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What are the consequences for blaspheming God?

blaspheming God

The word blasphemy, meaning “the act of showing contempt or disrespect to God,” comes from the Greek word blasphemia, which appears repeatedly in the New Testament (e.g., John 10:36; Romans 2:24). Scripture also uses descriptions like “cursing God” (e.g., Revelation 16:11) and “speaking against” Him (e.g., Malachi 3:13) to describe the sin. The Bible-wide meaning of the transgression refers to disparaging God, including profaning His name, defaming His character, and slandering His works. Blasphemy can occur through speech, actions, and attitudes. The consequences for blaspheming God are severe.

Scripture exposes the character of those guilty of the sin of blasphemy, revealing the spiritual and moral corruption within their darkened hearts and minds. They are filled with pride (2 Kings 19:22), devoid of faith (Psalm 73:11), mired in foolishness (Psalm 74:18), enraged with anger (Isaiah 8:21), devoted to idolatry (Daniel 11:36–37), filled with lies (Hosea 7:13), and immersed in heresy (Psalm 10:11). Rather than reflect God’s image and likeness, blasphemers choose to mirror Satan’s adversarial and antagonistic nature (Genesis 1:26–28; cf. Revelation 13:1, 6).

Regarding the expression of corruption, blaspheming God can occur in numerous ways. Some disparage Him with words (e.g., Psalm 139:20), while others do so through actions (e.g., Proverbs 30:8–9). The Bible also documents instances where individuals incited others to blaspheme. For example, Job’s wife urged Job to curse God (Job 2:9), and Paul—before his conversion to Christianity—tried to compel Christians to blaspheme God (Acts 26:11).

The consequences for blaspheming God match the seriousness of the offense. The book of Leviticus recounts the story of a man who cursed and “blasphemed the Name” of Yahweh (Leviticus 24:11). In response to this sin, God instructed Moses to remove the offender from the community and “have all the congregation stone him” to death (Leviticus 24:14). This incident established a precedent for future blasphemers under the law God gave Moses (Leviticus 24:16).

Paul’s first letter to Timothy reveals a shift away from the death penalty as the punishment for blasphemy under the New Covenant that Jesus Christ established (Jeremiah 31:31–34; Luke 22:20). But the consequences for unrepentant blasphemy remain severe. The apostle mentions the excommunication of two men, Hymenaeus and Alexander, from the Christian community, describing their punishment as their being “handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme” (1 Timothy 1:20, ESV). Thus, in contrast to the executed blasphemer in Leviticus, Hymenaeus and Alexander lived. As a reformed blasphemer himself (1 Timothy 1:12–14), Paul likely hoped that these men would experience a transformative conversion like he did (cf. 2 Timothy 2:25–26). Nevertheless, Hymenaeus and Alexander’s consequence for blaspheming God wasn’t irrevocably final but potentially redemptive.

Beyond the nature, expressions, and consequences for blaspheming God, one of the Bible’s most striking passages on the topic concerns the unforgivable sin. After Jesus healed a demon-possessed man, the Pharisees accused Him of using demonic powers to perform the miracle (Matthew 12:22–24). Jesus replied that it’s illogical to argue that Satan is responsible for thwarting the activity of demons. He reasoned, “If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself” (Matthew 12:26, ESV).

Jesus went on to explain that “every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven” (Matthew 12:31). He elaborated, “Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come” (Matthew 12:32).

Rejecting the Son of Man, which is forgivable, is not repenting of sin and trusting in Jesus for salvation (cf. Mark 1:15). Indeed, not everyone immediately decides to follow Jesus upon hearing the gospel for the first time. Yet such initial ignorance, confusion, and doubting are pardonable if the person eventually repents and believes.

In contrast, the Pharisees committed blasphemy against the Holy Spirit in that they accused Jesus of being demon-possessed instead of Spirit-filled. The Pharisees had the Law and the Prophets, they had the Holy Spirit stirring their hearts, they had the Son of God Himself standing in their presence, and they saw with their own eyes the miracles He did. Yet they chose defiance. They purposely attributed the work of the Spirit to the devil, even though they knew the truth and had the proof. Jesus declared their willful blindness to be unpardonable. We do not believe this particular type of blasphemy can be duplicated today.

Blaspheming God is a grave sin. Yet for those who have responded to the gospel in faith, this offense, like all others, is forgivable because of the shed blood of Jesus on the cross that washes away sin (1 John 1:7, 9). The consequences for blasphemy were paid by Jesus on the cross for all those who are born again through faith in Christ. Cooperating with the Holy Spirit’s thorough and ongoing sanctifying work (1 Thessalonians 5:23) transforms a believer’s words, actions, and attitudes, enabling him or her to live in a manner that reveres God’s hallowed name (cf. Matthew 6:9).

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This page last updated: April 2, 2024