“8 “And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before people, the Son of Man also will acknowledge him before the angels of God, 9 but the one who denies me before people will be denied before the angels of God. 10 And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him, but to the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven. 11 But when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious how or what you should speak in your own defense or what you should say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that same hour what it is necessary to say.” (Luke 12)
If the word “sin” offends you, the word “unforgivable” next to it must be obscene. How could a God of love not forgive? How could an all-powerful God have a sin He was restrained from forgiving? Does His forgiveness roll off of it? Is it the Teflon sin? Forgiveness won’t stick. If you commit this sin as a child, are you done? Should you just check right into hell, do not pass Go, do not collect your two hundred dollars? How does one know when they’ve committed it? How can we who do believe in sin and have a healthy fear of it avoid it?
What is it?
That part, I think, is actually easier than we’ve made it over the years. I’m not a smart man so I hope and pray what I’m about to say is actually from the Spirit. If you have been baptized with Jesus into his death and raised, through him, into new life, then you are born again of the Spirit and have the Holy Spirit in you. You have the Word. Between the two, you should be able to determine the truth of what I say.
Before we can know what blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is, I guess we need to know what blasphemy is. The dictionary just throws out words like “profane” and “sacrilegious.” Not particularly helpful unless one has a healthy sense of what “holiness” means. Which I think is a real problem for humans, particularly for Post-Nietzschien Westerners. We come to the part of our minds and souls which should detect holiness, the reverence and awe sensing glands and …bupkiss. Nothing. Those organs are shriveled and atrophied like little, wrinkly stones. I think this in some way explains the draw of High Church Liturgies. People sometimes want to recapture that holy fear and defibrillate those glands back to life. The sense we get when we encounter something far too big for us: Sequoias, the Grand Canyon, Mt. Rainier, Tax law.
For the sake of illustration, let’s say God was the Grand Canyon. What then would blasphemy be? Calling it the “Pretty Good Canyon”? Turning your back to it and taking pictures of the people looking at it instead? Mooning it? I suppose, in a way, those would all be true. None of those however sound unforgivable though, do they?
Numbers fifteen describes it this way, “29 For the native among the Israelites and the alien that dwells in their midst, there will be one law for anyone who commits an unintentional wrong. 30 But the one who acts presumptuously from among the native or alien blasphemes against Yahweh, and that person must be cut off from the midst of the people. 31 Because he despised the word of Yahweh and broke his command, that person will be surely cut off and bear the guilt.’” “Cut off,” here is a euphemistic way of saying, “hit on the head with rocks till squishy.” Sounds pretty unforgivable, eh? “Acts presumptuously,” that’s a little more helpful! And it gets more so when we read the little footnote that says the phrase could be literally translated, “acts with a high hand”!
High handed. Pride.
We cannot, this verse tells us, commit blasphemy unintentionally. So all those of you who thought you might have done it as a child, you can stop holding your breath now. Blasphemy requires the Knowledge of God and His Law! In fact, God’s law is always harder on the man who sins intentionally. A man who murders by accident can flee to a city of refuge and reside there, protected by the Levites until the death of the High Priest. (Nu 35) Sound familiar? But the man who murders with a will, he shall not find refuge. He shall be killed by the avenger of blood. With his own life, must he pay for the life he took. And therein is the lesson.
Don’t you see? We are made in God’s image. We are God’s witnesses. Who was the witness? The ultimate face of the Father to us? Jesus! “8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Am I with you so long a time and you have not known me, Philip? The one who has seen me has seen the Father! How can you say, ‘Show us the Father?’ 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak from myself, but the Father residing in me does his works.” (John 14) We witness by being like the Witness. We are to be like Jesus, our model, our high priest. We bear the Father in us in the form of the Holy Spirit! How do we bear that image? By speaking the words He gives us to speak and doing the works He gives us to do!
Now it makes sense the unforgivable sin was sandwiched in between four verses about bearing witness to Jesus. “For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Rev 19) The Holy Spirit bears witness in us and for us to deny it, to live in a way counter to it, to disobey the God we profess to love, to bear a false witness before men about Jesus and therefore about God the Father, is to raise a high hand at God! “My will!” was Satan’s cry of defiance! Right. To. God’s. Face!
“18 Before destruction comes pride,
and before a fall, a haughty spirit.” (Prov 16)
We are all sinners before the holy God. We are all guilty before the law. Even if your holy glands are solid pebbles, even if you cannot imagine a holy God, He is. You may have never seen the Grand Canyon. You may doubt it’s grandeur but that doesn’t change its existence, it does not diminish its quality! And it doesn’t change the outcome if you choose to step off into it. God is holy! We are sinners.
But Jesus! Jesus died. You killed him. Now, the choice is this: did he become your sin? When you killed him, were you the blood avenger, wholly righteous in your act, removing sin from the community and the presence of God? Or did you raise the hammer in anger and become the murderer of God’s beloved Son? When you meet God the Father, will you come, forgiven, redeemed by the death of the Great High Priest in whom you took refuge? Or will you meet the avenger of Jesus’ blood who will never forget, never forgive?
What does the spirit within you say?