THE BLASPHEMY AGAINST THE HOLY SPIRIT
A BIBLICAL EXAMINATION OF THE TERM, AND AN INQUIRY INTO THE CLAIMS OF THE CHARISMATIC MOVEMENT
One often hears the term ‘blasphemy against the Holy Spirit’, particularly from the mouths of those within the Charismatic movement. Many non-Charismatics and Charismatics alike who persistently question various doctrines and practices considered by the Charismatic movement to be of God, are quite often confronted with the warning to take heed lest they be in danger of committing the unpardonable sin.
Is the Charismatic movement right in sounding such a warning? Are those who adhere to it’s teachings, and those who don’t, equally in danger of one day committing the unforgivable sin simply because they have some questions and concerns regarding the teachings and practices of the Charismatic movement and merely seek to follow biblical procedure and test them in light of Holy Scripture? Or is the use of the term ‘blasphemy against the Holy Spirit’ being wholly misused, and even abused, in Charismatic assemblies today in order to shut the mouths of genuine inquirers?
This book presents a biblical examination of the term ‘blasphemy against the Holy Spirit’, and compares its use today with what the Lord Jesus Christ meant when He warned of the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. It then shifts the spotlight onto the Charismatic movement itself: its claims of healings, miracles, prophecies and other signs, and most importantly its gospel, and poses the question, ‘Is the Charismatic movement of God?’
We begin our study with a look at the words of Jesus Christ pertaining to the blasphemy 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. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh 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 principal requirement, if we are to arrive at a proper and biblically accurate conclusion as to what the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is, is to conduct a proper and contextual study of the relevant Scriptures. Not a study exclusive to the above two verses only, but also of those which immediately precede them and those which follow. We turn our attention then to the Gospel of Matthew chapter 12, wherein is found the passage containing the words of Jesus Christ which have to do with the unpardonable sin.
Matthew 12:22 - "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."
In our opening verse we read of a man possessed of a demon who had been struck dumb and blind by the invader, brought to the Lord Jesus Who, with a word, cast out the demon, at which time the man, previously unable to speak or see, immediately regained both the ability to speak and the sense of sight. A true miracle had occurred at the hands of Jesus Christ through the power of Almighty God (see Jn.14:10).
Matthew 12:23 - "And all the people were amazed, and said, ‘Is not this the Son of David?’"
Upon seeing this mighty and clearly undeniable work of God, the people stood amazed and exclaimed, ‘Is not this the Son of David?’ This was not so much a question as it was a statement. The Jews were in effect saying, ‘This must be the Messiah’ (cf. Jn 7:31). The common people were well acquainted with the prophecy in Isaiah 35:5: "Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped."
Matthew 12:24 - "But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, ‘This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils'."
This key verse in our study shows the Pharisees’ indignant response to the people who had made such a comment in v.23 and who stood in awe at what they had just seen, which at once reveals what the hearts of the Pharisees were full of. The Pharisees were jealous of Jesus. They envied and even hated Him, and would do or say anything to discredit Him in the eyes of the people (cf. Matt. 27:18). The Pharisees could not deny what had happened, for all the people had seen it with their own eyes. So in a determined effort to discredit the Lord in the eyes of the people, they shifted their attention to the source or origin of Christ’s power so as to cast doubt in the minds of the people as to who this man, Jesus, was. Their allegation was that Jesus Christ did not in fact cast out demons by the power of God but that He, being in collusion with Beelzebub (Satan), had commanded the demon to leave by Satan’s power. The word Beelzebub is derived from ba’al zebul, which means ‘lord of the dwelling’ in which evil spirits dwell. Others believe it to mean ‘god of filth’ or ‘god of dung’. In the corresponding scripture from Mark 3:22, the scribes were united in the Pharisees’ condemnation of the Lord and pronounced, "He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casteth He out devils", insinuating that Jesus had an agreement or compact with Beelzebub and, far from being a benefactor, was a dangerous malefactor who sought to deceive the people.
Can you see what they were in effect saying? Neither the Pharisees in Matthew 12, or the Scribes in Mark 3, were denying that a demon had been cast out, or that Jesus had been responsible for its expulsion. They could not deny what had occurred, for everyone around them had seen the deed for themselves and the evidence that some great work had taken place was irrefutable. The Scribes’ and Pharisees’ outrageous claim, their last desperate attempt to discredit Jesus in the eyes of the people, was that Jesus did it by Satan’s power and not by the power of God. What the people had seen, according to the Pharisees, was a flagrant display of satanic power and not the Holy power of God. The Pharisees were accusing Jesus Christ of endeavouring to mislead the people by making Himself out to be the Son of God, whilst all the while deceiving them by employing satanic power and claiming it was through the power of God that He cast out demons.
Matthew 12:25 - "And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, ‘Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand'."
In response to the Pharisees’ blasphemous, unwarranted, unfounded and utterly absurd claim, the Lord Jesus Christ responds by explaining that a kingdom, a city, or even a house (family), would not and could not properly stand if it were divided against itself. "Jesus replied to their claim by saying, in essence, ‘If I’m casting out Satan by using Satan’s power, what do you think Satan is doing to himself?’ Obviously the Devil would be destroying his own kingdom, which would make no sense at all. The Pharisees had such hatred for Christ that their logic was twisted. Instead of being rational, they were being ridiculous."
Matthew 12:26 - "And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?"
