When we have died repentance is no longer possible. Some people may reach that stage even before they have physically died. Judas Iscariot could not be forgiven, not because his was a more outrageous crime than anyone else’s, but because Judas believed that God could not forgive him, or even worse, did not want God to forgive him. He had irretrievably lost his previous love. King David did things that seem as bad, and yet despite all that wickedness he still loved God. David suffered the consequences of his sin, but was forgiven when he repented. God’s power to forgive is not limited, though we might limit God. David was one who returned after turning from God. If we have turned away from God, then the example of David gives us the knowledge that we can be forgiven.
An example of a sin that cannot be forgiven is of Pharisees who saw Jesus’ miracles and acknowledged the power, but said that it was an evil power:
Mat 12:24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.”
This was not the response of a genuine person. Jesus assessment was that their repentance was not possible:
Mat 12:31-32 Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. (32) 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.
Speaking particular words do not hold any magical power to limit God’s power to forgive. God’s power to forgive is not limited in this way. Non-forgiveness is not due to the nature of the crime, but the nature of the criminal. The Pharisee who was to become the apostle Paul committed crimes as bad as those of Judas, by Jesus’ estimation. He persecuted the Christians, including putting some of them to death. When Jesus confronted him on the road to Damascus Jesus said:
Acts 9:4 “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”
Judas had killed Jesus. Saul (the earlier name for Paul) had also persecuted Jesus, a crime as bad as that of Judas. Yet, unlike Judas, Saul had the ability to repent. It is not the nature of the crime that renders someone unforgiveable, but the nature of the criminal. If someone is yearning for God with the question; “Can I be forgiven?”, then the spark of love for God still lives in them. A sin that can be repented of can be forgiven. If we can love God then we can still repent and God will forgive us.