30 He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.
31 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.
32 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.
The term blasphemy may be generally defined as “defiant irreverence.” The term can be applied to such sins as cursing God or willfully degrading things relating to God.
Blasphemy is also attributing some evil to God or denying Him some good that we should attribute to Him. This particular case of blasphemy, however, is called “the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit” Matthew 12:31
Blasphemy was a serious crime in the law God gave to Moses. The Israelites were to worship and obey God. In Leviticus 24:10–16, a man blasphemed the name of God. To the Hebrews, a name wasn’t just a convenient label.
It was a symbolic representation of a person’s character. The man in Leviticus who blasphemed God’s name was stoned to death.
Isaiah 36 tells the story of Sennacherib, king of Assyria, and his attempt to demoralize Jerusalem before he attacked. After pointing out Assyria's many victories, he says, (Paraphrasing here) "Who of all the gods of these countries have been able to save their lands from me? How then can the LORD deliver Jerusalem from my hand?" Isaiah 36:20.
Sennacherib committed blasphemy by assuming Israel’s God was equal to the false gods of the surrounding nations. The king of Judah, Hezekiah, points out this blasphemy in his prayer to God, in which he asks that God deliver them for the purpose of defending His own honor (Isaiah 37:4, 17).
And that’s exactly what God did.
36 “Then the angel of the Lord went forth, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.
37 So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went and returned, and dwelt at Nineveh”. Isaiah 37:36–37
Later, Sennacherib was murdered in the temple of his god Nisroch.
“And it came to pass, as he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch his god, that Adrammelech and Sharezer his sons smote him with the sword; and they escaped into the land of Armenia: and Esarhaddon his son reigned in his stead”. Isaiah 37:38
Followers of God are also responsible to make sure their behavior doesn't incite others to blaspheme God. In Romans 2:17-24, Paul scolds those who claim to be saved through the law and yet still live in sin.
Using Isaiah 52:5, Paul tells them, “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you” (verse 24).
In 1 Timothy 1:20 Paul explains that he had abandoned two false teachers to Satan so they would “be taught not to blaspheme”; thus, promulgating false doctrine and leading God’s people astray is also a form of blasphemy.
Jesus spoke of a special type of blasphemy—blasphemy against the Holy Spirit—committed by the religious leaders of His day. The situation was that the Pharisees were eyewitnesses to Jesus’ miracles, but they attributed the work of the Holy Spirit to the presence of a demon (Mark 3:22-30).
Their portrayal of the Holy Spirit as demonic was a deliberate, insulting rejection of God and was unforgivable.
The most significant biblical accusation of blasphemy was one that happened to be completely false. It was for the crime of blasphemy that the priests and Pharisees condemned Jesus (Matthew 26:65).
They understood that Jesus was claiming to be God. If Jesus were just a man claiming to be God, He would have been a blasphemer. However, as the Second Person of the Trinity, Jesus could truthfully claim deity.
“Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:” Philippians 2:6
The fact is, every time we do or say something that gives others a false representation of the glory, holiness, authority, and character of God, we commit blasphemy.
Every time we misrepresent our position as children of God, we are damaging His reputation. Fortunately, Jesus forgives even the sin of blasphemy.
Peter attacked Jesus' purpose (Matthew 16:22), Paul tried to make others blaspheme (Acts 26:9-18), and Jesus' own brothers thought He was insane (Mark 3:21). All repented, and all were forgiven.
The particular concept of “blasphemy against the Spirit” is mentioned in Mark 3:22–30 and Matthew 12:22–32. Jesus had just performed a miracle.
A demon-possessed man was brought to Jesus, and Jesus cast the demon out, healing the man of blindness and muteness.
The eyewitnesses to this exorcism began to wonder if Jesus was the Messiah they had been waiting for.
A group of Pharisees, hearing the talk of the Messiah, quickly quashed any budding faith in the crowd:
“But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.” Matthew 12:24
Jesus rebuts the Pharisees with some logical arguments for why He is not casting out demons in the power of Satan (Matthew 12:25–29). Then He speaks of the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
“31 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.
32 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.” Matthew 12: 31–32
The Pharisees, having witnessed irrefutable proof that Jesus was working miracles in the power of the Holy Spirit, claimed instead that the Jesus was possessed by a demon (Matthew 12:24). In Mark 3:30, Jesus is very specific about what the Pharisees did to commit blasphemy against the Holy Spirit: “Because they said, He hath an unclean spirit”.
Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit has to do with accusing Jesus the Christ of being demon-possessed instead of Spirit-filled. This particular type of blasphemy cannot be duplicated today because Jesus is not physically among us.
The Pharisees were in a unique moment in history: they had the Law and the Prophets, they had the Holy Spirit stirring their hearts, they had the Son of God Himself standing right in front of them, and they saw with their own eyes the miracles He did. Never before in the history of the world (and never since) had so much divine light been granted to men; if anyone should have recognized Jesus for who He was, it was the Pharisees.
Yet they chose defiance. They purposely attributed the work of the Spirit to the devil, even though they knew the truth and had the proof. Jesus declared their willful blindness to be unpardonable. Their blasphemy against the Holy Spirit was their final rejection of God’s grace. They had set their course, and God was going to let them sail into perdition unhindered.
Jesus told the crowd that the Pharisees’ blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
“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” Matthew 12:32.
This is another way of saying that their sin would never be forgiven, ever. Not now, not in eternity. As Mark 3:29 puts it, “But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation.”
The immediate result of the Pharisees’ public rejection of Christ (and God’s rejection of them) is seen in the next chapter. Jesus, for the first time, “told them many things in parables” (Matthew 13:3; Mark 4:2). The disciples were puzzled at Jesus’ change of teaching method, and Jesus explained His use of parables:
“He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.”
“Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand”
Matthew 13:11, 13.
Jesus began to veil the truth with parables and metaphors as a direct result of the Jewish leaders’ official denunciation of Him.
The unpardonable sin today is the state of continued unbelief. The Spirit currently convicts the unsaved world of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8).
To resist that conviction and willfully remain unrepentant is to “blaspheme” the Spirit. There is no pardon, either in this age or in the age to come, for a person who rejects the Spirit’s promptings to trust in Jesus Christ and then dies in unbelief.
The love of God is evident: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” John 3:16.
And the choice is clear: “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him” John 3:36.