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Author:Rev. W.B. Slomp
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Congregation:Immanuel Canadian Reformed Church
 Edmonton, Alberta
Title:Sin against the Holy Spirit
Text:Psalms 51:11 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)


Hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love

has been poured into our hearts through

the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Romans 5:5

Pre-Service Song: Psalm 139: 1, 2, 4


Votum and Salutation 

Sing: Hymn 50: 1-4

The Ten Words of the Covenant  

Sing: Psalm 119: 50, 55


Read: Mt. 12: 22-32; Heb. 6: 4-8; 1 Sam. 16: 1-4a; 12-14;

Sing:  Psalm 51: 4, 5

Text: Psalm 51: 11

SermonGod Gives Us the Indispensable Presence of his Holy Spirit.

God’s Holy Spirit is:

1. A gracious gift;

2. An essential gift;

3. An eternal gift.

Sing: Hymn 51: 1, 2, 3



Sing: Psalm 27: 4, 6


* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. W.B. Slomp, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

Beloved congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ:

People often have questions about the work of the Holy Spirit. One of the more frequent questions is about the sin against the Holy Spirit. How do I know if I committed that unforgiveable sin? Or what about one of my loved ones, a child who has gone astray and no longer comes to church, or a close relative or friend? Has he or she sinned the unpardonable sin against the Holy Spirit? How do I know?

In the text we see the struggle of David. It’s a well-known Psalm. In it he makes his confession about his horrible sin against Bathsheba. In spite of his beautiful confession to the Lord, he nevertheless still struggles. As it says, he is afraid that God is going to take his Holy Spirit away from him. So, he pleads with God not to do that.

David lived at a different time than we do today. We live after Pentecost, after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Could an Old Testament believer sin against the Holy Spirit in the same way as the New Testament believer? Did they have the fullness of the Holy Spirit then? Does the Holy Spirit work differently in the Old Testament than in the New Testament?

Well, brothers and sisters, as we will see, God’s Holy Spirit has been and will be and is always and forever there … for the true believer. That’s what I will preach to you about this morning. Whole The theme is:

God Gives Us the Indispensable Presence of his Holy Spirit.

We will see that God's Holy Spirit is:

1. A gracious gift;

2. An essential gift;

3. An eternal gift.

1. David was deeply aware that God had given him his indispensable Holy Spirit. He had been anointed by the prophet Samuel to be king over Israel. The Lord sent Samuel into the hometown of Jesse, David’s father, to anoint one of his sons as king. David was still a young man at that time.

David's older brothers were first paraded in front of Samuel. They seemed the more obvious choice to Jesse. Samuel too was impressed. He especially thought that the oldest son, Eliab, would be the most obvious choice as he was impressive in stature and appearance. But then the Lord tells Samuel, that he does not look at his appearance or his physical stature, but at the heart.

And so he has Samuel anoint the youngest son, David. We are told that with the anointing “the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward.” (ESV) Other translations state that the Spirit came mightily upon him or that he came upon him in power.

But, as we know from 1 Samuel 10:6, that’s also what happened to David’s predecessor, to King Saul. God’s Holy Spirit also came powerfully upon him and he too received God’s presence.

Yet, as we are told in 1 Samuel 16:14, the Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul and now processed an evil spirit.

That puts David's request concerning the removal of God's Holy Spirit within a more specific context. No doubt, David did not want to end up like Saul. He wanted to continue to receive God's Holy Spirit and to experience God's presence.

How does that come about? Well, David understood that you cannot control or manipulate the Holy Spirit. Else David would not petition God not to take his Spirit away from him. The Holy Spirit belongs to God. He is God. He is also God’s gift to you. Only God can give himself to you and therefore only he can remove himself.

And so, David knew that the gift of the Holy Spirit was a gracious gift of God. In other words, he knew that you receive God's Spirit not because you deserve it or because you have anything to offer him, but only because of God's free grace.

What does that mean? How does he give his Holy Spirit to you? Well, God gave his Holy Spirit to David in order to equip him for his task as king; to guide him with his Word and Spirit as he ruled God's people.

The Holy Spirit would also be there to inspire him as a prophet. God gave him his Spirit so that his words could be recorded in the Psalms and other portions of the Scriptures.

But did God give his Holy Spirit only to those who had a special office such as prophet, priest or king? What about the people of Israel, God’s covenant people? Well, listen to what it says in Isaiah 63:11. There we read that God's people ask, “Where is he who put in the midst of them his Holy Spirit?” (ESV)

The Old Testament believer understood that God had given his Holy Spirit to all of God’s people. That is why Isaiah said in chapter 63:10, that they had rebelled and grieved God’s Holy Spirit. He says in effect, “even though my Holy Spirit is among you, you nevertheless have rejected me.”

