The Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit


An Eternal Sin

The context of Jesus’ teaching about eternal sin makes it clear as to what it is:

And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebub! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.” ... But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin. He said this because they were saying, “He has an evil spirit” (Mk. 3:22,29,30, NIV).

Jesus taught that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is directly related to saying that the Lord had an evil spirit by which he was driving out demons. Hence, a link seems to exist between eternal sin and insulting the Spirit of grace in Hebrews 10:29.


            Hebrews 10

26If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?


This could possibly explain why the ones referred to in Hebrews 6:6 could not ever be renewed unto salvation, that is, they committed eternal sin.


Heb. 6:4-9 reads:

For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God, and put Him to open shame. (NASB).



The word for fallen away is a stronger word then the word used to describe the Peter and the disciples falling away upon Christ’s arrest.  Peter was renewed to repentance.  The people mentioned in this case presented by the writer of Hebrews will never be renewed to repentance.  They must have done something worse than Peter and the other 10 who returned.  What was it?  Verse 9 tells us that the “crucified to themselves the Son of God”.  How did this case (or group) of people re-crucify Christ?  My theory is presented below.


Verse 9 tells us that whatever they did put Him to “open shame”, so it was not secret.  What did they do/are doing that they cannot be forgiven of?  Is it the same unforgivable sin mentioned here?


1 John 5

16If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, he should pray and God will give him life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that he should pray about that. 17All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death.


What did they do?

These clues are mentioned:

  1. Rejecting the law of Moses (Hebrews 10:28)
  2. Insulting the Spirit of Grace (Hebrews 10:29)
  3. Re-crucifying Christ (Heb. 6:4-9)
  4. Treating as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant (Hebrews 10:29)


1.  Rejecting the Law of Moses

Clue number one speaks of sin of rejecting Torah.  This is different than failing to keep Torah.  It is one thing to sin and then admit that you have sinned.  It is another thing to sin and then not even admit that you are sinning.  This type of sin is mentioned by John in a way that is easy for Gentiles to understand:


1 John 1:8

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.

(Whole Chapter: 1 John 1 In context: 1 John 1:7-9)


But the truth of the matter is revealed more in the Jewish culture through the prophet:


 (Isa 5:20-24 NIV)  Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. {21} Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight. {22} Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine and champions at mixing drinks, {23} who acquit the guilty for a bribe, but deny justice to the innocent. {24} Therefore, as tongues of fire lick up straw and as dry grass sinks down in the flames, so their roots will decay and their flowers blow away like dust; for they have rejected the law of the LORD Almighty and spurned the word of the Holy One of Israel.


In other words, their attitude may have been something like the following:

  1. Hey, I don’t need God’s rules, I’m fine.  God loves me the way I am (1 John 1:8)
  2. God’s rules are not even true – they are outdated (Isa 5:20-24 NIV) 


So I believe that this case of people “spurned the word”.  They will obviously not be forgiven if they continue in this sin of blasphemy.  How could they be?  They would not call it sin.  Why would they ask for forgiveness of something that they do not consider sin?  God defines sin this way:

(1 John 3:4 KJV)  Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.


I have transgressed the law today.  But I have not committed blasphemy against the Spirit of Grace, or the Holy Spirit.  I have not insulted the Spirit of Grace by telling Him that I do not need him.  Instead of telling him that I did not sin and that I do not need him, I do the opposite.  I might say,


Thank you for paying for my sins in my place on the cross.  I’m sorry for hurting you.  Help me do your will, instead of sinning against you.”


I may not have kept the law, but I acknowledged my failure—this is a type of obedience.  I did not reject the law.  Neither did I abhor God’s decrees. 


Leviticus 26:43

For the land will be deserted by them and will enjoy its sabbaths while it lies desolate without them. They will pay for their sins because they rejected my laws and abhorred my decrees.


The only way I could pay for my sins would be by burning them off in hell.


Romans 6:23
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in[ 6:23 Or through] Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Whole Chapter: Romans 6 In context: Romans 6:22-24


But this would not pay off my sin debt, because I am not blameless.  Therefore, I would only burn in hell forever.  I would rather confess my sin so that Jesus pays for it.  Then I can be forgiven, cleansed, and empowered to do his will.


2.  insulted the Spirit of grace

There is a big difference between abhorring his decrees and:

  1. accepting the law
  2. failing to obey it.
  3. accepting Christ’s atonement for that failure to obey it.
  4. accepting the Spirit of Grace to work in me to bring future obedience.


2 Corinthians 9:8
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
(Whole Chapter: 2 Corinthians 9 In context: 2 Corinthians 9:7-9)


1 Corinthians 15:10
But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them–yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.
(Whole Chapter: 1 Corinthians 15 In context: 1 Corinthians 15:9-11)


Rejecting God’s definition of sin (the law) is an insult to the spirit of grace. 


Jonah 2:8
"Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.
(Whole Chapter: Jonah 2 In context: Jonah 2:7-9


Those who resist his grace in this way cannot be saved:

Ephesians 2:5
made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved.
(Whole Chapter: Ephesians 2 In context: Ephesians 2:4-6)



3.  Re-crucifying Christ


Jesus was condemned by the Jewish rulers to be crucified based upon the false charge of blasphemy. 


Lev. 24

A Blasphemer Stoned

10 Now the son of an Israelite mother and an Egyptian father went out among the Israelites, and a fight broke out in the camp between him and an Israelite. 11 The son of the Israelite woman blasphemed the Name with a curse; so they brought him to Moses. (His mother's name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri the Danite.) 12 They put him in custody until the will of the LORD should be made clear to them.

