Christianity 201

October 23, 2016

Blaspheming the Spirit

by Russell Young

The Word of God offers a stark warning to believers.  “I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them.  But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin.” (Mk 3:28─29 NIV) Luke wrote: “And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.” (12:10 NIV)

When the understanding of blasphemy is limited to voicing negative comments regarding the Holy Spirit it is easy for anyone to consider themselves free of guilt. God will not tolerate vilification of the Spirit whether through verbal assault or through failure to honor his right to rule in the confessor’s life.

Per Strong’s Greek Dictionary blasphemy means “vilification (especially against God): —blasphemy, evil speaking, railing.” In the above verses, the Lord taught that all who rail or speak evil against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven. When the Lord uttered these words, he had been specifically addressing the speaking practices of people since he had just said, “What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.” (Lk 12:3 NIV)

The New Testament’s use of blasphemy was most commonly applied to Christ on occasions where he either made the claim that he was the Son of God or that he could forgive sins.  The Lord’s use rested in a person’s failure to honor the Holy Spirit, his Spirit (2 Cor 3:17, 18) by despising him verbally.

Blasphemy has applications other than vilification by word, however.  The Lord told Moses and the Israelites, “But anyone who sins defiantly, whether native-born or alien, blasphemes the Lord, and that person must be cut off from the people.  Because he has despised the Lord’s word and broken his commands, that person must surely be cut off; his guilt remains on him.” (Numbers 15:30─31 NIV) The charge of blasphemy rests not only on vilifying through word but also by sinning defiantly.

Ezekiel was commanded to tell the house of Israel, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: In this also you blasphemed me by forsaking me.” (Eze 20:27 NIV) “Sinning defiantly” and “forsaking God” are also forms of blasphemy. The writer of Hebrews addressed this matter.  “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.” (Heb 10:26─27 NIV) Vilifying, defying, deliberately sinning, and despising the word of God are forms of blasphemy and that includes not attending to the call of the Spirit.

Unless the Spirit’s ministry is not recognized and honored, he cannot accomplish his purpose in the lives of people. It is the Holy Spirit who brings about a person’s sanctification and salvation (2 Thess 2:13; Titus 3: 5─6) leading to that one’s resurrection. Those who defy his rule in their lives will be held accountable for their rebellion.  Those who have gained knowledge of the truth in a certain situation are required to act in compliance with their understanding. Teaching that allows freedom from obedience to the Spirit is deceptive and even blasphemous.  Paul wrote: “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked.  A man reaps what he sows.  The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” (Gal 6:7─8 NIV)

Although It is easy to find comfort in the understanding that blasphemy is limited to vilifying words, such comfort is not so easy to come by when blasphemy is recognized as sinning “defiantly” or knowingly. Have you knowingly sinned?  It is not without reason that Paul cautioned the Philippians to “continue to work out [their] own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in [us] to will and to act according to his good purpose. (Phil 2:12─13 NIV)

Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is a very serious matter and it is often masked by beliefs that promote inaccurate teachings about God’s mercy and grace, about his unconditional love, about the believer’s adoption as a son, and about the reality of his or her eternal security having been assured. Where these teachings prevail, not much thought has to be given to the need for obedience or to honoring the Spirit. Blaspheming the Spirit is done knowingly and intentionally, and comes from a defiant and rebellious heart but is not limited to evil words, it also includes denial of the Spirit’s right to the direct confessor’s life.

eternal-salvation-russell-youngRussell Young’s book is in stores and available now in print and eBook.  The title is Eternal Salvation: “I’m Okay! You’re Okay!” Really? It is available through Westbow Publishing, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble; and in Canada through Chapters/Indigo.  9781512757514 $17.99 US

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