The “Unforgivable” Sin – Blaspheming the Holy Spirit

A friend of mine sent me this link at msn from a Newsweek article. I recommend reading it. In a nutshell, it tells the story of BlasphemyChallenge.com, which encourages people to renounce God, and more specifically, the Holy Spirit, in order to show their strong support of atheism. What’s up for grabs is a DVD of the documentary The God Who Wasn’t There, and all it costs is your soul. Quite a deal, huh?

Those interested merely have to record and upload a brief video to youtube where they renounce God, or blaspheme him in some way, but they must specifically blaspheme the Holy Spirit as well. Why? Because of this verse:

29 but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation – Mark 3:29

Quite a few people have willingly traded their souls for this little plastic disk, and as one of them stated, they’re “daring God to send [them] to Hell.” Good luck with that…

This article does bring up an interesting subject, and it happens to be one we recently studied in a Bible class. Does blaspheming the Holy Spirit, as these people are doing, really condemn someone to hell for good? I mean, if the person changes their mind later and decides they need to be saved, is it too late for them? Have they already thrown away their chance?

To help answer that, let’s look at Mark 3 again, but in context, this time.

22 And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebub,” and, “By the ruler of the demons He casts out demons.”
23 So He called them to Himself and said to them in parables: “How can Satan cast out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 26 And if Satan has risen up against himself, and is divided, he cannot stand, but has an end. 27 No one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. And then he will plunder his house.
28 “Assuredly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they may utter; 29 but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation”— 30 because they said, “He has an unclean spirit.”
– Mark 3:22-30

In this passage (Matthew 12 and Luke 12 record the same thing), we see where some of the Jewish scribes claimed that Jesus was able to perform his miracles by Satan’s power, instead of God’s. Jesus points out how ridiculous that idea is, for why would Satan hurt himself? It’s after this that Jesus tells his followers that those who blaspheme the Holy Spirit can’t have forgiveness. Verse 30 tells us the reason he said that was because they claimed he had an unclean spirit.

We can tell from that section that it was the Holy Spirit that worked with Jesus to perform those miracles. Well, what was the purpose of miracles? Was it merely to help the pour soul who was suffering from whatever affliction Christ healed? No, that wasn’t the main reason at all.

30 And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. – John 20:30-31

See? Miracles were performed and recorded so that we would believe Jesus is the son of God. That was their purpose – they served as proof And as we just read, that “proof” was supplied by the Holy Spirit.

When the scribes attributed the miracles performed by the Holy Spirit to unclean spirits, or demons, then they were denying the very proof that Christ offered. Well, if they did that, then there was no hope for their salvation. If they denied the very proof Christ offered, then how could they be convinced that he was the Christ?

I think this is what Christ was referring to in Mark 3. That as long as these people denied the proofs God offered, they couldn’t achieve forgiveness. If they wouldn’t even acknowledge that miracles were miracles, what else could Jesus offer them to convince them? Nothing. They had absolutely refused to be convinced. However, if they ever realized their error and repented of it, I don’t think God would deny them forgiveness. After all, passages like Collossians 2:13, James 5:15, and countless others explain how God is always willing to forgive us of any sin.

Basically, I think that this passage, though confusing and scary, just means that those who deny the proofs that God has offered have no hope of salvation, but if they ever realize their error, they can be forgiven. But even if it does mean that those who blaspheme the Holy Spirit can never be forgiven, I think it would have to be referring to people like the ones taking part in the Blasphemy Challenge. It’s definitely not something that we could “accidentally” do. We don’t need to worry that we’ve mistakenly commmitted the “unforgivable sin.” Those who worry about it, haven’t committed it.

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33 thoughts on “The “Unforgivable” Sin – Blaspheming the Holy Spirit

  1. very interesting, esp. the part about blaspheming against the Holy Spirit being an eternal sin. i’m sure i’ve read that before but the magnitude of which didn’t quite hit me till now. i’m gonna ask some questions around. thank you for bringing this up!

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  2. Hebrews 6:4-8 also seems applicable here, though from the perspective of those who believed and then denied, e.g. some of the participants in the Blasphemy Challenge:

    “4 For it is impossible to renew to repentance those who were once enlightened, who tasted the heavenly gift, became companions with the Holy Spirit, 5 tasted God’s good word and the powers of the coming age, 6 and who have fallen away, because, to their own harm, they are recrucifying the Son of God and holding Him up to contempt. 7 For ground that has drunk the rain that has often fallen on it, and that produces vegetation useful to those it is cultivated for, receives a blessing from God. 8 But if it produces thorns and thistles, it is worthless and about to be cursed, and will be burned at the end.” (HCSB)

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  3. You’re absolutely right. I really don’t know why I didn’t think of that passage. Although, I think that it’s only impossible for them to “come to repentance” while they insist on denying Christ. If they decide to return to him, I fully believe they can and will be forgiven.

