This is a much controverted subject and one in which many have been misled. Because of the danger of the erroneous teaching it is a serious one. An unpardoned sin should not be mistaken for an unpardonable sin.
Alford says, “Sin against the Holy Ghost is not one sin but a state of sin. A willful determined opposition to the power of the Holy Spirit.” Lang says, “Open and full rebellion to conversion. Rebellion is opposition to ones better knowledge and conscience against the manifestations of the Holy Spirit.” Such conceptions, though coming from intelligent men, are biased by sectarianism and lack of sufficient study of the Divine Scheme of Redemption.
Paul says that where no law is, there is no transgression (Rom. 4:15). John says, “Sin is the transgression of the law” and “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law” (1 John 3:4). Hence where sin is, a law has been transgressed and offense comes to the maker of the law. A civil government can be offended. A temporal parent can be offended. Heavenly authority can be offended.
God decreed. Christ delivered. The Holy Spirit revealed. The Holy Spirit did not give commands, neither in the days of Christ nor since. His duty was to reveal and to confirm, and not to command; for in John 16:13, we read, “He shall not speak of himself but whatsoever he shall hear that shall he speak.” Even His directing of the apostles was from higher authority for Jesus says, “The servant is not greater than his Lord, neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him” (John 13:16; 15:20). The Holy Spirit was sent by God (John 14:25) and was to be sent in Christ’s name, by Christ’s authority, and He was not sent until after Christ received such authority (Matt. 28:18). The direct guidance as taught by some is unfounded for the Holy Spirit brought to the Apostles those commands previously given by Christ. God speaks through his Son, not the Holy Spirit (Heb. 1:1). If the Holy Spirit didn’t bring to the Apostles anything different, how can one expect a special revelation since the days of the apostles? If the Holy Spirit gave commands and the doctrine of direct Holy Spirit guidance was true, then a transgression of this guidance would be not only a sin, but an unpardonable sin. This is a dangerous faith and a dangerous position to take on the Sin against the Holy Spirit.
The Law of Moses could be transgressed. This was a sin against God. The command of God delivered by Christ could be rejected which was rebellion against God and Christ. To transgress a law given by God, delivered by Christ, and revealed by the Holy Spirit is complete rebellion against the Godhead from which there is no escape, neither in this world nor the world to come. God was patient with the rebellious Jew and sent his Son to plead with him. Even after the Son was rejected and His teachings ignored, God sent the Holy Spirit as the third member of the Godhead. This is the last member, hence the last agent. To reject the third member is final. The New Testament teaching is the Law of God. At the time this statement was made to the rebellious Jews (Luke 12: 10), it was the law of Christ. God was speaking through His Son. After the law was revealed on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit became involved and to reject it now is to reject all hopes of pardon.
To infer that a sin against the Holy Spirit is unpardonable is to intimate a greater crime in transgressing a law of the Holy Spirit than one given by God or Christ for such sins can be forgiven. This would be placing the Holy Spirit in supremacy in the Godhead. But Paul says we are Christ’s, and Christ God’s. The one thing not put under the feet of Christ is God. Now if the Holy Spirit is subject to the one that sent Him and Christ is subject to God and the Holy Spirit came by the authority of Christ, why should a sin against the Holy Spirit be a greater crime than a sin against either other member of the Godhead. God reserves the Omnipotence; even Christ is to deliver up the kingdom. The religious world professes to believe this but to accept the general idea of the sin against the Holy Spirit is to deny the omnipotence of God.
What then, must we conclude? The direct operation of the Holy Spirit is unscriptural. If it were true, a violation of such would be unpardonable, and to admit such rejects the omnipotence of God. God decreed, Christ delivered and the Holy Spirit revealed. We now have the revealed command in printed form, the New Testament. To reject this is to reject the Godhead bodily, hence no pardon in this world nor the world to come.