Prosperity Pete has an unhealthy obsession with the sin of unbelief. I’m almost convinced that he has a great affinity for it. He certainly treats it with a tremendous amount of respect. In his message I’m critiquing, he makes bold claims about the ‘power’ of our unbelief. First, let’s look at this statement just bursting at the seams with false claims:
Quote: “There is only one sin – unbelief. Everything else are lawless deeds. There is only one sin that cannot be forgiven – the sin of unbelief.”
Unbelief is a serious, grievous sin.
Unbelief is the only sin.
No. Not even close. 1 John 5:17 reads, “All wrongdoing is sin“. The apostle John earlier in the same epistle states, “sin is transgression of the law.” (3:4) Breaking God’s commands and doing evil of all kinds is sin. Unbelief, too, is sin. Not believing God certainly will lead one to transgress God’s laws, just as Adam and Eve chose to believe the serpent’s lie rather than God’s commands. Unbelief may be at the root of every sin committed, for our natural disposition believes the seductive whispers of sin rather than the promises of the written word of God and the voice of conscience. However, unbelief is not the sum total of all biblical sins. Nowhere in either the Old or New Testament can this claim be substantiated. Any want of conformity or transgression of God’s moral law is sin. Violating any of the Ten Commandments is a sin. If I look at a woman lustfully I’ve committed a sin. If I steal, lie or covet I’ve sinned.
In the book of James it is written, “but each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death“. (1:14-15)
What are these desires that conceives sin? Paul the apostle gives a definitive breakdown in chapter 5 of his epistle to the Galatians: “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh… Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (5:17-21)
All these works of the flesh Paul lists are sinful. They spring from lustful desires in the heart and grow into full blown acts of sin. Sins are many and varied. Scripture is replete with evidences contrary to Pete’s claim that unbelief is the only sin.
Pete also states lawless deeds are not sins. I have no idea where he pulled this beauty from and I’m better off for it, I’m sure. As I noted above, the bible plainly teaches that breaking the law of God is sin. I’ll pull a Ray Comfort here and ask this: If you break God’s laws, what does that make you? Umm… a sinner? Yes, that’s right! Give the man a cookie!
Want proof that sin = lawless deeds? Here you go:
“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.” (Rom 4:7-8)
A common ancient Jewish writing style is to emphasize a truth by repeating it only with different language. This style is called parallelism. Notice the parallel between ‘lawless deeds are forgiven’ and ‘sins are covered’. These two terms convey the same truth. Sins and lawless deeds aren’t separate categories of transgressions.
“…our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” (Titus 2:13-14)
The whole counsel of scripture teaches the fact that Christ died for our sins. E.g. “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,” (1 Cor 15:3) & also “O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption. And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.” (Psalm 130:7-8).
In the Titus passage we are redeemed from lawlessness. In the above passages we are redeemed from sin by Christ’s death. This clearly demonstrates that both terms run parallel. Sin and lawlessness are interchangeable terms.
Quote: “There is only one sin that cannot be forgiven – the sin of unbelief”
Unbelief cannot be forgiven.
Again, this is a statement that goes entirely too far. Let’s look at the scripture Prosperity Pete is alluding to:
Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come. (Matthew 12:31-32 ESV)
To put these verses into context Jesus had just healed a blind and mute demon-oppressed man. The Pharisees grumbled that he could only perform such signs by the power of the prince of demons. Jesus, knowing their thoughts responded that a divided kingdom cannot stand, meaning Satan does not cast out his own. He then added that if such a sign was performed by the Spirit of God it indicated the kingdom of God had come upon them. The ‘Therefore’ at the beginning of the above scripture points back to the fact that the Pharisees had spoken evil of the Holy Spirit by attributing his holy work to that of the demonic. Thus, blaspheming the Holy Spirit is the unforgivable sin. Unbelief, of course is what fuels the Pharisees to commit such a great evil, but unbelief in and of itself is not the unforgivable sin.
Think about it. If Pete’s statement be true then no man could ever be saved! Unbelief is the default setting of every human heart from birth. In order to come to salvation men must come to Christ in faith – an unwavering trust that in union with him we will have our sins wiped away. This resolute trust is the opposite of unbelief. A man must move from unbelief to faith in order to be justified in God’s sight. But this would not be possible if Pete’s proclamation is true – which, of course, it is not.
In my next post I will address the humdinger of all heresies as I refute the notion that our unbelief is greater than the power of God.
To be continued…