What do you think of when you consider "the ultimate sin"? What would it be? Murder (abortion, homocide, serial killing)? Sexual assault (rape, child pornography, incest)? Lying? Thievery?
As horrific and heinous as all of these sins (and many more) are, they can all be put under the blood of Jesus Christ. In other words, those sins, if confessed, will be forgiven by God. There is one sin which will not.
When I was a young parent....well, actually, I was never a YOUNG parent, becoming one at age 35. But, when I had young children I believed that I would "raise them right". I knew Jesus then, as now, and knew how principles of godly living were the best prescription out there for success in life. So, I was excited to "train them up in the way they should go" (Proverbs 22:6). Around 9th grade, however, they stopped listening to me. I was completely flummoxed! I asked God repeatedly, "Why did you give me and my husband these gifts of wisdom, which are being wasted?" (No, disobeying one's parents is not "the ultimate sin"!) There are few worse feelings than either wondering if your child has taken your training to heart or, worse, seeing the incontrovertible evidence that they have not. Still, they are our children; and, we love them.
I guess that is how God felt with the Hebrew children. Finally, with the incident at Kadesh, He removed His hand of blessing from that repeatedly disobedient generation entirely. I'm pretty sure it is how He feels about us "wayward children" every moment of every day.
Being wayward is one thing. All of us who love and follow Jesus as Savior make mistakes, wrong choices, say unholy things, think unholy thoughts DAILY as we struggle with our still-present sin natures. We won't be free of that struggle until we die and are face-to-face with Jesus. When we sin in this manner, there is no doubt that our sin grieves the Holy Spirit who lives within us. Charles Spurgeon describes this grief as, not anger, but rather, a combination of anger tempered with love.1 When we Christians sin, we "quench the fire" of the Holy Spirit in our lives; this causes Him great sorrow. The remedy is quick confession of that sin, repentance, forgiveness and restoration.
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
The Ultimate Sin is quite another thing entirely, and some of the Hebrews at Kadesh were guilty of it. This sin underlies and gives birth to every other sin. The writer of Hebrews devotes one and a half chapters of his book to it, using the Hebrews in the desert outside Canaan as his "Exhibit A".
The Ultimate Sin is also called in the New Testament "blaspheming the Holy Spirit". Jesus speaks of it in Matthew 12:22-32 and also in Mark 3:28-30 (given below). In the Matthew passage, Jesus is performing miracles, which have been seen by a group of Pharisees. They heard His words of life-saving truth. These men were presented with incontrovertible evidence that Jesus is Messiah. Yet, they attribute His miracles to Satan. In fact, they accused Jesus of being possessed by demons. "Standing before the Light of the World, bathed in His glory, they defiantly closed their eyes and became willfully blind. Jesus pronounced that sin to be unforgivable."2
Jesus' words in Mark 3 - -
28I tell you the truth, people will be forgiven for all sins, even all the blasphemies they utter. 29But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven, but is guilty of an eternal sin” 30(because they said, “He has an unclean spirit”).
Calling God a liar by rejecting Him: this is The Ultimate Sin...the sin with eternal consequences, the sin that will not be forgiven, the sin that sends a person to Hell. "Unbelief encompasses disobedience, for it is BOTH the refusal (or willing failure) to trust God and the consequent lack of faithfulness TO God."3 It springs from a rebellious heart but becomes real in the concrete act of refusal. This is fatal unbelief. Eternally fatal.
In the USA this is Election Day, but it is also "Today". Hebrews 3:7 - - -
Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,
"Oh, that today you would listen as He speaks!"
There are some of you reading this who are rejecting God and His pleading for your soul. You want no part of Him. I beg you to reconsider. Jesus made it plain that the person who rejects God and His "one way" to Heaven will NOT end up there, after this physical life ends. Not a single person is promised one.more.day. on this Earth. Over the last week, I have learned of two acquaintances who died almost instantly. Death was not on their agendas that day. One was in her 70s; the other was in his 20s. Thanking God that, from all I could tell, both knew Jesus Christ as Savior and so, therefore, are rejoicing with Him in Heaven right now.
Surrender to the Lover of your Soul today. Here's how: (skip down to the ***section)
Lord Jesus, I am so thankful that never, ever again will I have to live one moment apart from You. I am Yours, and You are mine. Still, my heart breaks for those who are rejecting You, even as You extend the invitation for rescue, day after day. The enemy has blinded so many. I pray that Your Holy Spirit will not give up on those we love so dearly. I plead for them today, Lord God, while they have "Today". Open their eyes and give them a glimpse of who You really are! Have patience greater than that of any human's, Lord! Please draw them to Yourself. Please save them. In Jesus' name, amen.
3 Cockerill, Gareth Lee. The Epistle to the Hebrews. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2012. Kindle edition.