CCCAG February 5th, 2017
Scripture: Mark 3:22-30 (Matt 12 31-32, Luke 12:10)
This is a teaching sermon- at the end of the message, I’ll take questions about this topic as it can be a fairly complex thing to cover in 20-30 min.
Saying that, I will ask this of you- please listen to the whole message before you hear one part of it and close off the rest of what I have to teach you today- again, this is a fairly complex biblical truth and it will take some time to completely unpack it. I will also be speaking about some sensitive issues regarding it that may envoke some bad memories or experiences that you have had. Again, please listen to the end and be open to sharing your questions with everyone.
Intro- Rational Response Squad
In 2006, an organization called the Rational Response Squad issued an offer to give away a free DVD about atheism or a Free book called the God Delusion by Christopher Hitchens to the first 1001 people that would record and post a YouTube video in which they adamantly denied the Holy Spirit’s existence, or profaned His name. They took the idea from what is commonly held Christian doctrine- that Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is an automatic one way ticket to hell, and they would forever put themselves outside of the forgiveness that God offers through Jesus Christ.
Originally I was going to post a few for you, but most of them have pretty strong profanity in them, or the clothes they are wearing are fairly profane so I decided you’ll just have to take my word for it. In fact, there is so much hatred and vitriol in those videos I’d be surprised if they changed anyone’s mind about God. From how the presented themselves, it was not at all pleasant nor very winsome. Most of the videos I watched weren’t something you’d watch if you were on the fence about God and think, “Gee, let me join that them!”
What these people didn’t understand is that if your heart is so hard that you could publicly and gleefully post a video like that, you are already on your way to hell. It’s not like that video is sending you to hell, version 2. In fact, the biblical truth is this- humanities default destination is hell. From the time you reach an age to where you understand right from wrong, and can grasp that there are consequences of your actions, you become morally responsible for those actions, and sooner or later will violate God’s laws found in the bibles moral teachings and be on your way to hell.
That’s Christianity 101, and in the core of what we believe and what the bible teaches.
So, the people on the Rational Response Squad wasted a lot of money to give people what they already had- a one way ticket to eternal torment.
This idea of the unforgivable sin, is what the bible calls “Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit”. The idea of it is found in all three synoptic Gospels (Matt, Mark, Luke), but we will focus on the situation where Jesus taught us this idea from Mark’s perspective-
The background of this account-
Jesus is in the first of 3 ½ years of public ministry. About 27-28 AD
His Miracles, about 8-10 as recorded in the Gospels have caught the attention of all of Israel, and large crowds are now following Him.
This catches the attention of the Sanhedrin- the Jewish ruling council which is made up of the Pharisee’s, (teachers of the law), and the Sadducees- the two major divisions within the Jewish faith. They send out representatives to follow Jesus around, confront HIM, and report back to the Sanhedrin.
This is one of those encounters-
Mark 3:22 And the teachers of the law (members of the Pharisee’s) who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebul! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.”
23 So Jesus called them over to him and began to speak to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 26 And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. 27 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. 28 Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.”
30 He said this because they were saying, “He has an impure spirit.”
Today we are going to learn about what is Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit
I. Define terms- meanings of words make a huge difference in our understanding of complex ideas
I want to focus on one word here-
Blasphemy- to speak ill of or mock the work, the words, or the character of a deity.
The Pharisee’s did all three here-
1. They questioned Jesus’ ability to perform miracles by His own power- in doing so they questioned Jesus’ deity and authority
2. They constantly questioned His teaching- that it was not accurate according to their beliefs and traditions,
3. And they directly accused Him of working for the devil and using satanic power to accomplish his work on earth
That is what lead Jesus to respond the way He did- very strongly.
Remember who these Pharisee’s and in particular the teachers of the law were-
These were people who had memorized large portions of the Torah, which was the first 5 books of our bible, as well as the Psalms and Major Prophets (Isaiah, Danial, Jeremiah, Ezekiel). They should have known exactly who Jesus was-
His miracles spoke to who HE was
His Words Spoke to who He was
Even He told them in parables who He was
All of this should have immediately triggered their minds to say- “Whoa, this is the promised Messiah!”
But instead, they were viewing Jesus through their own narrow lens which was clouded by a desire to keep their place in life. Pharisee’s had a great deal of respect and influence in their culture, and they viewed the prophecy’s about the coming Messiah as a person who would be like King David- a military man who would restore Israel to being the reigning superpower in the world. IN that scenario, they would gain great power, prestige, and riches.
IN essence, this was their version of the prosperity Gospel- God wants me healthy, wealthy, and happy.
Because of that misinterpretation of biblical truth of who Messiah was, it prevented them from seeing that HE was right in front of them. Because Jesus threatened what they perceived as some earthly reward- they condemned Him.
So that’s the background of Jesus speaking about the unforgivable sin.
Before we get into what that sin is exactly, let’s look at some misconceptions people have about what Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit entails.
