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Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit
- Jacob Ninan
Jesus once cast out a demon from a man who was also dumb and blind (Mt.12:22). This made the people who were watching to wonder if Jesus was not indeed the Son of David they were waiting for (v.23). But the Pharisees said that Jesus was casting out demons by Beelzebub, the prince of devils (v.24). Jesus clarified that He had in fact done this through the Holy Spirit (v.28). Then Jesus made the famous statement that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit could never be forgiven (v.31).
This is the so-called unpardonable sin. Many sincere Christians sometimes get into great distress thinking that they have accidentally or unknowingly fallen into this sin, and that now they are lost without any further remedy. Some others who understand this incident to mean that the sin of the Pharisees was in attributing to Satan what the Holy Spirit had done become terrified of exposing counterfeits of Satan, thinking that unknowingly they might blaspheme against the Holy Spirit.
Nicodemus, who was a Pharisee, recognised that Jesus was from God, because he said that otherwise no one could do the things that Jesus did (Jn.3:2). This tells us that the other Pharisees also had enough evidence to recognise that Jesus was doing many things in the power of God. So when they commented that He was casting out demons through Beelzebub they were not acting in ignorance but deliberately trying to malign Jesus with what they knew in their heart to be a blatant lie. That was what made it a blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, the deliberate attributing to the devil what they knew the Spirit of God had done.
When someone exposes some deceitful work of the devil, such as people slithering on the floor like snakes or running around barking like mad dogs supposedly under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, that is not blasphemy! We can say this boldly because these are against the character and nature of God and not at all in line with the fruit of the Spirit. This is the basis on which we are to determine false prophets, teachers and miracle workers (Mt.7:15,16). It is also not a sin of blasphemy if somebody hesitatingly expresses doubts on something as being possibly from the devil, because his doubt is genuine and he is not knowingly contradicting the truth as the Pharisees did.
If someone feels that he has committed an unpardonable sin, the question to ask himself is how then he is experiencing the conviction of the Holy Spirit regarding that sin, and how he has a desire to repent. Satan may accuse, and we also may feel remorse or regret about what we have done. But it is God who gives us a conviction in our heart that we have done wrong, along with a desire and willingness to repent (Acts.11:18). If we have actually committed an unpardonable sin the implication will be that we will be lost forever, and then God would not be helping us to repent.
As long as we can truly repent we can go to Jesus, and He will never cast us out when we do that (Jn.6:37).