Oh sure, the Old Testament believer did not fully understand the work of the Holy Spirit and who he was and how exactly he worked. The Holy Spirit is not very often mentioned in the Old Testament. He seems to be in the background.

But isn’t the same thing true of the Lord Jesus Christ? In Genesis we read about the seed of the woman who would crush Satan. At that time the Old Testament believers did not know who the seed of the woman would be. But as God's Old Testament people came nearer to the great events of the birth of the Son of God, through the prophecies and the ceremonies of the law, they slowly but surely got a clearer picture of him.

The same thing is true of the Holy Spirit. In the very beginning of the Bible the Holy Spirit is introduced. There we read in Genesis 1:2 that "the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters." Who is that Spirit? The Spirit is God. That is why God says further in that same chapter, "Let us make man in our image." He uses the plural, referring to the Father, the Son, and a Holy Spirit.

And so in creation already we see the work of the Holy Spirit. When it says in Genesis that the Spirit was hovering over creation, we are reminded of a bird that provides for and protects its young. In Deuteronomy 32:11 we are given a clearer picture as to what that means. There God is pictured as a bird who guided his nation Israel "like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them on its wings.” That is also how the Holy Spirit looks after God’s creation, and especially his children.

The fact that God's Holy Spirit hovers over all of creation means that the Holy Spirit has always existed and is everywhere. He creates and sustains and protects all life. No one and nothing can escape him.

David so beautifully expresses that in Psalm 139, where he asks the rhetorical question in verse 7, "Where can I go from your Spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence?" And so, God's Holy Spirit is not there just for individual people, but for all of creation, for every nation and for every people. Moses and Aaron understood this when they, in Numbers 16:22, referred to the God of the spirits of all flesh, that is, of all mankind. God’s Spirit gives life to all men.

That of course refers to physical life. Without God’s Holy Spirit nothing and no one can live. But the Holy Spirit is especially the giver of spiritual life, and eternal life; life with God.

That is what Pentecost was all about. After the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ the Lord God poured out his Holy Spirit to all those who belong to him, and who are obedient to him. And he sends him out his disciples to all corners of the world with his Word and Spirit, so that all kinds of people may believe in him and be part of his kingdom.

2. God's Holy Spirit is essential for eternal life (second point). The question now is, when David asked not to have the Holy Spirit taken away from him, does that mean then that that is possible? Can God, because of some sin, remove his Holy Spirit even if you are a child of God and believe in him?

Well, as we saw, God's Spirit is everywhere present. You cannot escape God's Spirit. But it is possible to sin against the Holy Spirit. How? Well, the moment you sin, you are doing what the devil wants you to do, and not God. At that moment the Holy Spirit is not with you.

That is, for example, what happened with the apostle Peter when he rebuked Jesus for saying that he would have to suffer and be killed and raised on the third day. Jesus then said to him, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”” (Matthew 16:23, ESV).

Peter acted according to the flesh, not according to the Spirit. The Spirit was not with him at that moment. That is the horrible effect of sin.

Brothers and sisters, you and I sin all the time. There are so many ways in which we sin against the Holy Spirit and grieve him. We often live as if the Holy Spirit is not active and not real. Sometimes in ignorance, but sometimes deliberately. When we sin deliberately, then it is Satan’s spirit working in us, and not the Holy Spirit.

What do you do in such a case? Well, you ask for forgiveness; you repent. And you do that time and again. Repentance is an ongoing daily activity. And then, in spite of our sin, God continues to be with you. He does not abandon you or permanently remove his Holy Spirit from you.

But, sometimes we live in sin. We know what we are doing is wrong in God’s sight. But we love that specific sin and keep on living in it, or we fool ourselves into thinking that it’s not such a big deal.

That’s what David did. He did not just sin once at the time when he committed adultery with Bathsheba, and then repented and asked for forgiveness. No, he hardened himself in that sin. He did not go to the Lord for forgiveness and he did not allow his sin to be exposed. He lived in that sin. He was in denial.

It took about a year. And then God graciously brought him back from his wayward path when he confronted him through the prophet Nathan, who, by means of a parable, had him see the light.

And then David repented in sackcloth and ashes. And that is why he wrote Psalm 51, and Psalm 32. He speaks of what it was like to live in that sin. He no longer felt God’s presence. He says in “Psalm 32:3–4, For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.” (ESV)

As these two psalms show, after this David was full of joy again. Oh sure, there were consequences. The Lord God punished him with the death of his child and said to him that his life and the life of his descendants would be full of bloodshed because of the sword.

But, David was full of God’s Spirit again. He felt God’s presence again. He knew that his relationship with God was restored. And now he allowed God to be in control of his life again. A great weight fell off his shoulder.

