Matthew 12:31

ESV Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.
NIV And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.
NASB Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven.
CSB Therefore, I tell you, people will be forgiven every sin and blasphemy, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.
NLT So I tell you, every sin and blasphemy can be forgiven — except blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which will never be forgiven.
KJV 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.

What does Matthew 12:31 mean?

As used in Scripture, the word "blasphemy" means expressing something disrespectful or evil about God. Among the worst forms of blasphemy are those which twist sacred truths about God into lies.

Taken out of context, it's understandable that this verse has caused many people to worry. There's a fear of experiencing a moment of weakness, blaspheming the Holy Spirit, and remaining unforgiven by God for all of eternity. However, Jesus is not warning about casual or thoughtless stumbles. In the most immediate context, He's speaking about an extremely specific sin, which can't be literally replicated today. In a broader sense, He also implies that our words reveal our hearts, which is where the true problem is.

Two things help us to understand Jesus' words here. The first is context. Jesus has been accused by some Pharisees of casting out demons by the power of Satan (Matthew 12:22–24). Jesus responded by pointing out that He cast out demons by the power of God's Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:25–28). This made the Pharisees guilty of giving credit to Satan for the work of the Holy Spirit. This is the blasphemy Jesus is talking about.

Why did the Pharisees do such a thing? Their goal was not truth; it was to discredit Jesus at any cost (John 5:39–40). When confronted with an obvious miracle, they were willing to attribute it to Satan. They chose that extraordinary act of blasphemy, rather than submission to God, because they rejected Jesus as the Son of God. That act, because it represents someone absolutely committed to disbelief, is proof that such a person is never going to find salvation. In the strictest sense, this is a sin which can no longer be committed today. The Pharisees talked to the Son of God in person, watched Him perform a miracle, and blasphemed God in response. This is not an act anyone living today can commit.

The only way for anyone to be forgiven for their sins, any sin, is through faith in Jesus (John 3:16–18). Faith in Christ causes God to take Jesus' death as payment for our sin and to give us the credit for Jesus' righteous life (2 Corinthians 5:21). A major work of the Holy Spirit is leading people to faith in Jesus (John 16:7–11). In a broad sense, those who "blaspheme the Holy Spirit" today are those who continue to reject the Spirit's message. They keep saying "no" to the Holy Spirit's leading, in essence calling Him a liar.

Those who persist in stubbornness and disbelief will not be forgiven, because they refuse to trust in Christ as the Holy Spirit is leading them to do. Since there is no other path to forgiveness except through faith in Jesus, their choice to consistently reject the Spirit's leading causes them to remain unforgiven (John 3:36).
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