Pretty much since the moment I became a Christian, I’ve been trying to figure out what exactly it means to “blaspheme the Holy Spirit.” How does that happen?
A few days back, I was once again reading Matthew 12:22-32, which deals with this issue. Here’s the story so you have some context:
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. And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.” Knowing their thoughts, a he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can someoneenter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house. Whoever is not withme is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man l will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come (emphasis mine).
Jesus casts out a demon, and the people begin asking if He is the Messiah. The Pharisees say that Jesus performs miracles by the power of Satan, rather than by the power of God the Holy Spirit. Essentially, they say that he’s practicing witchcraft (something punishable by death according to Old Testament law).
I’ve read this story probably a couple dozen times at this point, but when I read it this time, it was like a light was turned on in a dark room. To blaspheme the Holy Spirit is to continually and stubbornly reject His work and testimony concerning the identity of Jesus. To reject His work as that of Satan’s, and to unrepentantly reject God and His commands is to blaspheme the Holy Spirit. And those who persistently & unrepentantly resist the Spirit and salvation through faith in Christ, will not be saved. A troubling thought, to be sure.
So, can a Christian blaspheme the Spirit?
The testimony of John Bunyan, author of The Pilgrim’s Progress, sheds some light on why this is so. [Read more...]