After surveying the situation, he told me what I already knew: the drain line was too small under the slab and he offered an expensive fix and a cheap one. Then he paused and said, "Are you the preacher of that church in town?" I told him that I was and then he said something like, "Well, I go to a church like yours out in the country because I want my wife and kids to love Jesus. I love Jesus, but you need to know that I'm going to hell."
I'm not sure how long my pause was, but it felt like a long one. I then asked him to explain what he meant. He described a night years ago when he and his buddies in high school got drunk and were trying to prove how bad they were. They started cussing God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. He was despondent over having done this. He had told God of his sorrow many times; but while he felt that God could forgive him of "cussing God and Jesus," he felt that cussing the Holy Spirit was the "unforgivable sin."
We opened the Bible, looked at several passages that spoke to his concern. Then, I reminded him that because of Jesus' perfect sacrifice for his sins that God not only forgave him, but also cleansed him of his past sin (1 John 1:5-10).
Over the years, I've run into many people who are concerned that they have "blasphemed the Holy Spirit" and committed the "unforgivable sin." Probably the clearest passage on this subject is found in Mark 3:22-30. As Mark tells Jesus' story, he makes clear what this sin is:
- And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, "He is possessed by Beelzebul! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons" (Mark 3:22 TNIV).
- [Jesus said] "But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven, but is guilty of an eternal sin."
He said this because they were saying, "He has an evil spirit" (Mark 3:29-30).
Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is attributing the power of Jesus to heal and cast out demons in his earthly ministry to the power of demons, the devil, and Beelzebul the prince of demons. In other words, this is not something we are likely going to do today. You can't trust Jesus to save you if you believe his power is from the devil!
There are, however, other sins against the Holy Spirit that are mentioned in the New Testament — study the context of each of these passages for more information:
- Lying to the Spirit — pretending to be something we are not (Acts 5:3).
- Testing the Spirit — pretending to do something we didn't do (Acts 5:7-9).
- Resisting the Spirit — not listening and obeying God's message (Acts 7:51).
- Grieving the Spirit — using our speech wrongly with others (Ephesians 4:30).
- Quenching the Spirit — stifling the Spirit in worship, especially in the proclamation of God's authoritative message (1 Thessalonians 5:19).
For me, the issue is not how many times I have done these things (old news), but how can I avoid doing them in the future (new life). How do I invite the Spirit into my life to work in me and conform me to be more like Jesus (2 Corinthians 3:18) and produce holy fruit in my life (Galatians 5:22-23)? I have found the following concept a good one for me as I seek to live a new life empowered by the Holy Spirit.
If you have ever known someone who has done a series of concerts on the road, they will tell you that the most important thing for a traveling band and the musicians involved with it is to make sure they tune their instruments and voices with each other before each concert. The bumps of the road and the wear and tear of loading and unloading everyday change the tuning of the instruments and everything will be a mess when they try to perform in concert.
If this is true with musical instruments, isn't this much more true with our hearts being in tune with the Holy Spirit? I must tune my heart and life to the Holy Spirit if I am going to "keep in step with the Spirit" (Galatians 5:25). For me, this involves four crucial "tuning" steps each morning as I pray and open God's word. I ask our heavenly Father to:
- Help me hear what the Spirit is saying to me today (2 Timothy 2:16-17; 1 Corinthians 2:6-16).
- Use the spirit to convict me of what I need to change in my life (John 16:7-11; Galatians 5:13-17).
- Have the Spirit remind me of what Jesus said and did (John 14:15-31; 1 John 2:20-27).
- Show me through the Spirit what I need to do to be more like Jesus (2 Corinthians 3:17-18; Galatians 5:22-23).
I would love to get your reaction to this article. Use the Facebook comment section below (or if you get this by email, go to:
Have you ever worried about blasphemy of the Holy Spirit?
Do you think you may have committed some other sin against the Holy Spirit?
How do we put our hearts at rest about this issue?
Do you have a way of inviting the Holy Spirit into your day to influence you? (If you do, please share it!)