The (Un)pardonable Sin

Matthew 12:31 – So I tell you, every sin and blasphemy can be forgiven — except blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which will never be forgiven. (NLT)

For Hester Prynne in Nathanial Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, it was an A; for many others, it is a D.

In a puritanical time period, Hester Prynne made the mistake of having a sexual relationship outside of marriage and getting pregnant. She was condemned, ostracized, and forced to wear a scarlet letter, A, on her breast.

When I was growing up, adultery wasn't looked upon favourably either by most of the culture, particularly in the Bible Belt. But there was another sin that was looked upon with equal disfavour: divorce. Even most who were not of the religious persuasion thought that two married people should stay together through thick and thin. Those who didn't, for whatever reason, were treated almost like Hester Prynne.

In church life — which I knew a lot about — the divorced were looked upon differently. They may have been allowed to join the church — after all, they surely needed Jesus since they'd been divorced — but they were allowed to do little else. Teaching, preaching, serving as a deacon, working with children — these were all out of the question. The church was glad to have their money but wanted little else from them. They had committed what many believed was the unpardonable sin.

Yet, divorce is not what Jesus classified as the unpardonable sin. He had strong words for those who attributed His work to Satan, and He told them that such blasphemy (unbelief) could not be forgiven, but He never said the same about divorce. In the Old Testament, God said that He hated divorce, but He never said that it was unforgivable.

Divorce is detrimental. While some choose it, others have it thrust upon them regardless of what they want. Its sad effects meander through families, churches, and nations. But it isn't the unforgivable sin. The Bible is filled with examples of God using people with all types of issues in their backgrounds — murder included. If God can use murderers like David and Paul, surely, He can use someone who has been divorced.

Telling or implying that someone is unusable because they have been divorced is as sinful as the sin that they claim the divorced person has committed. God is in the business of restoration.

Don't allow anything in your past to keep you from being used by God.

Prayer: Father, may we allow You to use our past instead of letting our past imprison us. Amen.

1 comment on this post.
  1. PresbyCan Feedback:

    Amen Martin! Have a good one.
    Blessings.


    God is in the business of restoration. I will use that line. Thanks for a good article.


    We all have a past. To God, one sin is the same as any other. Thanks for your encouraging message, Martin.


    You show so much wisdom and compassion I am sure you have helped many.
    And I suspect the sim against the Holy Spirit is all too common.


    Thank you for this devotional Martin. While the Lord has already blessed me beyond words by using me, as a divorcee, in many ways to share His Word, it is always good to have this affirmation.


    Hi Martin,
    This is a good one. I wish all people could read this one and believe it. I think even today, divorce, has a stigma to the word. But thank God He knows us inside and out and is there for us.
    God bless.


    Wonderfully put, Martin. We humans can often be so sure of our own righteousness and so condemning of others – so sure of their unrighteousness, even though Scripture is quite definite that no one is righteous, no, not one, … apart from Christ. So, may God help us never to be apart from Him and from His righteousness, which is all we have to recommend us.


    Dear Martin Wiles,
    Thank you for a gracious devotional.
    I wonder if you would like to write another about marriage relationships that contain continuing marital happiness. (Notice I didn’t say “constant married happiness.”)
    I have never been married, but I am living in a world where I observe married persons’ relationships.


    Thank you for today’s devotional. I was divorced (husband left me) and when I wanted to be re-married in my church where I had been a faithful member for 40 years, my pastor refused to marry me and also refused to allow us to use the church for the wedding service. What Scripture might he have used for such refusal? I never did understand. I am a born-again believer and know that ALL of my sins were covered by Calvary.
    Thanks.


    Thank you Martin for sharing this devotional with us. Blessings.


    Good Morning Martin, and Blessings in the name of Jesus,
    Once again, a brilliant and well considered practical and philosophical postulation. This bothered me for decades, since I was divorced from my first wife, and the Priest at our Anglican Church refused to marry me and my present wife, until the Bishop told him he could.
    I have often wondered about suicide. The victim cannot, in this world, ask for forgiveness. Can they in the Heavenly realm, if in fact they can even enter the heavenly realm? The partner, or parents, and their family, can state their forgiveness, but is he victim aware of that? I suppose I will only know if suicide can be forgiven when I ask the Holy Spirit myself.