“And I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven” (Matthew 12:31). When I first read this scripture many years ago, I was alarmed because I was trying hard to do whatever God wanted because I wanted to go to Heaven. I thought all sins could be forgiven, and I really worried. I knew that I needed to understand what “blasphemy against the Spirit” was because I didn’t want anything coming between God and I. I want to live in Heaven with God when I die. Jesus goes on and repeats the idea a second time, ” 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 the age to come” (Matthew 12″32). Saying it twice and then saying, “either in this age or the age to come” makes it sound very, very strong! He really wants us to know what he is talking about. I did a lot of thinking about this and researching because I didn’t want to commit this sin. What is he talking about?
First of all, we must go back to the word “blasphemy.” I grew up with my dad in the Air Force, and military men cuss. I heard all the cuss words, and as far as I knew cussing was blasphemy, and I never cussed. My mother raised me not to cuss, and I knew it was a sin, but if we look up the word blasphemy, it means even more than cussing. It means speaking against something or someone. How can we speak against the Holy Spirit?
If you have never been inside a Jewish synagogue, here is a picture of one to represent the Old Testament.
It helps a lot of we figure out what the Holy Spirit is. The Holy Spirit is even talked about in the Old Testament in many places. An example is Psalms 51:11 where it says, ” Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.” The Holy Spirit has been around for a long, long time. John the Baptist said in Matthew 3:11 that when Jesus came, he would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. How can we be baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire? It helps to understand the word “baptism.” In Acts 2:38, Peter said, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” This all seems so complicated if we don’t know exactly what the Holy Spirit is. It seems I may have muddied the water for you, but I am giving you scriptures that mention the Holy Spirit. We have to take our definitions from the scriptures since these are spiritual matters from the scriptures.
This kind of kitchen has not been around very long.
To begin with being baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire seems really strange, but it isn’t as strange as you might think. John the Baptist was speaking metaphorically. As I said, it helps a lot to understand what baptism is. Is it letting someone pour water on our heads? Not exactly. If you do some research, you understand that baptism is a word that was made up by the Bible translators of the King James version in 1611. It comes from a Greek word. I am not a Greek scholar, but I am a linguist and have studied the morphology of words. Sometimes words change meaning. At the point of translation of the Bible, the Greek word “baptizo” was changed. The problem is that King James wanted the scriptures translated into English correctly. He told the translators that if any of them made a mistake, he would have them beheaded. They had already changed the meaning of baptism from the original meaning, and the Bible translators saw it. The word “baptizo” means immersion, but by that point, they were pouring and sprinkling. From what I understand, pouring and sprinkling came because it was hard to get a lot of water in one place. After all, how long have we had running water and been able to fill baptisteries? Not very long. When I went to the house where my mother grew up, I saw that they were drawing water out of a well, using an outhouse, and using an ice box instead of a refrigerator. It makes sense that the people had shortened the baptism to sprinkling or pouring. They were trying to get the job done without making it hard on anyone. The Bible translators were afraid to put the word immersion in the Bible, so they made up a new word. They did what linguists call “transliterate.” They left the word in the text and Anglicized it. They changed baptizo to baptism.
This has caused a lot of confusion in the modern world. However, understanding that the word transliterated as baptism into English means immersion is one step to helping us understand how we can be baptized in the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matthew 3:11) . If you look back at the verse in Matthew 3, it means that Jesus will immerse us either in the Holy Spirit or fire. How can we be immersed in the Holy Spirit and Fire? Reading the following verse is always a way of understanding what a verse is talking about. Read Matthew 3:12: “His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into his barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” Again, John the Baptist is talking metaphorically. He is using a farmer’s imagery because there were many farmers in his day, and they knew exactly what he was talking about. A farmer gathers what is good about the wheat and puts it in his barn, and the other part is burned up. Jesus gathers the people who are good and takes them to Heaven. The rest of the people who don’t listen (who are not good like the chaff) will be sent to eternal fire, to Hell. We really want to be immersed in the Holy Spirit, or immersed in goodness.
Another verse that confuses people is Acts 2:38: “Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'” They wonder how we can get the gift of the Holy Spirit. It helps to understand what repentance is. Repentance is a change deep inside of ourselves. We turn and go the other direction. If we are stealing, we steal no more. If we lie, we lie no more. However, it goes even further. Galatians 5; 16-26 helps us understand what happens when we repent and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit:
“So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the sinful nature, for the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want, but if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.” (At this time only the Old Testament law existed.)
“The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, distensions, factions, and envy, drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Against such things, there is no law. Those who belong to Christ have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited provoking and envying each other.”
Goodness is a gift from God.
It looks like when we repent and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, we are being immersed in goodness. We won’t even want to do the bad stuff because it is against our nature. Instead of getting drunk, instead of running after people to sleep with, instead of getting mad a lot, etc., we will be treating everyone well. We will be kind. We will be gentle. We will have patience, etc. This is good. It looks like we become good if we have the gift of the Holy Spirit. We didn’t give it to ourselves, but God gave it to us when we decided to change our hearts and lives (repent). Jesus immerses us in the Holy Spirit, in goodness.
Now, we go back to blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. In the context of Matthew 12, the Pharisees were saying the good things that Jesus was doing had to be done through the power of the Devil, but Jesus said something very wise in response to them. He said, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household house divided against itself cannot stand” (Matthew 12:28). A lot of people think that Abraham Lincoln said that, and he did, but he was quoting Jesus. He was a Christian man who read his Bible. How can Jesus be taking bad out of people with the power of the Devil? That makes no sense. He was doing it with the power of God, the power of goodness, the power of the Holy Spirit.
If we blaspheme against the Holy Spirit, then we see something good and call it bad. Now a days, many people don’t understand what Christianity is. They have forgotten. When I was teaching at a state university, there was a girl in my class who was a lesbian witch. She wrote a lot of things in her papers about how people had persecuted her for her persuasions. It is true that both of those are sins (Romans 1:21-31 and Galatians 5:19 & 20). She didn’t know that I was a Christian, and when she found out, she was scared. She had it in her mind that Christians were bad. She went to my boss and complained because she learned I was a Christian. She thought I was going to treat her badly, but I would never do that. Christianity is a religion that is all about treating people well. People don’t understand that anymore. If you are immersed in the Holy Spirit and doing the things in Galatians 5:22, you are not going to be the one who treats people bad because they disagree with you.
At the same university, there were preachers who came to the campus to preach against sleeping around and abortion. The students treated these preachers terrible. One was sitting in a lawn chair talking, and a student came by and just kicked the leg of the lawn chair so it would fall. There is a lot of hate coming toward Christians now a days because people no longer know who we are. These people who are calling the good things that are preached bad are blaspheming against the Holy Spirit. When someone does something good that is obviously good, never call it bad. That is the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
If we don’t understand what goodness is, we can’t go to Heaven. If we think goodness is bad, we are completely and totally lost and without hope in this world or the world to come. Christians do not need to try to look bad just to fit into society. We don’t need to be thinking a good clean TV show is beneath us. We don’t need to be thinking we can live on both sides of the fence. We are either immersed in goodness, or we aren’t. We either let Jesus put us in his barn or we will be thrown into the fire. Speaking against the goodness that comes from God is the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.