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.

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

  1. Hi! I read your post! So I have a question. So does that mean that God can forgive someone who did this if they want forgiveness? I struggled with blasphemous thoughts and took advantage of them and said things towards the Holy Spirit in my head and regret them. Thank you for your time.

  2. My struggle here is that I want forgiveness of the thoughts that I’ve had. And I want my life in Christ back. But when I’ve sinned more lately I don’t really feel bad about my sin and that scares me. Like I know I’m wrong but I don’t feel God’s conviction. But I do want repentance and I do want to know that the Lord is present in my life. I want hope and grace and mercy.

  3. I am a backslider who knew that blasphemying against the Holy Spirit is an eternal sin. 5 years ago, I was on drugs and heard the devil’s voices while on high. Out of fear and anger that this was happening to me, I cursed the Holy Spirit and said Holy Spirit is an evil spirit and all sort of profanities towards Him. I did it while knowing it’s an eternal sin. That makes me worse than the Pharisees, who didnt know it was an eternal sin then. Since then, I have deeply regretted and repented.

    Now, while I have repented, the Bible seems to say that it’s beyond repentence. And I am out of reach of Jesus because He would reject me already. What should I do? Am I like Esau, unable to inherit the promise forever?

    1. As I say in this post, if you are concerned that you have committed a sin beyond repentance, then you have not committed it. Your sincere repentance shows that God has not rejected you. God has forgiven you. Rest in that assurance.

    2. Jesus said in John 6:37
      “Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and I will not reject anyone who comes to me,”
      I have suffered from this also but this verse gives me hope

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