Letters to a Christian

Question 3

Sin Against the Holy Spirit?

Brother Amato:  My question is.  How do you know when you have sin against the Holy Spirit?  I have trouble, you see at first i would feel the presence of the Holy Spirit and the fire of God, then everything just vanish.  When I pray it feels like if God is not listening to me. and I wonder if maybe in my mined I have said or done something wrong and it scares me to death.?

BCBSR Response

It's good it scares you to death. The rhetoric the Bible uses concerning such a sin was intended to scare people to death.

But from what I can infer about the sin against the Holy Spirit from the scriptures it appears to me that it is not only unforgiveble, but also unrepentable. Jesus says, "Assuredly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they may utter; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation" Mark 3:28,29 Take for example the sin of Hebrews 6:4-6

"For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame."

If this were just a sin directed against Christ it could be forgiven, as Jesus indicated in the Mark passage. But apparently this is a sin against the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is leading a person to faith in Christ. He imparts sufficient information and evidence to come to faith in Christ. To reject this degree of leading by the Holy Spirit I would say is an application of what Jesus referred to as "blaspheming the Holy Spirit". But before getting into splitting hairs as to what constitutes such sin, if we conclude that this is an example of the sin against the Holy Spirit notice the effect. It says it's impossible to renew such a person to repentance! When Christians ask me anxiously whether they've sinned against the Holy Spirit I confidently respond "ABSOLUTELY NOT!" I am absolutely sure that such a person had not committed such a sin. Why? Because if they had then they would have no inclination to repent! But since they were renewed to repentance therefore whatever sin they had committed was not this unforgivable sin.

However, as Hebrews indicates, it is possible for Christians (at least in the nominal stage) to commit such a sin, as also I would interpret John in the following passage:

"If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that." 1John 5:16

The sin leading to death I would infer also to be this sin against the Holy Spirit, of which it's useless to even pray about it. Not that the person committing such a sin would pray about it, but rather it's vain for other Christians to intercede.

Of course all these beg a number of other questions. The passage in 1John implies that other Christians can and even should recognize when their fellow Christian has committed such a sin. But how do you actually measure it? Though it may or may not have been a sin against the Holy Spirit notice John says in 1John 2:19 "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us." John discerns that "they were not of us" based upon their behavior. But it is unclear as to what degree of deviation from Christlikeness Christians can wander before one can make such absolute determination as to their actual salvation status. And to what degree can we as Christians resist the leading of the Holy Spirit before it constitues blasphemy? It seems to me that the rhetoric the Bible uses concerning this issue is meant to scare the hell out of people so as to scare the people out of hell.


The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources Jul 29,2015