Numerous are the sins mentioned within the pages of the Bible. In a very real way, every sin which we commit is a sin against God (Psalm 51:3-4; Exodus 16:1-2 cf., 16:7-8; Numbers 14: 1-2 cf. 14:27; Numbers 16:11; Acts 5:3-4; Acts 9:1-5, etc.). However, there are seven specific sins mentioned in scripture as being against the Holy Spirit. Let’s notice:
1. Lie to the Spirit (Acts 5:1-4).
Ananias and his wife, Sapphira, sold a possession. They claimed that they were giving a total sale price into the treasury of the church. However, what they actually did was claim that they sold the possession for less than they did. Their plan was to pocket the difference, while telling others that they gave all (Acts 5:2-3:8). They were not required to give all (Acts 5:2-3, 8). They were not required to give all (Acts 5:4). They simply wanted others to think that they had.
They lied. They lied to man. However, they had lied not only to man, but to the Holy Spirit to God. Every sin is a sin first and foremost against God. It has been said that when man lies, he cares more about what man thinks, than he does what God thinks. He is behaving cowardly toward man, and bravely toward God. God knows our every word (Psalm 139:1-4; Matthew 12:6).
Peter and the other apostles, it seems, were endowed with every spiritual gift. One of these gifts was the discerning of spirits (1 Corinthians 12:10). James Burton Coffman comments, “The apostles of Christ, after their baptism in the Holy Spirit, were inspired men, able to perform miracles and to discern the thoughts of men… if such a fraud as that undertaken by Ananias and Sapphira had been successful, it would have discredited the central authority of God’s church upon earth. The sale of a piece of land, as well as the price paid and received, could not long have been concealed, since such things have been in the public record of every generation; and if the deception had succeeded, the word of the apostles themselves would have been suspect.”
2. Grieve the Spirit (Ephesians 4:30a).
The word translated “grieve” means “to cause pain” (Vine’s). The Holy Spirit can be pained by us.
How do we grieve the Holy Spirit? The book of Isaiah used this same language. There, rebellion against God grieved the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 63:10). Rebellion grieves God (Psalm 95:7-11).
What about the immediate context of Ephesians? There are behaviors toward others that are to be put off (4:22; 25a, 26-27, 28a, 29a, 31). There are behaviors towards others that are to be put on (4:24, 25b, 28b, 29b, 32). The point seems to be that when we do not treat one another according to God’s word, it grieves the Holy Spirit.
3. Insult the Spirit (Hebrews 10:24-31).
The context concerns the church assembly. The assembly is not only about honoring God, it is an opportunity “to stir up love and good works” in one another (Hebrews 10:24-25).
Those who willfully forsake the assembly: (1) miss the opportunity “to stir up love and good works” in others (Hebrews 10:24-25 cf. Colossians 3:16); (2) treat the blood of Christ as if it were a common thing, unappreciated, not special (Hebrews 10:29 cf. Acts 20:7 cf. 1 Corinthians 11:23-26); (3) treat insultingly the Spirit of grace (Hebrews 10:29), Who has revealed the gospel and has taught Christians to assemble.
4. Quench the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19).
It is helpful to understand that the instructions of 1 Thessalonians 5:16-22 are written in parallelism. (1) “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks…” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) is parallelism. It is expressing a similar thought three ways. (2) “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophesies” (1 Thessalonians 5:19-20). This is parallelism. The power and influence of the Spirit is quenched when revelation is despised. (3) “Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22). This is parallelism. All things should be spiritually tested (cf. Acts 17:11; 1 John 4:1). If it passes the test it can be practiced. If it fails the test, abstain from it.
This likely concerns the use of miraculous gifts. Remember that the use of miraculous gifts could be suppressed by the one who possessed such gifts (cf. 2 Timothy 1:6; 1 Corinthians 14:32). It may be that some were afraid of boldly proclaiming the message because of the opposition in society, and were not using the God-given abilities which they possessed.
The power and influence of the Spirit may also be quenched by rejecting the message. Paul warned, “he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has given us His Holy Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 4:8 cf. 2:13).
