What Is Blasphemy Against The Spirit?
In the synoptic gospels, just after he had been accused of exorcising demons through the power of Beelzebub, Jesus warned against the sin against the Spirit, what he called an “eternal sin” (Mt. 12:31-32; Mk. 3:28-30; Lk. 12:10). All sins were forgivable except one—the sin against the Holy Spirit (12:30-32). Clearly, these passages say that there is a certain kind of offense against God that cannot be rectified. There is one further reference to this type of sin in 1 John 5:16-17, where John says it is useless to even pray for someone who has committed the “sin that leads to death.”
Neither in the gospels nor in 1 John is a definition given, but certain parameters seem clear enough. First, the sin unto death must be something that can be objectively identified, else there would be no way of recognizing it, and the comments of both Jesus and John would be inappropriate. Second, the sin unto death must involve a total rejection of God, for where there is an attitude to seek God, there is hope (Mk. 3:28; Jn. 6:37; 1 Jn. 1:9; Ro. 10:12-13). Finally, the sin unto death must be deliberate and not accidental. John explains that not all sin leads to death, and presumably he refers to sins arising from human weakness, and Jesus says much the same thing when he remarked that all other sins were forgivable. The sin that leads to death, therefore, must be something other than merely human weakness. Probably the best understanding is that it would be a deliberate rejection and defiance of God—an irreversible antagonism against God that rejects the very possibility of forgiveness and the grace of God as the ground of forgiveness. While much discussion has aimed at defining precisely what this sin is, the best solution is that it is closing one’s heart and mind to the work of God. To do so rejects the very source of forgiveness. Such an antagonistic stance seems to be deliberate, not accidental. This sin is not merely doubt or even unbelief, but in the gospels was an active attribution of a wonderful restoration to Satan. It is, in effect, to say that good is evil, a hardening against God that is irreversible. Slander against humans is forgivable, even slander against Jesus himself as a human is forgivable—but such slander against the Spirit of God which rejects God outright is not.
Pastor Dan LewisMarch 1, 2013