The issue of unpardonable sin is perhaps one of the most confusing saying that Jesus ever made. I personally know some young people who believe that they have blasphemed hence their fate are sealed. There is also popularized “blasphemy challenge” champion by atheists like Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, and Penn Jillete. The blasphemy challenge is basically ‘an internet-based project started in December 2006 which invites young people to submit videos to Youtube or other video internet hosts, in which they record themselves blaspheming or denying the existence of the Holy Spirit’. You will, however, agree with me that such challenge by an atheist is nonsense because it assumes the existence of God whom they deny exists. However, the question that needs to be addressed here is whether such challenge qualifies to be a blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.
The context of the saying would definitely be necessary otherwise we might be accused of mutilating the Scripture which can also be a sin! What did Jesus really meant when he spoke about the unpardonable sin? First, it is necessary to point out that this saying has been preserved in two forms. Luke records it as one of a series of sayings dealing with the Son of man or of the Holy Spirit (Luke 12:10), but Mark gives it a narrative context and two forms are combined in Matt 12:31-32.
The narrative of Mark indicates the expert of the Law purposely went to Galilee to sort of examine the work of Jesus Christ especially that of exorcism only to pridefully conclude that Jesus was doing casting out demons by the help of another ‘big’ demon called Beelzebub! How absurd could that be! It is said that Beelzebub had once been the name of a Canaanite divinity, ‘the lord of the high place’ but by the time of Jesus, the Jews referred Beelzebub as ruler of Abyss, the abode of demons. The absurdity here is that the scholars of the Law would arrive at a conclusion that Jesus was using Satan’s power to overthrow Satan’s power! But do you also realize the cold-heartedness of the scribes towards the people who were being tormented by the demons being exorcised by Jesus? This reminds me a certain time that Jesus healed a certain woman on a Sabbath day only for these Pharisees to accuse Him of healing on a Sabbath day! You will remember the compassionate response of Jesus that ‘she also is the daughter of Abraham!’ My point here is, the scribes stubbornly refuse to take into consideration the sad situation that those possessed were in before arriving at their conclusion. Instead, as a way to discrediting Jesus, they ascribed the Holy Spirit’s activity to a demonic agency. Yet this is the Holy Spirit who was mightily at work in Jesus.
The Scripture indicates that when a person repents of his sin, forgiveness is available. Doesn’t this imply that if a person repents of the sin of blasphemy forgiveness is also available? There is a sense in which the nature of the sin of blasphemy is such that one does not repent of it because those who commit it and persists in it do not know that they are sinning. You see, Jesus’ ministry was to proclaim the kingdom of God that is characterized by the release of the soul-sick and demon possessed people. He exclaimed that ‘if I drive out a demon by the finger of God then the kingdom of God has come to you’. Now, if a person ascribe the core of Jesus’ ministry of delivering people from Satan to the agency of Satan himself then his eyes are tightly closed to the light that for him light has become darkness and good is evil. The truth or light is there for those who accept but if a person refuses the Light where else can he hope to receive illumination? Simply put it: done.
If blaspheming against the Holy Spirit is to be seen in the way ‘Blaspheme Challenge’ defines it, then Paul was eternally condemned. This is because Paul, in Act 26:11, persecuted Christians ‘trying to make them blaspheme’. This suggests that Paul was at one time blind but when he received the Light on his way to Damascus, he was forgiven. The truth is that if he refused to reverently respond to the light, he would continue sinning thinking that he is serving God.
As you read the context of the saying in the book of Luke, you will see that the saying about blaspheming the Holy Spirit is between a saying about the Spirit’s heavenly role as counsel for defense of those who confess the Jesus and a saying about the Spirit’s enabling confessors of Jesus before an earthly tribunal to say the right word at the right time. Luke suggests that the blaspheming of the Spirit involves a refusal of his powerful help when it is available to save the disciple of Jesus from denying him and committing apostasy. On the other hand, Mark’s context suggests the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit as deliberately shutting one’s eyes to the light and consequently calling good evil. In my view, the two accounts clearly imply that both the believer and non-believer can commit the unpardonable sin of blasphemy.
I, therefore, submit that blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is an unpardonable sin not in the sense that God refuse to forgive but because those who do it do not see the need to repent. In their representation, they interpret evil as good and light as darkness. This means that they will celebrate the evil they do and the darkness they dwell in.