II. What it is not
A. It is not-cursing or making fun of the Holy Spirit
Many of us here come from the charismatic or Pentecostal backgrounds so we have probably heard some type of sermon where the preacher gives an anecdotal story of some person mocking a move of God, or the Holy Spirit directly, and that person either drops dead right there or gets hit by a bus on the way home, and they attribute that to blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
But Jesus says here, and in several other places in the Gospels that ALL blasphemy’s or slanders will be forgiven men if they repent. Unrepentant blasphemy is like any other sin- it will not be forgiven.
Unfortunately people view the Holy Spirit is a delicate flower that we need to protect.
I remember being in a revival meeting where during the beginning of the service, one of the leaders stood up and told everyone to pull out there cell phones. He then had us turn them off or mute them, because according to him “The Holy Spirit’s presence is so delicate, HE will leave if someone’s cellphone goes off during the service.”
Pretty silly isn’t it.
IF you think about it- HS is a pretty tough guy if He has to dwell in my heart and your heart on a daily basis and put up with all of our wanderings, rebellion, and sin yet still love us enough to continue to lead us, teach us, and convict every single believer so that we can someday enter into our reward.
A. Using God’s Name in Vain is not Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit
Now, I would not recommend that.
God considers His name to be so sacred He put that rule as #3 of the 10 Commandments. God even went so far as to say that He will hold no one guiltless who misuses His name.
I remember helping in the youth group at my last church, and a visiting teenager was so excited about what God was doing in her life as a result of coming to the youth group that she loudly said OMG at the end of service and the whole room stopped and looked at her like she grew horns and a barbed tail.
People use Jesus’ name as a curse all the time. I have a nurse at work who literally cannot utter a single sentence without saying “Jesus”.
One day it just bugged me enough where I complimented her on her deep devotion to the LORD. She looked at me like huh? I said you use Jesus’ name so much that I have to assume that you are totally devoted to Him.
It’s so common that I barely even notice is anymore.
Now, are these people committing blasphemy? By the definition I gave earlier-
Blasphemy- to speak ill of or mock the work, the words, or the character of a deity.
Is using the deity’s name carelessly or as a curse blasphemy? Yes!
But is it what Jesus is referring to here? No, otherwise we are all condemned because I would say that 90% if not more of the people here have at some times in our lives when we have questioned or outright railed against the Father, Son, or Holy Spirit’s plan for our lives during those dark times and therefore have met that definition.
However, the 3rd commandment, when read in the original languages, very narrowly defines itself in relation to what using God’s name in vain means. It literally reads “Do not use the name of Yahweh in vain”. God’s name is not God- it’s a descriptive term. It’s like calling your mother “Mommy”- it’s not her name, it’s who she is to you.
I would include the same principle for using Jesus’ name in vain, as that is also the proper name of God and I believe using His name in vain violates the 3rd commandment, as would using the Holy Spirit/Ghost’s name as a curse.
However, it is not what Jesus is referring to in this instance.
This last example of what does not constitute Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit might be bit delicate for many, so please listen with open hearts and ears because I’ve heard well-meaning pastors in many different denominations refer to this next thing as the unforgiveable sin-
About 18 years ago I was working as a paramedic in Walworth County which is just west of Kenosha county and we got a call for a person who had hung themselves. We got there and I managed through very aggressive treatment to save the man’s life. He was discharged from the trauma hospital into a mental health facility for 3 months and then released. 2 weeks after he was released, he shot himself in the head with a shotgun and I happened to be the person who responded to that call also, but there was nothing I could do at that point other than to pronounce him dead.
Because I had been there both times and had prayed with the family in the hospital, they asked if my partner and I would come to the funeral, so I worked my work schedule around so I would be there. The pastor performing the funeral wasn’t what you would call a people person. During the homily he told us don’t bother to pray for him as his fate was sealed as he took God’s Holy Spirit within him and ended his life and therefore committed blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. I don’t think I was even called to the ministry yet or had started my studies for it but I wanted to jump out of my seat to rebuke him for such an unbiblical and unloving, and indelicate way of expressing what he says as truth.
Suicide is one of those difficult topics that pastors have to deal with. I think some pastors are so afraid of people doing it that they tell them it’s a one way ticket to hell so that people won’t even consider it. Unfortunately, that’s not biblical.
Now I want to very emphatically say that I believe suicide, assisted suicide or euthanasia is a grave sin. However, I don’t see it as unforgiveable.
Some would say- “They died committing a major sin that they could not repent of”. All sin is equal in the eyes of God- it’s all rebellion against His word and character and all has the same penalty- eternal death in hell.
With the exception of Jesus, every single human being, including all of us will die with sin in our hearts. There will be something, some attitude, or some action that we have done in our lives that we never consciously repented of or asked forgiveness for. That’s just the human condition. I don’t believe suicide is an automatic ticket to hell.
So how should we view suicide?
When I got saved, I worked in an electronics factory on an assembly line. Occasionally, several of us who were Christians were able to get onto the same line so we didn’t have to listen to the gossip and other bad talk that was going on and instead would have pretty intense conversations about spiritual issues. We had Baptists, Lutheran’s, Methodist, and Assembly of God represented and we’d have rousing debates on the bible.
