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"Verily I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men and blasphemies where withsoever they shall blaspheme.  But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but shall be held guilty of an eternal offense."  

"And whoever shall speak a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven. . .it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come."  

Not every kind of blasphemy is intended but a specific sin of blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, by which whosoever shall be bound, he shall never by any remission be loosed.  

Many had spoken against Christ, calling him deceiver and even adversary of God; but these can be forgiven upon repentance.  But blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven.  Sins against the Son of Man are pardonable because it was sort of difficult to see the God through the humanity of Christ.  But the work of the Holy Spirit is evident now and even from the Old Testament.  

What Christ is trying to say is this:  ye are offended at me because of the flesh with which I am encompassed.  But you cannot say this of the Holy Spirit; so your blasphemy is unpardonable, both here and hereafter shall you suffer punishment.  

The words that Christ spoke are not clearly from the Son of God because of the veil of humanity of Christ; but the words from the Holy Spirit are clearly from the Holy Spirit and to go against those words is clearly to go against the Holy Spirit or to sin against the Holy Spirit.  

And since the main work of the Holy Spirit is sanctification, i.e., the work towards holiness, any attempt to go against this, to thwart it, to disturb it is to sin against the Holy Spirit, and to insult Christ, too.  And, for this, nothing can avert your punishment neither here nor thereafter.  

This is how grievous this sin is:  That one is punished here and in the life after.  For, of men, some are punished both here and there; others here only, some there only.  Others neither here nor there.  Those who sin against the Holy Spirit are punished here and there; for both here do they pay a penalty and, there, they shall undergo a very grievous punishment.  Dives, the rich man, did not suffer here; he lived a life of pleasure.  But Dives suffered there and hath not even a drop of water at his command.  The Corinthians who committed fornication were punished here but not there because of their repentance.  The apostles and the prophets and Job were punished neither here nor there; their sufferings were not punishments but part of the contest and spiritual combat.  

Let us labor to be like the apostles; or, if not, at least like those who are punished here but not there.  For fearful indeed is that, after judgment, inexorable the vengeance and incurable the punishment.  Above all, let us not work against the work of the Holy Spirit, otherwise, our punishment is here and there.  

This is the sin against the Holy Spirit:  to go against the work of sanctifying oneself or sanctifying others; to know the way to holiness and harden one's heart against it, to put obstacles in the path of one who is seeking personal holiness; to discredit the message of the Holy Spirit knowingly; to be angry at those who preach the way to holiness; to harass the preaching of the way to holiness. . .all of these is "to speak against the Holy Spirit."  The Holy Spirit is the giver of grace of repentance, but to such as this the Holy Spirit withholds the grace of repentance and so the sinner remains impenitent.  

It is excusable to say:  "I did not know Christ is God," because of His human nature.  But you cannot say:  "I did not know this is a doctrine of the Holy Spirit," because this is known to all, specially Christians, who are the likely candidates for this awful sin.  For Christ, after the resurrection, had proven beyond doubt that the attainment of holiness is the work of the Holy Spirit.  

Labor now.  Do not wait for God to punish you now or, worse still, in the life after.  Punish yourself now.  How?  Lament and groan bitterly for your sins;  humble and afflict yourself by calling to remembrance your sins in their particulars.  This is no small torture to a man's soul.  Contrition punishes the soul more than anything.  That is why God rewards righteousness to those who are repentant.  For the beginnings of amendment is the continuous remembrance of your sins.   

Do not confess merely your acts of fornication or adulteries and other obvious sins, but confess your secret plots, your false accusations and evil speakings and desire for vainglory and envies.  Those who enjoy pleasures fall into hell, the drunkard cannot go to heaven; neither those who neglect the care of his ageing parents and overlooks the poor can enter the kingdom of heaven.  So account not these things to be little.  Do not forget them, for God will bring them out before your eyes in the day of judgment.  

Apply the counter-remedies to these evil, Christ's remedies:  alms, prayers, compunction, humility, a contrite heart, contempt of possessions, showing mercy, removing our anger.  This way we shall obtain pardon for our sins and win the promised good things by the grace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ.  

St. John Chrysostom, Hom. XLI  "On Mat"




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