Friday, July 10, 2015

Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit

And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him. When they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not worry about how or what you are to speak in your defense, or what you are to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say." (Luke 12:10-12 NASB)

I prefer a warm and fuzzy, comfortable, feel-good blog post. That's not always possible. We come now to a section of Scripture that's hard to bear. "He who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him..."

The idea that we might not be forgiven for something is painful to me, but Jesus makes it very clear. There is something that God will not forgive. Blaspheme is a word that means to "speak impiously about God". In this passage, the impious speaking is directed against the Holy Spirit. 

We might as well be clear about hard truth at the beginning. God is under no obligation to forgive anyone. He graciously forgives as He will, but He has drawn a line in the sand. There is one thing He will not forgive. Deliberate and willful blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. 

Paul, in 1 Timothy 1:13 described himself as a former blasphemer. The reason his blasphemy was forgiven, he says, is that he blasphemed in ignorance. He made assumptions about Jesus but, when he met Him face to face on the road to Damascus, when he encountered TRUTH, found all his assumptions were false.

Jesus was not talking about the kind of blasphemy that comes from ignorance. Jesus was speaking about a deliberate blasphemy against the Holy Spirit from someone who knows truth. The Pharisees in Jesus' time are a good example of this. After he raised Lazarus from death, the miracle was reported to the Pharisees and the council. They understood Jesus had done a miracle and the miracle was an attesting sign. They didn't doubt what He was doing, but they didn't like what He said. He wasn't the kind of Messiah for which they longed. They wanted power and position. Jesus would change things, and not in a way they wanted. They knew truth, but spoke lies against Him, and it was a blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.

Therefore the chief priests and the Pharisees convened a council, and were saying, "What are we doing? For this man is performing many signs. If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation." (John 11:47-48 NASB)

The same attitude triggered persecution against the disciples after Jesus returned to heaven. They performed extraordinary miracles and people came to faith by the thousands. When Peter and John healed the blind beggar and preached to the crowd (many of whom came to faith), the two men were brought to the Council. There was not a question of whether or not the miracle had been performed. The question was again what the Gospel would do to the status quo. The Council warned the disciples to stop preaching Jesus. Knowing truth, the Pharisees chose a lie, and that choice was a blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.

But when they had ordered them to leave the Council, they began to confer with one another, saying, "What shall we do with these men? For the fact that a noteworthy miracle has taken place through them is apparent to all who live in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. (Acts 4:15-16 NASB)

Jesus warned the disciples about blasphemy against the Holy Spirit because He knew they would encounter the opportunity, the temptation, to do that very thing. They would be brought before "synagogues, and rulers, and authorities", and they were. They would be given the opportunity to deny their faith and save their lives. 

When the time came, and it did, the disciples could not deny the truth they knew. They stood firm in their faith, refused to recant, even though it cost them their lives. They held to their faith and saved their souls.

How could they do this? Because they knew truth. They knew Jesus in a personal, intimate way. They had walked and talked with Him on a daily basis. There was no doubt in their minds because of the experience they had with Him.

Unless we know our Lord in that same intimate, personal way, we may not be as faithful when persecution comes. We have only to read the news to know that persecution is near. We will have an opportunity to deny our faith and blaspheme the Holy Spirit, so we must count the cost now and decide how we will respond. Will we save our life now or our eternal soul? 

Most of us know people who trusted Christ as a child but have been drawn away from faith by sinful choices, vain imaginings, and the philosophy of man. In their deception, they deny Christ. Is this the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit? I don't think so, but only God can say for sure. When we are deceived, we don't see truth. Blasphemy is a willful act of denial but it requires that we know we are denying truth. No matter how far from Christ a prodigal has wandered, they can still come to their senses and return to their Heavenly Father.

The Pharisees knew truth but chose to reject it and fight against it because it didn't fit their plans. In a time of weakness, we might do the same. Let us choose now to hold firm to the faith we have, to the Savior who died to redeem us, so that, when hard times come, we stand for Christ. Our choice will have eternal consequences. 

Choose well.
Heavenly Father, help our unbelief. Strengthen our faith and our resolve to stand firm for You, no matter what comes. We cling to the Christ and thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit. In Jesus name, amen.