What is the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit? By Dr John Macarthur

I’d invite you—and you’re going to need your Bible and you’re going to have to turn quick because we want to hurry—but this draws us to Matthew 12.  What is the blasphemy of the John MacarthurHoly Spirit?  Jesus presented himself to Israel as the King, the Messiah, the Anointed One, the fulfillment of all Old Testament prophecy.  And, of course, progressively from indifference to total rejection went the Jewish mentality, generated by its leaders.  By the time you come to Matthew 12, the consensus of opinion among Jewish leadership is that this man is not just somebody to be ignored; He is somebody to be contended with.  He is somebody to be contended with very seriously because He’s “satanic.”  They concluded the very opposite to the truth because of the blindness of their own hearts.
So, their conclusion was that Jesus Christ was demonic, Jesus Christ was satanic.  And they said that the demons that Jesus cast out, He cast out by the power of Satan.  Now, look at Matthew 12:24 and we’ll pick up the narrative that explains this issue.  “When the Pharisees heard it, they said, ‘This fellow casts out demons not but by Beelzebub, the Prince of Demons,’” that is, by Satan.  “And Jesus knew their thoughts and said unto them, ‘Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; every city or house divided against itself shall not stand; and if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself.  How shall then his kingdom stand?  And if I, by Beelzebub, cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out?  Therefore, they shall be your judges.’”  Jesus simply says that the issue here cannot be one of Satan casting out Satan, for Satan would divide himself, and the conflict would arise as to who’s doing what by whose power.  He zeros, then, in on the problem: “If I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.”
“If you’re wrong, then you’ve missed the kingdom and you’ve missed the King.”  Now go down to verse 31: “Wherefore I say unto you, all manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven men.  The blasphemy against the Holy Spirit shall not be forgiven men.  And whosoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him, but whosoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this age, neither in the age to come.

Now here you have this very important area of the unpardonable sin.  You have the statement “it shall not be forgiven” twice: once in verse 31 and once in verse 32.  People always say, “Well, what is it that cannot be forgiven?  What is the one thing that cannot be forgiven?” and some people have said it is rejection of Jesus Christ.  That isn’t true because that can be forgiven.  You can reject Jesus Christ at one point in your life, receive him at another point, and have the past forgiven.  Is that true?  So it can’t simply be rejecting Jesus Christ.
The Pentecostal people tell us that the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is when you say their experience in the Holy Spirit isn’t valid, and that isn’t true either.  That isn’t even the issue here!  Nobody is even talking about that!  What is the issue here is simply this: Jesus did what He did by the power of the Holy Spirit.  He yielded himself as a submissive Son to the will of the Father and to the power of the Spirit.  When He was baptized (you’ll recall in Matthew 3) the Holy Spirit did what?  Descended upon him as a dove and empowered him for his life and his work among men.  He was God, but He set aside the prerogatives of his deity and submitted himself to the will of the Father and the power of the Holy Spirit.
So, in a true sense, what Jesus did, He did by the power of the Holy Spirit working through him.  His virgin birth was conceived of the Spirit.  His empowerment for ministry was at his baptism and was generated by the Holy Spirit.  And so, Jesus operated on the principle of submission to the Father and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Now, it was one thing (notice in verse 32) to speak against the Son of Man, to say something against the humanness of Jesus or against his earthly presence or his earthly work.  But to blaspheme the Holy Spirit was quite another thing.
Now, what it means is this: these people had received all the revelation they could receive.  They had heard Jesus teach—and He said, “You should believe me for the words I speak.”  They had seen the works that He had done, miracle after miracle after miracle…  Many of them.  So many of them that John says in John 20, “I suppose that if all the things that Jesus did were written, the books of all the world couldn’t hold them.”  They had seen hundreds and perhaps thousands upon thousands of miracles.  And Jesus said, “If you won’t believe me for the words, believe me for the very”—what?  “Works’ sake.”
The point here is, here were a group of men, the leaders of Israel, who had had the epitome of revelation.  They had it all.  The fulfillment of all Messianic prophecy in the Old Testament, the corroboration by the very statements of Christ and the deeds of Christ that He was the Messiah, and their conclusion was that He was of Satan.  Now, what happened?  With all the revelation that God could possibly give them, they concluded the very opposite.  And our Lord says, “It’s impossible for you to be saved.”  Why?  “Because when you had all the revelation, you concluded that I was satanic.”  That’s hopeless.  That’s hopeless.
This, then, is the unpardonable sin.  It was a historic thing.  It was committed at a very specific period in time by some specific people who attributed the works of Christ to Satan.  And when they evaluated everything that Jesus was and did, they said He was from the devil.  That was the opposite to the truth and Jesus simply said, “If, when all the revelation is in, you conclude that I am satanic, you’re done.  Because you couldn’t get any more than all the revelation, could you?  You’re hopeless.  You could never be forgiven!  If you spoke a word against the Son of Man, the humanness, the life of Jesus Christ—you may misunderstand that, but you could never misunderstand the work of the Holy Spirit to this extent, that when He is pointing to me as God, you conclude that I’m Satan.  You’re hopeless.”
Now, can people commit that sin today?  No, I don’t think so; I think that has to be committed when Christ is here on earth.
Notice at the end of verse 32: “It shall not be forgiven him neither in this age”—and what age was this? Think about it. “Pre-cross”…what age was it? Well, it was really the last part of the Old Testament era, wasn’t it? It was the gospel period before Christ died and rose; it wasn’t the church age, was it? No. “Neither in this age, neither in the age to come, to every Jew”—what was the “age to come”? The kingdom. I believe this sin will again be committed in the kingdom when people will see Jesus Christ and they will see the work of Jesus Christ. He’ll be visibly present on the earth. They’ll see everything that He does, they’ll hear everything that He says, and they’ll conclude the same kind of blasphemous conclusion, and they’ll be just as unpardonable as these were at that time.
I don’t think it has any reference to what a man does today. The closest thing to it would be Hebrews 6 where somebody has tasted the heavenly gift, been enlightened, had all the information possible, and fallen away: it’s impossible for him to be renewed to repentance. Why? Because when he had all revelation, he didn’t believe; how’s he ever going to believe at any point less than that?
So that is the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit: attributing the works of Christ while He’s here on earth, manifesting his deity, to Satan. The opposite conclusion leaves a man hopeless.


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