BLASPHEMY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
-A. Ralph Johnson
Mark 3:28 Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: 29 But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation: 30 Because they said, He hath an unclean spirit.
WHAT IS BLASPHEMY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT?
Blasphemy means to speak against, or to defame.
Matt 12:31 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. 32 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.
Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is not unbelief. The Pharisees conceded that Jesus was casting out demons. They were in danger of blaspheming by claiming this was by Beelzebub, prince of demons.
In a misguided zeal to put pressure on people to convert them, some have sought to use fear of never being forgiven, holding over them the threat of their rejection of Christ being blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Nothing in Scripture supports this, and it causes far more mischief than it helps.
Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is not testing or rejection of miraculous claims.
-1Thes. 5:21. Prove all things (in reference to spiritual gifts).
-1Jn. 4:1. Prove the spirits; because of many false prophets.
-Mt. 24:4, 11-13, 24-25. Take heed that no man deceive you.
-Mt. 7:21-27. Many will say, “Lord, Lord, We prophesied, cast out demons and did many wonderful works,” but He will say, “I NEVER knew you.”
-Rev. 2:2. Test those who claim to be apostles (cf. 2 Co. 12:12).
-2Thes. 2:3, 9-12. Do not be deceived by “wonders,” even in God's house.
-Rev. 13:13-14. False prophets will deceive the world with great signs.
-Rev. 16:14. Demons will work miracles.
-Deut. 13:1-3. Even if miracles come to pass, don’t follow those who are for other gods.
-2 Tim. 3:8. Jannes and Jambres imitated signs of Moses (Ex. 7:11, 22; 8:7, 18).
HOW DO WE KNOW WE HAVE NOT COMMITTED THE UNPARDONABLE SIN?
Sometimes people become afraid that they have sinned against the Holy Spirit (perhaps in frustration at their struggle with sin) and start having terrible thoughts in their minds against the Holy Spirit. The more they try to not think the thoughts, the more they think about them. It can become a terrifying experience, and often accompanies depression and severe mental problems.
I would first point out that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit seems to be a very uncommon sin. Because Jesus’ warning was against those who attributed HIS miracles to Bealzebub, prince of demons, some question whether it could be done today at all.
Even direct speaking against the Holy Spirit does not seem common. We hear all kinds of blasphemy against Christ and the Father but rarely do we hear similar things against the Holy Spirit. It seems that either people instinctively avoid it, or that God, to leave open their opportunity to repent, protects them from falling into it unless, like the Pharisees, they are willfully perverted.
For example, Paul says that he was a blasphemer and a persecutor against the name of Jesus yet Jesus called him to preach. (Acts 26:9-11; 1Tim. 1:12-13)
It is clear that what Jesus spoke of was willful speaking against the Holy Spirit. That is not something done in ignorance or some unwanted thought the devil puts in our mind to accuse us (Acts 5:3; Rev. 12:7). We are all tempted in many things. Jesus' illustration of temptation to commit fornication is an example of the distinction between temptation and sin of adultery as being when a man looks on a woman “...to lust after her..." (Matt. 5:28) Sin is not when temptation confronts us. "But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away by his own lust, and enticed" (James 1:14). What happens to us against our will is not sin, and certainly not unpardonable.
Many of us have struggled with the fear that we might have committed the unpardonable sin. The suggestions I give here have been helpful to me, and to others over the years of my ministry.
OVERCOMING FEAR OF FALLING
One of the most helpful things is to focus on the protective love of God for us as His children.
As a child of God, we have protection, and He can and will make you stand.
Romans 14:4 4 Who art thou that judgest the servant of another? to his own lord he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be made to stand; for the Lord hath power to make him stand.
God will not desert His children.
John 6:37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. 38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. 39 And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. 40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
So, if you want to do God’s will, that is a good indication you have not committed the unpardonable sin. If you had, God would not be moving on your heart.
It is through the Holy Spirit that we receive this love for God.
Rom 5:5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us.
If we had committed the sin against the Holy Spirit, we would not be loving God. We simply would not care. The fact that we love God is the very thing that causes so much anxiety at the possibility of being alienated from Him.
“It is God in you both to will and to work” (Philip 2:13).
Romans 5:5-10 has given me some of the greatest reassurance.
Rom 5:5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. 6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. 10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
Notice verses 9 and 10, especially. If God has justified us through the blood of His Son while we were enemies, how much more, being reconciled will He save us by his life! God has His Son invested in our salvation. If we want to be saved, He is going to see that we will be. Our desire to be saved is the evidence that God is working in us. "God gives the increase" (1Cor 3:1).
COMBATING DARK THOUGHTS
Now how do we combat these dark thoughts? Look at 1John 4:12-19.
1John 4:12 ...If we love one another, God dwells in us, and his love is perfected in us.
So, show love for others. Do good for others. Doing good does four things to give us reassurance. 1. It makes God's will a work within us and we become more like God. 2. God is pleased and our prayers are heard and answered (James 5:16). 3. We feel better because we know we are doing good. 4. Others will feel good towards us and will encourage us.
1John 4:13 Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. 15 Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. 16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. 17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. 19 We love him, because he first loved us.
Note that the fear that torments us is cast out by love. Satan is the "accuser of the brethren" (Rev. 12:10). One of his most powerful weapons is to create fear in us by accusing us of unfaithfulness. Since the sin against the Holy Spirit is unforgivable, that is one of the most fear-creating accusations he can make.
