Summary: It’s not saying you don’t like the Holy Spirit – learn the real truth about the blaspheme of the Holy Spirit.
I have a recurring dream – a nightmare, really. It takes three forms – at least one of which I’m sure you are familiar. In the dream I am either going to school, going on stage, or going on the air reporting the news on TV. In each case I arrive at my destination with no idea what I am supposed to do. I get to class and there is a test I have not prepared for – I go on stage doing a play I have never heard of, performing a part I have not memorized. Or I am on set, the teleprompter goes dead and I have no script in front of me.
What is common about all of these dreams is the sense of panic – and the lack of control. I realize I’ve done something, or should have done something – and it’s too late. I think that feeling is also the source of more Christian nightmares than any other – the worry that you may have inadvertently committed the unpardonable sin – the blaspheme of the Holy Spirit – and now on judgment day God sends you to hell for calling the Holy Spirit a bad name and off you go, plummeting down into the fire, totally out of control – failing a test you never prepared for, dumbstruck on the stage of judgment.
Well today I hope to dispel some false conceptions about this very serious subject. First let me point out that there is indeed a sin for which there is no pardon, a transgression for which no forgiveness exists, only, as the writer of Hebrews says: "10:27 … a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God."
Jesus begins the discussion with this verse:
30 "He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters. 31
Make no mistake, you are in a battle – whether you are a Christian or not. You are either on God’s side, gathering people into His kingdom by spreading the good news of Jesus Christ, or you are His enemy.
And in this battle there is no "demilitarized zone." You cannot not take sides. You are either with the Lord in His kingdom, or you are with the strong man, Satan, in his. People who think they can ride the fence are in a dream. But we need to realize that it is no accident that puts you in one camp or another. No one will die and say "whoops, I’m not supposed to be here – there’s been a terrible mistake." Listen:
And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
This verse is amazing to me. EVERY sin, EVERY blaspheme will be forgiven – even the horrible things the Pharisees said against Jesus can be forgiven by faith in Christ and the appropriation of His death. There is only one thing that is unforgivable – speaking against the Holy Spirit.
So if it is so important – what is it?
Well, it is NOT a single act. Saying "I don’t like what the Holy Spirit is doing" is not going to send you to hell – so relax. This refers not to a single act but a continual attitude of rejection.
Blaspheme against the Spirit is the continual, deliberate, refusal to acknowledge God’s power in Jesus Christ. Ongoing rejection of the work of the Spirit is rejection of God Himself. In particular, it is ascribing the work of the Holy Spirit, in sending Jesus to reclaim the world, to the devil instead of to God. It is calling the Spirit in Jesus a demon – it is exactly what the Pharisees did. If they were to continue in this, there is no forgiveness.
God only wants those who want Him. People will go to hell because they don’t want to go to heaven. They hate God and want nothing to do with Him. So God will grant their wish. Some may fool themselves into thinking they belong to Him – but are unwilling to yield their pride and their life to His Lordship. Self is the enemy of God because it is self, saying "I’m the most important thing, I’m the focus" is what Satan did when he rebelled, and what we did when we fell in the Garden of Eden.
People are not forgiven because their sins are worse than others – but because they won’t ask for forgiveness.