Blasphemy Against The Holy Spirit

One of the more frequent questions to our “Bible Answer” radio program through the years has been about the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit – what is this sin?, and can it be forgiven?

Matthew 12:31-32 reads “Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.” By examining the context we see the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit here is a person attributing the power behind performing miracles to the Devil, when the power was really through the Holy Spirit (Matt 12:24).

Though nobody performs genuine miracles today (I Cor 13:8-10, Zech 13:1-2), it is still possible to commit the sin of Matt 12:31-32 today, because it is still very possible for a person today to read about the miracles in the New Testament that were performed by the power of the Holy Spirit, and correctly think they really happened, but believe and say they were done by the power of Satan.

Our text is saying every sin can be forgiven “but” (except) this one. Jesus’ death is assumed (Matt 26:28), and our repentance is assumed (Luke 13:3). So Matt 12:31-32 is saying the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit cannot be forgiven even if such a person repents. Notice the distinction Jesus makes between this sin and every other sin is not in our ability to repent of the sin, but the willingness of God to forgive this sin. Put another way: the passage is not saying it is impossible to repent of this sin; instead it is saying God won’t forgive this sin – even if repented of.

In normal conversation we know to accept the plain meaning of what is said unless something dictates otherwise. It should be the same when reading what the Bible has to say. Many people won’t accept the plain meaning of Matt 12:31-32 because it is a bitter pill to swallow. We should remember the example of Abraham being willing to sacrifice his son Isaac on the alter (Genesis 22). He didn’t reject the plain meaning of what God told him to do simply because it was the toughest pill that anybody has ever had to swallow.

Thankfully Matt 12:31-32 makes it clear there is only one unpardonable sin (I John 5:16). This text and passages like I John 1:7,9 prove God is willing to forgive all other sins.

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