It is almost impossible to just say, "I won't think those thoughts" because the very effort to refuse to think them focuses on them. The way to stop thinking about something bad is to think about something good.
Philip 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. 9 Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.
Thus, one of the best antidotes to such fear is to increase one's focus on the love for God.
"Perfect love casts out fear." (1John 4:18)
"Love covers a multitude of sins." (1Peter 4:8)
When the devil starts his accusation, respond by praising the name of God. Pray over and over, saying "I Love you" to the Holy Spirit. Praise the Holy Spirit and thank Him for the word He gives (John 16:13; 2Pet 1:20-21) for His sealing us as the "earnest of our inheritance as God's own possession" (Eph 1:13-14), for His role in making us children of God (Rom 8:14-17; Gal. 4:6), for his intercession on our behalf (Rom 8:26-27), for the fruits He gives (Gal. 5:22-25). The more we praise God the more we drown out the devil's accusations.
Sing praise to God (Eph 5:19, James 5:13)
There is a neat chorus:
"Holy Spirit, I appreciate you.
Holy Spirit, I appreciate you.
You love us, and guide us,
and live right inside us,
Holy Spirit, I appreciate you."
Secondly, God says, "resist the devil and he will flee from you." (James 4:7)
When the thought came that if I thought something bad about the Holy Spirit, I might be blaspheming him, the more I tried to not think bad things, the stronger the thoughts came back. So, I turned and rebuked the devil. Every thought that came in against the Holy Spirit, I turned around and directed back as an attack at the devil. Amazingly, I received almost instant relief. The old liar beat a fast retreat. He simply did not like having those things dumped back on him!
Such struggles are not uncommon. In Romans 7:15-25 Paul speaks of his struggle with doing that which he would not, and not doing that which he would. His agonized cry is "Who shall deliver me...?" (7:24). That is the very cry that sometimes is torn from our lips in our struggle with sin. Then he declares, "I thank God, through Jesus Christ our Lord."
He continues in chapter 8:
Rom 8:1 declares that in Christ there is no condemnation.
Rom 8:2-17 shows how we become a child of God through the Spirit.
Rom 8:18-25 shows how that the whole creation is in travail, and that we also groan within ourselves, waiting for the redemption of our body.
Rom 8:26-27 reassures us that the Spirit makes intercessions for us with groanings that cannot be uttered.
Rom 8:28-33 reassures us that from the foundation of the world, God had a plan to save us. If He was willing to give His son, how can anything stand against us?
Rom 34-37 reassures us that Christ died for us and is at the right hand of God making intercession for us.
Rom 38-39 triumphantly proclaims:
38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
GETTING STARTED RIGHT
We must first, get right with God. If you aren’t right with God it won’t make any difference whether you have committed the sin against the Holy Spirit. Without Christ you are lost.
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ
Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
John 3:15 That whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believes on him is not condemned: but he that believes not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
John 6:37 37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
Repent of sin
Acts 3:19 19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;
Be baptized into Christ (immersed in water)
John 3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
Rom 6:3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: 6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 7 For he that is dead is freed from sin. 8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:
Acts 22:16 And now why do you wait? arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord. (cf. Rom 10:9-10)
1Pet 3:20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. 21 The like figure whereunto even baptism also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the appeal for a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:
Acts 8:35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. 36 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? 37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. 38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.
After being baptized into Christ we deal with sin by repenting and praying for forgiveness.
1John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Acts 8:22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you.
COPING WITH SATAN'S ATTACKS
Here are some practical things that can help to avoid or deal with the fear of committing the unpardonable sin.
1. Stay away from tempting situations (2Tim 2:22; 1Tim 6:11; 1Cor 6:18; 10:14; 15:33). Yielding to temptation in one area discourages and depresses, making one more vulnerable in other areas. Note the change in Adam and Eve’s feelings about their relationship with God when they fell into sin.
2. When you fail, get things right with God right away. Adam and Eve hid from God. Being away from God creates guilt, fear and depression. The longer we are away the more separated we feel and the harder it is to come back.
1John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
3. Find someone to confide in and pray with.
James 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
4. Pray for wisdom to deal with the problem (James 1:5).
5. Get plenty of rest. Failure to get proper rest can upset our physical well-being and bring depression. Consider whether you are sleeping properly. Sleep apnea may require help to get proper sleep to feel good. Jesus took time out to rest (Mark 6:31)
6. Avoid stressful situations. These upset the body and bring depression.
7. Eat healthy meals. Deficiencies in diet or allergic reactions to certain foods can result in emotional and physical difficulties.
8. Get a medical checkup. For example, diabetes and other medical ailments can cause depression and anxiety feelings. When we feel bad from one thing, we may incorrectly conclude that something else is the cause.
The doctor may be able to help by providing something to level anxiety feelings. Compulsive disorders are very real to many very fine people. Don't try to be your own doctor any more than your own lawyer. Stay on your medications. There are disorders that can overtake us. Wisdom says that we should get help when we don’t feel right.
When baptized into Christ we receive the Holy Spirit and protection from the devil. (Acts 2:38)
1Jn 4:4. Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
1 Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as man can bear: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation make also the way of escape, that ye may be able to endure it.
The Gospel provides the power to overcome Satan.
Romans 1:16 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
Hebrews 4:12 12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
2 Corinthians 10:5 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;