    The Parable of the Prodigal Son shows that God is willing to forgive. And Romans 11 says that those who have been “cut off” can always be “grafted in” again.

    Thanks for your comment!

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  5. Bronwen

    What if someone in anger came out and said, “they curse the Holy Spirit” but later repented, is that blasphemy?
    I know someone who did that a few times while they were angry and back slidden, in a sense as I saw it.

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  6. Bronwen

    Does anyone know the Greek to that word, ‘say anything against the Holy Spirit’? Maybe that would should more on the light.
    This person is freaking out because they verbally did say this. They feel cut off from the body now. Even though I see them in church. lol!
    Thank you Nate for responding.

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  7. The Greek word there is actually “blasphemeo,” which fits right in with most English translations.

    I’d tell your friend not to worry about that. If he/she is truly repentant and sorry about that, then God will forgive him/her. Refer to Col 2:13 and especially 1 John 1:9 that says God is faithful and just to fogive us if we confess our sins to him.

    Again, I think this passage in Mark 3 is really saying that as long as we refuse to have faith and take advantage of the wonderful grace God gives us, we have no hope of forgiveness. So many examples in the Bible show God’s willingness to forgive people (city of Nineveh, nations of Israel and Judah, those who crucified Christ, Paul, etc) that it doesn’t make sense to me that there would be this one “magic phrase” that could keep you from forgiveness, even if you repented of it.

    Hopefully, those passages and thoughts will help your friend.

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  8. Bronwen

    How sweet of you to answer. What I’m looking for is the Greek word for the the “if anyone “speaks a word” against the Holy Sprit,,.” it’s that phrase, ‘speaks a word” is what I am looking for.

    Thank you

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  9. Bronwen

    What I mean is everyone addresses the heart condition of that person rather than the Word saying, “if you ‘say’ anything against the Holy Spirit.

    Why is that? That’s why I want to know what it means in the Greek.
    Thank you so much

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  10. I’m not sure what version you’re reading from, but the concept of “speaking against” or “saying a word against” the Holy Spirit comes from the Greek word blasphemeo, which is the same as our “blaspheme.” And I guess I don’t quite follow what your question is about the use of that phrase there… could you shed a little more light on that?
    Thanks

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  11. Bronwen

    I guess that no one can be certain when it comes to this passage.
    This person is convinced that they did blaspheme and that there is no hope.
    Now they might have cancer.
    No hope, no hope. They pretty much destroyed any chance for them to have faith in God being for them.
    Shortly after they did this, then came back to the Lord, found they might have cancer. No time for emotional healing from this statement they made.
    No hope, no hope. God’s hands are tied.
    Thank you

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  12. Well, I hate to hear that. While what they did was not a good idea, I still don’t think it means they are eternally damned and without hope. Other passages are clear that God is always willing to forgive us. Plus, when this passage in Mark is taken in context, it really seems to be saying that this “blaspheming the Holy Spirit” isn’t really something we say, but an attitude of refusing to accept the proof Christ offered of who he is.

    In this passage, the Pharisees take the very miracles he performed, which were supposed to prove his deity, and they say he’s doing it through the power of Satan. They obviously were looking for any excuse to discount him as the Christ. As long as they held that opinion, they were effectively “blaspheming the Holy Spirit” by assigning its power to Satan. There’s no hope for someone like that because they refuse to accept what Christ offers.

    But it doesn’t sound like your friend has done that. He/she may have done something stupid, but they obviously seem to believe in God and Christ. That still doesn’t necessarily mean they’re saved — but this particular issue is not something that will keep them from being saved.

    Incidentally, I believe the Bible teaches that to be saved, one has to believe that Jesus is the son of God (John 3:16), confess that belief (Rom 10:9-10), repent of past sins (2 Pet 3:9), and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).

    There are many other passages that list how each of those things is involved in the salvation process, and I’ve written several blog posts on them, baptism in particular. So if your friend hasn’t done those things, then they need to study those issues and make sure that they’re right with God. If they have done those things, then as a Christian who has made some mistakes, they should pray for forgiveness, as we see in Acts 8:9-24.

    Anyway, I hope some of these points help. But ultimately, your friend doesn’t need to obsess about whatever it was he/she said. I simply don’t think that it’s unforgiveable — that concept just seems to be contrary to the rest of the scriptures.

