Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Unforgivable Sin - Matthew 12:22-35

22 Then a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute was brought to Jesus, and He healed him, so that the mute man spoke and saw.

23 All the crowds were amazed, and were saying, "This man cannot be the Son of David, can he?"

24 "But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, "This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons."

25 And knowing their thoughts Jesus said to them, "Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself will not stand.

26 "If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then will his kingdom stand?

27 "If I by Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? For this reason they will be your judges.

28 "But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

29 "Or how can anyone enter the strong man's house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder the house.

30 "He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters.

31 "Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven.

32 "Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.

33 "Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is know by its fruit.

34 "You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.

35 "The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and hte evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil.

Instead of moving chronologically, let's address this topically: (1) The unforgivable sin/blasphemy of the Holy Spirit; (2) a deeper look into this specific casting-out-a-demon scenario; (3) the chunk about the power of words.

The Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit
People get into all sorts of fights about what this unforgivable sin of blaspheming the Holy Spirit is - some claim suicide, or adultery, or a million other things that simply have no Biblical basis as being "unforgivable."  Rather, the only unforgivable sin is: not being saved.  How do I get this?  Here's my logic, and bear in mind that the vast majority of Protestant theologians have the exact same view, so it's not just me. :-)
(A) John 15:26 shows us that the Holy Spirit is the One who leads us to Christ.  (B) John 16:8-9 shows us that the Holy Spirit convicts us and shows us we are sinners.  (C) John 16:13-14 shows us that the Holy Spirit directly draws us into faith in Jesus.  (D)  Notice in verse 32 of today's passage the wording of "speaks a word against the Son of Man" versus "speaks against the Holy Spirit" - the first is temporary (i.e., whatever blasphemies we utter against God that we ask forgiveness for will be forgiven, but the second is a continued state of blaspheming unrepentantly - spitting in God's face.  (E) So, the Holy Spirit's job is to pull us out of rejecting and blaspheming Jesus, but if we keep rejecting and blaspheming the Holy Spirit, we can never get to that point, and thus will never be saved and thus cannot be forgiven.
So, whatever blasphemies we say, think, etc. can certainly be forgiven, but the "blasphemy of the Holy Spirit" - the continual rejection of the Holy Spirit (e.g. relabeling our conscience as "societal prejudices" prevents us from coming to know Christ, which means we won't ask for His forgiveness.
So...what's this got to do with the context of this passage?  Well, the Pharisees had just seen so much proof that Jesus came from God (we'll get to that more in a minute), and refused to accept Him as such because of their pride.  The Holy Spirit was demonstrating Jesus's deity, and they refused to believe it.  That's blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, right there.
Satan Casting Out Satan?
I wanted to make a clarification about this section of today's passage.  Is Jesus saying that anyone who is able to cast out a demon is from God?  No - Matthew 7:21-23 and Mark 9:38-39 directly discuss the presence of non-Christians casting out demons.  Also consider how shahmans, witch doctors, and pracitioners of other religions are sometimes able to seemingly control demons and cast out sicknesses and such - in these cases, I believe the demons are playing along with the act to trick those people into thinking their religion is real.
The issue here is that the Pharisees were holding Jesus to an unequal standard than "their sons" (i.e. other Jews who cast out demons), and - here's the big thing - they were ignoring all the other evidence that Jesus was from God.  Also consider how wide-spread the healings and casting-outs of demons that Jesus was performing were, and the fact that he was setting all these people free, permanently.  If that really were Satan playing a trick by ordering his own demons out, then it absolutely would be detrimental to his demonic kingdom!
So, the point here is: Look at the fruit!  Jesus Himself points this out here in this passage, in verse 33-35.  Matthew 7:16 tell us, "You will know them by their fruits," and Galatians 5:22 lists the fruit of the Spirit as: "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control."  If these are present, as they were in Jesus, then the work is by the Holy Spirit.
I don't have any official discussion-starting questions for you today, but if you have any questions, or comments, leave them below. :-)
Giving Credit Where It's Due
Image: Woe unto You, Scribes and Pharisees by James Tissot.  Wikimedia Commons. {{PD-1923}} Public domain in the United States.  {{PD-old-100}} Public domain in countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 100 years or less. 

No comments: