I first want to tell you that you have blessed my life richly. God’s love continues to become more of a reality to me because of your tapes and books. Thank you for sharing the REAL Jesus with me. I have been stumped by Matthew 12:31-32 where it talks about the only unforgivable sin (blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.) It seems like such a contradiction! If Jesus died for the sins of the world, then how come there is one sin that even He couldn’t and didn’t take care of? I have heard lots of theories, and I was wondering what you thought, and if you had an answer. I know it must be a heart issue. I just don’t get it, because He doesn’t really go into what it is. It just says it can’t be forgiven if you speak evil of the Holy Spirit. If you could help me to understand this, that would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much.
Your question is one of those that people have debated for centuries. I honestly feel that it would be impossible to give you a conclusive doctrinal answer. So I will share some principles that we must apply to understand this reality.
1. We cannot deny what we know about the finished work of Jesus because of this one verse. No scripture stands alone. All scripture must be understood in light of all we know about God.
2. Many things in scripture are unclear. If they were essential points of doctrine, God would have no doubt made them very clear. Therefore, we know that whatever conclusions we reach about such obscure references, they will probably have little to contribute to our walk with God.
I believe we can trust God enough that He would not allow anything that was essential to our eternal wellbeing to be unclear and obscure. Now, Let’s try to put this in context. Matt 12:30-32, “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters. And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.” NIV
This statement is tied to what comes before it and what comes after. The rules of interpretation insist that we not lift scripture out of its context. Jesus ties this statement to the idea that you can’t be in neutral, you are either for God or you are against God. This statement came after they accused him of casting out devils by the power of Satan. Then, He warns them of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Now we know that the Holy Spirit is the person through whom God manifests His power on earth. Some people hold to the position that should we reject the work of the Holy Spirit in the earth, we have no other source to experience God’s saving power, hence we have a sin for which there is no recourse. If we reject the one who brings the forgiveness, we can’t obtain the forgiveness. I am sure there is some validity to that.
He then makes the statement, “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.” Matthew 12:33, NIV. By the tree here, he is referring to God and His work in the earth.
Is He good or not? Does He give you devils or not? Is God the one who delivers you or is the devil the one who delivers you? Besides everything else in this passage the thing that is most overlooked is the fact that Jesus is telling them to make up their mind about God. Is He good or not?
Until I know that God is good and only good, I will never know what the work of God is and what the work of the devil is. I know Christians who attribute healing to the devil and sickness to God. They haven’t decided if the tree is good or bad. Therefore, they blaspheme/grieve/reject the Holy Spirit every time He attempts to manifest the goodness of God in their life.
Last of all, we know for sure that the Holy Spirit is with us as long as we are drawn to God. Mental institutions are full of people who believe they have committed the unpardonable sin. Oddly, no one can ever tell you just exactly what that sin was. As long as we have a desire to know God, there is hope. That’s really all we need to know.
I personally think we commit a form of blasphemy every time we refuse to believe the good news about what we have in Jesus. That won’t keep us out of heaven it will just keep us from experiencing God now.