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What is the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit?

In Mark 3:22–30 and Matthew 12:22–32, the concept of "blasphemy against the Spirit" is mentioned. A miracle has just been performed by Jesus. A man who had been possessed by a demon was brought to Jesus, who cast the demon out and healed the man of his blindness and muteness. Witnesses to the exorcism began to question whether Jesus was the Messiah they had been waiting for. Hearing about the Messiah, a group of Pharisees quickly quashed any growing faith in the crowd: "This fellow only drives out demons by Beelzebul, the prince of demons," they said (Matthew 12:24).

In Matthew 12:25–29, Jesus responds to the Pharisees with some logical arguments for why He is not casting out demons in Satan's power. "I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven," He says, "but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven." Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but no one who speaks against the Holy Spirit will be forgiven, either now or in the future" (verses 31–32).

Blasphemy can be defined as "defiant irreverence" in a broad sense. Cursing God or willfully degrading things related to God are examples of the term's use. Blasphemy also includes attributing some evil to God or denying Him credit for some good that we should give Him. In Matthew 12:31, however, this specific case of blasphemy is referred to as "the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit." After seeing irrefutable proof that Jesus was performing miracles in the power of the Holy Spirit, the Pharisees claimed that Jesus was possessed by a demon (Matthew 12:24). Observe Mark 3:30. "He said this because they were saying, 'He has an impure spirit,'" Jesus says, referring to the Pharisees' blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.

Accusing Jesus Christ of being demon-possessed rather than Spirit-filled is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. This type of blasphemy is impossible to replicate today. The Pharisees were in a unique position in history: they had the Law and the Prophets, the Holy Spirit was stirring their hearts, and the Son of God Himself stood right in front of them, performing miracles that they witnessed with their own eyes. Never before (or since) has so much divine light been given to men; if anyone should have recognised Jesus for who He was, it should have been the Pharisees. Nonetheless, they chose defiance. Even though they knew the truth and had proof, they purposefully attributed the Spirit's work to the devil. Their willful blindness was declared unforgivable by Jesus. Their final rejection of God's grace was their blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. They'd charted their course, and God was going to let them sail straight into perdition.

The Pharisees' blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, Jesus told the crowd, "will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come" (Matthew 12:32). This is another way of saying they would never, ever be forgiven for their sin. Not now, and certainly not in the future. "They are guilty of an eternal sin," Mark 3:29 says.

In the next chapter, we see the immediate result of the Pharisees' public rejection of Christ (and God's rejection of them). For the first time in his life, Jesus "told them many things in parables" (Matthew 13:3; cf. Mark 4:2). "Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them." Jesus explained His use of parables to the disciples: "Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them.... Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand" (Matthew 13:11, 13). As a direct result of the Jewish leaders' official condemnation of Him, Jesus began to veil the truth with parables and metaphors.


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