In this verse, Jesus proceeds to calmly and logically state that if Satan truly cast out his own demons then he would be opposed to himself, his own work. The Lord Jesus then asked how Satan’s kingdom could possibly continue to stand if there was such a conflict of interest within it. Of course, the Pharisees had no answer to this. Those mentioned later in the passage who asked Jesus, "...Master, we would see a sign from thee" (Matt. 12:38), were in all likelihood not the same group of Pharisees who had earlier made the blasphemous accusation that Christ worked by Satan’s power, but a different set "...who would not content themselves with the signs He gave, unless He would give them such further proof as they should demand". One minute the Pharisees were claiming that Jesus is casting out demons by the power of Satan and the next other Pharisees were referring to Him as ‘Master’ (instructor, teacher) and with feigned respect, asking Him to perform for them a sign. But why ask for a sign when they had time after time all witnessed Him perform countless miracles?
Matthew 12:27 - "And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges."
In this Scripture the Lord Jesus pursues His line of reasoning and asks them, if it was by Beelzebub that He cast out demons, then by whose power were the Jews casting them out? "There were those among the Jews who, by invocation of the name of the Most High God, or the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob did sometimes cast out devils. Josephus speaks of some in his time that did it (‘The Works of Josephus’ 8.2.5), we read of Jewish exorcists (Acts 19:13), and of some that in Christ’s name cast out devils, though they did not follow Jesus and His apostles (Mk. 9:38). These the Pharisees condemned not, but imputed what they did to the Spirit of God. It was therefore merely from spite and envy to Christ, that they would own that others cast out devils by the Spirit of God, but suggest that He did it by compact with Beelzebub. The judgements of envy are made not by reason, but prejudice."
Matthew 12:28 - "But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of God is come unto you."
Here the Lord Jesus continues His response to the Pharisees’ slanderous allegation by saying that if He indeed was casting out demons by the Spirit of God, then the fulfilment of the Scriptures had occurred in their midst. The Kingdom of God had come upon them and He was indeed Who He said He was: the Son of God! "His exorcizing activity, while resembling that of others, is unique. In Him—and Him alone—God acts to establish His final rule which entails crushing Satan’s empire. Far from operating in Satan’s power, Jesus assaults Satan (not just his underlings, as did other exorcists), binds him and frees his victims."
Matthew 12:29 - "Or else how can one enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house."
In verses 28 & 29 of Matthew 12, the kingdom of Satan is clearly shown to be vulnerable, for we see his angels being driven out of the hearts of men. The Kingdom of God is seen here, not only as something future, but also as a very present reality (cf. Matt. 7:13,14; 11:28-30; 23:37; Jn. 7:39). Jesus explains that to advance the Kingdom of God on earth, He was to deal with the strong man, the captor, Satan. Satan had long held people captive in his kingdom of darkness, which involved, in part, the possession of humans by demons. In order for these captives to be set free, the captor himself had to be taken captive, or bound. The outward demonstration that Jesus Christ had overcome the strong man, Satan, was in the casting out of demons thus setting the captives free. Christ’s work upon the cross being the supreme work of destruction upon the one who had the power of death, that is the Devil (Heb. 2:14).
Jesus was here saying that He, being infinitely more powerful than Satan, had come to bind the strong man, and to point out the need for the strong man to be bound (immobilized) in order that his goods could be spoiled. "Jesus is doing all this because by means of His incarnation, His victory over the Devil in the desert of temptation, His words of authority addressed to the demons, His entire activity, He has begun to bind Beelzebul, a process of binding or curtailment of power that was going to be further strengthened by means of His victory over Satan on the cross (Col. 2:15) and in the Resurrection, Ascension and Coronation (Rev. 12:5, 9-12). He has done, is doing, and will do this through the power, not of Beelzebub himself surely, but of the Holy Spirit, as He has just said."
The passage indicates Christ’s personal power over Satan. Jesus is speaking in this verse in a language which was recognizable to the Jews. In effect, He was saying that He would ‘lead captivity captive'. This was an Old Testament phrase signifying a conquest over one’s enemies (cf. 1Sam. 30:26), and in particular, those who had formerly led others captive (Isa. 49:24,25; cf. Eph. 4:8; Col. 2:15). Isaiah 49:24,25 is also a most interesting and helpful passage, for therein lies the key to understanding exactly what it is that Jesus is describing in Matthew 12:29. Here in Isaiah we see the nation of Israel as captives, lawful captives. They had offended God and were rightly delivered into captivity. This is also what happened to man at the Fall. Man had sinned and, consequently, God delivered him into the captor’s (Satan’s) hands. Man could not free himself from the bondage he was now in (cf.v.24) and needed a Savior, a Deliverer, to set him free.
In all probability, it was the enemies of Israel whose words we see in Isaiah 49:24 - "Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered?" They were asking in effect, ‘Who could possibly take the prey from the mighty?’ (the captives from the captors?). Who would have ever thought that Israel could have been taken from their mighty captors? But they were! In verse 25 we see God saying, "...Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered..." because it was God Himself, the Almighty One, who would contend with Israel’s foes. This, in fact, was what Jesus was doing in Matthew 12. The strong man, Satan, the mighty one who had held the prey captive, had himself been taken captive. Jesus the Lord, the Almighty One, in due time, came to bind (i.e., to deprive of liberty), the strong man and spoil his house, i.e., set the captives free (see Col. 2:15; Eph. 4:8). The captor, Satan, has now become the captive and has been stripped of his armour (see Lk. 11:22). The captives in both passages were delivered by God’s leading captivity captive (see Psa. 68:18; Eph. 4:8; cf. Num. 23:8; Zech. 9:11; Rom. 8:31; 1 Jn. 3:8).
Matthew 12:30 - "He that is not with Me is against Me; and he that gathereth not with Me scattereth abroad."
