death. That means that they have wandered away from their first love. They've walked away from Christ and the narrow way, the way of holiness, and they've gone headlong into the world, and they are smearing and smudging and blaspheming the name of their Lord Jesus so much that He says: 'That's enough! That's ruining My name down there. Take him home!'.

No matter how old or how young you are, if you have trusted Christ and you're now turning your back on Him, beware! You'll not lose your soul in hell, but you could lose your life down here. You're not your own! You're bought with a price! You can't do what you want; you've got to do what God wants you to do, my friend. But whatever your situation is, if God is speaking to you listen, please listen! You don't need to be in a coffin, or in a graveyard, or in a mortuary, to be dead. There are thousands of people in our little province walking around in shoe leather, and because they've rejected Christ one too many times they're as sure as in hell as if they were there.

I'm glad I'm not an angel this evening. I'm glad I don't have the sight of God. You see,

'Angels see that fatal sign and shudder at the sight,
And devils trace that livid line with hellish delight.
For on the forehead God has set indelibly a mark
Unseen by man, for man is yet blinded in the dark'.

If God was to come down into our meeting tonight and rip your forehead over, and look at the mark that is on your head, what would the mark be? Would it say: 'Bought with the blood of Christ', or would it say - God help us! - would it say: 'Too late'? 'Too late'.

One of the biggest lies of the devil about today is this: that you can be saved when you want. I heard of someone, and they recently felt God speak to them, and they said: 'Maybe another time'. Can I tell you this? You must believe, and can only believe, when God is speaking to you. That's a biblical fact! 'Call upon the Lord while He may be heard, and found while He is near'. 'Seek ye the Lord', because you can't seek Him when He's not near! If you wait, it may be too late.

Napoleon Bonaparte was sitting in his camp, and he was dejected. Half his army was annihilated. He didn't know whether he was going to win or lose - and remember this was the conqueror of almost the world. One young soldier came running into his camp, and he said: 'Cheer up sire, you've gained the victory!'. 'Yes', said the General, 'but one more victory like that could lose me my kingdom'.

God has given me this message tonight. That means that He has it for somebody here. That means that there could be somebody here and they're just about to go too far. They're just about to commit that sin that God will never forgive, and even when they lie on their deathbed and they recite John 3:16 and they pray the Sinner's Prayer, it's not from their heart. You've heard about that, haven't you? People that know their need to be saved, but when they're going out into eternity they can't be saved - and they know they can't be saved, because they didn't listen when He was speaking.

Have you gained the victory over your mother? Over your father? Over your pastor or over your minister? Over your church, over your school, over your district? You've gained the victory, but one more victory could cost you your soul in hell.

Let us bow our heads. I believe that God is speaking this evening and I believe that some of you have heard Him. I also believe that you should be shaking in your boots, because if this message is for you, it could be the last chance. What are you going to do? Are you going to gamble your soul into hell?

Backslider, what are you going to do? Are you going to take the chance that God might let you off and take you to Glory at a ripe old age? Are you going to wait until He says 'That's enough, let's take him home'?

What you need to do is, you need to repent. You need to turn from your sin. Forsake it and leave it and turn to Christ, and ask Him to save you and trust the death of His own Son on the cross to be enough to save you - the finished work where He took your place. Ask Him, by faith, to save you, my friend, and He will do it: 'For all manner of sin may be forgiven unto men'. But whatever you do, don't reject Him tonight, because that is a sin - that is a sin that will keep you out of heaven.

I will be at the door as usual, and I've sensed over recent nights that there have been people who have walked out and almost said something to me. Don't be shy if it's the salvation of your soul, my friend. Get saved tonight - or backslider, return unto your Lord and have this thing dealt with and finished with. Make sure that you'll not live the rest of your days in a prison where you cannot believe.

Our Father, we thank Thee for the sharpness of Thy sword, and we pray that there may be some slain of the Lord tonight. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Transcribed by:
Preach The Word.
April 2001

This sermon was delivered at Kilkeel Baptist Church, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the tape, titled "The Unpardonable Sin" - Transcribed by Preach The Word.

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