Question: What is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit? And what does it look like?
Many Christians secretly wonder if they may have committed the unforgivable sin of blaspheming against the Holy Spirit. Here’s the good news: the very fact that you are worried about it at all shows you have not committed the act.
The question comes from this passage:
Matt. 12:31-32 And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come (see Mark 3:28, 29; Luke 12:10)
Answering this question requires an understanding of the word “blasphemy,” and an understanding of the context in which Jesus made the statement.
Our English word “blasphemy” translates two different Greek words: “blasphemeo, blas-fay-meh´-o,” which means “to vilify… defame, rail on, revile, speak evil;”[i] and the word “kataraomai, kat-ar-ah´-om-ahee,”which means “to execrate.”[ii] “Execrate” means to loathe or despise greatly.
When God declares in Isaiah, “…all day long my name is constantly blasphemed” (Is. 52:5), He is saying that His name is mocked and used in evil ways. In the book of Revelation blasphemy is described as a form of slander:
Rev. 13:6 He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven.
And when Paul recalls the days when he tried to get believers to renounce the name of Jesus as Lord, he refers to himself as a blasphemer (1 Tim. 1:13) who tried to make believers speak evil of the name of Jesus (Acts 26:11).
Matthew, Mark and Luke each record Jesus teaching about blaspheming the Holy Spirit. In Matthew Jesus describes “blasphemy” as “speaking against” the Holy Spirit and teaches that that action is unforgivable, unlike every other form of blasphemy.
The context shows that Jesus was dealing with a very specific problem. Religious leaders accused Jesus of having an “unclean spirit” when healing great numbers of people, attributing the work of the Holy Spirit to Satan (Mk. 3:30-32). In Luke 12:8-10 (please read) Jesus warns His disciples that they will be forced to account for their faith, and the Holy Spirit will enable them to give an appropriate defense.
The context in Luke is clear: persecuted believers have the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit to keep them faithful to Jesus. If, instead, they refuse the Spirit’s help, speak against the Spirit as if the Holy Spirit were demonic, and publicly disown Jesus, then an unforgivable sin has been committed. It is unforgivable because such a person has already gone beyond the point of repentance. It is not that God is unwilling to forgive, but that the person who has “fallen away,” in the words of Hebrews 6:4-6 (see Biblegems #123), is no longer capable of repentance. But for those who repent, mercy and grace are yours (1 John 1:9).
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