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Questions and Answers

What is an unforgivable sin? Is it the same as a sin against the Holy Spirit?

Outline of the Answer
• Unforgivable Sins
• Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit
• Modern Sins Against the Holy Spirit

 
An unforgivable sin is simply a sin which you do not repent. There’s really nothing mysterious or mystical about it. God has told us over and over that if we sincerely repent our sins and ask for mercy, we will be forgiven. No sin, not even murder or abortion, will condemn a soul if only it is repented.

  

Even Hitler, for example, could have been forgiven by God if he had genuinely repented at the moment of his last breath and appealed to Christ for mercy. But did he? Well, no one but God knows.

  

What if you were to meet your
worst enemy in Heaven?

Now, we might wonder why, given God’s magnanimous grace, so many persons persist in their sins and make no effort to repent them. Why do so many souls condemn themselves to hell because of unrepentant, and therefore unforgivable, sins? Well, there are two basic reasons: either they didn’t believe that their behavior was sinful, or they simply didn’t believe in the concept of sin itself. The very fact that anyone has such erroneous beliefs can be explained by the concept of sin against the Holy Spirit.

 
Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit

Jesus spoke openly about sin against the Holy Spirit when, accused of casting out evil spirits by the power of demons (see Mark 3: 20-30), He stated that “whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never have forgiveness but is guilty of an everlasting sin” (Mark 3:29; cf. Matthew 12:31-32 and Luke 12:10).

Essentially, Jesus was saying that to attribute the work of the Holy Spirit to any other agency—such as demons or human activity—insults holiness itself. What is sin if not the disrespect of God? What is sin if not the refusal to believe God when He gives us fair warning about our behavior? What, then, is unforgivable sin if not the refusal to listen to the very One who created heaven and earth and Who knows very well of what He is speaking?

Consequently, by insulting holiness we fall right into false beliefs about our very reality—and these false beliefs result in unforgivable sins because, well, in clinging to a false reality we demean and reject the very power that could lead us to truth, forgiveness, and salvation.

 
Modern Sins Against the Holy Spirit

In today’s world, hardly anyone attributes anything to the work of demons, so Jesus’ description of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit tends to bewilder many of us—if we even listen to it at all.

Nevertheless, whether we speak about demons or not, examples of modern sins against the Holy Spirit are not difficult to find.

Activists, for example, claim that Church teaching about sexuality is the work of homophobic or misogynist men. Intellectuals claim that hell is just a myth created by medieval fantasy. Well, in all of these cases, the work of the Holy Spirit is arrogantly dismissed and attributed to homophobia, misogyny, or fantasy—that is, to human agency.

Such arrogance is not just an error of reason and a simple sin of pride. Such arrogance is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit and an unforgivable sin.

And it will be an everlasting sin after death unless the insult against God that precipitated it is repented before death, while there is still hope.

 


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Where Catholic therapy (Catholic psychotherapy) is explained according to Catholic psychology in the tradition of the Catholic mystics.