The Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit
I had one person, who was a Christian, come up to me recently and said that he was afraid that he'd committed the unpardonable sin. He was afraid that God would now send him to hell because he thought that the Bible teaches there is no hope for people like him who have committed this transgression. Well, I told him and I am telling you now, that if you have accepted the free gift of eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ, then you can never commit a sin that is unforgivable. The very fact that you were open to the Spirit's convicting you of sin and the need for a Savior proves that you didn't sin in such a way.
So just what is the unpardonable sin? Where do we even get such a concept? Let us look into this and see if we can answer these questions?
I. Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit
We get the idea of the unpardonable sin from the lips of Jesus himself. In Matthew 12:31 He says: "Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Holy Spirit shall not be forgiven." This leads us to another question. Just what is the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit? Basically it can be boiled down to one sentence. It is knowing the message that the Spirit shows us about Jesus Christ and rejecting it.
In order to understand all this, we need some context. This can be found in Matthew 12:22-32. Just before our Lord made the statement about this sin we see that a demon- possessed man who was blind and mute was brought to Jesus. Christ healed him and he could speak and see again. The crowds of people around were amazed. But the Pharisees were not impressed. They said: "This man casts out demons only by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons" (24). Jesus rightly replied to them that any kingdom that is divided against itself cannot stand. Why would Satan be working against himself and casting out demons?
The religious leaders rejected our Lord. They attributed the works of Jesus to demonic powers, when they actually were the evidence of the Holy Spirit working in the life of Christ. This demonstrated a hard heart of unrepentance on the part of these men that had grown so calloused to the Spirit's promptings in their lives that they refused to accept the clear evidence before them that showed that the Lord was the Anointed One, the Messiah of the Old Testament. It was more than the mere words that they said. They could have repented of their words, turned to the Lord Jesus and been forgiven. Even a Pharisee like Saul could be forgiven for speaking against Jesus and persecuting His followers. But it only happened when he was confronted by Christ, which lead him to repentance and acknowledgement of Jesus as Lord and Savior. (I Timothy 1:12,13). The difference between the Pharisees and Saul, (whose name was changed to Paul), was their lack of repentance when confronted with the truth.
II. The Holy Spirit's Work
Jesus said that the work of the Holy Spirit in the world included the work of conviction of sin. In John 16:8-11 he said this concerning the Spirit: "And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteous judgement; concerning sin because they do not believe in me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you will no longer see me; and concerning judgement because the ruler of this world has been judged."
Christ goes further in John 16 to say that the Spirit will guide us into all truth. And what truth will He be telling? The truth about Christ. Jesus tells his disciples: "...He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify me, for He will take of mine and disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are mine; therefore I said that He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you" (John 16:13-15).
So the Sprit's work includes convicting the world of sin and a need for a Savior. He then points them in the direction of the the Lord Jesus Christ. And when one hears the truth about Christ and rejects Him, he, like the Pharisees, is rejecting the convicting and enlightening work of the Spirit in his life. This is blaspheming the Holy Spirit, and is ultimately the only sin that can never be forgiven. By refusing to accept Christ, and His sacrifice on your behalf, it means that you reject God's only way to be forgiven of sin and have a relationship with Him for eternity. Those who continue to ignore the Spirit their entire life and don't receive Christ will one day be cast out of the presence of God forever into hell.
It is obvious from the context of Matthew 12 that a true Christian could never commit the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. They have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and so have responded in faith to the leading of the Spirit in their lives. But if you have heard the good news and you continue to reject it, then you must stop right now and ask Christ to save you from your sins. Don't continue to be hardened and calloused to the Spirit by rejecting His message to you. There is no greater decision one can make than to put your trust in Jesus Christ. Please respond in faith today.