What is the unpardonable sin?

“I’ve committed the unpardonable sin.”

“Why do you think that?” I asked the very downcast woman sitting in my office.

“Because God has abandoned me. I can’t read the Bible, pray, worship or go to church. I repent constantly but nothing changes. I know it’s the only sin that can’t be forgiven. I must have done it or I wouldn’t feel this way.”

“What do you think the unpardonable sin is?” I asked gently, sensing her overwhelming despair at being cut off from the God she loved.

“I’m not sure but I must have done it.”

I tried to explain to her the very fact that she wanted to stay in relationship with God proved that the Holy Spirit was still active in her spirit. It didn’t help. She was convinced and I couldn’t change her mind.

How many times has this issue come up in your counseling appointments? I’m surprised how often I’ve heard it in my mental health clinic. I never thought it would be a matter that people would tell a doctor.

Considering how rare it’s ever mentioned in a sermon (I think I’ve heard it once in my life from a pulpit) it amazes me how often people think of it when they are feeling down.

Here’s a tip

Whenever you hear someone talking like the woman above, think depression. It has been my experience that everyone who is preoccupied with the unpardonable sin has been chemically depressed needing medication.

When you are depressed, you can’t shut off disturbing thoughts. The unpardonable sin just becomes another negative thought that can’t be stopped. It is particularly painful of course for Christians. Trying to talk them out of it will have limited results until they have been medically treated. The good news is that when depression lifts, so does the preoccupation with the unpardonable sin.

So the next time you hear someone express guilt over the unpardonable sin, suspect depression. You can then use the tools we have created to help you get those people into treatment.

I have created books, seminars and recordings that will easily explain the diagnosis and treatments from a Christian perspective. You can see links to many of my resources here.

Leadership Q & A

  1. What is the best church growth strategy?
  2. Are you burning out?
  3. Is suicide the unpardonable sin?
  4. Can a person be too supportive of your ministry?
  5. Are you afraid of psychiatry?
  6. What is the unpardonable sin?
  7. Is fear a sin?
  8. Is counselling your gift?
  9. What is the key question to ask?
  10. Does depression have spiritual symptoms?
  11. Is your church “seeker friendly?”

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