13 Then the LORD said to Moses: 14 "Take the blasphemer outside the camp. All those who heard him are to lay their hands on his head, and the entire assembly is to stone him. 15 Say to the Israelites: 'If anyone curses his God, he will be held responsible; 16 anyone who blasphemes the name of the LORD must be put to death. The entire assembly must stone him. Whether an alien or native-born, when he blasphemes the Name, he must be put to death.


How is the term blasphemy defined by usage in the bible?


BLASPHEMY is a transliteration of a Greek word meaning literally “to speak harm.” In the biblical context, blasphemy is an attitude of disrespect that finds expression in an act directed against the character of God.

Old Testament Blasphemy draws its Christian definition through the background of the Old Testament. It is significant that blasphemy reflects improper action with regard to the use of God’s name. God revealed His character and invited personal relationship through the revelation of His name. Therefore, the use of God’s name gave the Israelites the opportunity of personal participation with the very nature of God.

Leviticus 24:14-16 guides the Hebrew definition of blasphemy. The offense is designated as a capital crime, and the offender is to be stoned by the community. Blasphemy involves the actual pronunciation of the name of God along with an attitude of disrespect. Under the influence of this interpretation, the personal name of God (Yahweh) was withdrawn from ordinary speech and the title of Adonai (Lord) was used in its place.

Israel, at various times, was guilty of blasphemy. Specifically mentioned were the instances of the golden calf (Neh. 9:18) and the harsh treatment of the prophets (Neh. 9:26). David was accused by Nathan of making a mockery of God’s commands and giving an occasion for the enemies of Israel to blaspheme—to misunderstand the true nature of God (2 Sam. 12:14).

The enemies of Israel blasphemed God through acts against the people of God. The Assyrians claimed that God was powerless when compared to their mighty army (2 Kings 19:6, 22; Isa. 37:6, 23). A contempt of God was shown by the Babylonians during the Exile, as they continually ridiculed God (Isa. 52:5). Edom was guilty of blasphemy when it rejoiced over the fall of Jerusalem (Ezek. 35:12). God responded with judgment (2 Kings 19:35-37) or promised judgment (Isa. 52:6; Ezek. 35:12-15) to defend the dignity of His name.

New Testament The New Testament broadens the concept of blasphemy to include actions against Christ and the church as the body of Christ. Jesus was regarded by the Jewish leaders as a blasphemer Himself (Mark 2:7). When tried by the Sanhedrin, Jesus not only claimed messianic dignity, but further claimed the supreme exalted status (Luke 22:69). Such a claim, according to the Sanhedrin, fit the charge of blasphemy and, therefore, deserved death (Matt. 26:65; Mark 14:64). However, according to the New Testament perspective, the real blasphemers were those who denied the messianic claims of Jesus and rejected His unity with the Father (Mark 15:29; Luke 22:65; 23:39).

The unity of Christ and the church is recognized in the fact that persecutions against Christians are labeled as blasphemous acts (1 Tim. 1:13; 1 Pet. 4:4; Rev. 2:9). It is also important that Christians avoid conduct that might give an occasion for blasphemy, especially in the area of attitude and speech (Eph. 4:31; Col. 3:8; 1 Tim. 6:4; Titus 3:2).

The sin of blasphemy is a sin that can be forgiven. However, there is a sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit that cannot be forgiven (Matt. 12:32; Mark 3:29; Luke 12:10). This is a state of hardness in which one consciously and willfully resists God’s saving power and grace. It is a desperate condition that is beyond the situation of forgiveness because one is not able to recognize and repent of sin. Thus one wanting to repent of blasphemy against the Spirit cannot have committed the sin.

Jerry M. Henry


Mr. Henry’s underlined definition of the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit includes the idea of “rejecting the law”. 


It is a desperate condition that is beyond the situation of forgiveness because one is not able to recognize and repent of sin.


The law is the God’s instrument that we should use to recognize our sin.  This recognition is impossible for those who reject it.  Those who reject the law reject Christ, who is the fulfillment of it.  Furthermore, they reject his blood sacrifice for sin—because sin is defined by the moral law.  In this way, they re-crucify Christ. 




4.  treating as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant


By denying God’s definition of sin in the law, they consider his blood an unholy thing.  They have their own definition of sin; their own law.  They do not study or obey God’s moral law.  They may not even bother to ask Him to forgive them of their transgressions of it (their sins).  Then they figure that they are somehow still “saved” by the blood of Jesus.  This is “treating as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant”. 


Many who misunderstand biblical grace in this way view grace as a license for immorality.


Jude 1
3Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. 4For certain men whose condemnation was written about[1] long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.

Jude then corrects this false gospel of cheap grace by citing an example of the Lord remaining faithful to his covenant.  Although He initially saved His people, he later destroyed the unbelieving. 


5Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord[2] delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe.


Jude then goes on to cite other examples of apostasy; angels who spurned God’s grace and were sent to gloomy dungeons.  In judging grace-rejecters, God is remaining faithful to His covenant by fulfilling it’s terms.  For an explanation of this, you can read a brief document defining God’s grace.




What then?

How do you help someone who has rejected God’s law?  What if you have?  You can be saved by accepting and obeying God’s commands through the Gospel:  The choice is yours.  The people described above are knowingly and willfully refusing to do this.  This document explains how to handle this situation.











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