How to Avoid Sinning Against the Holy Spirit
Then Jesus went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat. 21 And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.”
22 And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.” 23 And he called them to him and said to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26 And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end. 27 But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house.
28 “Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— 30 for they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.”
31 And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him. 32 And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you.” 33 And he answered them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34 And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.” – Mark 3:20-35
You can say whatever you want to about me, but you better not insult my mother! Such an interesting sentiment. Such an important insight. Maybe you feel that way about your mother, sister, father, or brother. Perhaps it’s your best friend, or your favorite teacher.
Jesus felt that way about the Holy Spirit and his work in the world and people’s lives. You can blaspheme Jesus. That can be forgiven. But don’t blaspheme the work of the Holy Spirit. That’s unforgivable.
Lots of ink has been spilled about this unforgivable sin. The idea of such a sin strikes fear in the hearts of the weak believer. It is also dismissed too readily by those who ought to worry about committing it.
I learned, at seminary, that the pastor – in almost every situation – is to disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed. Those who are worried about their sin, who are weak in faith, and who are in Jesus’ words, “poor in spirit” (cf. Matthew 5:3) are to be comforted. Those who are secure in their own righteousness, need to be troubled. Mary’s song says it this way: “he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate.”
But that prerogative is reserved to God alone. And there is the issue we must consider. Sinning against the Holy Spirit is ascribing to Satan that which the Holy Spirit does. The Holy Spirit works faith. So if someone says that faith is a work of the devil, that is a sin against the Holy Spirit. Fears about having committed this sin are appropriate. But seldom do we think of it as accusing a person who believes in Jesus of being influenced by Satan.
Want to avoid sinning against the Holy Spirit? Never accuse anyone who believes in Jesus to be deceived by Satan!