"He that is not hearty for Christ, will be reckoned with as really against Him: he that is cold in the cause, is looked upon as an enemy. We must be entirely, faithfully and immovably on Christ’s side: it is the right side, and will at last be the rising side. The latter clause is to the same purport. Christ’s errand into the world was to gather in His harvest, to gather in those whom the Father had given Him (Jn. 11:52). Christ expects and requires from those who are with Him, that they gather with Him; gather others to Him. If we gather not with Christ, we scatter; it is not enough not to do hurt, but we must do good." Christ expects His people to preach His Gospel and to promote it as the only way God saves. Any who go against this biblical command, any who tolerate other gospels and claim that people are just as saved, that they are just as much of Christ as those who believe only in His Gospel as God’s power unto salvation, do not gather with the Lord but scatter, for they are His enemies.
WHAT IS THE BLASPHEMY AGAINST THE HOLY SPIRIT?
The blasphemy against the Holy Spirit must, in accordance with the context of our passage, have been committed, or at the very least been on the verge of being committed, in the verses we have just looked at. The context demands it! No other conclusion can be reached but that of the Pharisees being the guilty party.
Matthew 12:31 - "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."
In vv. 31 & 32 the Lord Jesus Christ warns the people, and in particular the Pharisees, of just what they were in danger of doing. He told them the very truth. In one of the two principle verses of our study, the Lord Jesus here states in verse 31 that all sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, even blasphemies directed toward the Son of man (see v. 32), but that there is one, and ONLY one, sin that will never, and can never, be forgiven, not in time or eternity, and that is the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. "One might speak against Jesus’ humanness—the way He looked, spoke or acted—but if one claimed that His miraculous works, done by the Holy Spirit to prove Christ’s Deity, were actually done by Satan, that person was in a hopeless state of rejection. He or she could not be saved. That is what Jesus was saying. If those Pharisees had seen and heard all that Jesus had said and done, yet still were convinced it was satanic, they were hopeless. They had concluded the opposite of what was clearly true, and had done so with full revelation."
Let us look again at what the Pharisees were alleging in Matthew 12:24: "...this fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils". It is vital, in order to attain a proper understanding of what the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit actually is, to realise that this statement was not made in ignorance of who Jesus claimed to be or of the fact that He was casting out demons.
The evil Pharisees consciously and purposely disputed the indisputable. The Pharisees were belligerently persistent in their denial that Jesus was the Christ. They had heard His teachings and had seen His miracles which, as was the case with the apostles’ miracles in Acts 4:16, they could not and did not inwardly, nor amongst themselves, deny were in fact being performed through the power of God. One Pharisee, Nicodemus, told the Lord "...we know that Thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that Thou doest, except God be with Him" (Jn. 3:2 cf. Jn 11:47). But outwardly, motivated by jealously and hatred towards Christ Jesus, they did most vehemently cast aspersions upon their origin, insisting that Jesus’ power was Satan’s power. "Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (i.e. against the manifest activity of God, as seen in verse 28) is more serious than other forms of slander and abuse. It indicates a deliberate refusal to acknowledge God’s power, a totally perverted orientation, like that of Isaiah 5:20 (‘those who call evil good and good evil’). This was what the Pharisees were doing in attributing Jesus’ healings to satanic power....the incognito character of Jesus’ ministry means that failure to recognize Him for what He was might be excusable (cf. Acts 3:17); even Peter ‘spoke against’ Him (Matt. 26:69-75) and was forgiven. The difference is then between failure to recognize the light and deliberate rejection of it once recognized; compare Numbers 15:30,31 for unforgivable blasphemy in contrast with unwitting sin in vv.27-29 of the same chapter...the punishment for blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is not only on earth, but extends to the age to come; it indicates a hardening against God which is deliberate and irreversible."
Here we have it in a nutshell. The clear and unmistakable definition of what the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit really is. It is the ‘deliberate rejection once recognized’ of the power of God, or the activity of God if you will. It is an act of rejection which is performed willingly and without ignorance of what one is actually doing. The blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is something which could not, therefore, ever be committed by a Gospel-believing, Holy Spirit-filled, born-again believer, for how could a born again child of God, after having recognized a work as that done by the hand of God, or the only Gospel of God, ever reject it and pronounce it a thing of the Devil? The Charismatic movement, as we shall come to see in greater detail, claims that its works and wonders are a demonstration of God’s power, but its false gospel and the endless array of failed healings and false prophecies left in its wake evidence anything but the power of God at work. The Charismatic movement has yet to prove that its works are of God, and so they cannot be recognized as the works of God. How then can one be guilty of rejecting something as being from God which has not the hallmarks of a work of God? When all the evidence points to a work or sign as being a counterfeit, one is well within one’s rights, and is commanded by Scripture, to reject it. But it is not a work of God that is being rejected, hence it is no blasphemy of His Spirit that is being committed. The whole basis for the rejection lies not in the fact that one is deliberately rejecting what one has recognised as the power of God at work, but that the sign or wonder has been rightly recognised as not being a work of God at all. Therefore how can one be committing the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit when, in rejecting a work of the Charismatic movement, all one is doing is rejecting a counterfeit?
According to the leaders of the Charismatic movement, who have an erroneous understanding of what the blasphemy is and have passed on their perverted interpretation to their people, the blasphemy is being committed when one (rightly, biblically and sincerely) raises questions and seeks to test the biblical validity and veracity of the gospel of the Charismatic movement, or what is manifesting and presenting itself through the Charismatic movement as a work of God, and those who are performing the ‘signs’. The Pharisees were not guilty of this. They did not test what Christ had done, or His teachings, to see if He was truly of God, they were not genuine seekers of the truth, but flat out denied His claims and works out of envy and prejudice. No honest and sincere person is doing this when judging the alleged miracles of the Charismatic movement, but is rightly and properly seeking to examine, question and test its claims, wonders and signs to see if it is the power of God involved. Nowhere in the Scriptures are any condemned for employing this biblical directive.
