Q: #390. What is Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit? I am afraid I blasphemed the Holy Spirit.
By: Steve Shirley
A: The sin called "Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit" is mentioned only one time in the Bible, and that was by Jesus. You can find it in 3 of the Gospels (Mt 12:31-32)(Mk 3:28-29)(Lk 12:10). The definition of what is called the "unforgiveable sin" is not made entirely clear, so as a result, there are several theories as to what it is. However, two theories basically prevail. The first one, which I will focus the majority of time on, is what I, as well as a majority of scholars, believe is the correct definition. Then, at the end, I will share the second theory.
First, let me share from the previous study, some definitions of "blasphemy." Our word blasphemy comes from the Greek word "blasphemia," which Strong's Concordance defines as "vilification (espec. against God)." Webster's Dictionary gives these definitions: "1a: the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for God b: the act of claiming the attributes of deity 2: irreverence toward something considered sacred or inviolable." Smith's Dictionary simply says: "speaking evil of God."
Now, moving on more specifically to "Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit," let's look at one of the places where it is mentioned. In (Mt 12:31-32), Jesus said, in speaking to the Pharisees, "Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. (32) And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.
What did the Pharisees do that prompted Jesus to say this? In the preceding verses (Mt 12:22-30), Jesus had healed a man who was "demon-possessed, blind and mute." After He did this, the Pharisees accused Jesus of healing him by the power of "Beelzebub, the ruler of demons" (Satan). Why was this "blasphemy of the Holy Spirit?" The Bible says in numerous places that while Jesus was in flesh on the Earth, He was empowered by the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:38)(Heb 9:14)(Lk 4:14,18)(Jn 3:34)(Acts 1:2)(Jn 1:32-34)(Isa 11:1). Therefore, it follows that when Jesus healed the man, it was through the power of the Holy Spirit. So, when the Pharisees said that Jesus healed the man through the power of Satan instead of the power of the Holy Spirit, they were attributing what the Holy Spirit had done to Satan. This was blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
In other places in the Gospels, the Pharisees "blasphemed" Jesus. He was blasphemed for "claiming to be God" (Jn 10:30-39), claiming to be the "Son of God" (Mt 26:63-64)(Mk 2:61-64), and for forgiving sins (Mt 9:2-8)(Mk 2:5-12)(Lk 5:20-26). He was blasphemed by ridicule before being crucified (Mt 27:27-31)()(Lk 22:63-65), and while He was on the cross (Mt 27:38-44)(Mk 15:29-32)(Lk 23:39). Jesus said this blasphemy could be forgiven (Mt 12:31-32)(Mk 3:28)(Lk 12:10). However, when they blasphemed the Holy Spirit, this could NOT be forgiven. Why? Why was this different?
I believe this was a salvation issue. We are saved through the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit convicts people of sin, and the need for Jesus (Jn 16:8-9). He testifies of Jesus (Jn 15:26). He glorifies Jesus (Jn 16:14). He inspired the Bible, which points to Jesus (2 Pet 1:20-21). He supernaturally impregnated Mary so that she gave birth to Jesus (Lk 1:35). In this moment, the Holy Spirit had worked an amazing miracle through Jesus. Afterwards, people were asking, "Could this be the Son of David?" (Mt 12:24). In other words, "could this be the Messiah we have been waiting for?" The people knew this miracle was from God, and the Pharisees did too (see: Jn 11:47-48, Acts 4:16-17, Jn 12:17-19). The miracle was drawing people to Jesus. However, instead of acknowledging this truth, the Pharisees, having full knowledge and light of what had occurred, willfully, pridefully, and purposefully lied about what they had witnessed. They rejected (or blasphemed) the work of the Holy Spirit that would lead them to salvation in Jesus.
I believe that two places in Hebrews speak to this sin.
(Heb 6:4-6) For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, (5) And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, (6) If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.
*** Note: Applying this to our topic, the Pharisees had "tasted" the heavenly gift and were "partakers of the Holy Ghost," but they refused to accept it. In doing so, they closed the door to the only way to salvation; acceptance of the Messiah through the conviction of the Holy Spirit.
(Heb 10:26) For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,
The same sin that the Pharisees committed can also be committed today. When a non-Christian rejects the conviction of the Holy Spirit; to recognize that one is a sinner, repent of sin, and accept Jesus Christ to pay for that sin, they are closing the door to salvation. This conviction by the Holy Spirit occurs a number of times over the course of a non-Christian's life. However, as a person rejects this conviction over and over, it gradually leads to a hardening of the heart. (This is why most people become Christians when young.) As the non-Christian gets older, one of two things generally happen: he will finally die in unbelief OR his heart will become so hardened later in life that he loses all desire to be saved and pardoned. There is evidence in the Scriptures that this hardening can occur before a person dies (Mt 12:32 - no forgiveness "in this age or in the age to come")(Also see: 1 Tim 4:2, Rom 1:18-29, Eph 4:17-19). If this happens, the Holy Spirit will no longer strive to bring that person to repentance. (However, since we cannot know a person's heart, we cannot know if or when a person has reached this state.)
Therefore, when we die in unbelief, we have done just what the Pharisees did; with full knowledge and light, we have willfully, pridefully, and purposefully rejected the truth about Jesus that was given to us by the Holy Spirit. We have "blasphemed the Holy Spirit."
In closing, let me add two things. First, there are those who believe that "blasphemy of the Holy Spirit" is in some way speaking evil of the Holy Spirit (or God). As we have seen from this study, this is not the case. Yes, we can blaspheme God (or the Holy Spirit) by speaking evil of Him, or by doing other things (see previous study). However, blaspheming the Holy Spirit in this way is not the "unforgiveable sin." Through Jesus, we can be forgiven of this kind blasphemy. We must turn to Him, confess our sin, and repent. Again, "blasphemy of the Holy Spirit" is rejecting the Spirit's conviction which leads to salvation.
Secondly, I would also like to share another view on what "blasphemy of the Holy Spirit" is. There are some who believe that this sin was specific to the time in which it occurred. In other words, it is impossible for this sin to be committed today. The Pharisees "directly" attributed the miracle of Jesus (through the Holy Spirit) to Beelzebub. They "directly" accused Jesus of having "an unclean spirit" (Mk 3:30). However, since Jesus is no longer in flesh on Earth, a person cannot "directly" confront Jesus in this way, and therefore, cannot commit this sin. In other words, we cannot attribute a miracle of the Holy Spirit, done through Jesus, to Satan because Jesus no longer is walking the Earth performing miracles.