January 16, 2013

Sins Against the Spirit I: Bad Mouthing the Spirit

Speaking Against or Blaspheming The Holy Spirit

Here is a short trilogy on speaking against, blaspheming, grieving, resisting and just being an all-around jerk to the Holy Spirit. The end result of doing things like this have eternal consequences so it behooves readers to take note. I have chosen some commonly misunderstood pieces of Scripture to make them clearer for you. So what is the unforgivable sin? Why is it forgivable (but really stupid) to bad-mouth Jesus the Son of God but if you do it to the Holy Spirit...you'll be toast? Read on...

In this series of posts I will present my exegetical research of biblical teachings. I have included the following passages that concern this affront to the most often overlooked member of the Trinity-The Holy Spirit: Matthew 12:30-32 and parallels from Mark 3:28-29 and Luke 12:8-10, Acts 7:51, Ephesians 4:30, and I Thessalonians 5:19. 

All Scripture will be from the NASB version as it is my preferred version (besides Nestle/Aland Greek) to interpret Scripture.

Matthew 12:30-32

He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters. “Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. 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. Matthew 12:30-32

In all these Synoptic Gospel cases we need contextualization. In the case of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus had just delivered a man that was blind, mute and possessed with a demon. Since the Pharisees were not able to pull this off they accused Jesus of working this miracle by the power of Satan / Beelzebub, therefore totally missing the source of Jesus’ power. Not only was their accusation unbiblical it was just plain illogical as Jesus points out. Satan would be an idiot to fight against himself, it’s self-defeating. It is their very statement that revealed the evil condition of their hearts which were mounted up against God Himself. The words from the Pharisees were the fruits of their hearts which were nearly devoid of the God of the Bible. So what was the sin of the Pharisees? God will forgive evil words against His Son while He was on earth incarnate as any other man but not words against the Spirit. Why? Not because the Spirit is more important but because of the Spirit’s role in a person’s life.

It appears this was a sin unique to the period when Jesus was on earth incarnate. When the Spirit of God had come (after Jesus departed) after Pentecost as proof that Jesus was the Christ, and to subsequently reject the witness of the Spirit, would make rejection final. The only other recourse for one that has the testimony or witness of the Spirit and denies Him…is to be resigned to judgment. When they rejected the Spirit’s urgings, they were rejecting the testimony/witness of the Son. When they rejected the ministry of the Apostles, they rejected the Holy Spirit and that is the end or is the terminus of God’s grace and mercy. There is no more witness. Such rejection cannot be forgiven (Wiersbe 43).

In reality this could possibly be done today in the modern Church. A final rejection of Jesus before death condemns someone and there is no recourse except eternal condemnation. God can forgive virtually anything but the buck stops at the witness of the Spirit that Christ is salvation. God cannot forgive the rejection of His Son and the Spirit who bears witness to the Son (John 15:26) (Wiersbe 43). In other words, all other sins can be forgiven because of the belief in Jesus Christ but to reject the witness of the Spirit about Jesus Christ nullifies all the other possibilities because, to deny this witness is to prevent forgiveness from God in the end for salvation. Instead of repentance for sin we see the Pharisees hardening their hearts. Instead of remorse we see devious plotting to entrap Jesus…all of this working against the testimony or prompting of the Spirit (Hendriksen-Matthew 528-529).

Mark 3:28-29

“…but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin” Mark 3:28-29

As with Matthew 12’s passage before and the one we will visit in Luke 12, we see a mention of the blasphemy against the Spirit. Matthew and Mark are alike in the fact that they issue a warning that Luke does not. The blasphemy being referred to in this passage though is to speak against the Holy Spirit (again). Again we will rhetorically ask: Why? Again we see the same contextualization. The scribes have attributed Jesus’ action to Satan. What is even worse is they are making these accusations deliberately possibly knowing the truth of the matter. As such they are hardening their hearts not only to Jesus but to the work and witness of the Spirit. Once this happens, there is no recourse or forgiveness. If you rebel against the last witness God gives, there will be no more. You will be doomed. The scribes have absolutely no penitence or remorse for their sin. Their own hardness would just continue to serve to push them further and further from the Truth…which is Christ Jesus revealed through the very witness of the Spirit they were rejecting wholesale. The modern application is the same as stated in the section on Matthew.

Luke 12:8-10

“And I say to you, everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son of Man will confess him also before the angels of God; but he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God. And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him. Luke 12:8-10

So we saw before in Matthew and Mark, so too here. Those who sin against the Son and repent are forgiven but not for those who sin against the Spirit. For a third time we ask: Why? It is the same as before but with this one additional caveat. They refused to walk the path or create the conditions within their own hearts that leads to the forgiveness which the very Spirit that Jesus speaks of was trying to reveal to them. Thereby the callousness towards the Holy Spirit builds until the person can no longer feel His promptings. Their consciences become seared. To not even listen to the warning is to have been given over fully to one’s reprobate mind and depraved nature (a la Romans 1), therefore they have already entered a phase of judgment (Hendriksen-Luke 656). The modern application would be the same as stated in the section on Matthew also.

So the long and short of it is this...don't be a potty mouth with the Holy Spirit. The speaking and blaspheming you'll be doing is not a symptom of your mouth, its a disease of your heart. If you take this disease to the grave with you, the outcome in eternity will not be pretty as this condition of your heart will follow you into Hell. I imagine you will have a few choice words once you get there too but it will be your own fault.

[continued in Part II]

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