"Throughout the ages...false teaching has thrived on incorrect versions, and often people have become mentally ill, fearing they have committed the unpardonable sin. It must be stressed that the Bible teaches only ONE unforgivable sin and that is the rejection of Christ. Any message which does not exalt Christ is uninspired. The work of the Holy Spirit is to exalt Christ; when a person rejects that message, there is no forgiveness, either in this world or the next." Any gospel that does not rightly exalt Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior of HIS people elected by God before the foundation of the world, which is at odds with God’s testimony of Who His Son is and what His Son has done and for whom He has done it, is therefore uninspired. It is a false gospel and no one who believes it is saved. Christ is revealed exclusively in and through the Gospel and any spirit promoting any other gospel is not the Spirit of God. There is no forgiveness for anyone who rejects the Gospel, for Christ says in a clear and unmistakable manner that he who does not believe it shall be damned! (Mk. 16:16).
Importantly, and perhaps surprisingly, we are not warranted to believe that the Pharisees had in fact committed the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, for Jesus’ words to them were in the form of a warning and not a sentence. "...we are not true to the context, when we say that the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost is that of attributing to the Son of man complicity with Satan. That is blasphemy against the Son of man, and He distinctly said that such may be forgiven (see v. 32). What, then, is the nature of the warning? The Lord had said, ‘If by the Spirit I cast out demons, then is the Kingdom of God come upon you;’ and in those words He evidently intended to teach that there are only these alternatives; exorcism of demons is either by Satan or by the Spirit of God. They said that He had wrought by Satan. In so doing they had denied that he wrought by the Spirit, which according to His interpretation meant that they were refusing the Kingdom of God. In the presence of the claims of that Kingdom, in the presence of the demonstration of the power of that Kingdom, they were refusing it. THAT, if it be ultimately and finally persisted in, is the sin against the Holy Ghost which has no forgiveness. The sin against the Holy Ghost is the ultimate refusal to believe on the testimony of the Spirit concerning Jesus Christ. The sin against the Holy Ghost is persistent, determined, and final rejection of the Spirit’s demonstration of the meaning of the Kingdom, and of the power of the King."
We see then from our study how far removed the true ingredients which go to make up the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit are from that which many are falsely accused of in these last days. The leaders who promote a perverted idea of what the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is and who use this biblical term in order to fill their bridled followers with fear, who in turn, with equal zeal, espouse the same perversion of what Scripture teaches, have no idea what they are saying. They are in serious breach of the proper teaching of God’s Word.
One man says of the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit: "It denotes the conscious and wicked rejection of the saving power and grace of God toward man". There are others who are of the persuasion that "...the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit was a dispensational sin committable only during the ministry of Jesus Christ whilst here in human form, and is therefore a sin which cannot be carried out today and, in a primary sense, they are correct". But the Scriptures themselves point out that, by its very nature, this sin can still be committed as the Holy Spirit may still be resisted and rejected by the non-elect. "...anyone, with evidence of the Lord’s power before his eyes, who should declare it to be satanic, exhibits a condition of heart beyond divine illumination and therefore hopeless." "...they sin against the Holy Spirit who, with evil intention, resist God’s truth, although by its brightness they are so touched that they cannot claim ignorance."
As there is only one Way to the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ as He is revealed in the Gospel, so too, there is at the last only one way to stay out of heaven and that is by a persistent, stubborn and evil rejection of the true Jesus of the true Gospel. It is important to be clear on this point, that there is only one unpardonable sin and not several. Murderers may be forgiven their sin, adulterers may be forgiven their sin, homosexuality, lying, stealing and coveting are all sins which may be forgiven. But the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is that unique sin for which there is no forgiveness. "There remains nothing for him who doth despite to the Spirit of Grace but a ‘certain fearful looking for of judgement and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries', (Heb. 10:27,29). This is that ‘sin unto death’ whose remission is not to be prayed for, 1 John 5:16: for He having taken upon Him to make effectual unto us the great remedy provided in the blood of Christ for the pardon of our sins, if He in the prosecution of that work be despised, blasphemed, despitefully used, there neither is relief nor can there be pardon for that sin." Of course no elect child of God can ever commit this blasphemy. Only those who at the end are proven to be reprobate are the ones who can and do commit this unforgivable sin.
I cannot emphasize the following point enough to every believer, that the Bible encourages us to test everything and to hold fast only that which is good: "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good" (1 Thess. 5:21. cf. Prov. 14:15; 1Jn. 4:1). We are to reject all that is not of God and to accept and embrace all that is of God. The Christian abides in the doctrine of Christ and no other. Any abidance in false gospels is a denial of the true as the one and unique Gospel that testifies to the true God and the only way He saves. Belief in any false gospel reveals the believer of such a gospel to be no Christian at all. We are to make absolutely certain we are fully aware and biblically—as distinct from experientially—certain of what we are embracing. The Christian, and all who aspire to be Christians, is to judge ALL things by the standard of the written Word of God, for this is his authority, and is not to be overwhelmed by experience perceived to be of God. 1 Corinthians 2:15 plainly states: "...he that is spiritual judgeth all things..." meaning "...he who is sanctified is capable of judging about matters of human wisdom, and has also a relish and savour of divine truths".
