|"Field of Lilies" by Daderot,|
Tiffany Studios, c. 1910
"Consider the lilies of the field..."
"Um, Jesus, what was that other thing you just said about the unforgivable sin?"
"You mean blaspheming the Holy Spirit?"
"Yeah, can we go back to that for a minute?"
This idea of blaspheming the Holy Spirit also appears in the other synoptic Gospels in Mark 3:28-29 as well as Matthew 12:31-32. Hebrews 6:4-8 and 10:26-29 also allude to sin sticking with people who set themselves against Christ after their salvation.
The latter can be countered showing that Peter was certainly forgiven after his thrice denial.
So how does one really blaspheme the Holy Spirit? How do I make sure that I keep from doing this?
There's not a lot of agreement on exactly what this means. In fact, most commentators seem to think that if you're worried that you've done it and are seeking to repent, it means you haven't blasphemed the Holy Spirit. In other words, one who does this is unable to feel repentance in his or her heart.
The idea of an unpardonable or unforgivable sin seems to go against the whole concept of grace and the idea that one can repent up until death. In fact, when I was getting ready to go to seminary, I heard that there used to be a "Blaspheming the Holy Spirit" Club at one of them. This was really just a silly attempt to declare that God's grace overcomes anything.
If we look at the original context of the statement in Mark which is the oldest of the gospels, we see that Jesus is saying this because the legal experts were saying that he had an evil spirit. So maybe blaspheming the Holy Spirit has to do with speaking evil about what is really good. In any event, if it were really unpardonable, I think that Jesus would have spent more time on it. This may be why John's gospel omits it entirely.
We've all got our issues where we struggle. It's probably better for us to focus on the ravens and the lilies.