Is it wrong to say that a preacher isn't teaching the truth?



Like many, I have struggled with the issue of the unforgivable sin. I know you have addressed this already in other questions, and I just have a quick question. You mentioned that someone who commits the unforgiveable sin does so knowingly and purposely.

A little while ago, I had listened to a preacher condemning Billy Graham and saying he was bound for hell. I thought to myself "this person doesn't have the Holy Spirit." I had also thought that of the leader of the Westboro Baptist Church.

My fear is, I have attributed their work to something other than the Holy Spirit, which is what the Pharisees said of Jesus. I know I shouldn't have judged them regardless, and I've repented many times, but I feel I have done just what the Pharisees did. I'm sorry to ask you to bring this up again, but I am extremely depressed and feel my situation is a little different than others since it was not just a passing thought, but a deliberate sin.


There are several issues that I would like you to consider.

First, did you realize that "unforgivable" doesn't appear in the Bible? There are sins which haven't yet been forgiven. There are sins won't be forgiven because the person will not repent. But there is no sin which cannot be forgiven if the person turns from his sin. "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance" (II Peter 3:9).

The warning Jesus gave the Pharisees was that they were quickly reaching a point where they would not repent of their sin. They saw an unmistakable miracle. "Then one was brought to Him who was demon-possessed, blind and mute; and He healed him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw" (Matthew 12:22). No one contested the healing. Not even Jesus' enemies tried to claim that this was just a trick. Instead, they attacked the source of the miracle, claiming that Satan did it instead of God. When Jesus called it blasphemy he was stating that they purposely slandered the Holy Spirit, even though they knew that what they claimed could not have been true -- all because they hated Jesus. Jesus' warning was that if they were willing to distort the truth that much, there was nothing left to draw them back. It isn't that Jesus and the Father didn't want them back; the problem is that these people were getting to the point of not ever caring to come back.

Now, along with misunderstanding the nature of the problem Jesus was addressing, you also blended in another problem. You've convinced yourself that you aren't allowed to use your head. Too many people take "Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you" (Matthew 7:1-2) and decide that all judgements are wrong. But that is not the point Jesus is making. He is warning against condemning people for doing the same thing you are doing. If you understand it is wrong, then you should first clean up your own life before trying to correct another person's life. That is why these two verses are followed with "And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck from your eye'; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye" (Matthew 7:3-5).

What has happened is that you are now condemning yourself for doing what is commanded of all Christians: "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (I John 4:1). We are supposed to use our heads and when someone doesn't follow the teachings of God, say so. If you don't, then you would be supporting a falsehood. "When I say to the wicked, 'You shall surely die,' and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. Yet, if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul" (Ezekiel 3:18-19). You cannot follow the principle being taught here without making judgments about a person's actions.

Consider this: If a person teaches that baptism is unnecessary for salvation, despite all that is said about the purpose of baptism (eg. Romans 6:3-4; I Peter 3:21), and I don't say anything, am I supporting God or the false doctrine? You see, I have no problem pointing out that Fred Phelps and his followers are false teachers when they advocate the killing of soldiers or being thankful that people were murdered on 9/11. It is advocating murder which is condemned by God. I stand with God, so I condemn the false teachers. I'm certainly not going to give anyone the impression that these people are following the teachings of the Holy Spirit, to do so would be to defame the truth, and do the very thing you want to avoid -- attributing a false work to God.

Thank you for your response, it has been such a blessing and a weight off my shoulders. I have done some horrible things in the past, but I have truly repented and I'm learning to overcome my guilt as I continue to walk with Christ. Knowing that no sin is unforgivable if one is truly repentant is a great comfort to me.

If you ever want someone to talk to, I'm willing to listen.