Bad or insulting language directed at a person or thing is usually referred to as a curse. When directed at God it becomes a blasphemy. According to the law of Moses, blasphemy was an act not merely of disrespect to God but of rebellion against God. The penalty was death (Lev 24:10-23; 1 Kings 21:10; Acts 6:11; 7:58). Israelites by nature had a reverence for the name of God, and were not as likely to speak blasphemously of God as the Gentiles were (2 Kings 19:6,22; Ps 74:10,18). But they often acted blasphemously, as seen for example when they turned from God to serve idols (Ezek 20:27-28). Jews of New Testament times accused Jesus of blasphemy because he claimed for himself powers that belonged to God only (Mark 2:7; 14:61-64).

This was one reason why they persecuted Jesus and his followers. They even tried to make the followers of Jesus curse him – and that really would have been blasphemy (Acts 26:11). In fact, the Jews themselves were the ones guilty of blasphemy; for in speaking evil of Jesus they were speaking evil of God (1 Tim 1:13). The blasphemy of the Holy Spirit was a sin that Jesus said could not be forgiven. This statement must be understood in its context. Jesus realized that many Jews did not clearly understand the nature of his messiahship, and did not know what he meant by referring to himself as ‘the Son of man’.

God could forgive people’s doubts and misunderstandings about Jesus, but he would not forgive their deliberate rejection of the plain evidence that Jesus’ works were good and they originated in God. When people called God’s Spirit Satan and called good evil, they put themselves in a position where they had no way of acknowledging God’s goodness. They therefore had no way of receiving his forgiveness (Matt 12:22- 32; Mark 3:28-30). If people today are distressed through thinking they cannot be forgiven because of some blasphemy they have spoken, they should realize that their distress is a sure sign that they have not committed the sin Jesus referred to. The sin Jesus condemned is not a rashly spoken curse, but a deliberate refusal of God; not a single act, but a persistent attitude. And so long as people stubbornly persists in that attitude they cannot be forgiven.

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