Friday, April 20, 2007

Blasphemy Against The Holy Spirit

Usually I don't write about things that are general knowledge (what's the point?), but I've been reading through the book of Matthew and ran into the passage about blaspheming against the Holy Spirit (Matt. 12:31-32) and remembered my reaction when I first read that... "anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come." Scary, huh? And that's why I want to write about this, because I think some believers are frightened by it when they are the last ones who should be concerned.

I think the reason for the fright is that all too often we focus on a particular verse in the Bible and neglect to take into consideration the verses around it, which is kind of like putting your greasy nose on the Mona Lisa and then trying to understand it from that range.

So let's back off just a little bit.

This passage begins at Matthew 12:22 with some Pharisees saying Jesus drove out demons by the power of the Devil. Jesus denies that and says he drives them out by the Spirit of God (vs. 28). Then he adds that if you're not for him you are against him and that all sins will be forgiven except blasphemy against the Spirit, which will never be forgiven. Jesus concludes (33-37) by saying that what's in you will come out; that evil in your heart will overflow into evil words, and that you will have to give account on the day of judgement for every careless word.

It seems, then, that blasphemy of the Holy Spirit was what these Pharisees were doing; saying that the Holy Spirit - the power by which Jesus performed his exorcisms - is actually evil. Also, Jesus adds later (vs. 36) that even careless words will get you into trouble, so apparently this blasphemy doesn't even need to be as explicit as what the Pharisees did.

These seem to be very harsh words, but I think not. I think the reason blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is unforgivable is because by rejecting the Holy Spirit, unbelievers reject the power of God to change them. If you see evidence of God's Spirit at work in another person or when you hear God's Spirit knocking at the door of your heart, and if you say, "Begone evil spirit!" or "No," or "Go away," or "I'm not interested," or "No thank you" or "Yawn," then you are turning away the only power that can save you.

That one little word, "No," - spoken aloud or just in your heart - can kill you.

Okay... But if you reject the Holy Spirit once does that mean you are condemned forever?

Well, remember verses 33-35. Jesus says there that your words (the ones that make noise in the air) actually reside in your heart, which is the critical thing. So if that word of rejection that dwells in your heart remains there, then sadly, yes, there is no forgiveness. But if you will only surrender and say "Yes" when the Holy Spirit knocks on the door of your heart, then the "no" ceases to exist and God's Spirit is free to enter your life and forgive you and make you right with God.

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