We implore the charismatic person to not be found trusting in their own judgement that which is of God and that which is not but to do it objectively in light of Holy Scripture. Read what the Scriptures have to say and do not read into the Scriptures what you would like them to be saying. Do not give place to naivety and ignorance in your lives. Do not give place in your lives to untested doctrines of false gospels, which cannot save. Test and examine the gospel you have been taught and look at the Gospel which the Holy Scriptures attest to. Become aware and learned and knowledgeable of the subtleties of false gospels and false ministers. Be willing to know the truth as God has written It and be fully abandoned to it regardless of the earthly consequences. In commenting on 1 Thessalonians 5:21, one man encourages those who claim to have a desire to become Christians to, "Subject everything submitted to you to be believed to the proper test...." He adds that one must "...carefully examine everything proposed for their belief. They are not to receive it on trust; to take it on assertion; to believe it because it was urged with vehemence, zeal, or plausibility. In the various opinions and doctrines which are submitted to them for adoption, they are to apply the appropriate tests from reason and the Word of God; and what they find to be true they are to embrace; what is false they are to reject. Christianity does not require men to disregard their reason, or to be credulous. It does not expect them to believe anything because others say it is so. It does not make it a duty to receive as undoubted truth all that synods and councils have decreed; or all that is advanced by ministers of religion. It is, more than any other form of religion, the friend of free inquiry, and would lead men everywhere to understand the reason of the opinions which they entertain". True Christianity does not use fear or intimidation to ensure that its teachings be adopted and upheld. Christians are not in bondage, but have been made free by the truth they believe. Truth has nothing to do with fear and intimidation. Truth has to do with freedom from these things and the Lord Jesus has made it clear that "...the truth shall make you free" (Jn. 8:32).
Matthew 12:32 - "And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come."
The final Scripture in our text is a reiteration of the Lord’s warning made in the previous verse, with one inclusion, ‘...whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him...’ There are several instances in the Bible where we find men who blasphemed the Lord Jesus Christ and yet later received mercy, repented and were forgiven. The apostle Paul, in 1Timothy 1:13, admitted that prior to his conversion he was "...a blasphemer and a persecutor..." This, however, was done in ignorance of the truth. Jesus prayed for those who ignorantly reviled Him at the cross, asking the Father to "...forgive them for they know not what they do" (Lk. 23:34). Many who reviled Him were forgiven, including one who was crucified with Him.
"Was Jesus saying that if we question the Charismatic’s gospel or tongues, or other practices in the Charismatic movement today, we are committing blasphemy against the Holy Spirit? Neither the context nor the historical setting support that view. Jesus said, ‘Any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven men.’ ...continual, unrepentant blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, defined as knowing the facts about Jesus and still attributing His works to Satan, cannot be forgiven."
Thus ends our study of what the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is. Clearly, there has been a great deal of confusion and mystery over what the blasphemy is and whether one has committed it or not. Hopefully, this section of the book has cleared up much of that confusion so prevalent in the minds of many sincere Charismatics, and of those who are so often falsely accused of this sin by charismatic people and leaders alike.
Charismatics need to be extremely careful before they take it upon themselves to accuse anyone of committing the unpardonable sin. It is not a term that should be bandied about for it is no light thing to accuse someone of this sin. Today, the term ‘blasphemy against the Holy Spirit’ is all too frequently used in ignorance of its true, biblical definition, and, as we may conclude from our study, in a careless, wrongful and unjustified manner. To those leaders who employ this term as a way of silencing the ‘trouble makers’ in their assemblies who are merely following a biblical directive—to test everything and hold fast to that which is good—we say ‘be aware of what you are doing and repent of it and believe the true Gospel, lest God Himself take vengeance upon you!’
THE MODERN-DAY USE OF THE TERM
"You’d better watch out you don’t commit the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit." This warning is one that is often heard from leaders of Charismatic churches and from the lips of Charismatics, in response to those who are genuinely and rightly questioning and examining whether the doctrines and fruits of the Charismatic movement are of God. Sadly, so many have ceased a proper and biblical study of the movement and its claims for fear of committing this sin. They have allowed themselves to be intimidated and threatened to the point of putting their doubts aside and remaining in two minds concerning the movement. They, like people of the past, have acquiesced to the claim that the leaders are those who know and the common folk should but listen and believe, failing to remember that the Lord Jesus spoke of blind leaders who would lead the blind. At the best of times it is foolish and irresponsible to entrust one’s children to a perfect stranger, how much more perilous an act is it to entrust one’s eternal future to what a man says and not question and examine his words in light of the Holy Scriptures. So many today have unwittingly fallen into the trap of believing what a man says God’s word is saying, rather than hearing and believing what God’s word is really saying. What God has actually said and what many say He has said are often two vastly different propositions.
Anyone who comes along, even Charismatics themselves who are beginning to have doubts as to whether what they have experienced and are involved in is from God, is warned not to question past a certain point but just believe lest they stumble into committing the unpardonable sin. Imagine someone telling you to believe something and then censoring you from a biblical investigation with the threat that is tantamount to having one’s name blotted out of the Lamb’s Book of Life! Our suspicions must be raised when encountering such people or ‘churches’ who discourage questions, or certain types of questions, and the use of the mind which God gave us. The Charismatic catch phrase let go and let God, and the edict to leave one’s mind at the door are among the most dangerous things anyone could ever do and are totally without biblical support. Abandonment of the mind and one’s reasoning is an integral part of Occultism and has nothing whatsoever to do with being a Christian. Christianity is not, nor ever has been, made up of people who blindly and mindlessly accept what they are told or see. The Bible encourages, rather than opposes, the scrutiny of itself by those against it, for the truth has nothing to hide. It is the suppression of inquiry that is the key ingredient of any oppressive and potentially totalitarian organization.
