What does it mean to “blaspheme against the Holy Spirit”?

Q. I would appreciate your teachings on “whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven.” Thank you.

Please see this post for an explanation of that statement:

Have I committed the unpardonable sin?

In that post I say, among other things, “The ‘unpardonable sin’ that Jesus talks about (as recorded in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke)”—also described as “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit”—is “the act of attributing the work of the Holy Spirit to Satan. The reason this sin ‘can’t be forgiven’ is not because the person has done something so bad that it’s beyond the reach of God’s forgiveness. The Bible stresses that Jesus’ death on the cross is sufficient for the forgiveness of any and all sins that any human being might commit. Rather, if we attribute the work of the Holy Spirit to Satan, then this will make us resist the work of the Holy Spirit, and His gracious influences will not be able to bring us to repentance and salvation. In other words, Jesus isn’t saying that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. He’s saying that it can not be forgiven, because it separates us from the very influence that’s meant to lead us to forgiveness.”

That is, the statement is descriptive, not prescriptive. It’s describing the position that people put themselves in when they try to dismiss Jesus and his teachings by saying that they come from an evil source. It’s not saying that God will permanently take the attitude of “no forgiveness” towards someone who happens to say or think a certain thing. I hope this is helpful; please see the rest of the post for a fuller discussion.

Author: Christopher R Smith

The Rev. Dr. Christopher R. Smith is an an ordained minister, a writer, and a biblical scholar. He was active in parish and student ministry for twenty-five years. He was a consulting editor to the International Bible Society (now Biblica) for The Books of the Bible, an edition of the New International Version (NIV) that presents the biblical books according to their natural literary outlines, without chapters and verses. His Understanding the Books of the Bible study guide series is keyed to this format. He was also a consultant to Tyndale House for the Immerse Bible, an edition of the New Living Translation (NLT) that similarly presents the Scriptures in their natural literary forms, without chapters and verses or section headings. He has a B.A. from Harvard in English and American Literature and Language, a Master of Arts in Theological Studies from Gordon-Conwell, and a Ph.D. in the History of Christian Life and Thought, with a minor concentration in Bible, from Boston College, in the joint program with Andover Newton Theological School.

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