The context for the Lord’s teaching about blaspheming the Holy Spirit is His healing of a man possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb.
“Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw” (Matt. 12:22).
Many people who witnessed the miracle were amazed, but the Pharisee were not. They said that Jesus cast out the demon by Beelzebub the prince of the devils (Matt. 12:23, 24).
It was the Pharisee’s assigning the work of God to Satan that led Jesus to say that such a sin would not be forgiven because it was ultimately a sin against the Holy Spirit.
“Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. 32 And whosoever speaks a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but who soever speaks against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come” (Matt. 12:31-32).
The Greek word used for blasphemy is blasphemia (blas-fay-me’-ah) and refers to vilification (especially against God): evil speaking, railing.
The Pharisees were railing against Jesus, and thus the Holy Spirit, for it was the Spirit of the Lord who was upon Jesus, “because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18-19). Therefore, Jesus said that all manner of sin and blasphemy would be forgiven men except the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
Despite this clear teaching of Scripture, Dr. Curtis Hudson (1934 -1995), a former pastor and editor of the Christian newspaper, Sword of the Lord, insists that blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is not the unpardonable sin. In his pamphlet, The Unpardonable Sin, Mr. Hutson notes that, “In his notes in the Scofield Bible, Dr. C. I. Scofield says the unpardonable sin is ascribing the works of the Holy Spirit to Satan.” Then Mr. Hutson says, “I don’t agree with that. I don’t think that is the unpardonable sin.”
As a substitute for the teaching of Jesus, and the correct observation by Dr. Scofield, Mr. Hutson offered this alternative. “The unpardonable sin is committed by an enlightened sinner. It is rejecting the Holy Spirit’s plea until the rejecting sinner loses all desire to be saved.”
In order to arrive at his novel understanding of the unpardonable sin, Mr. Hutson had to leave the teaching of Jesus in the gospel of Matthew, and the gospel of Mark, and turn to another passage in Hebrews 6:4-6, and then take that teaching out of context as well. The author of Hebrews is talking about those who crucify the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame, not blaspheming the Holy Spirit.
A lesson is learned. A person with a theological bias will not to be denied. If one passage of Scripture does not justify what is desired to be taught, another passage will be sought out. This is “cherry picking”, and “twisting” the Scriptures, and must be avoided. In the context of Matthew’s gospel, and the passage in Mark, Jesus is talking about the sin of blaspheming the Holy Spirit. It is a sin which the Pharisee’s did not even know they committed. They thought they were exposing Jesus. They thought they were being theologically insightful. But what they were really doing is speaking against the Holy Spirit, and committing a transgression beyond their imagination. It is possible for a person to commit a greater sin than they comprehend. When Adam ate of the forbidden fruit, he knew that he was disobeying God. What he did not comprehend was that he was enslaving all of his posterity to sin and death.
An observation is made. The context of a passage is essential for a correct understanding of a doctrinal teaching.
A hermeneutical principle is suggested. There is a rule of logic that is worth remembering. It is called the Law of Parsimony, or Occam’s Razor. It is a problem-solving principle whereby an explanation of something or an event, is made with the fewest possible assumptions. The simpler solutions are more likely to be correct than complex ones. The principle is credited to the English Franciscan friar, William of Ockham (c. 1287–1347), a scholastic philosopher and theologian. Ockham refers to a small village in Surrey, a region in South East England.
The words of Jesus in the gospel of Matthew and the gospel of Mark, in context, provide the best explanation of what it means to blaspheme the Holy Spirit. It is speaking against the Spirit, by ascribing to Satan the works of