BLASPHEMY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Jesus Christ from the beginning of his ministry proclaimed the kingdom of God and preached the Gospel of the kingdom. In the book of Matthew we see Jesus performing miracles to authenticate His person and His message (Chpt.4-12). These miracles were to serve as a sign to the nation of Israel to make a decision on his claims of being their Messiah. Before Matthew 12 His miracles were presented without anyone needing faith, after this particular event (blaspheming the Holy Spirit) people needed to exercise individual faith for a miracle or healing. His miracles were no longer a sign pointing to his messiahship but instead used for the training of the 12. His teaching method was also direct and plain for everyone prior to Matt.12. After Matt.12 He begins to speak in parables. For the disciples he gives the interpretation. His stories now illustrate truth, revealing it for those who are seeking it and concealing it for those who do not have ears to hear. “On the same day” of their rejection Jesus began his teaching in parables (Matt. 13:1).
What exactly transpired that made His whole ministry have this radical change of operation?
In Matt.12:24-45 and Mk.3:22-30, Jesus is involved in a conflict with the Pharisees who want Him to authorize their interpretation of the Law. (Known as the “Tradition of the Fathers or the Elders.”) Jesus rejects the Pharisaic interpretation of the Law which is from man and not God.
In Matt.12:22-29 Jesus is brought a person who has a demon that has made him dumb and deaf. When he is cast out, the people wonder if he could be the Son of David? (this would mean he is Mashiach). For there were certain miracles only the Messiah would be able to do, setting him apart form other prophets.
The Pharisees in Matt.12:24 tell the people that Jesus casts out demons by the “Prince of demons”(Beezelbub, lord of the flies) claiming that the spirit that is working through Him is not the Holy Spirit but a demonic spirit. In verse 29 Jesus states that this cannot be true because Satan would be divided and his kingdom would fall. Furthermore, No one is able to bind Satan and spoil his belongings unless he is stronger and not subservient. Jesus specifically states “He is driving the demons out with the Spirit God.”
The purpose of his miracles was to authenticate who He was. In Judaism there were 3 main messianic miracles that the rabbis understood would take place when the messiah would come, these would help the people recognize him (Deut.18:15; Isa. 35:3-6; Isa. 43:7-9).
1) He would heal someone born blind from birth (Jn.9:1)
2) He would heal a Jew who had leprosy (from the time of Moses’ law being completed, no Jew was ever healed of leprosy.
3) He would heal or cast out a dumb demon. The Pharisees recognize this as a messianic miracle and ask if this can be the Son of David. At the time their were exorcisms performed within Judaism. For this to be accomplished the exorcist needed to actually communicate with the demon and ask questions. However in the case such as this where someone was affected by the demon to become dumb, this exorcism could not take place because there could be no communication made. According to Judaism only the Messiah could cast out a demon like this because it would be supernatural.
The people instead of judging for themselves whether or not He was the messiah, looked to their leaders to give a statement of acceptance or rejection. The leaders did not accept what He did, so they needed to come up with some substitute explanation of how he performed these miracles. They then lead the people in rejecting Jesus as the Messiah, on the basis of demon possession. This was the 3rd time they rejected Jesus (Luke 11:15). The leaders determined and consigned his position to be of Satan.
Jesus’ response is recorded in Matthew 12:30-39 “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad. “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. “Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.
“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. “Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.” But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” Jesus used Jonah because he died and went to Sheol and was resurrected, this was to be the final sign of the Messiah to the Jewish nation. Jonah had prayed his prayer not to be left in Sheol “Out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and You heard my voice” (Jonah 2:2). Jesus descended into the lower parts of the earth. As David spoke of him in Ps.16:10, and Peter reminds the Jewish people in Acts 2:27,31 of its fulfillment. It is also worth noting that Jonah was sent to rescue the gentiles, Jesus came to save all.
Jesus tells the Pharisees, in verses 31and 32, that they have committed the Unpardonable sin by blaspheming the Holy Spirit. Because they said that the spirit that is working through Him delivering people is not the Holy Spirit but a demonic Spirit Mark 3:30 gives up more specific information by saying, “because they said that Jesus had an unclean spirit.” They attributed His good works while He was personally there in the flesh to an unholy Spirit. On this He pronounced judgment upon them. It is at this time Israel’s fate is sealed. He goes on to say in vs.41-42 that the men of Nineveh and the queen of the south will rise up in judgment on this generation and condemn it. Because a greater then Jonah and Solomon is here. Luke 17:25: “But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.”
