What is the Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit & Why is it Unforgivable?

I recently interviewed / debated Brian Powers, a self-professed anointed man of God and televangelist. During the conversation Powers leveled the charge against me that I was blaspheming the Holy Spirit for not recognizing his anointing and prophetic powers. This claim by Powers shows that he's confused about what the Bible teaches regarding the Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately many Christians are also confused about this. Therefore, I'm going to take a moment and answer a couple of questions, "what is the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit and why is it it unforgivable?"

In order to answer these questions we must take a look at the fuller context of Matthew 12:30–32 here is what it says:

“Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.” Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can someone enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.” (Matthew 12:22–32)

With this fuller context in mind we can see that that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is to so resist the saving work of Christ and the gospel rather than fall on your knees in penitence and sorrow for your sins and seek the forgiveness of sins offered through Christ (see John 16:8–10). Those who blaspheme the Holy Spirit vehemently resist the work of the Holy Spirit and claim that it is evil and the work the of the devil. 1 Corinthians 12:3 further makes this clear by showing us that the Holy Spirit’s work is to bring sinners to repentance and faith in Christ. It says:

“Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:3)

Martin Luther understood the Office and Work of the Holy Spirit and rightly summarized this work in the Small Catechism when he said:

I believe that by my own understanding or strength I cannot believe in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to him, but instead the Holy Spirit has called me through the gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, made me holy and kept me in the true faith, just as he calls, gathers, enlightens, and makes holy the whole Christian church on earth and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one common, true faith. Daily in this Christian church the Holy Spirit abundantly forgives all sins—mine and those of all believers.

Since the Holy Spirit’s work is to convict us of our sins and comfort us through The Gospel, to resist His work and ascribe it to the devil and despise His work to the point of believing that it is demonic cuts one off from the Gospel and the forgiveness of sins. This is why it is unforgivable.

χάρις ἔλεος εἰρήνη σοι,