Holy Spirit

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Blaspheming the Holy Spirit

Monday, February 19th, 2007

A new atheistic campaign challenges young people to blaspheme the Holy Spirit and strike a blow against religious superstition. More than 400 have joined the effort, called Blasphemy Challenge. They post statements on YouTube, such as, “Hi my name is Lindy and I deny the existence of the Holy Spirit and you should too.” According to the founders of Blasphemy Challenge, their intent is to encourage atheists to come forward and put their souls on the line, showing others that you don’t have to be afraid of God.

I haven’t watched any of these ridiculous denials on YouTube, but from articles I have read it appears this is nothing more than a skeptics’ exploitation of young people to attack people of faith. Most of the so-called atheists who have taken the Blasphemy Challenge are teenagers who have not had the time or the maturity to consider seriously the most important question in life. Is there a God? is a problem that demands more than a few years in high school to settle. Below the surface, Blasphemy Challenge is an evil manipulation of young people who ought to be struggling with this issue with the help of family, friends, and counselors, not websites.

Another component to this discussion is the complete misunderstanding of what Jesus was talking about when he accused his enemies of commiting the “blasphemy of the Holy Spirit” (Mt. 12:22-32; Mk. 3:28-30). This is not some divine line drawn in the sand that God is daring us to cross.

First of all, atheism is not the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. The original blasphemers were leaders of first-century Judaism who believed in the power of the demonic world. It is interesting that, though they wanted to discredit Jesus’ works, they did not deny his miraculous power. Evidently there were too many witnesses to do that. Instead, they said he cast out demons by the power of “Beelzebul, the prince of demons” (Mt. 12:24). These were not your run-of-the-mill atheists.

Secondly, God forgives every sin that is confessed and repented. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn. 1:9). In my opinion, John is saying that even those denials on YouTube can be forgiven, if they are withdrawn and those who uttered them are willing to obey the gospel.

A study of the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, as it is discussed in Scripture, allows for a narrow interpretation of this sin. The sin was committed following Jesus’ healing a demon-possessed man. The Pharisees sought to discredit this marvel by attributing Jesus’ power to Beelzebul. After illustrating the absurdity of this charge, the Lord said,

Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come (Mt. 12:30-32).

The key to understanding Jesus’ words is in verse 28 of Matthew 12, where he reveals that he cast out demons “by the Spirit of God.” Thus, blasphemy had taken place because the Pharisees accused him of doing this by the power of an evil Spirit, the prince of evil spirits no less. Mark’s account makes this pretty plain, for he explains, “they had said, ‘He has an unclean spirit'” (3:30). In essence they had called the third person of the Godhead an evil spirit. A person who has stooped that low is beyond the confession and repentance required for forgiveness. These Pharisees would never be won to the gospel.

Not only did the Spirit empower Jesus to cast out demons, but he also inspired men to write the New Testament (2 Pet. 1:21). Without these words no man can be saved. A person, then, who has truly rejected the Holy Spirit will never believe the word “which is able to save your souls” (Jas. 1:21).

What Blasphemy Challenge is doing on YouTube is serious. Who knows how many souls will be lost because of their efforts? At the same time, their campaign betrays an ignorance of God’s Word.

Sorry, atheists, it’s not that easy to get into hell.