30 “He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters. 31 “Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. 32 “Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.
I think it is easy to assume that if you haven’t read this passage before, it can be a little daunting. Even if you have, it can still be daunting. At the very least, it makes us ponder, “Have I done that?” This term of “blasphemy against the Spirit” leaves us with more questions than answers. We want to know what exactly Jesus means by blasphemy. He was accused of blasphemy, so we know that it is a word that might not always be used correctly or fully understood. Thankfully, this topic appears in one other place in the bible. The Apostle Paul was writing a list of encouragement and instruction in 1 Thessalonians 5 that includes this very instruction that Jesus gave His disciples:
16 Rejoice always; 17 pray without ceasing; 18 in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 19 Do not quench the Spirit; 20 do not despise prophetic utterances. 21 But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; 22 abstain from every form of evil. 23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul used the word “quench” instead of “blaspheme” which in the original Greek is sbennumi, meaning “to stifle, extinguish, or suppress.” Jesus and the disciples talked a lot about the fire of the Holy Spirit and likewise they warn against not letting it burn out in our lives. What Paul and Jesus were talking about was the danger in ignoring the influence of God’s Spirit over our lives. It doesn’t necessarily mean to speak against the Spirit directly (although a heart set against the Spirit might do that), but that we live ignoring the very power God sent to us from heaven to live in His Kingdom here on earth. Now, let us revisit the initial question: have you done that? We can see in Paul’s writings that everything surrounding verse 19 discusses all the things we must do to remain in touch with the Spirit. Likewise, in our progression of Matthew’s writing, Jesus is making clear that He is not of the devil but of God. He is talking about how a house divided cannot stand and if you quench or blaspheme the Spirit, you are therefore not on His side even if you think you might be.
In John 15, Jesus explains clearly the concept of what it is like to be “with Him.”
4 “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5 “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. 6 “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. 7 “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. 9 “Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.
If you are worried about whether or not you have or continue to blaspheme the Holy Spirit, then focus on what Jesus says in John 15. We must abide in Him, seek His direction, and work to develop our relationship with the Holy Spirit. If not, we are like the unattached branch that dries up and is thrown into the fire. This is a fruitless life. This is a pointless life. This is a godless life. Don’t you want more than that?