Whenever you encounter any religious group telling you to accept and believe something they are teaching or that is occurring in their meetings which they claim is of God, INDEPENDENTLY OF YOUR MINDS, take it as a clear warning from God to flee that group and never have anything more to do with it. God gave us our minds, and He expects us to use our minds before we accept anything being presented to us as truth. If our minds are not active we are in danger of becoming mere instruments, puppets if you will, of those whose minds are active.
Within Charismatic circles, the genuine truth-seeker and his persistent inquiries are often met, not with a calm and orderly exposition of Scripture, but with a brisk warning that he not dare to question what everyone else is comfortable in believing is of God. Often the enquirer is made to feel the odd one out, and that something is wrong with them rather than the teaching or practice in question if they are not as quick as others to accept what has been offered them. This is nothing less than one of the many cheap tactics used by cults the world over. The underlying theme to so many people’s involvement with any organization is the natural desire to belong. Cults know this human trait very well and they have a lot of experience with people who at first questioned, but upon fear of excommunication etc., have virtually turned their backs on what they know to be legitimate concerns in order that they might belong. And oh how these people, in turn, attack those who raise the same concerns in private conversations or in publications such as this. Conveniently for those leaders who have no answer for, but only a fear of, certain questions from their followers, it is strongly recommended that enquirers cease to ask dangerous and ‘boat-rocking’ questions lest they be guilty of the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. No one wants to offend God, so the questions are forgotten and blind belief put in their place. Many ‘pastors’ have been professionally trained to give pat answers to questions of doubt. They resort to pastor speak and often leave their hearers wondering what on earth they meant by what they have said. No true Christian minister will ever leave his listeners in any doubt as to what the Gospel is, of Who God is or of how God saves.
Does all this sound familiar to you? It certainly does to this author. You see, dear reader, if there is one thing that cults of every description do, from the Roman Catholic Church down to the smallest suburban cult, it is to discourage a persistent questioning of their teachings and practices. It is not expedient for any of these groups to have people among their ranks who, rather than tow the line (and lengthen it), want to examine it and see what makes it tick. What these groups want is believers, not questioners. Much like the hypnotist who searches for the right subject because he can do nothing with the non-suggestive person, cults of every description are happiest with those people who readily accept what they are taught and experience as being unquestionably from God. It is preferred that the cult member not be too inquisitive, not one who questions incessantly but rather one who is credulous and instantly accepts everything he hears. And, if any do have questions, that they readily accept the first explanation given to them.
One can be assured that detailed explanations of hard to understand teachings and dubious practices will not be volunteered to those who just accept what they have been taught and experienced. Such people are also told to never question the hierarchy lest they be found offending, or at the very least doubting, God. Now of course, not every charismatic pastor or elder is like this. Some do take the time to sit down with confused members of their congregations and genuinely attempt to explain that what they teach and practice is in line with the Scriptures. But at the same time, any persistent questioning is often met with what has become the final refuge for all truth-fearers, that of warning that the unpardonable sin may be committed if any further questioning or doubting is expressed. ‘Just ask God to help you believe’ rather than ‘search the Scriptures’ is the usual advice. Ironically, Charismatic pastors who warn that the blasphemy may be committed are often automatically thought of as very wise and God-fearing men merely because they have sounded such a warning, when in reality it is not God whom these leaders fear but Truth! Charismatics, and any denomination for that matter, need to realise that simply because a man has undergone several years of indoctrination does not mean that man is a man of God and that he has the truth. It just means that he has been taught, and has fully complied with, the teachings etc., of the particular group that has taught him and now employs him.
The writers of the Didache, a first or second century treatise of Christian morals and practices, must surely have been the fore-fathers of those like-minded persons today. They insisted, in stark contrast with 1 John 4:1 and other verses of scripture, that "You must neither test nor examine a prophet who speaks in the spirit: for ‘every sin shall be forgiven, but not this sin" (Bettenson p. 51). This mirrors precisely the saying of many Charismatic leaders who, in the face of questions, many of which they know they have no answer for, respond with a perverted use of the scriptural warning "...touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm" (1 Chron. 16:22). But how, we ask the writers of the Didache, was a person to know that the one speaking was doing so in the Spirit and was who he claimed to be if his words were not to be tested and examined? Their interpretation of the unpardonable sin was as flawed as that of the modern charismatic, for it runs opposite to the commandment of 1 John 4:1, that Christians are to test everyone that comes their way claiming they, their words and their works, are of God. Christians are not to allow anyone to lord it over them, they are not to be as those who were ruled by the Nicolaitanes, but have a right, nay a biblical command, to test and examine all that is presented to them as truth. The writers of the Didache seemed to have a protect the leadership at all costs mentality. But what did they have to fear? What did they have to hide? Would not the questions of would-be followers give these people the opportunity to further explain their teachings and provide them with the opportunity to prove that what they were saying was indeed of God? The truth bearer need not fear questions, for they are the window of opportunity to explain in further detail what is being taught and show that what they are teaching is in line with the word of God. But leaders of cult-like groups such as the Charismatic movement would prefer not to have you ask any questions, that their tenets might enjoy a smooth ride into the minds and lives of the religiously gullible. Questioning and inquiry is not encouraged, which is at odds with what the Scriptures show. The Bereans questioned and put to the test the apostle Paul and Apollos in Acts 17:11, to which the apostle Paul offered no protest or rebuke. Neither Paul or Apollos addressed their inquirers by saying, ‘How dare you question me!’ No man of God anywhere in the Scriptures tried to avoid questions about what he was preaching because he had nothing to fear, and as we said earlier, they saw people’s questions as a positive sign in that it gave them opportunity to further expand on and explain what they had been teaching. The Lord Jesus commended the Christians at Ephesus in Revelation 2:2 for testing those who claimed they were apostles but were not and were found to be liars. These Christians did not know these men, so for all they knew they could have been apostles, nevertheless this did not exclude them from having their claim tested. Rather than rebuke those who examine and put to the test those who claim to be of God, the Lord Jesus encourages true Christians to do so and heartily commends them when they do.
