Since I’ve been posting now on the role of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament, I’ve been getting a number of questions about what it means to “blaspheme the Holy Spirit.” In some cases the question is urgent, from someone who fears she or he has committed the sin. That would be a problem. Jesus says that THAT sin is the only one that is unforgivable. Forever. Serious stuff.
My view is that anyone who is concerned they’ve committed it almost by definition has not committed it. But that will take a bit of explaining. I looked it up and I have posted on this a couple of times over the years, including just a year ago — but since it keeps reappearing as a question, I thought I should go over the topic again.
So here’s the deal. The earliest reference to the idea of the “unforgiveable sin” comes to us in the Gospel of Matthew (it is taken from the so-called Q source): “Therefore I tell you every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven; and whoever speaks a word against the Son of man, it will be forgiven; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit it will not be forgiven, either in this age or the ages to come.” (Matthew 12: 31-32).
As you might imagine, over the Christian centuries there have been numerous interpretations of what that *one* sin was, especially by concerned believers who were worried to death that they had already committed it and so are destined to hell. I’ve heard all sorts of suggestions, some of them rather bizarre (It’s premarital sex! It’s masturbation!), and others not bizarre but equally scary (It’s any sin committed by a Christian after they have been filled with the Holy Spirit!).
As with most passages of the New Testament, the surest way to provide an interpretation of what Jesus is talking about is
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