Is Mark 8:38 considered an unpardonable sin, or can it be forgiven?
At first glance you would think that this is an unpardonable sin. But if I’m correct about the unpardonable sin referring to the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, this is not an example of that. It’s not a good place to be, for Jesus to be ashamed of us, but it is not the unpardonable sin.
Jesus describes blasphemy of the Holy Spirit as the sin that will not be forgiven (Matthew 12:31). In the context, the religious leaders of Israel accused Jesus of casting out demons by the Prince of demons.
They attribute the work that God does by his Spirit in freeing people from demonic possession to the devil, instead of to the Spirit. This is the greatest offense anyone could ever give God, to give credit for his works to the devil.
This kind of act comes from a heart that is hardened and closed off to God. It is the final step in falling away from God. It is unforgivable because the person doesn’t seek forgiveness. They seek to give the devil credit for God.
God will not stand this type of blasphemy, speaking evil of his good and great works. When God does powerful and miraculous things in our world, even people who witness it and do not know him tend to attribute these works to God.
But the devil worshiper credits his false god instead of the God of the universe who made him. So this becomes the unpardonable sin. It’s one thing to question God’s existence or if he does these marvelous things, but it’s another thing to give the devil credit for what the Holy Spirit does.
This sin that cannot be forgiven is the unpardonable sin. Strangely, Jesus says that people can blaspheme him and still be forgiven (Matthew 12:32). But it isn’t permitted to blaspheme, or speak evil of, the Holy Spirit.
The example in Mark 8:38 is of those who are ashamed of Jesus, the Son of Man. But it doesn’t say anything about the Holy Spirit in this verse. Therefore, this is an example of sins that can be forgiven against the Son of Man.