“If one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save himfrom death and cover over a multitude of sins.”
- James 5:19
Forgiveness is a necessary part of faith. If there is no forgiveness, there is no need for faith. For what does it all matter if we cannot find redemption? No one who has ever sought forgiveness has ever felt that it was an unnecessary part of his or her redemption and walk with God.
As Christians, we believethere is no sin that Christ’s blood cannot wash away (1 John 1:9). Christ turns away none who are willing to come to Him in an attitude of trust and repentance, no matter what they have done, including turning their back on God.
It is a total distortion of truth to teach that Christ’s blood is insufficient. Many religions like to instill fear into believers in order to keep them under their control. This is not of God. I personally know people that have transgressed so terribly that they often feel there is no hope. But there is hope! Hope in a living God that can save and forgive anyone!
1 John 3:9 says, “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. Wow! If you are born of God you can’t sin…and yet every Mormon and Christian continues to sin now and then. So what does it mean?
It means that there are two natures inside of us once we trust Jesus Christ as our Savior. One nature is the flesh and the other is born of God (born again). These two natures, according to Paul, are always in conflict (Romans 7). The nature that is born of God cannot sin. The flesh nature, however, most certainly can sin. The key is love. Love or the lack of love is how we shift from focusing on one nature or the other.
If you love correctly, you will not sin for in love hangs all the law (Matthew 22:38-40). But when you don’t love, you will allow the sin nature to dominate in your life again—and we know that in the sin nature there is no eternal life! No one can get to heaven through their sin nature or the deeds of the flesh. We need the new nature that is born of God—born through faith in Jesus Christ (1 John 5:4)!
The Unpardonable Sin
In the Miracle of Forgiveness by Spencer W. Kimball, he writes, “Eternal life hangs in the balance awaiting the works of men. This process toward eternal life is a matter of achieving perfection. Living all the commandments guarantees total forgiveness of sins and assures one of exaltation through the perfection which comes by complying with the formula the Lord gave us….Being perfect means to triumph over sin. This is a mandate from the Lord. He is just and wise and kind. He would never require anything from his children which was not for their benefit and which was not attainable. Perfection therefore is an achievable goal.”
He says that perfection is an achievable goal, yet he goes on and states that if a person sins against the Holy Ghost and/or commits murder, he cannot ever achieve perfection. Therefore there is a point where it is not achievable. Here is what he says, “All sins but those excepted by the Lord—basically, the sin against the Holy Ghost, and murder—will be forgiven to those who totally, consistently, and continuously repent in a genuine and comprehensive transformation of life….This earth life is the time to repent. We cannot afford to take any chances of dying an enemy to God.”
He mentions here the sin against the Holy Ghost…the unpardonable sin. Here are the verses from the Bible:
“And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.”
- Matthew 12:31-32 (NIV)
Jesus spoke these words in response to an accusation made by the Pharisees. Envious of Jesus’ power to heal and cast out devils, they accused Jesus of casting out the devils by the power of Satan. Jesus responded with a dire warning about blasphemy of the Holy Ghost.
So exactly what is the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit?
To understand it, we need to examine exactly what it is that the Pharisees did.
- They wanted to discredit Jesus in the eyes of those following Him. In effect, they were trying to recapture their power base from Jesus. Jesus was stealing much of their influence, and they wanted it back (Mark 15:10).
- They knew that Jesus was doing these miracles in the power of the Holy Spirit. They knew He was true and taught truly (Mark 12:13-14, Luke 4:14). Yet they intentionally tried to deceive the people into believing that He was not.
- They attributed the work of the Holy Spirit to Satan (Matthew 12:24).
- They intentionally and deliberately did this even knowing full well it was wrong.
The blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is when you, knowing better, either attribute a work of the Holy Spirit to Satan or a work of Satan to the Holy Spirit. In order to do this, a person has to consciously reject Jesus Christ. Salvation is by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). If you have no faith, then it is impossible for you to be saved. We must believe Jesus Christ, who He is, and what He is in order to allow Him to save us. This is what the Pharisees were doing. They were deliberately rejecting Jesus Christ who was a work of the Holy Spirit.
“As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit.”
- Matthew 1:20 (NLT)
Jesus’ birth, ministry, and life were works of the Holy Spirit. To reject Jesus as the Messiah, as our Savior, as our only way to Heaven is unpardonable. You will not go to Heaven unless you trust Jesus as your Savior. The Pharisees were denying this by their words and actions. How can they find forgiveness if they do not want forgiveness? If they would turn to Jesus, accept Him as their Savior—as the Messiah—then they too can find salvation and forgiveness.
The scary part about all this to me is that Mormon doctrine seems to reject Christ as our means to Heaven and focuses on our works to get to Heaven. How is this different than what the Pharisees were doing? The Pharisees wanted control over people’s lives. They didn’t like Jesus’ teaching and the simple trust of Him to attain salvation. Mormon Doctrine seems to be very much in line with Pharisee Doctrine.
God’s Forgiveness Versus Man’s Works
Mormon Doctrine teaches that forgiveness must be earned. They believe that you must prove your worthiness for salvation and forgiveness. Christians, on the other hand, believe that forgiveness is something that you get when you seek it. It is freely given to those that want it.
Here are some of the Mormon views from Kimball’s Miracle of Forgiveness:
1. “The reason is forthrightly stated by Nephi, ‘. . . There cannot any unclean thing enter into the kingdom of God . . .’ (1 Ne. 15:34). And again, ‘. . . no unclean thing can dwell with God . . .’ (1 Ne. 10:21). To the prophets the term unclean in this context means what it means to God. To man the word may be relative in meaning—one minute speck of dirt does not make a white shirt or dress unclean, for example. But to God who is perfection, cleanliness means moral and personal cleanliness. Less than that is, in one degree or another, uncleanliness and hence cannot dwell with God.”
2. “No one can repent on the cross, nor in prison, nor in custody. One must have the opportunity of committing wrong in order to be really repentant. The man in handcuffs, the prisoner in the penitentiary, the man as he drowns, or as he dies—such a man certainly cannot repent totally.”
3.“One of the most fallacious doctrines originated by Satan and propounded by man is that man is saved alone by the grace of God; that belief in Jesus Christ alone is all that is needed for salvation.”
This Mormon Doctrine takes salvation out of God’s hands and puts it in man’s hands. It takes any hope we have in a loving and forgiving God and places it in the ability of a man to do the proper works at the proper place and in the right time—an impossible task according to Scripture. Jesus did not come to judge or condemn the world (John 3:17). He came that, through Him, we all might be saved!
The Mormon view as expressed in Kimball’s Miracle of Forgiveness has left a lot of people bereft of hope. How can a person ever be that perfect? And for many, who look back on a life spent outside of God and indulging the flesh, they are left wondering how could they ever dig themselves out of such a deep pit? This brings on depression and a sense of helplessness.
Christians, on the other hand, do good—not to earn forgiveness, but because they are already forgiven! They get to go to Church. They get to pray. They get to be a blessing to others. They get to serve God with their life. They don’t have to. They get to. They do from a thankful and praiseful heart. They do good not to impress a holy God, but out of love for that Holy God. There is a huge difference. They continue to improve and deepen their repentance in the pursuit of a greater holiness. They know that the repentance that brings forgiveness is simply a brokenhearted cry for hatred of sin, love for God’s holiness, and trust in the God who ‘justifies the ungodly’ by faith apart from works (Romans 4:4-5). First John is written that “you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13).
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” - Ephesians 2:8-9
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” – John 5:24
 Ibid, pp. 206-207.