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  13. Bronwen

    This person is saved for sure. Loves the Lord, has been saved for more than 20 years. Just a little screwed up.
    Then why did Jesus say anything spoken against Him would be forgiven but not the Holy Spirit. Why the difference?

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  14. I really don’t know the answer to that entirely. This is definitely a complicated passage. But I think that this blasphemy of the Holy Spirit cuts directly to the core of how Jesus proved who he was. People may not have accepted him at first based on what he said. But when he performed miracles (which we know were primarily used as a form of proof), if people still didn’t believe, or attributed those miracles to some demonic power, then there really was absolutely nothing left for them.

    I could easily be wrong, but I think Jesus was saying something similar to that — because like you said, if he’s really talking about simply speaking against the Holy Spirit, why would that be any different than speaking against God or Jesus?

    It’s a very complicated issue, but I think that if I were your friend, I would hope that I could be forgiven of the things I’d said, and I’d try to live my life better in the future. There’s certainly nothing to lose by doing it that way.

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  15. No to both questions. I do preach from time to time, but I don’t do it on a very regular basis. And I haven’t studied Greek either. I found that blasphemeo word by looking at an Interlinear Bible.

    Honestly, I have gotten to where I don’t concentrate on the Greek too much. Sometimes it seems helpful, but usually I find that the Greek definition tends to match up to the English translation. And since I know so many Greek scholars had to agree on these translations, I tend to trust their judgment on it.

    And thanks for all your comments. I haven’t posted anything new on here for a long time, mostly because I’ve been busy with work, family, and going to school at night. But I’m just about to finish this degree, so I hope to get back to posting regularly soon. It’s always nice to have someone drop in and start up a conversation though. 🙂

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  16. Bronwen

    Well I did a study with a pastor friend of mine about the Greek for speaking against the Holy Spirit. It says saying a utterance, and the such, to speak disrespectfully against.

    That’s what happened on cursing the Holy Spirit. So it was blasphemy.

    No hope of God at all now in that person’s life.

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  17. It’s true that that’s what the word means. And even in that passage, Christ is talking about people who have indeed blasphemed (or spoken words against) the Holy Spirit, since they attribute Christ’s miracles as coming from Satan, not from God.

    That is definitely a blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. But I still think it’s unlikely that that blasphemy dooms someone to Hell, even if they are truly sorry and repent of the mistake. That just doesn’t seem to fit with other passages that clearly say God is willing to forgive any trespass.

    In a way, I think Christ is saying that there’s no forgiveness for such a sin, only because there’s nothing left to convince such a person. Here’s an example:

    Let’s say I’m standing in a burning house, and you try to convince me to leave by telling me the house is burning, by telling me the horrible things that could happen to me if I stay in it, and by showing me examples and other irrefutable proof of what will happen to me if I remain in the house. If I refuse to accept what you’re telling me, then I’m truly hopeless. There’s nothing else anyone could do to convince me that I’m in trouble, because I don’t even accept the proof that’s being offered.

    Right now, the US is in the middle of an election year. Each candidate is trying to sway voters to support them by offering evidence. Evidence is the only tool we have to make someone change their mind about an issue. When people refuse to look at or even acknowledge the evidence, then there’s nothing left to do for them. The only hope left for them is for them to open their minds — at that point, the responsibility lies squarely with them.

    I really think that is what’s being addressed by Jesus in this passage. These people wouldn’t accept the proof he offered. Well, how else could he convince them? And if he can’t convince them, then what hope is left for them? Those people can’t be forgiven, because they refuse to accept the proof, even when they’ve seen it with their own eyes. And as long as they have that attitude, they will “never have forgiveness, but are subject to eternal condemnation.”

    However, if they one day open their minds and begin to accept the proof that is there, then I think they can be forgiven of their past unbelief. I really do think that is what this passage tells us.

    Remember, the passage seems to be talking about someone who is continuing this “blasphemy.” It says, “but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation.” And as long as someone refuses to accept that Christ’s power came from God and is proof of his deity, then yes, they’ll never have forgiveness.

    Sure, I could be wrong, but I think that it’s at least a plausible interpretation, and it would sure give your friend some hope. Besides, if they give up trying to do the right thing, and I am right, then the consequences for them could be really bad.

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  18. Bronwen

    Thank you for responding.
    Then He should have said, if you don’t accept this work as the Holy Spirit, then you cannot accept who I am and then find salvation.