The power and influence of the Spirit may also be quenched by negative words. I once heard a woman, after a Gospel meeting in which the truth was preached, tell her friend, “not all of us in the church of Christ think that way.” She apologized for the truth. She quenched the Spirit.
The power and influence of the Spirit may be quenched by listening but not practicing. God’s word is to be put into practice (Ezekiel 33:31-32; Matthew 7:24-27; James 1:22). There is no telling what good could be done if we all would truly put into practice what we know to do.
5. Defile the temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).
The temple is the church (1 Corinthians 1:2 cf. 3:16-17). The language is collective of the whole church. “You” is plural “temple” is singular. “The only correct usage of a plural pronoun to refer to a singular noun as its antecedent is if the singular noun is a collective noun. The only collective usage of the word ‘temple’ in the New Testament is when the apostles have the church in mind” (Marion Fox, The Work of the Holy Spirit, Vol. 1, p. 235). It is not uncommon for the church to be pictured as the temple in the New Testament (Ephesians 2:19-22; 1 Timothy 3:15; 1 Peter 2:5; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19-20; 2 Corinthians 6:16).
Let’s consider the Old Testament. Did God literally dwell in the temple of old? No! (1 Kings 8:27; 2 Chronicles 2:6; 6:18; Acts 7:47-50; 17:24-25). However, He did manifest Himself in it (2 Chronicles 7:1-2). The temple, and the tabernacle before it, represented God and His presence (Exodus 25:8; 29:45-46). Sometimes there was even visible evidence of His presence (Exodus 40:3-38; Deuteronomy 31:15; Leviticus 16:1-2; 1 Kings 8:10; 2 Chronicles 7:1-3).
Even so, the church represents Him on earth. The church at Corinth had dwelling in it a visible manifestation of His presence through miraculous evidence. How they conducted themselves would influence how others thought of God (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:1; 6:1, 5; 14:23). Christians need to be careful about the message they send in their behavior (Romans 2:21-24; Titus 2:3-5; 2 Samuel 12:13-14a).
The context concerns a man’s “work” in the temple (1 Corinthians 3:12-15), and “work” seems to refer to members which are added (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:1). Marion Fox commented on defiling the temple, “False teachers, who converted by unscriptural means or by teaching false doctrine, were destroying the church by building with faulty building materials. These faulty building materials were unconverted or half-converted persons” (ibid, p. 236).
Note: Everything to this point has primarily had reference to sins that children of God do against the Spirit. However, the next two have reference primarily, but not exclusively, to the non-Christian.
6. Resist the Spirit (Acts 7:51-52).
Let’s notice the context. Stephen reviews Israelite history. (1) They had rejected the prophets and their message time and again (Acts 7:9, 22-25, 35, 37-39). (2) They had mistreated and killed the prophets of God (Acts 7:51-52). (3) They did not keep the law (Acts 7:53). (4) His point to those to whom he was speaking was that they were of the same character in their rejection of his message and Christianity (Acts 6:8-13; 7:51-52; 7:57-8:2).
Those who oppose and reject the message of the gospel are guilty of resisting the Spirit. The Spirit does not exert an irresistible grace on us. He can be resisted.
7. Blasphemy against the Spirit (Matthew 12:31-32; Mark 3:28-30; Luke 12:10).
The meaning is evident in context. Jesus had performed a miracle healing a blind, mute, demon possessed man. His opponent could not deny it. However, they suggested that he did it “by Beelzebub,” instead of by the Holy Spirit. Mark’s account explains what it means to blaspheme the Holy Spirit saying, “because they said, ‘He has an unclean Spirit’” (Mark 12:30). J.W. McGarvey commented, “The blasphemy against the Holy Spirit here denounced is the evil speech just made by the Pharisees, in which a work performed by the Holy Spirit was attributed to Satan” (Commentary on Matthew and Mark, p. 109).
Still today, one can speak against the evidence the Holy Spirit has provided. One can possess a heart that is so set against Jesus that no evidence, not even the plainest evidence will change him. The person will not see, because he does not want to see (Matthew 13:14-15). The person will not believe, because he does not want to believe (Romans 1:20-21). The person will not submit, because he does not want to submit (Romans 1:28a; John 3:19-20).
Note: For more information, see article – The Unpardonable Sin by Bryan Hodge