by Shawn Brasseaux
Have you ever wondered if you “blasphemed against the Holy Ghost?” Oftentimes called the “unpardonable sin,” this concept can be very troubling to some Christians because it causes them to question whether they are still saved and going to heaven. What is the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost? Once we answer that question from the Scriptures, then we can determine how it relates to us. Again, we do not appeal to denominational doctrine; we appeal to the Holy Scriptures!
Recently, a fellow Christian asked me whether or not she was guilty of “blaspheming against the Holy Spirit.” In this special article (some of which is almost verbatim from my email response to her), we want to clear up any confusion regarding Matthew 12:31,32. Let us first read those two verses as found in the King James Bible:
“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.”
What did Jesus Christ mean when He said this?
YOU CANNOT LOSE YOUR SALVATION IN CHRIST
Firstly, a Christian who is genuinely saved is never in danger of losing his/her salvation. Matthew 12:31,32 is often misquoted/twisted in an attempt to promote the idea of a Christian losing his or her salvation. If you have genuinely trusted in Christ Jesus alone as your Saviour (you have placed your faith entirely in the Gospel of Grace of 1 Corinthians 15:1-4), the Bible says that you have the Holy Spirit permanently indwelling you. God’s Holy Spirit “seals” (confirms/brands) you, and you cannot lose your salvation (Romans 8:31-39; 2 Corinthians 5:6-8; Ephesians 4:30; 2 Timothy 1:12).
Today, in this the Dispensation of the Grace of God, the Bible says that God accepts those who are “in the beloved,” in His Son Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:6). How do we get “in Christ?” The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 12:13 KJV, “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body [the Church the Body of Christ], whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” Ephesians 1:13-14 KJV explains: “In whom [Jesus Christ] ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.”
Trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, His death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for your sins: see Paul’s Gospel of Grace in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He was raised again the third day for our justification.” Salvation from sins and hell and salvation unto justification (right standing before God) is instantaneous, not a lifelong process. If a true believer in Christ ever lost his/her salvation, that would mean God rejected His Son! You would have to throw away all the verses that Paul says confirms the believer’s salvation forever (Romans 5:1,2; Romans 8:29-39; 2 Corinthians 5:6-8; Ephesians 1:13,14; Ephesians 4:30; Philippians 1:6; 2 Timothy 1:12). Our salvation from sins and hell is not dependent on what we do, but on what Jesus Christ did, and He did enough, so we do not worry about losing it (if Jesus Christ could not save us, then what good are our efforts anyway?).
MATTHEW 12:31,32 HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH US
What God was doing with Israel in “time past” is different from what He is doing with us Gentiles (non-Jews) in the “but now.” In Matthew 12:31,32, Jesus was speaking to Israel under the Mosaic Law. Jesus Christ was speaking in light of God’s earthly kingdom, over which He would be King. We cannot follow what Jesus said in the Four Gospels, because that was God’s message to the nation Israel.
Jesus Christ said in His earthly ministry: “But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24 KJV) and “Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22 KJV). The Apostle Paul confirmed this in Romans 15:8 KJV: “Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision [Israel] for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers.”
The Apostle Paul says “I am the apostle of the Gentiles” (Romans 11:13 KJV). Paul is our apostle; the risen, ascended, and glorified Lord Jesus Christ sent Paul to us. Just as Jesus spoke God’s message to Israel in the Four Gospels, God’s message to us Gentiles (non-Jews) is Paul’s 13 epistles, Romans through Philemon. We are not part of Israel’s prophetic program of Law.
Paul wrote in Romans 6:14-15 KJV: “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.” We are under grace, in the Body of Christ, separate from Israel.
The Apostle wrote about Israel’s current status in Romans 11:11-12 KJV: “I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?” Spiritually, Israel is fallen, and we are not Israel, for that would mean we (Christians) too are spiritually blinded!
Although Jesus said that Israel could blaspheme against the Holy Ghost, Paul never mentions us today in the Dispensation of Grace as “blaspheming against the Holy Spirit,” but rather “grieving the Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 4:30) and “quenching/hindering the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:19). Because the Holy Spirit indwells us, it makes Him sad when we sin and it keeps Him from working His will in us. However, even though we make the Holy Spirit sad when we sin, we are never in danger of losing our salvation. Matthew 12:31,32 says that God will impute sin to those who blaspheme the Holy Spirit. If God says He has “forgiven you all trespasses” (Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 2:13), obviously you as a Christian have not committed blasphemy against the Holy Spirit—Jesus said that sin could not be forgiven. Rest assured, you are never guilty of blaspheming against the Holy Spirit because Matthew 12:31,32 does not apply to us today. Matthew 12:31,32 was spoken to the Jews so it applies to the Jews.
WHAT MATTHEW 12:31,32 MEANT FOR ISRAEL
Find Mark 3:28-30 KJV, which should help us better understand what Matthew 12:31,32 is saying:
“28 Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme:
29 But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation.
30 Because they said, He hath an unclean spirit.”
In Mark 3:22,23, there are people falsely accusing Jesus of being devil-possessed. In reality, Jesus is filled with the Holy Spirit, not an “unclean spirit”/devil (see verse 30 above). These people were guilty of blaspheming against the Holy Spirit because they were claiming the Holy Spirit was a devil, an unclean/evil spirit! These false accusers of Jesus were lost—they were filled with unclean spirits, not Jesus.
