What is the Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit? Could I have committed the Unpardonable Sin?
When I was a teenager, at one point, I began to strongly struggle with the fear that I had committed the unforgivable sin of the “Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.” Without a true desire in my heart, my mind questioned, “What if I just say quietly that the Holy Spirit is ________ (a profanity),” does that mean I will never be forgiven? After reading the scripture and hearing a sermon about it, without an explanation and teaching of what that sin was, I sincerely believed I had blasphemed and there would be no more salvation for me. When I heard the truth later on, it brought a lot of freedom and joy into my heart.
3 SCRIPTURES that mention the “Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit”
Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. 23 And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” 24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.” 25 Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. 26 And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? 27 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. 28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29 Or how can someone enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house. 30 Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. 31 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.
Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— for they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.”
And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God. And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.
- The scriptures about the Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit are significant because 3 of the Gospel writers (Mathew, Mark and Luke) mention it. It is not something to take lightheartedly.
- There IS an unforgiveable sin. And it wont be forgiven in this age, and in age to come.
- Historically, there have been 2 prevailing views of what it means: rejecting the conviction of the Holy Spirit, of publicly attributing the work of the Holy Spirit to Satan
HISTORICAL THEOLOGIANS/DOCUMENTS speaking about the Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit
- Didache: “Also, do not test or evaluate any prophet who speaks in the spirit, for every sin will be forgiven, but this sin will not be forgiven.
- Irenaeus (c. 130–c. 200) seems to connect the sin with a denial of the gift of prophecy.
- Athanasius, “the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is not a sin against the third person of the Trinity but a “blasphemous attack on the Divine power and nature of Christ,” including a denial of his deity.
- Jerome (c. 345–420) “It is obvious then, that this sin involves blasphemy, calling one Beelzebub for his actions, whose virtues prove him to be God.
- Augustine (354–430) reasons that many people who blaspheme the Holy Spirit, in the sense of making false, improper, or sacrilegious statements about his person or work, later come to be forgiven and become part of the church, so obviously this cannot be what the Lord had reference to in Matthew 12:32. Thus the blasphemy against the Spirit in Matthew 12:32 must be a special kind of blasphemy. And since all sins are forgiven when one receives the gift of the Holy Spirit in salvation, the blasphemy against the Spirit for which there is no forgiveness must be impenitence, an unwillingness to repent and be forgiven. However, because one may still repent as long as he still lives, the blasphemy against the Spirit may be more properly defined as impenitence persisted in to the end of one’s life.
- Martin Luther’s view: in reply to Zwingli and Oecolampadius concerning the Lord’s Supper, Luther suggests that their refusal to accept his view of the real presence of Christ in the elements was the sin against the Holy Spirit… But in general Luther speaks of this sin as the “Resistance against the mercy of God is the only unpardonable sin.
- John Calvin: I say, therefore, that he sins against the Holy Spirit who, while so constrained by the power of divine truth that he cannot plead ignorance, yet deliberately resists, and that merely for the sake of resisting.” He strongly believed this sin cannot be committed by believers.
- Jacob Arminius: blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is “the rejection and refusing of Jesus Christ through determined malice and hatred against Christ”. The reason the sin is unpardonable is because those who commit it do not repent, and the reason they do not repent is because the sin is so heinous to God that he withholds the divine grace necessary for them to repent. Arminius differed with Calvin in believing that the sin could be committed by believers, a conclusion he reached through his interpretation of Hebrews 6:4-6
- John Wesley “blaspheme against the Holy Spirit by declaring that the works of Jesus were the works of the Evil one.”
4 MODERN VIEWS OF THE BLASPHEMY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
- Denial of the sin altogether, saying those words were unauthentic to Christ.
- Unrepentance until death (Augustine’s view)
- A sin that could be committed during Jesus’ day only
- An unpardonable sin that can be committed during one’s life today (most believe this). There is a debate whether or not a Christian can do it.
- The emphasis of the sin is upon one’s rejection of the clear truth of Scripture that has been made understandable through the work of the Spirit. Hebrews 6:4–6 and 1 John 5:16 refer to same sin.
