Blasphemy is speech or behavior that shows contempt, disrespect or lack of reverence for God. The Bible has a lot to say about blasphemy and provides guidance on what it is, why it is wrong, and how followers of God should respond to it.
According to the Bible, blasphemy can take different forms. It includes things like:
- Speaking words against God
- Denying or rejecting God
- Attributing evil to God
- Mocking or belittling God
- Misusing or “taking the name of the Lord in vain” (Exodus 20:7)
- Disobeying or rebelling against God
- Claiming to speak for God falsely
- Distorting the truth about God
- Showing contempt for spiritual things
A key aspect of blasphemy is that it fails to honor God’s name and give Him the reverence He deserves as the Creator and Sustainer of life. All throughout Scripture, God condemns attitudes and behaviors that do not properly revere His name and character.
For example, in Leviticus 24:10-16, God instructs that anyone who blasphemes the name of the Lord must be stoned to death by the whole community. This extreme punishment highlights how seriously God takes blasphemy.
The Ten Commandments also forbid misusing God’s name: “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain” (Exodus 20:7). Using God’s name flippantly or irreverently is blasphemous.
In the New Testament, Jesus condemned people who used malicious insults and slander against Him, attributing His works to Satan rather than the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:22-32). He taught that speaking against the Son of Man could be forgiven, but blaspheming the Spirit by calling good evil would not be forgiven.
The apostle Paul, before becoming a Christian, considered himself a blaspheming violent persecutor of Christ’s church (1 Timothy 1:12-14). But God showed him mercy, and Paul later instructed believers to avoid blasphemy and useless talk (Ephesians 4:29-30).
Why is blasphemy wrong?
The Bible gives several reasons why blasphemy is extremely offensive to God:
- It fails to acknowledge God’s power and authority – Blasphemy arising from a lack of fear and reverence for God is foolish and dangerous (Luke 12:4-5). Everyone will one day stand before God to give account.
- It distorts the truth about God – Speaking lies and falsehood about God’s nature and deeds rebels against His commands and leads others astray (Exodus 20:16).
- It hinders God’s work – Rejecting God’s saving power and attributing the Holy Spirit’s work to evil prevents people from receiving salvation and forgiveness (Luke 12:10).
- It opposes God’s people – Insulting and mocking God’s people and ways directly oppose’s God’s purposes (Acts 9:1-5). Persecuting Christ’s church is persecuting Christ (Acts 9:4-5).
- It provokes God’s wrath – Blaspheming God’s name causes His righteous anger to burn against unrepentant sinners who have no fear of Him and despise His glory.
At the heart of blasphemy is rebellion against God and willful disregard of His sovereignty and glory. All types of blasphemy ultimately represent hatred and contempt toward God.
How should Christians respond to blasphemy?
When confronted with blasphemy, the Bible guides Christians to respond in several ways:
- Avoid it – Believers should be very careful to reverently speak about God and spiritual things, and avoid worthless talk (Ephesians 5:4).
- Reject it – Christians should not listen to or entertain people who mock and dishonor God but walk away from foolish babble (2 Timothy 2:16).
- Feel grieved – When people blaspheme God, Christians should feel deep sorrow over such contempt for their Creator who gave His Son to save them (Psalm 74:10, 22).
- Speak up – With wisdom and patience, believers can voice dissent against blasphemy and direct the conversation to honorable speech about God (Proverbs 15:1).
- Preach truth – The best response to lies about God is preaching the truth in love and calling people to repent and receive Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:19-20).
- Trust God – Though blasphemers seem to defy God with no consequences, Christians can take comfort knowing God hears it all and will ultimately judge with righteousness (Romans 12:19).
While blasphemy should grieve and disturb God’s people, believers need not react in anger or violence against blasphemers. Following Jesus’ model, the right response is compassionately sharing the gospel so that some may be saved, while others stand condemned by their own unrepentant words against God.
God takes blasphemy seriously, even if the world does not. But by His grace, He offers forgiveness to all who humbly repent and accept salvation through Jesus Christ. The proper reverence and fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge for all who hope in God’s mercy.
Notable Examples of Blasphemy in the Bible
Leviticus 24:10-16 – Stoning the Blasphemer
In this passage, a man whose mother was Israelite and father Egyptian got into a fight and blasphemed the name of God with a curse. Per God’s instructions through Moses, the whole community stoned him to death for this sin.
Isaiah 37:1-7 – Sennacherib’s Blasphemy Against God
The Assyrian king Sennacherib captured many Judean cities and sent messengers to taunt King Hezekiah and blaspheme God. He arrogantly declared even the Lord could not deliver Jerusalem from his hand.
Matthew 9:2-3 – Pharisees Accuse Jesus of Blasphemy
When Jesus told a paralyzed man that his sins were forgiven, the Pharisees thought Jesus was blaspheming by claiming an authority that belonged to God alone.
Matthew 26:57-68 – Jesus Stands Trial for Blasphemy
At His trial before the high priest Caiaphas, Jesus remained silent while false witnesses accused Him of blasphemy. When asked if He was the Christ, Jesus affirmed it and was convicted of blasphemy deserving death.
Acts 6:8-15 – Stephen Accused of Blasphemy Against Moses and God
Stephen boldly preached the gospel but was seized by Jews who falsely charged him with blaspheming Moses and God. For these invented charges, he became the first Christian martyr.
1 Timothy 1:12-14 – Paul’s Ignorance as a Blaspheming Persecutor
Paul confessed that in his former zeal as a Pharisee persecuting the church, he acted ignorantly in unbelief and was a blasphemer. But by God’s grace, he received mercy and forgiveness.
These examples show both the deadly seriousness of blasphemy under the Law, and the abundant mercy offered in Christ to repentant sinners who formerly blasphemed God.
Common Questions about Blasphemy
What is the unforgivable sin of blaspheming the Holy Spirit?
Jesus said blaspheming Him could be forgiven, but blaspheming the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven (Matthew 12:31-32). This refers to repeatedly rejecting the Spirit’s testimony about Christ as evil, attributing His saving work to Satan.
Can Christians commit blasphemy?
Yes, anyone including Christians can commit blasphemy by irreverently misusing God’s name or attributing evil to the Holy Spirit. However, true believers will repent rather than persist in blasphemy.
What should I do if I worry I have committed blasphemy?
Feelings of guilt may indicate conviction from the Holy Spirit leading to repentance. The appropriate response is to confess the sin, ask forgiveness, renew reverence for God, and move forward in righteousness.
How does our culture blaspheme God?
Our culture blasphemes God through careless profanity, depicting false images of God in media, mocking people of faith, rejecting biblical truth, and living immoral lifestyles that dishonor God.
Is blasphemy a sin in Islam, Hinduism, etc.?
Most world religions prohibit blasphemy against their god(s) and consider it a sin. However, only biblical Christianity teaches about blaspheming the Holy Spirit and records Jesus’ statements on this specific form of blasphemy.
Blasphemy is a grievous sin that shows contempt and disrespect toward God. According to the Bible, blasphemy can take many forms, both outward speech and inner attitudes that rebel against God’s authority and diminish His glory. Blasphemy stirs God’s righteous anger, distorts truth, hinders God’s work, and opposes His people.
Christians should avoid and reject blasphemy, while responding in a godly manner with grief, truth, trust, and compassion. Although blasphemy is deadly serious, God offers mercy and grace, forgiving and transforming even the worst blasphemers who turn to Jesus in repentance and faith.