THE BLASPHEMY AGAINST THE HOLY SPIRIT
Christ the Lord said, “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven men. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come” (Matthew 12:31-32).
G. C. Brewer, an excellent Bible student and a great gospel preacher, said there were four reasons why people wanted to study what is often referred to as “the sin against the Holy Spirit”: 1) some fear they have been guilty of it, 2) some because of curiosity, 3) some because they have a pet theory to advance concerning it, and 4) some so they can commit every other sin except this one!
It is worth noting that the Bible nowhere speaks of “the” sin against the Holy Spirit. The Bible, in fact, identifies several sins that one may commit against the Holy Spirit. One may lie to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3). One may resist the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:51). One may grieve the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30). One may do despite to or insult the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 10:29). But the specific sin against the Holy Spirit concerning which Jesus said one would never be forgiven is the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit!
A number of conjectures have been offered as to what constitutes the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. While all of these entail serious matters and can result in the loss of one’s soul, the following are all outside the context of Jesus’ statement and do not, in my judgment, constitute the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit:
- blasphemy in general (Matthew 12:31; I Timothy 1:13),
- murder (the murderers of Christ were forgiven when they repented and were baptized, Acts 2:36-41),
- adultery (I Corinthians 6:9-11),
- backsliding (Galatians 6:1; James 5:19-20),
- the state of total apostasy (Hebrews 6:4-6),
- “a sin unto death” (I John 5:16),
- failure to obey the gospel (II Thessalonians 1:6-9),
- rejection of God’s final offer to man in the Christian age.
I repeat: all of these are serious offenses and will result in the loss of one’s soul, but they do not, contextually, and therefore in my understanding of the matter, constitute “the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.”
Look at the passage (Matthew 12:31-32) in its context. Jesus had performed a miracle that could not be denied (vv. 22-23). The Pharisees (who sought to deny the credibility of Christ with the people) did not try to deny the miracle, but claimed that Jesus performed the miracle by the power of Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons (V. 24). Christ showed the utter fallacy of the Pharisees’ explanation. A house divided against itself, He said, cannot stand. If the devil is casting out devils, his house is divided and his kingdom cannot stand (Vv. 25-27; cf. Mark 3:26). He is smarter than that! Christ then declared by whom He did perform the miracle “by the Spirit of God” (the Holy Spirit) (V. 28). He then closed by pronouncing a terrible and irrevocable condemnation on anyone who would be so brazen as to attribute His divine power to Beelzebub (the devil) rather than to the Holy Spirit (Vv. 31-32).
Mark’s account of the matter corroborates the above contextual study and explanation. “Assuredly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they may utter; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation BECAUSE THEY SAID, ‘HE HAS AN UNCLEAN SPIRIT’ ” (emphasis mine, hf) (Mark 3:28-30).
The blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is a sin committed with the tongue. It is to attribute the power of Christ to Satan rather than to the Holy Spirit. Let us not complicate the subject by offering conjectures and contrived explanations that ignore the context in which the teaching is found.
Yes, if we refuse God’s final offer to man in the Christian dispensation, we will be lost. If we refuse to obey the gospel, we will be lost. If we apostatize from Christ and the faith of the gospel, we will be lost. If we commit “a sin leading to death,” we will be lost. But none of these, in my judgment, constitutes what Jesus spoke of when He warned of the terrible and unforgivable sin of blaspheming against the Holy Spirit. When we let the Bible explain itself, the matter becomes fairly easy to understand. And with other Bible subjects.
January 19, 2016