One of the subjects was “If I had been a faithful Christian for 20 years, and then sinned by committing adultery and died during the act, would I go to heaven?”
As I said we had several different denominations present so the argument was split along the lines of-
The once saved always saved people said absolutely.
We were more on the holiness mindset said your salvation would be in serious jeopardy.
We went back and forth until the owner of the company saw the commotion from his office and called our lead to tell us to concentrate on our work. Boyd came over and ended the conversation with this statement-
“Either way, I’d hate to meet Jesus coming directly from that!”
That’s how I view suicide. It’s not unforgivable, but I’d hate that to be the situation I come from to meet my LORD who died to give me life.
Those are the big three things I’ve wrongly heard called the unforgivable sin over the years, so let’s focus on what Jesus was actually speaking to here.
III. What it is
In the context of the biblical account found in 3 of the 4 Gospels
When you put all of the scriptures together- Mark 3:22-30 (Matt 12:31-32, Luke 12:10)
We see Jesus saying essentially the same thing- All Blasphemy will be forgiven, except that against the Holy Spirit.
Remember we said that Blasphemy is defined as
Blasphemy- to speak ill of or mock the work, the words, or the character of a deity.
One of these, if not all of them have to be present to commit blasphemy
What or more accurately, who is the Holy Spirit and what is HIS Work?
3rd person of the triune God- one God in three persons. I’m not going to get into that any further, that will come later this year during our series on the 16 Fundamental Truths. The Holy Spirit is also referred to in the masculine pronoun of “HE” not because He is physically a male, but because the bible traces authority through the masculine gender.
Again, I will explain that in a further teaching
Jesus describes the Holy Spirit’s work in John 16-
Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: (John 16:7-8)
Remember what makes blasphemy evil is that it mocks the work of a deity- so in this context, Blasphemy is described as resisting the Holy Spirit’s work in your life so that Jesus cannot be revealed for who HE is.
Two quick examples from the early history of the church- (explain)
Stephen (deacon of the church, because of his witness for Jesus is arrested, and put on trial, begins his defense with a history lesson familier to all Jewish people, but then says this)
“You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you.
What is he describing? Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit- resisting the work of God.
Prior to that-
Many people were getting saved and selling their possessions and bringing all of the proceeds to help those in need and to help support the Apostles who were active in spreading the news about Jesus. A couple in the church named Ananias and Safira sold some land and held back part of the money for themselves.
The fact they held some back wasn’t a problem, but they lied to the church about it in an effort to make themselves look generous.
Peter said this- "Why has Satan made you keep back some of the money from the sale of the property? Why have you lied to the Holy Spirit?”
They both dropped dead.
That was the 1st century, what about now? (Commentary description)
Observe that the "blasphemy" is understood by our Lord as showing the state of the heart (cf. Act_7:51). What the effect of a change of heart, i.e. of repentance, would be does not enter into our Lord’s utterance. For heart-opposition there is no forgiveness. As Tyndale says, "Sin against the Holy Ghost is despising of the gospel and his working. Where that attitude has made it’s home, there is no remedy of sin: for it fights against faith, which is the forgiveness of sin.
If that rebellion be put away, faith may enter in, and all sins depart."
The unforgivable sin- is resisting the Holy Spirit’s call to surrender to Jesus and to cast your hope and faith upon Him
It is deliberately turning your back on the saving Work of the Holy Spirit in your life
IV. Have you committed this sin
Here is the test
Any sin mankind wants pardon for is forgivable, however, if we turn our backs on the voice of the Holy Spirit we begin to silence His convictions and eventually we cannot hear His convicting power. This effectively blocks the working of God in our lives because we have reached a point where we are unable respond to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
Consider this illustration of the unpardonable sin. Imagine you are tired of the the Holy Spirit convicting you of a particular pet sin. You want to completely remove His promptings even though the voice is warning you of danger and lovingly trying to show you the right path. So what do you do? You begin building a theoretical brick wall to block your conviction. Each brick in the wall represents a singular time you reject the conviction of the Holy Spirit. As you continue to reject the Holy Spirit, the “voice” you hear gets softer and softer. You become more and more confident in your current pathway of life. Eventually, as you lay more and more bricks down you cannot hear the Holy Spirit anymore, thus effectively cutting off your way of repentance and therefore salvation.
Let’s end with some scripture to reinforce this idea
It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age 6 and who have fallen[a] away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.
26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.
Verse31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Both of these scriptures are referring to a heart change toward the things of God.
Imagine Jesus standing between you and a 1000 foot cliff with jagged rocks at the bottom. To lose your salvation, you will have to fight Jesus to get to that cliff. It is possible- Jacob fought the Angel of the Lord and prevailed, but it crippled him to do so. You will literally have to turn your back and curse Jesus until your last breath on this earth to do it.
Finally, I will say this-
If you are worried that you have committed this sin- it’s a pretty good indication you haven’t, because you still feel the convicting power of the Holy Spirit working within you.
And that is a Good thing!
Q&A (stress Q&A) Email and phone number is in the bulletin