- Possibly the most widely held theory as to the nature of the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit says that it is the deliberate labeling of good as evil.
- Some equate is as same sin as apostasy, the falling away or rejection of unregenerate people who at one time professed to be believers
- Blasphemy of Holy Spirit is not simply an utterance against the Holy Spirit. (this is what got me as a teenager). We must remember, “all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter.” (Mark 3:28). It is not a flippant act or slip of the tongue, but one that can be characterized as a positive speaking of the heart. Also, it is not a sin of ignorance but is done in full knowledge of the truth. It is an attempt to deny the undeniable. This sin is unpardonable because the person who commits it never seeks forgiveness. Instead, God permits such a person to remain in his own depravity.
- Why does Jesus emphasize the blasphemy of the “Holy Spirit,” and not the Father, Son, Church, or something else? Because Holy Spirit is what draws us to repentance. The Holy Spirit is what leads us to the Father. That is why it is unforgivable. We could never get back to the Father, if we blaspheme the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit stops the work of convicting and leading us to repentance.
- The unforgivable sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is an act of resistance which belittles the Holy Spirit so grievously that he withdraws for ever with his convicting power so that we are never able to repent and be forgiven.
- The fact that there is an unforgivable sin—that there comes a point in a life of sin after which the Holy Spirit will no longer grant repentance—that fact should drive us from sin with fear and trembling. None of us knows when our toying with sin will pass over into irrevocable hardness of heart.
- Many professing Christians today have such a sentimental view of God’s justice that they never feel terror and horror at the thought of being utterly forsaken by God because of their persistence in sin. They have the naïve notion that God’s patience has no end and that they can always return from any length and depth of sin, forgetting that there is a point of resistance which belittles the Holy Spirit so grievously that he withdraws forever with his convicting power, leaving them never able to repent and be forgiven.
- If you are worried if you have “blasphemed” the Holy Spirit, then you haven’t, because they Holy Spirit is still convicting you, calling you. There is a difference between resisting, quenching, grieving the Holy Spirit, and blaspheming the Holy Spirit. Though we all at one point or another resisted, quenched, or grieved the Holy Spirit, it is not to be equated with the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.
- The concept of a sinner seeking for God’s pardon and yet being refused that pardon is contrary to the whole tenor of Scripture. The person who commits this sin never finds forgiveness because he has no desire for forgiveness. God does not grant that person the grace necessary to repent.
- By simply looking at the context it is also apparent that the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is also related to saying that Jesus did His miracles by the power of the devil.
- The Pharisees – who knew that Jesus’ miracles validated His words and ministry (John 11:45-48) – were attempting to discredit Jesus’ Messiahship by saying that His works were by the devil and not by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, when the Pharisees accused Jesus of casting out demons by the power of Satan, they were blaspheming or close to blaspheming the Holy Spirit by whom Jesus performed His miracles.
The GOOD NEWS
Often in the church we encounter individuals who are disturbed over their lack of spiritual sensitivity or progress. Some may even doubt their salvation harboring a haunting suspicion that they have at one time committed the unpardonable sin. These individuals need to be carefully guided through the Scriptures to realize that their very concern is evidence that they have not committed the unpardonable sin. They need to note that those in the Gospels who committed this sin were persistent in their rejection of Christ, showed no remorse or repentance toward their sin of unbelief, and displayed no desire to understand the truth of Jesus’ words. They need to see what the Scriptures clearly teach: that genuine (godly) sorrow for sin will lead to repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10), that one who comes to Jesus in repentance and faith will never be cast aside (John 6:37), that “whoever calls upon the name of the Lord” will find salvation (Romans 10:9), and that the believer who confesses his/her sins has a faithful and just Savior who will provide forgiveness and spiritual cleansing (1 John 1:9). (Last paragraph quoted from http://ag.org/top/Beliefs/topics/gendoct_10_unpardonable.cfm)
Some other sources that I used and quoted for this blog are:
http://www.dbts.edu/journals/2004/Combs.pdf (A great journal on this subject. Though I don’t agree w/ some of the final conclusions of the author, this is a great resource for the history of theological thought on this subject).