BLASPHEMING THE HOLY SPIRIT


ABApologetics.org

William Andrew Dillard

Okay, here is my question about the bible: In Matthew 12:30:32, it is stated by Jesus, “… anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come”. Is this because the heart is hardened and no repair can be made?
Also, another discussion came up around this when someone asked if these passages covered the Jews and their beliefs. I expressed a bit of knowledge that indeed the Jews believed in the spirit, but stopped at that point knowing the rejection of Christ is THE issue. However, then I recalled a Conversation with a former pastor whom once answered one of my questions about the Holy Spirit as it involved the American Indians and Irish pagans. He said both had believed in the Holy Spirit. Christ’s coming to us changed everything with respect to sacrifices of all sorts of bloody ways and so I THINK I understand, however…. Verse 32: “Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will beforgiven, …”
Sooooo, does this verse indeed forgive those who do not believe in Christ but do believe in the Holy Spirit? Deep stuff, huh?

MY ANSWER

Yes, indeed, it is deep stuff, but so very important that it be dealt with and understood as much as Bible study and submission to God will allow us to understand it. My answer will not be short, but hopefully it will be helpful. The concluding sentence of your inquiry hits at the heart of the matter as to who then may be saved? And by necessary extension, how?
Let me state the scope of salvation. Man is a threefold creature made in the similitude of his triune Creator. He is a reasoning intellect after the similitude of the Father; a spiritual entity after the similitude of the Holy Spirit; a physical reality after the similitude of the Son. When Adam failed in the Garden of Eden, sin invaded all three aspects of his being, and it became an intricate part of his species. Consequently, all three aspects of his being must be ultimately saved, and the Bible speaks to these different parts of man’s make-up both in terms of sin and salvation. If this concept were better understood, a lot of biblical mystery would immediately dissolve. This is very much an understanding germane to the topic at hand.
The beginning of any person’s salvation is the salvation of the spirit. In repentance and faith in God, man’s spirit is sealed by the Holy Spirit unto the day of redemption, Eph. 4:30. Although tied to a body and mind subject to sin, that saved spirit can no longer sin, I John 3:9, because it is cleansed and sealed by the Holy Spirit of God; hence, security of the believer. Beyond this experience, the saved person is given the opportunity to learn of God and His Word; to grow in knowledge and grace. This process is referred to as the salvation of the mind-life. The mind-life is referenced in the scriptures by the term “soul” Greek “psyche” which means “conscious life” as is resident in the intellect. While the mind is being saved (transformed) in discipleship, the salvation of the body cannot, and will not occur until the resurrection. At that point the total man will stand in total salvation and be like his glorious Savior.
Now, referencing man’s spirit, Spirit salvation has always been the same since Adam’s sin to the present time, and will be until the dissolution of the present heavens and earth. It is the salvation of the mind-life that is the main burden of the Bible, and to that end are the changing processes of various covenants. The provider of that salvation is Jesus and His finished work on the Cross of Golgotha. As it was not necessary for people in Old Testament times to know the name of Jesus in order to be saved, but was provided His salvation through faith; so it continues to be. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” I do have my doubts about any who would claim to possess the salvation provided by Jesus and at the same time reject the provided knowledge of Jesus. But I rest assured that nature itself bears witness day to day and night to night sufficient for all men in every generation to perceive the presence of their Creator and humble themselves before Him, Psalm 19:1-3. I do note that this thinking would not be universally accepted, but so be it. Now, with this much information as a platform from which to proceed, the scriptures under question are considered.

FIRST, there should be a consideration of Jesus’ words from the viewpoint of different translation of the scriptures. The KJV reads: He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad. 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.” Matthew 12:30-32
The next scripture reference of similar statements is Mark3:28-30. “Verily I say unto you, all sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: but he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation: because they said, He hath an unclean spirit.”
Finally, Luke 12:8-10 relate a kindred statement: “Also I say unto you, whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the son of man also confess before the angels of God; but he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God. And whosoever shall speak a work against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him, but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven.”
Most translations I have consulted vary little including The New International Version, The New American Standard Translation, The Amplified Bible, etc. In Matthew 12:30, Goodspeed in his American Translation states, “and anyone who does not join me in gathering, scatters.” The New Testament in Basic English says, “And he who does not take part with me in getting people together is driving them away.”
In Matthew 12:31, “Wherefore I say unto you….” Is rendered “which leads me to say this” in The Four Gospels by C. H. Rieu, and “For that reason I warned you” in the New Testament: A New Translation of Olaf M. Norlie.
In the last part of Matthew 12:32, “neither in this world, neither in the world to come” is rendered “neither in this age nor in the one being about to come” in the Greek text.
In Mark 3:29, “…but is in danger of eternal damnation” is rendered “but is guilty of an eternal sin” in The American Standard Version; “he has to answer for an enduring sin” in The Twentieth Century New Testament, and “but is guilty of an everlasting sin” in the Greek text.

