In the context of Matthew 12, it was Israel’s rejection of Christ that Jesus related to the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Strictly speaking, only when the nation Israel rejected their Messiah, Jesus Christ, did they commit the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. By application today, one might say that unbelievers who reject the ministry of the Holy Spirit in bringing them to faith in Christ could be said to be blaspheming against the Holy Spirit.
It is important to understand the background for the term blasphemy against the Spirit in the gospel of Matthew. The context always determines the meaning of any verse or doctrine in the Bible. In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus is presented as the Messiah-King of Israel. He has come preaching the gospel of the kingdom. There has been a mounting rejection of Him and His message. Israel wanted a leader to free them from Rome. But they did not want a Messiah or Savior for their sins. The climax of this rejection is found in Matthew 12. In 12:1, Jesus’ disciples were eating grain from the field as they walked. The Pharisees accused them of doing what was unlawful on the Sabbath. Then in 12:10, Jesus healed a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath. In Matthew 12:14, the Pharisees conspire against Him as to how they might destroy Him. Finally in Matthew 12:22, Jesus healed a demon-possessed man on the Sabbath. The Pharisees react by accusing Jesus of casting out demons by the power of Beelzebub, the ruler of demons (12:24). Jesus gives four responses in Matthew 12:25-30. First, He stated that divided kingdom cannot stand (12:25-26); second, He asked what was the power behind Jewish exorcists (12:27); third, He reasoned that Satan must be bound in order for demons to be cast out by the Spirit of God (12:29); and fourth, He declared that whoever is not with Him is against Him (12:30).
Then our Lord makes a startling statement in Matthew 12:31-32. Any sin or blasphemy will be forgiven, even blasphemy against the Son or the Father. But blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven. The point is that there will never be any forgiveness, if the Holy Spirit is blasphemed. The question is—what does this mean?
We know that Christ died for all sin (Heb. 10:10-17). Therefore, there is no such thing as an unpardonable sin. All sin has been paid for so that there is only one issue for salvation—faith in Christ’s finished work on the cross (John 3:16).
In the context of Matthew 12, it was Israel’s rejection of Christ that Jesus related to the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Strictly speaking, only when the nation Israel rejected their Messiah, Jesus Christ, did they commit the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.
To reject Christ is to reject the work the Holy Spirit and in this passage, blaspheme the Holy Spirit. Technically, the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit cannot be committed today because of the context of Matthew 12.
We also know that it is the ministry of the Holy Spirit to bring unbelievers to an awareness of the gospel and convict them of their need for salvation. In John 6:44, Jesus plainly stated that unless the Holy Spirit draws the unbeliever, they would not come to salvation. Christ died for all sin except the issue of rejection of His salvation. In that sense, any unbeliever who rejects the gospel is rejecting the Holy Spirit. One could say by application, that a rejecting unbeliever is blaspheming the Holy Spirit’s work in bringing them to Christ.
In Luke 12:10, Jesus has been accused of doing miracles in the power of Satan. Jesus’ reply is that anyone who speaks against Him can be forgiven, but that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. There is but one issue that is unforgivable in God’s plan—the rejection of the gospel. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to both reveal and convict an unbeliever of their need for the gospel. Thus, to reject the work of the Holy Spirit in this context is to reject His work in presenting the gospel. This is unpardonable. Strictly speaking, this blasphemy of the Holy Spirit cannot be committed today in that we are not Israel, rejecting Jesus as Messiah. This is the background for Jesus issuing this statement.