What does it mean to "blaspheme the Holy Spirit"? I overheard some people at church talking about "blasphemy of the Holy Spirit" and calling it the "unforgivable sin." I didn't think there was any such thing as a sin that God couldn't forgive! Do you think I might have committed this terrible sin without knowing it?
No. It's important to say this right up front because we can see that you have deep personal reasons for raising the question. You're anxious about your spiritual well-being. You have fears about your eternal destiny. You need a word of reassurance. We want to give it to you before saying anything else. If you're worried that you may have committed the sin of "blasphemy against the Holy Spirit," then it's obvious that you haven't. Allow us to explain.
It's important to pay close attention to the context of Jesus' statement about this "unpardonable sin." He was speaking specifically about the grumblings of the scribes and Pharisees. After witnessing the power of Christ displayed in the healing of a demon-possessed man, these religious leaders made comments like, "He has Beelzebub," or "By the ruler of the demons He casts out demons" (see Matthew 12:22-24; Mark 3:22).
In effect, the scribes and Pharisees were rejecting the grace of God revealed in Jesus Christ. They were rejecting it by attributing Jesus' works to the power of the devil. They weren't just doubting or even denying the truth. They were maliciously contradicting what they had witnessed with their own eyes. For selfish reasons of their own, they were pretending not to understand something they really did understand. The writer to the Hebrews might have been thinking of them when he spoke about those who have "trampled the Son of God underfoot … and insulted the Spirit of grace" (Hebrews 10:29). Their proud and high-minded attitude was exactly the opposite of yours.
The sin of "blaspheming the Holy Spirit," then, is essentially the sin of rejecting Christ.
What's more, the "unpardonable" nature of this sin has less to do with punishment than it does with the hardening effect of the sin itself. By persistently rejecting God's free gift of salvation in Jesus, the sinner sears his conscience and stiffens his neck. Eventually he gets to the place where genuine repentance is no longer possible. It would be fair to say that this stubborn and unrepentant attitude is the chief mark of true "blasphemy against the Holy Spirit." That's why we feel certain that people like you cannot possibly be guilty of this offense. If you're afraid that you may have offended God without realizing it, it's obvious that your heart is in the right place.
If you need additional help understanding these concepts, call us. Focus on the Family has a staff of counselors who would love to speak with you over the phone.
If a title is currently unavailable through Focus on the Family, we encourage you to use another retailer.
What Every Christian Ought to Know Day by Day: Essential Truths for Growing Your Faith
Christian Research Institute
Becoming a Christian