SECOND, the heart of the matter should be considered from a word study viewpoint. The one word that presents difficulty in this statement is the word “blaspheme.” Literally translated it means “speak hurtfully.” The greatest hurt one may do to the Holy Spirit is to refuse its leading, and to use one’s influence to cause others to do the same. Jesus pleaded that though men would not believe Him, they should believe His works. John 10:38. In other places He said that past generations would arise and condemn that one because they would have repented if they had seen His works. So, seeing and believing the works is underscored. Now, the work of the Holy Spirit has always been to convict men of their lost condition, and to lead them to trust in God from the time of Adam’s sin, but the work of the Spirit in the New Testament age is to accompany the Lord’s Church as the Comforter/Teacher in the stead of Jesus, and to lead men to a state of spiritual maturity which will win for them a place of ruling with Christ in the age that is about to happen. This is accomplished by believing and following The Faith once delivered to the saints, as set forth in the New Testament.
THIRD, the context of these verses must also be considered. In Matthew Twelve, Jesus is talking to some Pharisees. In Mark, He is addressing some Scribes, and in Luke, He is talking to His disciples. Yet, in all three instances it is clear that what is being said is being said for the benefit of His disciples who were present. It is also important to bear in mind what Jesus did not say. He did not accuse these men of being lost sinners. They were in fact religious men who trusted in God, but were so steeped in generations of traditions that they were having great difficulty accepting the simple, but profoundly authoritative teachings of Jesus. Today, we like to say that God’s plan of salvation is profoundly simple, but that learning the truth of the scriptures is a slow process, and sometimes difficult. For that reason, it is harmonious to believe that saved people are in various manners of churches today, even though those churches may deny fundamental truths about God’s Word.

Now, in an attempt to summarize and apply the preceding, let it be stated that the specific work of the Holy Spirit that is peculiar to this age is the leading of saved men into a full knowledge of God’s New Testament truth. To deny those great truths, and hence to lead others to do the same is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. This is why Hebrews 10:26-27 says, “For if we sin (err in acknowledging and following the truth) willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.” Then the example of saved people dying who despised and ignored Moses’ law is given with a warning that it will be worse for those who ignore and deny the New Testament Faith.
Additionally, how will this affect those who are guilty of this sin? Perhaps Matthew 7:22 illustrates it best. “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast our devils: and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them I never knew (was never in an approving relationship with) you: depart from me ye that work iniquity (work religiously, but without regard to the rules of my word).” “In that day” is the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. It begins with a rapture and resurrection of the saved. These people are not lost people, but saved people who have worked fervently and religiously, but outside the guiding work of the Holy Spirit, and led others to do the same. They are expecting the reward of the saints to rule with Christ in the Millennium, but are denied that reward because of their works. “Though a man strive for mastery yet is he not crowned except he strive lawfully,” 2 Tim. 2:5. It is only if we identify and suffer with Him that we shall reign with Him, 2 Tim 2:12
It appears that the failure of these saved people to accept Holy Spirit leadership in the arena of the faith once delivered to the saints, refusing scriptural baptism and New Testament church fellowship, have blasphemed the Holy Spirit and are denied the reward of the saints in the Millennium. It further appears that this failure and sin will mark them in the heaven age as they apparently shall be among the nations of them that are saved that walk in the light of the New Jerusalem, but are denied a p lace in it that the saints shall enjoy. Note Revelation 21:24-2:15.
Finally, (have I said that already) in our day universalism has all but taken over in the realm of “Christianity” Spirit salvation is all that most preach and they err in teaching that spirit salvation will bring to one all the eternal reward that God has to give anyone. Such simply is not so!
It is common for most unstudied ministers to simply say that the sin of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit cannot be committed by saved people; that it is the sin of unbelief in Jesus as Savior which will in fact condemn one to an everlasting hellfire. How sad.
Hellfire is never under consideration in these verses. Obviously, if one does not trust in Jesus, he is eternally lost at death. But this warning is to the saved to submit to the work of the Holy Spirit in learning, living and sharing the truth of God in this age of grace. Eternal reward is based on the work of faith which can only be understood and accomplished as one is submissive to Holy Spirit leadership in the faith once delivered to the saints. To reject this is to blaspheme. And what other word, work, or force could possibly lead one to know and accept God’s truth if the Holy Spirit is rejected? NONE!
This answer is very long. It had to be. If one does not understand the background, then understanding the meaning of these passages of scripture is impossible. Deep stuff, huh? Indeed! I am sure that by the very nature of its depth that possibly more questions have arisen than have been answered. Feel free to follow up on points of further questioning. With this much done, future answers may not need to be nearly so long.

Could all of this have been summarized into a very few brief statements? Yes, if the background information were well understood. So, now, let’s see:

1. People can be saved without an historical knowledge of Jesus, even though all salvation is provided of God on the basis of the finished work of Jesus.
2. What is the work of the Holy Spirit as a stand-in for Jesus in this age? In addition of leading men to spirit salvation, as always, it is to support, teach, and facilitate belief in the New Testament fully.
3. What happens if men, even saved men deny New Testament teachings and incorporate their own distorted views? They blaspheme the Holy Spirit.
4. Will that be forgiven them? No! Once life is lived in this world, it is what we have made it, and there will be loss of reward and difference in people throughout eternity.
5. So, who commits the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit? Lost men, but they are hell bound anyway. Saved men who will not yield to the harmonious teachings of the New Testament.
6. Will they then go to hell? No, not if they have ever been saved. But they will suffer loss, even as described in I Cor. 3, “saved yet so as by fire.”

Now how simple is that?!

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