Now, go back to what I just mentioned about that earthly kingdom Israel had been promised. Through John the Baptist, God the Father urged Israel to prepare for their coming King, Christ Jesus (Mark 1:1-4; Luke 3:2-4; Acts 13:23-25). In unbelief, the Jews rejected God the Father by allowing king Herod to behead John the Baptist (Matthew 14:10). God the Son (Jesus Christ) comes to present Himself to Israel as Messiah-King, but Israel rejects Him and crucifies Him. While Jesus is hanging on the cross, He asks the Father to forgive them (Luke 23:34). Compare that with “whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him” (Matthew 12:32).
After Christ’s resurrection and ascension, God the Father forgives Israel as His Son requested, and this is the purpose of Peter’s sermon in Acts chapter 2 on the day of Pentecost. Here, God gives Israel a renewed opportunity of repentance. The Apostle Peter urges the nation Israel to repent (change their mind), to trust in Jesus as their King-Messiah, and to tell Israel He has resurrected, and that He will still bring in their kingdom (Acts 2:36-38). Remember on the day of Pentecost that the Holy Spirit came down from heaven and filled the Jewish believers there in Jerusalem. Still, only a small remnant of Israel chooses to have faith in Christ. Israel is mostly rejecting the Holy Spirit’s ministry through the apostles.
Now, in Acts chapter 7, about a year after Calvary and the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, the prophet Stephen is also filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 6:5; Acts 7:55). Again, most of Israel is still refusing to embrace Jesus as their King-Messiah. Stephen tells Israel, “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye” (Acts 7:51 KJV). Israel’s leadership hates Stephen’s message (God’s Word convicts them), and they stone Stephen to death, thereby rejecting the Holy Spirit. This is the blaspheming against the Holy Spirit spoken of in Matthew 12:31,32 (cf. Acts 7:55-60)!
So, returning to Matthew 12:31,32, we read “and whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him.” Remember, God the Father forgave Israel of killing their King and Redeemer Jesus Christ (just as Jesus asked God the Father in Luke 23:34). Now, Matthew 12:32 says “but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.”
“The world to come” was Israel’s future kingdom (cf. Hebrews 2:3-5)—not heaven or the afterlife as some claim. Those Jews who rejected the Holy Spirit in Acts chapter 7 were actually rejecting the last person of the Godhead. They had already rejected God the Father, and they had already killed God the Son! As the saying goes, “three strikes and you are out.”
In Romans 11:11,12 KJV, we read about Israel: “I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?”
Israel did stumble because Romans 9:32 KJV says, “For they [Israel] stumbled at the stumblingstone; As it is written [Isaiah 8:14, 28:16], Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth in him shall not be ashamed.” What was this “stumblingstone and rock of offence” that God laid in Zion? According to 1 Peter 2:6-8, that stumblingstone is the Lord Jesus Christ. Rather than Israel recognizing Jesus as their Messiah, they stumbled over Him and crucified Him!
But, Romans 11:11 says Israel did not fall at Calvary’s cross. Israel fell in Acts chapter 7; by Acts chapter 28, Israel’s program was fully set aside (temporarily) and the transition to our Dispensation of Grace. From Acts chapter 7 onward, Israel was “diminishing” (Romans 11:12). Because Israel blasphemed against the Holy Spirit, God set her aside for a time.
Any Jew who rejected/spoke against the Holy Spirit, they would be purged out (destroyed in the seven-year Tribulation and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ; Matthew 3:11,12; Matthew 13:38-42; Luke 3:16-17; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9; Hebrews 10:26-31; et al.), and not be allowed to enter into that earthly kingdom (“it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come”).
But, God in His grace, and despite their wickedness, will one day establish that promised kingdom to Israel and we know it as the “Millennial (1,000-Year) Reign of Christ.” That kingdom will be brought in at the Second Coming of Christ, after the seven years of Tribulation.
Today, national Israel does not exist like she did in time past. Jews are scattered all over the world today. In fact, God says in His Word that Israel is “fallen,” “cast away,” and “spiritually blinded” (Romans 11:11,15,25). An individual Jew can receive salvation by becoming a member of the Church the Body of Christ, but one simply being a descendent of Abraham is not required for salvation today. A Jew, like a Gentile, must come to God through Paul’s ministry and Paul’s Gospel, not through the nation Israel.
Actually, did you know that Saul (the Apostle Paul), who was encouraging the death of Stephen, was guilty of blaspheming against the Holy Ghost? After all, Jewish Saul was leading the world’s rebellion against Jesus Christ (Acts 26:9-11). Paul wrote that he was a “blasphemer” in 1 Timothy 1:13. Paul was saved, but he blasphemed against the Holy Spirit! How was Paul saved? God opened our Dispensation of Grace, a program separate from Israel’s program. Saul/the Apostle Paul could only be saved if God interrupted Israel’s program with a new program. Paul was saved in our dispensation, not Israel’s program.
The blasphemy against the Holy Spirit does not apply to us today. This was God’s message to Israel. Israel blasphemed against the Holy Spirit when she refused to hearken unto the voice of the apostles during the early Acts period. This is why Israel was temporarily set aside and her program was momentarily suspended. Because Israel’s program is inactive, our program (the Dispensation of the Grace of God) is in operation. Unlike Israel, we cannot blaspheme against the Holy Ghost.