As we have observed in our exposition of Matthew 12:22-32, genuine questioning and searching for, and a desire to know, the truth is not what constitutes the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, nor can it even be remotely associated with it. Sadly, it must be reported that many Charismatics who read this book will still believe what they believe about the blasphemy, not in accord with reason or logic or anything so silly as that, but simply because their pastor says, ‘This is the blasphemy and he is wrong’. There are not a few Charismatics with whom I have had experience, who at first listened and seemed to see what I had been showing them about the Charismatic movement etc., but after returning to their ‘pastors’ and hearing a word from them, they quickly returned into the arms of deception and I never saw or heard from them again. Such people are not moved at all by what the Word of God says, only by what their ‘pastors’ say the word of God says! All that they have read in this book, all that they have seen in the Scriptures dealt with in this booklet, will be swept aside and forgotten, with no logical answer or explanation to any of the points made. They are promptly and conveniently dumped and ignored after they hear their leaders speak. ‘He’s the pastor, he must know', they say, and that’s that. These people are intimidated by fear because they are ignorant of the truth. Truth makes a man free of fear! It would be fair to say that most religious people today are followers of men, which may explain why the words of pastors have an almost hypnotic influence upon them, an influence so powerful that even verifiable and documented facts and plain Scriptural evidence is ignored. These people are much closer to having an immunity to the truth than being lovers of it!
It is important to note that the pastor is not the final authority. No pastor, not even the one who is truly of God, should be looked upon and trusted in to the point that what they are saying is accepted as the truth purely because it is they who have said it. The apostle Paul taught the Galatians that if he, or even an angel from heaven, were to come preaching a gospel that differed from the one he had taught them, they were to consider him, or the angel, as accursed!! (see Gal. 1). This passage from the Bible clearly teaches that reputation is NEVER to be allowed to influence our judgement as to whether a man is speaking the truth. "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them" (Isa. 8:20). The pastor is not to be looked upon as some superman who has all the answers and is accurate and correct on every point. He is not to be blindly followed, and the mind’s analytical capabilities are not to be put on hold when he speaks. My friends, it is the Word Of God, the Holy Bible, which is the final authority. Let us not become as those in the dark ages who followed every word of their leaders because they simply could not examine their teachers, for they had no Bible to refer to. People in those days thought, ‘Who are we to argue against what these men are saying? They are the ones who have done all the studying and we are but simple folk'. The point is, how do we know that what your ‘pastor’ has been taught and the conclusions he has arrived at is the truth? Are we to judge a man as speaking the truth merely because he speaks it with confidence and conviction? Hardly! True Christians have no obligation to blindly accept and believe what their leaders say, but have the freedom to question and examine what they are taught before it is believed. We now have God’s Holy Word. We have a holy Standard by which to test and examine all that the professed pastors and leaders present to us today as truth, and the responsibility remains firmly with the individual to make sure that what he is being taught, and consequently adhering to, is in fact THE Truth. The apostle Peter, writing to Christians, informs us that "We have a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place..." (2 Pet. 1:19). It will do no one any good to say to God at the end, ‘But I sincerely believed what my pastor told me was Your word’ or ‘The only reason I believed what he was saying is because I believed it to be the truth’. Far from being rewarded for such ignorance and gullibility, this will only redouble the damnation he deserves for believing lies about God, thinking them to be truth, and is an open admission of ignorance, which reveals the absence of the love of the truth.
This author has spoken with many Charismatics and has often found a mind-set which at first listens and seemingly understands and is even temporarily swayed by the truth, but is later proven to be a mere head knowledge. The seed sown in them endured for awhile, but as with that sown in stony ground, it soon died and withered away for it had no root. The minds of such people are like that of children—they bounce from one teaching to another never actually arriving at the knowledge and belief of the truth. The information does not sink down into their hearts but is discarded and forgotten as quickly as it was ‘gained’. It is then replaced by a counterfeit truth which they are more familiar, and certainly more comfortable, with. Rarely does it ever become heart knowledge which is acted upon. This is the classic mind-set of any cult member and of those the Bible describes as "...children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive" (Eph. 4:14). These sorts of people are among the blind who follow the blind leaders whom Jesus Christ spoke of in Matthew 15:14, saying that "...both shall fall into the ditch". Its not just the teachers who have got it wrong that will suffer eternal punishment for their promotion of lies, but those who have blindly followed them who will also suffer everlasting damnation for their adherence to false gospels and unbiblical practices.
There is a large element amongst the leaders of charismatic churches—and it must be said of nearly every other denomination—including pastors, elders and deacons, who equally resist the truth for they know that if they are proven wrong by any examination of what they believe and teach, their lives would have to change drastically. They would have to resign their position if they turned from their error and believed the truth. They would no longer have a title or office. Perhaps they might even lose their families. They would be asking, ‘Where will the next meal come from’; ‘What will I do now’; and ‘What about the embarrassment?’ So, not only are these men not keen to address questions about what they teach, often because they do not know the answers themselves, but also because they don’t even want to think about such things, for they do not have a genuine desire to know the truth but only to remain comfortable with what they teach the truth is and the livelihood and prestige it provides. To these people we say: those of God believe God’s one and only Gospel. They all love the truth and go wherever it leads them. They fear no questions and they seek to avoid none of the answers. The Lord meets all the needs of His people, He is rich in mercy and pleased to show it to all His chosen. Follow His Word of Truth for His Word "...is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path" (Psa. 119:105).