 When he sinned his horrible sin with Bathsheba he took things into his own hands. He wanted to be in control of his own destiny. He wanted to seek pleasure according to the desires of his flesh, and not according to the desire of God the Holy Spirit. He pretended that God did not exist. He did the same thing that hardened sinners do and that the people of the world do. They go their own way.

That is why David cried out to God to create in him a new heart. He wanted to give the reins back to God. He wanted God to be in control of his destiny again.

But do you really think that David had to be afraid that God would totally leave him? That he had sinned the unpardonable sin against the Holy Spirit? No. Let me tell you why in the third point.

3. It says in 1 John 3:9, ““No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God.” (1 John 3:9, ESV) And in 1 Peter 1:23 it says that “you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;” (1 Peter 1:23, ESV)

And so when you have the seed of God within you, then you cannot perish. What is that seed? It is the living and abiding Word of God.

Brothers and sisters, David was brought up as a covenant child and as such was brought up with the Word of God. He knew what God wanted from him. He knew he was a child of God and that God created him in a covenant relationship with him. Relationships have rules; rules of love and protection and caring. That is also the way it is with the rules of a marriage relationship.

Because of sin we need to be reminded of those rules. And that is what God does. Every time you walk away from him he reminds you of his love for you. He reminds you and me of what it means to be a child of God.

But if you wantonly ignore God and his commandments, and keep on doing it, then you walk away from him. In the end you no longer have a relationship. Then he takes his Holy Spirit away from you. That then ultimately is not God’s doing but your doing. You left him. You don’t know him any longer.

David was not at that point when he sinned against Bathsheba. Oh sure, it was an horrendous sin. And he knew it. For God’s Word and his Holy Spirit worked in his heart. That is why he was so miserable. And that is why he was receptive to hear the voice of God, and that is why he also wanted to be close to him again.

After his repentance David was afraid that God would remove his Spirit from him. That’s understandable. He realized what a terrible sin he committed. Such sin makes you aware of God’s holiness and your own wretchedness. But God is merciful. He didn’t. God did not abandon him.

That is true for all of us. At times you or I may think that God has left us, but do you really think that that is true? Oh sure, you may think that you have sinned too much; that you are not worthy of God's presence; that you are not worthy of salvation. But then you must remember that God promises that he will never take his Holy Spirit away from his children.

Listen to what the Holy Spirit says in Ephesians 1:13-14. Through the mouth of Paul he says, “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” (ESV)

It is true, we all grieve the Holy Spirit in numerous ways. We do it every day. We fall far short of God's glory. We are miserable creatures. That’s why it says in Ephesians 4:30: “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, …” (ESV)

However, listen to what else that text says: “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption."

You were sealed with the Holy Spirit of God for the day of redemption. Let that sink in for a moment….

As it says in the well-known passage of Romans 8, that nothing can separate you from the love of God, not death, not your sins, not even the devil. You do not have to doubt your salvation.


I know that leaves a great big question still in your mind. What about those passages that we read together in Hebrews and in Matthew? And what about somebody like king Saul? Did God not take his Holy Spirit away from him? For it says in 1 Samuel 16:14 that the Spirit of the LORD had departed from Saul. Did he not commit the unpardonable sin against the Holy Spirit?

Well, who is Saul? He is a covenant child of God. He received the sign and the seal of the covenant. Nowhere does it say that the Spirit of the Lord was removed from him forever. It doesn't say anywhere in Scripture that King Saul was condemned to hell. It is very possible that he was, but it also is possible that he wasn't. We don't know if he was one of God’s elect. God knows. Only he knows who is elect and who isn’t. We don’t. And so, let’s not jump to conclusions.

Brothers and sisters, we must carefully distinguish between covenant and election. Let’s look at the passage that we read together in Hebrews 6. There we read that those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God, that if they then fall away they cannot be restored again to repentance.

What does that mean? Well, consider that within the context that it is written. The book of Hebrews is all about the new covenant established by the great High Priest Jesus Christ. The author is dealing here with God’s covenant people. But, just because you are in the covenant, does not mean that you are elect.

Here in the book of Hebrews and elsewhere he warns us that not all who belong to God's covenant will be saved. Not all the children that receive the sign and the seal of the covenant and who are brought up in the church will be saved. He gives us example the nation Israel who had been included as God's covenant children but who turned their backs on him.

Consider. Many of the Israelites rejected God's covenant, didn’t they? They knew what God’s covenant was all about but they ignored its wonderful contents. The Holy Spirit did not find fertile soil in their hearts.

Not all who are called God's children will be God's children into eternity. There are those who fall away. But only God knows who they are. He is the only one who judges the heart. He can see inside of us.

Where does that leave us? First of all we are left with a warning. God tells us these things in his Word because of his great love. He wants to remind us of the great gift of his Holy Spirit and that we must not reject him. You must not harden yourself in your sin.

