CLAIM: Jesus taught, “Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come” (Mt. 12:32). What does it mean to blaspheme the Holy Spirit? Does this mean that a Christian can lose their salvation if they do this?
RESPONSE: A number of observations can be made:
First, Jesus’ audience consisted of hard hearted unbelievers—not believers. In the context, Jesus is not speaking about Christian believers blaspheming the Holy Spirit; he is referring to unbelievers. Jesus’ opponents were arguing that his power over demons was due to the fact that he was from Satan—not God (Mt. 12:22-29)! Therefore, this passage is not referring to Christian believers (in the new covenant) rejecting Christ.
Second, this is referring to the rejection of God’s drawing through the Holy Spirit. Have you ever wondered why it is okay to blaspheme Jesus, but it isn’t okay to blaspheme the Holy Spirit? Is one member of the Trinity more important than another? This no doubt refers to rejecting God’s conviction which is brought through the ministry of the Holy Spirit (Jn. 16:8-11). If an unbeliever does this, they will not find forgiveness in Christ.
Third, the verb tense in the Greek refers to a past tense completed action. Therefore, this refers to a certain point (only known in the omniscience of God) where an unbeliever goes past the point of no return. At this point, God knows that this person will reject them forever.
For these reasons, Christians with a sensitive conscience should not worry that they have accidentally blasphemed the Holy Spirit. This passage is referring to unbelievers—not believers. Moreover, blaspheming the Holy Spirit is not an accidental act; instead, it is a deliberate and willful rejection of God’s forgiveness through Christ.