I recently watched an evangelism training video that uses the Ten Commandments to reach people. One of the trainers says that if the persons being witnessed to have used the Lord’s name in vain, they are guilty of blasphemy. Is that right? I thought blasphemy was the unforgivable sin.

A.Blasphemy in general is the showing of utter disrespect or contempt for God and anything that pertains to Him, so taking the Lord’s name in vain can be placed under that category. But many people are confused and even fearful about the so-called unpardonable sin.

The unpardonable sin occurred when Jesus was living on earth. The situation involved is recorded in Matthew 12:14–37. Israel’s leaders were about to place their nation on a road to destruction. They had rejected their Messiah, as demonstrated in their saying that the works of God were really the works of Satan. This charge was blasphemous, and God would deal with them for it. Once judgment fell, the nation’s restoration would be long in coming. This judgment occurred in AD 70, with the fall of Jerusalem. For a backdrop, look at Matthew 23, especially verses 36–39. Jesus lamented over His people’s rejection and its consequences (see also John 1:9–13).

The exact term “unpardonable sin” does not appear in Scripture. People have used it from the incident in Matthew 12, which we have noted and to which Jesus responded in verses 31 and 32: “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men.” The unpardonable sin cannot be committed today, however, because Jesus Christ is not bodily present and doing miracles. It was a unique “in-His-face” rejection by the religious leaders. It discounted both Jesus and His work. It signified their rejection of Christ’s kingdom, which was postponed until after the Tribulation at His Second Coming, when Israel will accept its Messiah.

Because they rejected the Son of God, they were also rejecting the Holy Spirit. The only sense in which a person can commit the unpardonable sin today is if that person continuously rejects the Holy Spirit’s promptings concerning his or her lost soul, and by doing so forfeits salvation. Once an unsaved person dies, it is too late to receive pardon (Hebrews 9:27).

I am curious as to how this video you mention uses the Ten Commandments to reach people. I have not viewed the video, but it seems to me that to be Scriptural, the tool would need to show people that one cannot keep the commandments and the rest of the Law perfectly. It would also need to show people how Jesus, the perfect One, died on the cross for our sins, something we couldn’t do ourselves. Salvation comes through faith in Christ alone, not in keeping the Ten Commandments, though the Decalogue is certainly God’s vital holy standard for personal and societal conduct, and we don’t minimize it.

Do you have feedback or a Bible question to submit? Send your Bible questions to nolson@garbc.org, or mail to Norman A. Olson in care of the Baptist Bulletin, 1300 N. Meacham Road, Schaumburg, IL 60173-48906.