    In the O. T., God clearly let people die because of certain objects of Holiness that were not allowed to be touched. Kind David was even angry with God that such a thing happened. But God’s holiness can’t be changed in any way.
    I believe they are beyond hope and help. Plus they can’t sense the Lord anymore. Haven’t since then, even after they repented. They haven’t seen God working in their life any more. God used to help them with so many things, even supply their needs. Now it seems all things have been cut off. And now maybe cancer!
    There are many people in hell today who thought they would never go there. Even christians, I believe, who would not repent of certain sins. You hear of people scriptures that clearly talk about not bearing fruit and being cut down and thrown into the fire.
    Look at what happened to that couple in the book of Acts. They lied and dropped dead right there. And the fear of God grew and the gospel was spread.
    So there is still a judgement that can come upon believers.
    From what I have seen, I think “speaking” against the Holy Spirit, even after repentance, is the unpardonable sin.
    No hope.
    Just accepting it!
    Thank you

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  19. Those are good points, but I’m still doubtful. After all, when Uzzah was struck down for reaching up to steady the ark, God killed him and his life was over. There was nothing more Uzzah could do about the condition of his soul. However, I can’t think of an example of someone who continued to live, yet couldn’t change their spiritual state.

    And even the passage you reference from Romans 11:17-24 still says that those branches can be “grafted in” again. Even though they had been cut off, they could be brought back in.

    So yes, I completely agree that Christians can turn from God and “fall from grace,” but I’m just not sure that some people would never have a chance to turn back to God after a mistake like this.

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  20. Bronwen

    I feel like this person will be living a living hell the rest of their life and then scared of death thinking of eternal hell.
    What hope is left? None.
    A person can feel they will go out of thier mind, snap, which already started to happen. They were told they were having an emotional breakdown.

    So in a true sense, no one really knows for sure until they die. If they believe the might have sinned against the Holy Spirit with blasphemy and then were taught they didn’t but died and found out they did, no one can help them. It is hopeless. How sad. How stupid of them to say such a thing, just for a moment of anger.
    All they can do is try and live for the Lord for the rest of their life. But I don’t know how long they can hold on doing that or even just living if they feel they have no hope for eternal life or even having God in their life.

    They miss God in their life more than anything in the world.
    Crying is their only friend.
    When they had the emotional breakdown and asked for Christians to just be with them, spend a little time with them daily to read the Word and praise God, they were told by the pastor, “that they can’t send someone to their house to babysit them every day.” My hubby and I just cried when that was said. Already the love of God has grown cold through believers. Kindness has been cut off, grace shown no more. Tears are that which nourish now. Wishing the Word was for them.
    Stupid words from the mouth can destroy a future.

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  21. Oh, sorry Bronwen; I didn’t see your previous comment. You can’t actually start a new thread since they’re just blog posts. Unfortunately, I haven’t taken the time to do any new posts in quite a while, but hopefully that will change soon.

    Thanks!

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  22. well i cursed the holyspirit and i know god forgave me for 2 reasons i was on drugs and thats not what my heart said…..

    reason number one: the only blasphemy jesus is really refering to is when the pharises accused JESUS of being devil possessed by belzebub they cursed the holy spirit.

    Reason number two:blasphemy The blood of jesus is powerfull enough detergent to wash some one clean and then comes the renewing of their mind through the holyspirit

    best thing to do if i was them from the blasphemy challenge before ill be doomed to a reprobated mind w.t.o. conciouns is to pray to jesus to strengthen their faith so they may be justified.

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  23. pllzzzzzzzzzzzz HELP me im 12 and i was trying to telll my freind if you kill ur self and ur saved you still go to heaven and i was reading and i dident mean to but i said the unforgivabile sin i dident mean to and now i dont know is im goin to hell or not im saved i dident mean to say it and i beggggggggeddddd GOD to forgive me but i dont know if he can plllzzzzzzzz help i dont want to go to hell i belaive in you god i really really do

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  24. Sarah, like I said in the article above, I don’t think there’s any sin that God can’t forgive. If a Christian asks God to forgive them of a sin, God has promised that he will do that.

    As far as your point about suicide, I think that’s something that is hard to know for sure. I’m inclined to agree that someone who commits suicide in cases of great mental anguish, where they are not thinking clearly, might still go to heaven. But ultimately, we can’t know for sure.

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  25. Nate J

    Hey sarah:). Just letting you Know that If you’re repentant and Come to God with it, He’ll Cleanse you of it…just bring Him your heart, and He says that When you do that His grace is sufficient 🙂 Jesus Loves us heaps….. So much that he came and died for the lot of us..

    so yeah He Loves you alot….

    Go check out a sunrise or sunset and bring a journal with you or something. and sit down and just start pouring your heart out to God..

    He loves us:)

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