The Pharisees in Matthew 12:22-32 were not questioning or searching for truth. They were firmly established in their religion and had the respect of the people and had no intention of changing. They loved "...to go in long clothing, and love(d) salutations in the marketplaces, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts" (Mk. 12:38,39). They were loaded with prestige and position and had built up credible reputations in the eyes of the people, and they looked down on anything that would threaten their comfortable existence. The Pharisees flatly stated that Jesus Christ cast out demons, and in effect did all His miracles, by the power of Satan. They did not do this ignorantly, but knowing who Jesus was, they deliberately rejected Him. This could not be any further removed from the meaning the Charismatic movement has placed on the term ‘blasphemy against the Holy Spirit’ when accusing their own adherents, and those of other denominations, when they simply question that which is being presented to them as truth. Incidentally, not only did the Pharisees say that Christ cast out demons by satanic power, but they also excommunicated any who dared to question their ruling or reject their declaration, and follow the Lord (see Jn. 7:12,13; 9:22, 34; 12:42). The tactics of false ministers have not changed, only the organizations they represent.
We, according to the Charismatic movement, must believe that what they have called the work and the signs of the Holy Spirit are the work and signs of the Holy Spirit, or we run the risk of committing the unpardonable sin! All will go to Hell if they do not believe what the Charismatic movement believes is of God! I mean, what other type of organization could get away with such obvious bullying and intimidatory tactics as this, other than a cult of religiously deluded zealots? Blind religious followers the world over seem to just accept the totalitarian governments of religious institutions and their iron rule, and by their subservience only make these monolithic money-making enterprises stronger by the hour. ‘Don’t dare question what we say about it, just believe and accept it', and the most extraordinary thing is that most people do! Now most won’t come out and say it that blatantly, but this is exactly what they are, in effect, saying, which is no different to what any cult says of its claims. ‘We are right and anyone who disagrees is anathema'. Men like Kenneth Hagin and Kenneth Copeland of the Faith movement actually warn of physical illness and even imminent death awaiting those who deny their words or call their movement a cult. Everyone claims to have the truth and everyone vehemently and stringently defends their religious group as being the one that has the truth. The true Christian does not defend any group, but says, ‘God is right and everyone else is wrong. Believe what God says His Gospel is or you will be damned'. It is never ‘believe what WE say...’ or ‘you must belong to our group...’
Let me ask the following questions at this point. Just who made the Charismatic movement the authority on the Holy Spirit? And, what is this Charismatic movement? In answer to the first question, the authority of the Charismatic movement is self-appointed. Its foundation is not the word of God, but is underpinned by its subjective experiences. The Charismatic movement is made up of a large group of people who undeniably have a zeal of God, but that zeal is not according to right knowledge of God or His Gospel. They have experienced a mixture of psychological and supernatural occurrences in their lives and have been taught some truths, but not the truth. They have subsequently accepted all their experiences as being of God—and therefore the teachings which accompany those experiences as also being of God—simply because they all claim to love Jesus and sing His praises, not to mention the ‘positive’ influence this movement has had on their lives. It is an acceptance based on the foolish presumption that people with good intentions cannot be deceived, and the age old deception—energized by man’s wicked and deceptive heart—that continues to fool people to this day, ‘how could so many be so wrong?’ There was a multitude prior to the flood, while a man was building an ark, who thought the same way. I dare say they don’t think like that now. The ‘safety in numbers’ philosophy, as with those who drowned in the flood, just does not tread water.
CAN A TRUE BORN-AGAIN CHRISTIAN EVER COMMIT THE BLASPHEMY?
Can a true born-again, Spirit-filled, believer accidentally or unintentionally commit the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit? The answer is an unequivocal NO!!! As we have seen in our study thus far, the unpardonable sin can only ever be committed by one who purposely rejects that which he has recognized as the power of God, denying it is the power of God. It can only ever be committed by one who, once having recognized the Gospel or activity of God, rejects it and labels it satanic.
What a nightmare it would be, and how totally ludicrous the concept, to live the Christian life filled with love for God and His Gospel and a desire to do His will, filled with His Holy Spirit, and at the same time live in constant fear of one day committing the unpardonable sin! How can a Christian, whose past, present and future sins have ALL been washed away by the blood of Christ, possibly commit a sin for which there is no forgiveness??? As many have rightly stated, if you fear you may have committed this sin against the Holy Spirit, you can be assured you have not. Does it sound plausible to you that God would leave a Christian in fear that one day he might commit the unpardonable sin? Of course not! Those who have committed it know full well that they have. Moreover, the teaching that a Christian can commit this sin is a direct attack upon the biblical principle that once a chosen one of God has become one with Christ, he cannot lose his salvation (see Jn. 10:28,29; Eph. 4:30; 1 Peter 1:3-5). Those who say otherwise, who hold to the Arminian view that one can lose one’s salvation, are akin to the Romish fear-mongers of the dark ages, whose lives were steeped in superstition and whose gospels were according to works.
The author is a born again Christian who loves the Lord Jesus Christ and the glorious Gospel wherein is revealed His saving Righteousness, and is committed to obeying His Gospel and to the defence of His Gospel and Name. How could a true Christian ever call a genuine work of God a work of the Devil? This is not, I repeat NOT, the blasphemy against God’s Holy Spirit anyway. The blasphemy is knowing full well in one’s heart that what is occurring or being taught is of God and yet calling it satanic. It is summed up well in Isaiah 5:20: "WOE unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" The next part of this booklet will examine this so-called ‘Charismatic’ movement, which many believe to be the receptacle in which God is bathing His people in these last days, and will prove that it cannot be of God.