Sin Q&A

The subject of sin raises lots of questions. We can’t answer them all in the space of one issue of Primer, so we fire some FAQs at theologian John Frame and get some short sharp answers.


John Frame is J. D. Trimble Prof. of Systematic Theology and Philosophy at Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, FL. He has authored many books, including Systematic Theology and A History of Western Philosophy and Theology.

Ideas for further thought and discussion

One of the questions people most often ask is about the sin against the Holy Spirit. John gives a good short answer in the article. For a longer answer, try this from Herman Bavinck:

“The sin against the Holy Spirit has to consist in a conscious, deliberate, intentional blasphemy of the – clearly recognised yet hatefully misattributed to the devil – revelation of God’s grace in Christ by the Holy Spirit. The blasphemy against the Holy Spirit therefore, does not simply consist in unbelief, nor in resisting and grieving the Holy Spirit…

It consists in a conscious and deliberate attribution of what has been clearly perceived as God’s work to the influence and activity of Satan, a defiant declaration that the Holy Spirit is the spirit from the abyss, that the truth is a lie, that Christ is Satan himself.

Aside from in the Gospels, there is nowhere in Scripture any direct mention of this sin. But this act of blaspheming the Holy Spirit can be committed in various circumstances… In 1 John 5:16, we find a testimony to the effect that there is a sin that in virtue of its very nature necessarily leads to death without conversion and for which John does not say, that is, does not command, that one should pray. Such prayer, if not impermissible, is nonetheless fruitless. In the context of John’s letter as a whole, it is probable he was thinking of a firm and deliberate denial of the Christ as the incarnate Son of God. Thus, in both these passages we are dealing with sins that leave a person completely hardened and are therefore inherently unpardonable. Factually and materially they coincide with the sin of blaspheming against the Holy Spirit.”

Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 3: Sin and Salvation in Christ, ed. John Bolt (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2003), 155-157.