Clarence L. Haynes Jr.
One of the sins mentioned in Scripture that can strike fear into the hearts of people is the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. When Jesus talked about this, the words he used were indeed frightening:
“And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but 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” (Matthew 12:31-32).
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What Does "Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit" Mean?
These are truly sobering words which should not be taken lightly. However, I believe there are two important questions to ask regarding this topic.
1. What is the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit?
2. As a Christian do you need to worry about committing this sin?
Let’s answer these questions and learn more as we look into this very important topic.
In general, the word blasphemy according to Merriam-Webster means “the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for God.” Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is when you take the true work of the Holy Spirit and you speak evil of it, attributing his work to the devil. I don’t believe this is a one-time thing, but it is an ongoing rejection of the work of the Holy Spirit, of over and over again attributing his precious work to Satan himself. When Jesus addressed this topic, he was responding to what the Pharisees had actually done earlier in this chapter. Here is what happened:
“Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see. All the people were astonished and said, ‘Could this be the Son of David?’ But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, ‘It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons’” (Matthew 12:22-24).
The Pharisees by their words were denying the true work of the Holy Spirit. Even though Jesus was operating under the power of the Holy Spirit, the Pharisees were giving credit for his work to Beelzebub, which is another name for Satan. By doing this they were blaspheming the Holy Spirit.
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Is This Different Than Taking the Lord's Name in Vain or Swearing?
Though they can appear to be similar, there is a difference between taking the Lord’s name in vain and blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. To take the Lord’s name in vain is when you do not show proper reverence for who God is, which is similar to blasphemy.
The difference between the two lies in the heart and the will. Even though people who take the Lord’s name in vain often do so willingly, it is usually born out of their ignorance. Generally speaking, they have never had a true revelation of who God is. When someone has a true revelation of who God is, it becomes very difficult to take his name in vain, because they develop a deep reverence for him. Think of the centurion in Matthew 27 when Jesus died. The earthquake happened and he proclaimed “surely he was the son of God.” This revelation created the reverence.
The blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is different because it is not an act of ignorance, it is an act of willful defiance. You must choose to blaspheme, slander, and reject the work of the Holy Spirit. Remember the Pharisees we mentioned earlier. They saw the miraculous power of God at work because they saw the demon possessed boy completely healed. The demon was cast out and the boy who was blind and mute could now see and talk. There was no denying the power of God was on display.
In spite of that they willfully decided to attribute that work to Satan. This was not an act of ignorance, they knew exactly what they were doing. That’s why to blaspheme the Holy Spirit has to be an act of the will, not a passing ignorance. In other words, you can’t do it by accident; it is an ongoing choice.
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Why Is This Sin "Unforgivable"?
In Matthew 12 Jesus says that whoever commits this sin will not be forgiven. However, knowing that doesn’t really address the question of why this sin is unforgiveable? You could just say because Jesus said so but I think there is more to the answer.
To help you understand the why you must recognize how the Holy Spirit works in the heart of an unbeliever. The reason why I am focusing on the unbeliever is because I don’t believe a Christian or true believer can commit this sin, but more on that later. Let’s look at how the Holy Spirit works and you will understand why the person who commits this sin can never receive forgiveness.
According to John 16:8-9 one of the primary works of the Holy Spirit is to convict the world of sin. Here is what Jesus said:
“When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me.”
The “he” Jesus is referring to is the Holy Spirit. When a person does not know Jesus as Savior the primary work of the Holy Spirit in that person’s heart is to convict them of sin and point them to Christ with the hopes of them turning to Christ for salvation. John 6:44 says that no one comes to Christ unless the Father draws them. The Father draws them by the work of the Holy Spirit. If someone constantly rejects the Holy Spirit and speaks evil about him, attributing his work to Satan here is what is happening: they are rejecting the only one who can convict them of sin and move them towards repentance.
“There’s nothing done or said that can’t be forgiven. But if you deliberately persist in your slanders against God’s Spirit, you are repudiating the very One who forgives. If you reject the Son of Man out of some misunderstanding, the Holy Spirit can forgive you, but when you reject the Holy Spirit, you’re sawing off the branch on which you’re sitting, severing by your own perversity all connection with the One who forgives.”
Let me summarize this for you.
All sin can be forgiven. However, the key to forgiveness is repentance. The key to repentance is conviction. The source of conviction is the Holy Spirit. When a person blasphemes, slanders and rejects the true work of the Holy Spirit, they disconnect their source of conviction. When this happens, there is nothing or no one who will move that person to repentance and without repentance there can be no forgiveness. In essence, the reason why they won’t be forgiven is because they can never come to the place where they can ask for it, because they have rejected the Holy Spirit. They have cut themselves off from the one who can lead them to repentance. By the way the person who falls into this sin would probably not even know that they are beyond repentance and forgiveness.
Also remember this was not a sin limited to biblical times. This is still happening today. There are people in our world who are blaspheming the Holy Spirit. Whether they realize the severity of their actions and the consequences attached to them I don’t know, but unfortunately this still goes on.
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As a Christian Do You Need to Worry about Committing This Sin?
Here is good news. As a Christian, there are many sins you may fall victim to, in my opinion this is not one of them. Let me explain why you don’t have to worry about this. Jesus made a promise to all his disciples:
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever — the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you” (John 14:16-17).
When you gave your life to Christ, God gave you the Holy Spirit to live and dwell in your heart. This is a requirement to be a child of God. If the Spirit of God is living in your heart then the Spirit of God will not deny, slander, or attribute his work to Satan. Earlier when Jesus was confronting the Pharisees who attributed his work to Satan, Jesus said this:
“If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand?” (Matthew 12:26).
The same thing is true of the Holy Spirit, he is not divided against himself. He will not deny or blaspheme his own work and since he lives in you he will keep you from doing the same. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about committing this sin. I hope this puts your mind and heart at ease.
There will always be a healthy fear about the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit and there should be. However, if you are in Christ, you don’t have to be afraid. As grievous and dangerous as this sin is, as long as you remain connected to Christ you will be fine. Remember the Holy Spirit lives in you and he will keep you from falling into this sin.
So don’t worry about blaspheming, focus instead on building and growing your relationship with Christ as the Holy Spirit helps you to do that. If you do that you will never blaspheme the Holy Spirit.
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Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, author and co-founder of The Bible Study Club. He has spent more than 30 years serving the body of Christ in various capacities and has just released his first book, The Pursuit of Purpose. If you have ever struggled trying to find God’s will, this book will help you discover the different ways God leads you into his perfect will. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com.