If David had continued to leave his sin unconfessed and continue to harden himself in his sins, then David too would have perished. But through God's grace that did not happen. The fact that he was worried about his salvation shows how much he loves God. Oh sure he was a great sinner. But our sins do not disqualify us from being children of God. Only our persistent hardening in our sins does.

There may be times in your life as well when you are brought very low. There may be times when there are certain sins that you just will not break with. At that point, just like David, you don't feel God's presence anymore. But that doesn't mean that God's Holy Spirit is not there. He will continue to work in your heart and he will restore you when you repent. Why and how? Well, as covenant child he will continue to work in your heart.

You may also have that same comfort about your loved ones, about those who have gone astray. It may well be that God has not yet left them even though they no longer worship with you. That is why you have to pray for them and think about ways of bringing them back into God's graces. You do not give up on them. You warn them and remind them of the need of the fellowship with the Holy Spirit. Who knows, they may yet repent, even on their death bed.

But now what about the other passage in Matthew 12? What does the Lord Jesus mean when he says in Matthew 12:31 that the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven?

In order to understand that passage, you again have to look at the context.

As you know, the Lord Jesus performed many miracles. We read in verse 15 that he healed all their sick and in verse 22 that he healed a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute. These are great miracles. The people stood in awe of him. They were astonished and they asked whether he could indeed be the Son of David, prophesied about in the Old Testament. It is understandable that they make that statement. For only God could do such work. Only he could perform such miracles. These were not the works of an ordinary man. The people knew it.

At this point the Pharisees realized that this was a pivotal moment for them. They did not want Jesus to have the influence that he had. They felt the crowds slipping away from them. They had to do or say something in order to discredit Jesus. They could not have the people believe that God was among them.

So they said something absolutely outrageous and blasphemous. And so what did they do? They equated him with the devil himself. They said to the people, “It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.” (ESV)

That is the last defense that they could come up with. For if it is not God who is doing this then it must be the devil who is doing this.

That was their sin against the Holy Spirit. Against all logic and reason they wanted the people to believe that Jesus was not sent by God, but that he is the devil himself.

Then the Lord Jesus masterfully unmasks their hypocrisy and great unbelief. He asks, “How is it possible for Satan to drive out Satan? If that is the case then he is divided against himself. Satan cannot be out to destroy Satan. That absolutely makes no sense. Satan is not out to defeat and destroy himself.”

He further points out that only the Spirit of God can drive out demons. No one else can. Only the Holy Spirit has that kind of power. Therefore the only logical conclusion you can come to is that the Lord Jesus himself is full of the Holy Spirit.

The Pharisees, who also had the sign and the seal of the covenant, nevertheless were out to destroy the work of God. They wanted to block the message of salvation. They did so deliberately and with hardened hearts. They did so with a great hatred against the Son of God.

It is in this way that they sinned the unpardonable sin against the Holy Spirit. They did not sin against him because of ignorance, or because they were on the wrong path for a little while, but because of deliberate and sustained disobedience. They had totally hardened their hearts.

Now you can also understand why the Lord Jesus says in verse 32 that anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age one of the age to come.

Again, only God knows who has committed that unpardonable sin. He is the only one who can look into the hearts of men. And so, that’s where we leave it. Ultimately we ourselves never know who has committed the unpardonable sin against the Holy Spirit and who has not. We do not know whom God has elected and whom he has rejected. Only he knows.

But God does tell us for our comfort is that God’s elect can never fall away. It is wonderful for us to know that. That is the great comfort of our election.

How do you know whether you yourself are elect? Well, that shows by the fruit of your faith. That shows in your life. In spite of the fact that you and I sin against God all the time, God comes to us with his message of comfort and hope. He does not want any of us to despair. He wants us to embrace him and to stay close to him.

Brothers and sisters, if you fear that you have committed the unpardonable sin, then you don’t have anything to be concerned about. Someone who has committed the unpardonable sin, does not concern himself with such a matter. He doesn’t care. He doesn’t believe in God anyway. Do you think those Pharisees who called Jesus the devil cared? No. Satan had them completely in their grip.

That does not mean, of course, that you can sin in whatever way you want. No, there is a warning here.

You have to stay close to him. You have to pray to him and humble yourself before him. Daily. You and I should not allow the devil to take control of our lives. He tries to lure us away in so many ways. Stand on guard, brothers and sisters.

Brothers and sisters, the Holy Spirit is a wonderful gift. He gives life. He gives life to those who want to live; who want to live in the truth; who want to live to the glory of God; who want to live with God into eternity.

You and I have been given life through the Holy Spirit. What a blessing! What a celebration of life!


* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. W.B. Slomp, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2008, Rev. W.B. Slomp

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