This Unpardonable sin was a national sin a collective sin committed by Israel in rejecting Jesus as the “Promised Messiah” while He was physically present among them in the flesh. It was done by their seeing and rejecting his miracles were from God, blaming it on a unclean Spirit. It was the Pharisee’s that lead the people to attribute the miracles that Jesus performed not to the Holy Spirit, but to an unclean spirit. This event is unique to the generation of His day, that while he was physically present they watched him do the miracles and attributed them to his being demon possessed.
Blasphemy of the spirit has nothing to do with being saved and losing your salvation, those who blasphemed were unbelievers not believers. No believer would ever say Jesus did his miracles by a demonic spirit. Mt .12:24 Now when the Pharisees heard it they said, “This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.” The context of this contention is “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matt 12:37). What they confessed about Jesus and the power He did His work by will determine what side one is on (are they for or against him).
Again, keep in mind that this is not an individual sin but a national sin by a nation. This did not mean that no individual could be saved because many were saved who previously spoke this. Even the apostle Paul formerly Saul a Pharisee, killed Christians and very well could have been on this decision of rejection. As a nation their judgment was imminent which took place approximately 40 years after his death and resurrection. As individuals he gave them a way out.
The Jews of that day expected the Messiah to come and establish God’s kingdom and to reign as king when He came. They did not see in the Scriptures or understand the two-fold coming of the Messiah. The first coming of the Messiah would be as a servant to set an example and also to be the sacrificial Lamb that would pay for our sins. Then the Messiah’s second coming would be split in two segments.
The Pharisees, although seeing great works being done by Jesus, a lot of them were yet unbelieving and refused to receive Jesus as their Savior. (John. 5:39-42) They wanted to see more acts of miracles.(v.38) That was not the only thing that was hindering them, but it was also the fact that Jesus was infringing on their authority as law keeping leaders who knew and spoke from the Word of God with authority. Throughout the New Testament Jesus rebukes them for following and incorporating doctrines of men and useless traditions that make void Gods law. So in v. 39 He says “a wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign”. Jesus said that only one sign would be given, that would be of the prophet Jonah, His death and resurrection.
In these verses, 41 and 42, Jesus describes the judgment of “this generation” and the condemnation by those who have repented and believed at the teaching of those who had spoken by the Word of God.
From verses 43-45 Jesus tells of an unclean spirit that goes out of a man, seeking rest but cannot find it. Then returns to that man and brings along with it seven spirits more wicked than itself, and they go into him and live there. The last state of that man is worst than the first. So it will be with “this generation.”
Jesus had used this illustration to show just how bad off Israel really was, and that He was taking away His offer of the Kingdom at that time. Also that they now are under a divine judgment. The key to remember is, “so it will be with this generation”, which is pointing to this particular generation he was preaching to. The leaders of the only nation on earth that had accurate knowledge of God wanted to kill him because of his claims.Peter’s first sermon in Acts 2 is to the Jewish people. He proclaims that Jesus is their Messiah, after they all heard the disciples proclaiming Gods work in their own Tongues. In Acts 2:38, Peter tells them to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus. In other words to change their minds on rejecting Jesus as their Messiah and publicly declare this by being baptized into His name( in reference toward the savior). Then in verse 40 Peter says, “Be saved from this wicked( accursed) generation!” What generation was he speaking of? The same generation that had rejected Jesus and was under a divine judgment but blaspheming the Holy Spirit.
So baptism was an identification with those Jews who had separated themselves from the generation that was under the curse. This is also holds true for Christians to set themselves apart from this cursed world by obeying Jesus’ command and getting baptized.
In summary, the Unpardonable sin was committed by the Jews of Jesus’ day and it would be “that generation” that would have to answer for the rejection of Jesus Christ as their “Promised Messiah. Many of the Pharisees were saved afterwards proving it was not an individual sin but a collective one.
The Scripture says they will not be forgiven in the present age or later on. It does not mean people will commit this sin in the age to come, because one of the requirements is that he had to be physically present in front of them, this is why the term Son of Man is used. There are other blasphemies we can do, so there is not just the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. However this is the only one that has the punishment of being unforgiven, with no hope of ever being forgiven.This is strictly a sin from unbelievers opposing Jesus’ ministry. No one who believes in Jesus Christ and His purpose of coming to the earth to forgive sins can ever commit this sin. So if you're a believer and wondering if you committed this type of sin today, rest assured you have not. However one can still receive the same form of punishment unless they too repent and believe.