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Blasphemy in the Bible:
What is Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit?

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"Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men." (Matthew 12:31 WEB)

What is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit?

In order to understand the only unforgivable and eternal sin, we must first understand the biblical definition of blasphemy. Many equate blasphemy to insulting or cursing someone, or saying something untruthful or hypocritical. However, while the biblical definition of blasphemy does include words, it is also more than words.

First, let's see what the Bible says about verbal blasphemy.

Blasphemy by Word

Blasphemy with words is the most common understanding of blasphemy, and there is plenty of evidence in the Bible to support this concept that cursing or mocking God is blasphemy.

"Isaiah said to them, Thus shall you tell your master, Thus says Yahweh, Don't be afraid of the words that you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me." (2 Kings 19:6 WEB)

"Remember this, that the enemy has mocked you, Yahweh. Foolish people have blasphemed your name." (Psalms 74:18 WEB)

Furthermore, Jesus is accused of blasphemy for claiming to be God and claiming to forgive sins. In this case, Jesus' accusers are not claiming Jesus is cursing God, but rather they are claiming he is speaking something that is untruthful and contradictory of God's truth.

"We don't stone you for a good work, but for blasphemy: because you, being a man, make yourself God." (John 10:33 WEB)

"Why does this man speak blasphemies like that? Who can forgive sins but God alone?" (Mark 2:7 WEB)

"Jesus, seeing their faith, said to the paralytic, 'Son, cheer up! Your sins are forgiven you.' Behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, 'This man blasphemes.'" (Matthew 9:2-3 WEB)

Jesus of course contradicts his accusers in both instances, healing the paralyzed man in Mark 2 (same as Matthew 9) in order to prove that he has the authority to forgive sins.

Jesus is also accused of blasphemy when he claims to be the messiah. If Jesus was only a regular person, then such claims would, in fact, be blasphemy. Of course, Jesus never blasphemed.

"The high priest answered him, 'I adjure you by the living God, that you tell us whether you are the Christ, the Son of God.' Jesus said to him, 'You have said it. Nevertheless, I tell you, henceforth you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of the sky.' Then the high priest tore his clothing, saying, 'He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Behold, now you have heard his blasphemy.'" (Matthew 26:63-65 WEB)

Blasphemy is also used alongside the concept of opposition, and in reality a more accurate definition of blasphemy is "Opposing God" or "Defying God." In the case of blaspheming with words, it is opposing/defying God with our words by mocking him, cursing him, or contradicting his truth. As follows, blasphemy also includes opposing the gospel, which is God's truth of salvation.

When Paul tried to spread the gospels to the Jews in Macedonia, it says, "When they opposed him and blasphemed, he shook out his clothing and said to them, 'Your blood be on your own heads! I am clean. From now on, I will go to the Gentiles!'" (Acts 18:6 WEB)

Understanding that blasphemy is opposition to God gives a greater understanding of verses speaking of future blasphemy:

"He opened his mouth for blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tent, those who dwell in heaven." (Revelation 13:6 WEB)

Blasphemy by Action

While there is plenty of evidence to support verbal blasphemy, likewise there is plenty of evidence proving that blasphemy can be done without speaking a single word. When we oppose God with our actions, we are blaspheming.

Blasphemy is defying God:

"Whom have you defied and blasphemed? and against whom have you exalted your voice and lifted up your eyes on high? [even] against the Holy One of Israel." (2 Kings 19:22; Isaiah 37:23 WEB)

In Ezekiel, God plainly explains that Israel has blasphemed by breaking God's commandments and sinning.

"Therefore, son of man, speak to the house of Israel, and tell them, Thus says the Lord Yahweh: In this moreover have your fathers blasphemed me, in that they have committed a trespass against me." (Ezekiel 20:27 WEB)

By understanding that blasphemy is any form of opposition against God, including with actions, we can see that any act of sin, which by definition is defiance against God, is blasphemy.

Other translations use the word "unfaithful" in Ezekiel 20:27 instead of trespassing against God; however, "unfaithful" is what Israel was frequently called for not obeying God's commandments. For example:

"But like a woman unfaithful to her husband, so you, Israel, have been unfaithful to me,” declares the LORD." (Jeremiah 3:20 NIV)

"...and have not obeyed me,’ ” declares the LORD." (Jeremiah 3:13 NIV)

This connection between unfaithfulness and obedience to God's commandments is also made in 1 Chronicles:

"Saul died because he was unfaithful to the LORD; he did not keep the word of the LORD..." (1 Chronicles 10:13 NIV)

However, possibly the one passage that makes this truth the clearest is Numbers 15:30-31, which bluntly states:

"But anyone who sins defiantly, whether native-born or foreigner, blasphemes the LORD and must be cut off from the people of Israel. Because they have despised the LORD's word and broken his commands, they must surely be cut off; their guilt remains on them." (Numbers 15:30-31 NIV)

In Revelation, blaspheming is also connected to a failure to repent:

"Men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has the power over these plagues. They didn't repent and give him glory." (Revelation 16:9 WEB)

"...and they blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores. They didn't repent of their works." (Revelation 16:11 WEB)

Revelation 16:11 makes it clear that their blasphemy was failure to repent of their works. Specifically, it would be their evil works (sin).

