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Blasphemy and the Holy Spirit

Blasphemy and the Holy Spirit - you occasionally hear of people who are in great distress because they fear that they have committed the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit and will never receive forgiveness. This comes from a misunderstanding of the character of God and His willingness to forgive. This page will include a discussion of blasphemy in general and also "the name of blasphemy" which is referred to in Revelation chapter 13.

"Blasphemy" has a few possible, but related meanings. One meaning of blasphemy is to claim to do what only God has the right to do:

"And when he saw their faith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee. And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?" (Luke 5:20-21)

In this case, Jesus forgave sins and the scribes and Pharisees rightly reasoned that for a mere man to forgive sins was blasphemy. However, they made the mistake of considering Jesus to be merely human when, as the divine Son of God, He actually had the right to forgive sins.

Blasphemy is also to make one's self to be God. In this passage Jesus identified Himself as being One with the Father:

"I and my Father are one. Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God." (John 10:30-33)

Of course, Jesus, being God, was not committing blasphemy but someone else claiming to be God would be guilty. Here are two examples:

"Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God." (2 Thess 2:4)
"... the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy." (Matt 26:63-65)

A person can also blaspheme God's name by boasting against God or the things of God:

"And thou (referring to the country of Edom) shalt know that I am the LORD, and that I have heard all thy blasphemies which thou hast spoken against the mountains of Israel, saying, They are laid desolate, they are given us to consume. Thus with your mouth ye have boasted against me, and have multiplied your words against me: I have heard them." (Eze 35:12-13)

In scripture, blasphemy can be directed against any of the following:

  1. God
  2. God's name
  3. the Holy Spirit
  4. the word of God
  5. God's tabernacle/temple
  6. God's law
  7. them that dwell in heaven
  8. the mountains of Israel
  9. the king of Israel

Here is a good example of blasphemy directed against multiple targets:

"And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven." (Rev 13:5-6)

Blasphemy is also involved when one attributes the work of God to Satan as in this passage:

"But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils. And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand? And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges. ... 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." (Matt 12:24-27, 31-32)

This is the verse that specifies that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is unforgivable. It is the omnipresent Spirit of God, that inner voice of conviction, that we need to listen to and admit that we are wrong in order to repent and receive the freely-offered forgiveness. This passage has caused many to misunderstand the forgiveness of God. He is willing to forgive any sin; the issue is whether or not we will receive that forgiveness. A study of the original words used for forgiveness makes that very clear.

So if a person is under any degree of conviction that they may have committed blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, they clearly have not. What they really need is to understand the love and forgiveness of God and accept forgiveness.

The "name of blasphemy" as referred to in Revelation 13:1 is best understood by realizing the association between names and character. Biblically, they are, in many cases, almost synonymous. Often, when the Bible refers to God's name, it is actually speaking of His character.  
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The Greek has multiple words for forgiveness? God forgives (charizomai) whether we ask or not. Receiving forgiveness (apheimi) is by our choice.
God always forgives!


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