Blasphemy Against the Holy Ghost
Luke 12:10
And whoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him…

I. First, then, let us see what the text does not mean. We may, I think, feel quite sure that it does not mean that there is some particular form of words of the kind generally known as " blasphemous," which, once uttered, leave him who has spoken without hope. "By thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned." But the intervening context shows us that He is speaking of words as the expressions of the heart, and as indications of its fixed habit and its settled attitude. They were the symptoms of disease, not the disease itself. They marked, not merely local affection, but constitutional derangement. The same principle applies to our good words, which I am apt to think may in the end prove more condemning than our bad ones. That we shall go to heaven for pious ejaculations which are unreal, or go to hell for impious ejaculations equally unreal, is altogether contrary to the tenour of Scripture and to its revelations, and our own ideas or the character and attributes of Him whose judgment is according to truth.

2. Again, the sin spoken of in the text cannot be a sin of which men have ever repented. Because wherever there is repentance there is pardon through the Saviour. This, if I understand anything about the gospel, is its great message. Let us go on to Manasseh, king of Judah (2 Kings 21.). It is not easy to imagine anything worse than we are told about him. "He undid the work of Hezekiah, his father. And now, as I get near to saying what seems to me the meaning of the text, I am sorry that I must set aside the opinion of some great and good men; of Wesley amongst them. He thought, and others thought also, that this sin is neither more nor less than "the ascribing those miracles to the power of the devil which Christ did by the power of the Holy Ghost" — in short, that it was only possible during the Saviour's ministry. I cannot think a warning so solemn anal striking, recorded in three of the four Gospels, should relate wholly to a past kind of sin. No: the outward part of sin perpetually shifts and changes: its principle and essence remain the same. Nor should we escape the terror of the text by adopting what I may call the "obsolete" interpretation as regards the sin. There are other passages, not quite so well known perhaps, but as awful when we think of them. "There is," says St. John, "a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it." St. Jude writes of some who "were before of old ordained to this condemnation" — "twice dead" — "plucked up by the roots" — "to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever." In the Epistle to the Hebrews we are told of some for whom "remained no more sacrifice for sin," and of some whom "it was impossible to renew unto repentance." St. Paul, writing to Timothy, mentions some who "should proceed no further," who "resisted the truth as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses." All these passages remain, even though we succeed in removing the text to the region of the past. All these, as well as the text, must, I think, be read in the same light; and all must be thought of in connection with what I said at the outset — that what can never be forgiven must be something of which men have never repented. What can this be? It can scarcely be anything less than deliberate, conscious resistance to acknowledged truth; persistent choosing of darkness rather than light. You will say, perhaps, that there cannot be such a thing. Are you so sure? Think for one moment. Do you not see something like it — apart from religion altogether — every day? Does not the drunkard, or the spendthrift, or the gambler know his end — I mean in this world — as well as you do? And still he goes on. What can you do for him? Nothing. At least nothing except in the way of "hoping against hope." You do your very best: and you are right; but while you cannot prove it, you feel that there is failure before you. Come to the Bible. Take that wonderful case of Ahab and Micaiah. Ahab did not believe that there was no God. Nor did he doubt the mission of Micaiah. Nor did he once hint that he thought him untruthful. He had one objection, and only one: "I hate him because he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil." Micaiah exposes to him the deceitfulness of the other prophets: and he still has nothing to say but to repeat his old objection. After which he goes on deliberately to death. Take two instances from the New Testament. What effect was produced by the raising of Lazarus? Some of the Jews "sought to put Lazarus also to death." When Peter and John performed what the Jewish rulers admitted to be a "notable miracle, which they could not deny," they did what? Threatened them, and tried to hinder the further spread of the gospel thus attested. All these, surely, are cases which — if we merely reflected, without reading the Bible at all — we should be obliged to own were verging on and tending to something unforgivable. This view will be confirmed if a well-supported reading of St. Mark's account be the true one. It makes him say — not is in danger of eternal damnation or judgment; but is in danger of eternal sin. The depth of condemnation is only for the depth of sin; and by resisting grace, shutting the eyes to light, we are surely sinking into that depth. It is not that God arbitrarily marks out a sin or even a course of sin, which He will not pardon. But He warns us that we may bring ourselves to a state in which we will not have pardon, and reach the Satanic condition of consummated sin, and seem to say, as he alone can say, "Evil, be thou my good."

(J. C. Coghlan, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven.

WEB: Everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but those who blaspheme against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.

Some Ways of Denying Christ
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