The Bible is clear that blasphemy is any defiance against God, whether it be in word or action.

Blasphemy According to Paul

Paul also reveals that blasphemy can be done by both words and actions when he writes to Timothy. Paul explains that two individuals, Hymenaeus and Alexander, have "thrust away" "good conscience" and have blasphemed.

"...holding faith and a good conscience; which some having thrust away made a shipwreck concerning the faith; of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I delivered to Satan, that they might be taught not to blaspheme." (1 Timothy 1:19-20 WEB)

However, what specifically was their blasphemy? Paul speaks of Hymenaeus again in 2 Timothy, explaining that his blasphemy is teaching a false gospel and leading others away from the truth.

"But shun empty chatter, for they will proceed further in ungodliness, and their word will consume like gangrene, of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; men who have erred concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past, and overthrowing the faith of some." (2 Timothy 2:16-18 WEB)

Likewise, Paul speaks of Alexander again also in 2 Timothy, explaining that his blasphemy is also opposing the true gospel of Jesus Christ that Paul preaches.

"Alexander, the coppersmith, did much evil to me. The Lord will repay him according to his works, of whom you also must beware; for he greatly opposed our words." (2 Timothy 4:14-15 WEB)

While it is clear that these men "did much evil" to Paul, blaspheming through word and action, it is also clear how Paul feels about those who claim to be believers but have contradictory actions:

"They profess that they know God, but by their works they deny him..." (Titus 1:16 WEB)

Even if our words profess God, our actions can defy and deny him, causing us to blaspheme God with evil actions. Essentially, every time we sin, we are blaspheming God.

Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit of God

"Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men." (Matthew 12:31 WEB)

"Everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but those who blaspheme against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven." (Luke 12:10 WEB)

"Most assuredly I tell you, all their sins will be forgiven to the sons of men, and their blasphemies with which they may blaspheme; but whoever may blaspheme against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin." (Mark 3:28-29 WEB)

Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is an eternal sin and can never be forgiven. But what exactly is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit?

In the context of these verses, Jesus is responding to those who call the Holy Spirit an evil and unclean spirit – these men do not believe it is the Holy Spirit and therefore do not realize they are blaspheming. Jesus warns that blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is an eternal sin.

However, it does not appear that he is saying they have committed the sin, and therefore are damned eternally, but instead it appears he is warning them.

Is Jesus only speaking of what they have said, or is he speaking of the deeper issue of their unrepentance?

Stephen, speaking to the unrepentant Jews, says, "You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit! As your fathers did, so you do." (Acts 7:51 WEB)

While Stephen does not call it blasphemy, we can see that their resistance to the Holy Spirit is "blasphemy of the Holy Spirit."

The reason why this resistance to the Holy Spirit is an eternal sin is because of the role that the Holy Spirit fulfills in salvation:

"...who also sealed us, and gave us the down payment of the Spirit in our hearts." (2 Corinthians 1:22 WEB)

"...you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is a pledge of our inheritance, to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of his glory." (Ephesians 1:13-14 WEB)

The redeemed and saved are marked by the Holy Spirit, who dwells in them, so to resist the Holy Spirit is blasphemy that has the natural consequence of eternal damnation.

To clarify that this is what is meant by blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, we can consider the fact that the Holy Spirit is also often referred to as the Spirit of Christ.

"...the Spirit of Christ, which was in them..." (1 Peter 1:11 WEB)

The Spirit of God (Romans 8:11) and the Spirit of Christ (1 Peter 1:11) are both said to dwell in believers. Yet there is only one Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 4:4)

So if blasphemy of Jesus Christ is forgivable, but blasphemy of the Spirit of God is unforgivable, how can this be possible unless blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is defiance against God by refusing his Spirit through unwavering unrepentance?

The author of Hebrews has some interesting thoughts about this subject of unrepentance:

"For concerning those who were once enlightened and tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the age to come, and then fell away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance; seeing they crucify the Son of God for themselves again, and put him to open shame." (Hebrews 6:4-6 WEB)

"For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and a fierceness of fire which will devour the adversaries...How much worse punishment, do you think, will he be judged worthy of, who has trodden under foot the Son of God, and has counted the blood of the covenant with which he was sanctified an unholy thing, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?" (Hebrews 10:26-29 WEB)

"And has insulted the Spirit of grace?" or rather "And has blasphemed the Holy Spirit."

For those who wonder if they have ever blasphemed the Holy Spirit, you can rest assured you likely have not committed this eternal sin because Jesus says, "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up in the last day." (John 6:44 WEB)

If you feel drawn by the Father, and you have no desire to resist God's Spirit, then you are not guilty of the eternal sin - a natural consequence of persistent defiance against God's Spirit.

Verses of the Week

"They profess that they know God, but by their works they deny him..." (Titus 1:16 WEB)

"But anyone who sins defiantly, whether native-born or foreigner, blasphemes the LORD and must be cut off from the people of Israel. Because they have despised the LORD's word and broken his commands, they must surely be cut off; their guilt remains on them." (Numbers 15:30-31 NIV)

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