Q What are your thoughts on the blasphemy of the Spirit? Is this something that can happen today?
by Pastor Matt Ritchey, Managing Editor
Estimated Time to Read: 5 Minutes
ANSWER: The phrase “blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost” appears in Matthew 12:31, Mark 3:29, and Luke 12:10. Unfortunately, many religious teachers ignore the context of these passages and apply this statement to all kinds of situations to keep their congregants in fear of somehow losing their salvation. Meanwhile, the context of these passages is of utmost importance.
Jesus’ Earthly Ministry
First, each of the passages occurs during Jesus’ earthly ministry. Jesus was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matt. 15:24) in order to confirm the promises given unto their fathers (Rom. 15:8). Dispensationally, Jesus Christ came under the Covenant program that God made with Israel. Any non-Israelite (Gentile, Samaritan) would need to arrive at eternal life by arranging themselves under Israel’s covenant (Exod. 12:48; John 4:22; Acts 2:10).
Jesus Christ came to progress that Covenant program by serving as the Messiah Who would transition the nation from the Old Covenant (Mosaic Law) to the New Covenant (Heb. 12:24). The Holy Spirit plays an important part in applying the benefits of the New Covenant. It was the Holy Spirit who would evidence, convict, and rebirth (John 16:7-11). To reject Him would be to reject eternal life.
The covenant required an initial recognition of God’s working (through Spiritual evidence such as tongues, healings, revelations, etc.), repentance of national sins (I Kings 8:23, 33-40, 44-50), turning to the Messiah (John 1:12; 3:36; 5:40; 6:35-37; 7:37; 14:6;), and persisting in following Him until His Second Coming (Matt. 10:22; Heb. 3:14; James 1:12; I Pet. 1:5-9; II Pet. 2:20-21; Rev. 2:10; 3:10). In order to enter the land, the individual would have to place their faith in the Sent One to accomplish all that God covenanted with the nation. To reject the working of God through the Holy Spirit meant they would not enter into the Kingdom.
Second, Matthew 12 and Mark 3 have similar (if not the same) contexts; that is, the danger of attributing the work of God to the Devil. To do so meant rejecting the offer of salvation. Using the Matthew 12 account, the Pharisees, having decided they needed to rid themselves of Jesus (v. 14), saw their opportunity after Jesus healed a demon possessed man (v. 22). The Pharisees attributed Jesus’ ability to cast out demons to Satan (v. 24), thereby, blaspheming the Holy Spirit Who was actually the cause of the miracle.
Jesus responds by, first, stating the absurdity of their claim (vs. 25-27) and, second, announcing what was really happening: the Spirit of God was verifying the promised, prophesied Kingdom through the Jesus Christ (vs. 28, 30). Then, we have our statement: “All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men” (v. 31). And, in verse 32, Jesus states that they could deny His claims, but they could not deny the evidence done by the Holy Spirit.
So, then, the warning against “blaspheming against the Holy Spirit” has to do with denying God’s working through the verification of the Holy Spirit. If they continued to attribute the Spirit’s work through Jesus (and through His apostles after His ascension) to Satan, they were choosing to deny God and would not enter into the Kingdom.
Finally, the context of Luke 12 is Jesus warning His followers against the untruths of the Pharisees. They should not fear them more than their Christ. The consequences of turning from Christ were eternal, whereas the results of rejecting the ungodly Jewish leaders was temporary.
Luke 12 makes it clear that not acknowledging the claims of Jesus Christ and rejecting the evidence of the Holy Spirit were really one and the same (vs. 8-10) with one vital difference: the nation could initially reject the Son of Man (and they would by calling for His crucifixion) but not the powerful work of the Holy Spirit after the Son’s ascension (early Acts and Revelation). Jesus on the cross cried out, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34), but the Holy Spirit would make God’s work undeniable, and to deny the Spirit’s work (blaspheming) would equal eternal rejection of the offer of eternal life by God with the Son.
The blasphemy of the Holy Spirit really has a direct link to the covenant nature of God working with the nation of Israel. For a religious leader today to use this warning to keep people in fearful rejection to a church or a religion is a gross misunderstanding of Scripture and an abuse of the grace God is offering today.
The True Believer is Sealed
Today, in this Dispensation of Grace under which we live, Israel and her covenant program has been temporarily set aside as God offers mercy to all regardless of one’s lineage or nation (Rom. 11:32). Salvation today comes by an individual’s faith alone in the finished work of Jesus Christ (Rom. 3:22-26; Eph. 2:8-9). When a person trusts in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ to save them, their salvation is complete (Col. 2:10a); they are saved eternally (Eph. 1:13-14); nothing can ever separate them from God again (Rom. 8:35-39).
It is impossible for a believer to blaspheme against the Holy Ghost in the way it is used in the Gospel accounts. The only loose application we could make with this phrase today is when someone rejects salvation offered through the Grace of God and faithfulness of the work of Jesus Christ. Paul mentions this person would have “fallen from grace” (Gal. 5:4); in other words, they have spurned the offer of salvation through God’s grace and are trying to earn salvation themselves by being righteous through the Law. This person, too, would be an unbeliever.
The true believer HAS the Holy Spirit indwelling him or her (Rom. 8:3-4, 11), and securely awaits and anticipates an eternal existence in Heaven where righteousness reigns (Rom. 8:16-18; Gal. 5:5).
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