What is ‘blasphemy against the Holy Spirit’ (Mark 3:28-29)? How is it unforgivable? Aren’t all sins, primarily, against the triune God and eternal? How is this one different?
Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is one confusing topic that has left many bewildered. Many believers wonder if they have committed such a sin in their lives. Simply put, to commit blasphemy is to say something that is outrightly false about God—or to attribute something to God that isn’t true about Him.
To understand what blasphemy against the Holy Spirit means, we must look at a parallel passage to the one in question. In Matthew 12:22-32, Jesus heals a demon-oppressed man who was also blind and mute. But those who brought the man to Jesus reacted with, “Can this be the Son of David?” (Vs. 23).
Few facts to consider in this scenario:
The question of the crowd, therefore, is set within the background of the fact that the Holy Spirit will descend upon the Messiah, who comes in the line of David, publicly commissioning Him to be the Saviour of the world. And this is evident in the indwelling and anointing of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus at His birth and baptism.
But even with the knowledge of the Scriptures, the Pharisees remark that “it is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this Man casts out demons” (Vs. 24).
In calling Jesus demon-possessed, they attributed His works to the devil—not to the Holy Spirit. By implication, they called the Holy Spirit the devil. By extension, they were attempting to say that Jesus is not the Messiah—that He is not the beloved Son of God and that He is not the Saviour of the world.
In calling Jesus demon-possessed, they attributed His works to the devil
Some things to note about the Pharisees’ remark:
Jesus mentions that all sins and blasphemy will be forgiven—even words spoken against the Son of Man (Vv. 31-32). It is because all of these sins are committed in ignorance. Paul recalls his pre-conversion days in this way: though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief (1 Timothy 1:13).
But we don’t see ignorance on the part of the Pharisees. They know what Jesus claims of Himself. They know that His works are that of the Spirit-filled Messiah. They didn’t deny the reality of the miracles. Yet, they chose to wrongly represent the Spirit in Jesus because they were deliberate in their unbelief.
We could say they had cause to do so. Jesus repeatedly challenged their superficial spirituality (Matthew 12:1-14). He challenged their unwillingness to believe the words of John the Baptist (ch. 11:16-19). He spoke against their practice of imposing heavy extra-biblical traditions on fellow Jesus (ch. 11:28-30). He called out their hypocritical acts of righteousness (ch. 6:1-18).
All that was beside the fact that they couldn’t accept His authority on earth to forgive sins (ch. 9:2-4), or His authority over the word—both of which the scribes and Pharisees lacked. And so, holding on to their own means of relating to God—relying on their own righteousness than on the Messiah’s work—they vehemently opposed Jesus and repeatedly displayed their rejection by misrepresenting Him.
Persistent, hard-hearted unbelief has no forgiveness
Before we answer that question, let’s reiterate the undeniable truths about Jesus:
Anyone who has heard and understood these Scriptural truths, yet deliberately misrepresents Jesus are guilty of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Here are a few ways this sin is committed today:
In summary, the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is committed by those who are adamant about misrepresenting Jesus Christ. Such persistent, hard-hearted unbelief has no forgiveness.
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