Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”
And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebul! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.”
So Jesus called them over to him and began to speak to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house without first tying him up. Then he can plunder the strong man’s house. Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.”
He said this because they were saying, “He has an impure spirit.”
What on earth does it mean to blaspheme the Holy Spirit? It’s been something of the sixty-four-thousand-dollar question across the centuries. It makes sense. Who wouldn’t want to know the one sin Jesus says is unpardonable? That’s one we would want to steer very clear of.
So what does it mean to blaspheme the Holy Spirit? Some think it means to renounce God or to curse God. I don’t think so. Jesus’ words as recorded in Matthew’s gospel put it this way, “Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come” (Matt. 12:32).
Based on today’s text and the one just cited, my holding is that blaspheming against the Holy Spirit means attributing the work of the Holy Spirit to Satan. Jesus seems to be issuing a stern warning to the people who just attributed the Spirit’s work through him to Beelzebul, a.k.a. Satan.
I will always remember a particular kid in my youth group who was utterly convinced he had committed the unpardonable sin. Interestingly enough, for my money, this kid loved God more than all the rest of the other kids put together. In retrospect, the big problem was he had no concept of what blaspheming the Holy Spirit meant.
Most of you reading may find this one of the less engaging Daily Text entries. However, there are likely two or three readers who are gravely concerned that they may have blasphemed the Holy Spirit somewhere along the way. I would like to put your mind at ease. (1) The fact you are concerned you have committed the unpardonable sin is probably the best sign that you have not done so. (2) Blaspheming the Holy Spirit requires a level of intent and willfulness such that you would have no doubt you had done it. In other words, it’s not the kind of thing a person wonders if they have done or not. (3) Finally, the kind of person who blasphemes the Holy Spirit is not the kind of person who is worried about it.
Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.
Have you ever wondered about the unpardonable sin and whether you have committed it?
Have you ever known others who have struggled with this?
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