8 “I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God. 9 But whoever disowns me before others will be disowned before the angels of God. 10 And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.
This verse presents an interpretive challenge when Jesus says, "Whoever speaks a word against me will be forgiven, but whoever blasphemes the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven." This passage also appears in a slightly different form in Mark 3 and Matthew 12, but essentially says the same thing.
One might ask, "I thought Jesus forgave all of our sins on the cross, why is this one different". Or, "Why is it worse to speak a word against the Holy Spirit than Jesus? Aren't they both God?"
First, we need to again go first to the context. In Matthew 12, the Pharisees were attributing the works and miracles of Jesus to the devil. They had an unrepentant and unbelieving heart. They were resistant to the work of the Holy Spirit in bringing them to repentance and belief. But in blaspheming the Holy Spirit, they were disowning the very power of God that would lead them to faith in Christ.
Martin Luther teaches about the work of the Holy Spirit as he explains the Third Article of the Apostle's Creed which starts with, "I believe in the Holy Spirit". He says this, "I cannot by my own effort or understanding come to know Jesus as Lord, but the Holy Spirit has called me and enlightened me with His gifts and keeps me in the one, true faith." So you can see without the Holy Spirit, the Word of God is just foolishness to those who don't believe. But to those who through the power of the Holy Spirit come to faith, they are the words of eternal life.
As we pray for people who don't believe, one of the ways we can pray is for the Holy Spirit to soften their hearts. Pray for receptivity to the Gospel. Without the power of Holy Spirit we can do nothing. In fact our whole Christian life is predicated upon us living in the power of the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of Christ. That is why our own efforts fail because we are relying on the flesh, and there is no power in the flesh.
Come Holy Spirit fill us with Your power, the power of Jesus living in and through us. May the work we do on earth be led by the Holy Spirit and give glory to you. We pray for those who are far from you that we know, that they might be drawn to Your love through this same Holy Spirit. Amen