THE SIN AGAINST THE HOLY GHOST
Paul E. Kretzmann
A timeless warning
It is a solemn and impressive warning which Jesus gave to the Pharisees upon the occasion of their blasphemy and one well worth heeding even in our days, perhaps with greater force than ever. There is so much levity, so much frivolity at the present time that people refuse to give heed to the seriousness of their eternal welfare and foolishly squander the time of grace.
God desires all people to be saved
It must be remembered, first of all, that God wants all men to be saved, 1 Timothy 2:4. The whole world is included in His plan of redemption, John 3:16. And God makes an effort to have people, all men, to come to the knowledge of the truth, Matthew 28:20. But what is the result?
Some there are that trifle away frivolously the time of grace given them in this world, Matthew 24:37-38. Some there are that refuse to give heed to the invitation of the Gospel, Matthew 23:37. Some there are that hear the Gospel, perhaps even grow up in the midst of the Christian Church, but never let the knowledge of Christ the Savior enter into their hearts. To them the Gospel is the savor of death unto death, 2 Corinthians 2:16. Others go farther than that, stubbornly resisting every effort of the Spirit to enter into their hearts and begin the work of regeneration, consistently following their own evil will, not permitting the good and gracious will of God to be carried into effect in their case. They harden their hearts, as Scripture says, 1 Samuel 6:6; Ezekiel 2:4; Hosea 13:8; Matthew 13:15; Romans 2:5. And here the judgment of God may come upon them. Since they have hardened their hearts against His good and gracious will, He now proceeds to continue the judgment which they have begun upon themselves, John 12:40; Romans 9:18; Hebrews 3:8,13.
The sin of denying the work of the Holy Spirit
This hardening of the hearts is closely related to the sin against the Holy Ghost. It may be called a species of that sin. This sin is spoken of plainly in several passages of the Bible, Matthew 12:30-32; Mark 3:28-30; Luke 12:10; 1 John 5:16; Hebrews 6:4-8. From these passages the following description may be deduced. The sin is committed, not against the person, but against the work of the Holy Ghost, which consists in calling sinners to Christ and giving them the assurance of their salvation. Not the mere blasphemous thoughts, but the actual speaking, the open mockery of the work of the Holy Ghost, is condemned in these passages. If the work of the Holy Ghost is believed to be, and is openly declared to be, the work of Satan, then the blasphemy is directed against the Spirit. Such blasphemy is uttered in full consciousness and with the most perfect comprehension of the import of the blasphemy; the blasphemer glories in his blasphemy. People that are guilty of this sin were once enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good Word of God and the powers of the world to come, Hebrews 6:4-5. By the very nature of the sin, repentance is excluded. Man having gotten into this condition of continual blasphemy by his own fault, repudiates all attempts of God to influence Him for good. The soil of his heart has become cursed, and will bear nothing but thorns. The sin against the Holy Ghost is therefore one which cannot be acknowledged; a confession of sin and a desire for forgiveness is excluded by its nature.
A stubborn resistance against God’s grace
The following points, therefore, should be kept in mind always. The person that commits the sin against the Holy Ghost must either have been converted, or must at least have had the opportunity of feeling the influence of the Holy Ghost upon his heart. It is essential that the truth be rejected, whose soundness and sacredness the sinner cannot deny. The person living in this sin will continue in his stubborn resistance, with blasphemous, outspoken mockery of the work of the Holy Ghost, until the end. The sin is not unpardonable on account of its greatness, but on account of its nature of rejecting all pardon. No one has committed the sin that still seeks repentance. And finally, we cannot be sure until after a person’s death whether he has committed the sin against the Holy Ghost, and even then it is best to keep the judgment in abeyance.
[Stoeckhardt, Biblische Geschichte des Neuen Testaments, 59; Walther, Gesetz und Evangelium, 380-389; Luther, 10, 1198-1209]