Blasphemy Refs

God requires us to show him honour, reverence and great respect. Blasphemy is treating him with contempt. We must be careful how we act and how we speak.

Leviticus 24:10–23

This seems to have been the first arrest for blasphemy in Israel. The law had not long been introduced and stated: “Do not blaspheme God” and “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.”. While the law was clear, Moses was unsure how to handle the offender. God left him in no doubt: stone the man. Exodus 22:28, Exodus 20v7

1. What does it mean to “blaspheme the Name with a curse” (v11)? Do people still do this today?
2. Is there any significance in recording that his parents were of different races (v10)?
3. Why do you think those who were witnesses had first to lay their hands on the man’s head?

Respect for God
People can blaspheme in a number of ways:
misusing or profaning God’s name (Exodus 20:7; Leviticus 19:12);
forsaking God (Ezekiel 20:27);
worshipping other gods (Leviticus 20:3);
sinning defiantly (Numbers 15:30–31). Discuss examples of how each of these forms of blasphemy can happen today.

In fact, any action that involves deliberate disrespect for God is blasphemy.
Can you think of some other examples of how we could sin by blaspheming?

The passage from Leviticus mentioned blaspheming the name of God. In the Bible, God’s name stood for his character (see Exodus 34:5–7). So his name is blasphemed when his character is slandered or he is treated with contempt. For example, the Assyrians blasphemed by claiming that God was powerless when compared to their mighty army. 2 Kings 18:33–35; 19:6,22

Instead, God expects his people to respect him, acknowledge him as holy and to treat worship with great respect. Leviticus 22:2,32
For example, Moses taught

It is the LORD your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him. (Deuteronomy 13:4)

In the Psalms we read

You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him! Revere him, all you descendants of Israel! (Psalm 22:23)

The right attitude is shown by the 24 elders who worship God in Revelation. They say

You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being. (Revelation 4:11)

Under the law, the punishment for blasphemy was death by stoning. However, in Jesus, blasphemy can be forgiven. The apostle Paul describes himself as a blasphemer: Leviticus 24:16

Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 1:13–14)

Paul blasphemed by rejecting Jesus as the Son of God. When he realised his dreadful mistake, he repented and was forgiven.

However, there is a sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit that cannot be forgiven. Jesus said to the Pharisees

I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin. (Mark 3:28–29)

Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit seems to occur when a person consciously and deliberately shows contempt for the power of God. Jesus applied it to the Jews who said that his power to heal people came from an “evil spirit”. How can people blaspheme the Holy Spirit today?

It is essential that we show great respect and reverence for God and his son, Jesus. To treat them with contempt is blasphemy. This can happen through the words we say, or it can be demonstrated by our actions.

1. The prophet Nathan told David that his sin had given the enemies of God the opportunity to blaspheme (2 Samuel 12:14). Read also Romans 2:21–24; 1 Timothy 6:1 and Titus 2:5. How can our actions cause others to blaspheme God?
2. Are people blaspheming when they use the word “God” or “Christ” as a swear word (showing surprise or shock or annoyance)? What should you do when you hear such language?

1. The Jews often accused Jesus of blaspheming. Use a concordance to find the occasions when they made this accusation. What had Jesus done? Why might they have considered it blasphemy?
2. Consider the following passages: Hebrews 6:4–6; 10:26; 1 John 5:16. Are these talking about blasphemy against the Holy Spirit? Why won’t such sins be forgiven?

6. What is God like?
9. Prayer
10. Worship
13. Idolatry
14. Holiness and obedience
17. Sin