Certainly there are a number of views on what Jesus meant when he referred
to the “unforgivable sin” of blasphemy against the Spirit. Rather than
summarize the many points of view, please allow me to give my own best
understanding of what Jesus had in mind when he mentioned blaspheming
against the Spirit.

A general rule of interpreting written material in general and of
interpreting the Bible more specifically is to allow more clear passages
help one to interpret more difficult passages. In other words, when one is
faced with a passage for which it is difficult to reach an unambiguous
understanding, it is necessary to begin with parallel passages which have
a more clear understanding.

Using this methodology, let us consider two passages in Hebrews. The issue
at hand in Matthew 12:30-32 is access to forgiveness of sins. In Hebrews
6:4-8 we find the passage; “It is impossible fore those who have once been
enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the
Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the
powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to
repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all
over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. Land that drinks in the
rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom
it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns
and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it
will be burned.” Here we see that those who turn their back on Jesus
Christ after being saved (who have once been enlightened, who have tasted
the heavenly gift, who have shared the Holy Spirit), are crucifying Jesus
Christ all over again, and that for these people it is impossible for them
to be brought back into a saved position with God again. Implied in this
passage is that those who turn their back on their relationship with God
will lose their salvation. Stated specifically is that this is an
irreversible process. This sounds to me like an “unforgivable sin.”

Consider next a related passage in Hebrews. In Hebrews 10:26 one finds the
statement, “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the
knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful
expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies
of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the
testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a
man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot,
who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that
sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace” For we know him
who said, “It is mine to avenge, I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will
judge his people.” IT is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the
living God.” This passage provides further information concerning those
who turn their back on their salvation in deliberate and continual sin.
The phrase “trampled the Son of God underfoot” connects this passage with
Hebrews 6:4-8, while the description “insulted the Sprit of grace”
connects it with Matthew 12:30-32.

To bring these three passages together, it would appear that blaspheming
the Spirit refers to a saved follower of Jesus turning their back on Jesus
and his salvation through continuing, deliberate and unrepented sin. One
who does such a thing tramples on the blood of Jesus, insults the Holy
Spirit, crucifying the Son of God all over again. It should not surprise
us to learn that God’s attitude toward such a person is to remove his
Spirit from him or her. To use the terminology of Matthew 12:31,32, it
should not surprise us that God would at that point refuse any longer to
forgive this person of his or her sins.

To conclude, I would say that blaspheming against the Spirit refers to a
saved person turning their back on Jesus Christ and on his saving blood by
deliberately living in continued and unrepented sin. Whether or not Jesus
may have had some other specific sin in mind in his statement in Matthew
12:30-32, I cannot say.

John Oakes, PhD

Comments are closed.