The Unpardonable Sin

(Mark 3:22-30)

The Pharisees seeing Jesus cast out demons said that he was doing this by the power of the devil. Jesus used this as an opportunity to teach the people the truth of where his power came from.

Jesus asked the Pharisees, “How can Satan cast out Satan?” He also said to them that a kingdom or a house that is divided against itself cannot stand but will come to an end. In history we see divided kingdoms always fall. Today we see the same in some countries and businesses. When the leadership is divided the whole country or business suffers as they are pulled in two directions and they fall. And if Satan rises up against his own evil kingdom, then his kingdom will not stand.

Jesus then said that you cannot plunder the house of a strong person unless you first bind the strong person. A strong person naturally will defend their property and, being strong, will often prevail in their defence. However if they are bound they will not be able to put up a defence and then their house can be plundered. Jesus had the power and authority to bind the evil spirits and cast them out. In every case we see that the demons recognised him and feared him for they cried out as he commanded them to come out of the people and be gone.

It is the purpose of Satan to bind man and bring man under his evil power and the power of sin. Jesus offers man freedom from sin and release from the bondages of Satan and of this world. Through Jesus we have the strength of a stronger on to bind the realm of Satan and thus plunder his kingdom.

Satan’s kingdom will fall, but not because he is divided against himself. It will fall because there is a stronger one who has overcome the kingdom of Satan, and that stronger one is Jesus Christ.

After Jesus had thus shown that it was not by the power of Satan that he cast out demons, he showed the evil of their statement. Jesus said that all sins would be forgiven mankind, even if they were to utter blasphemies. However he said that anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven. Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is the unforgivable sin and anyone doing so will be guilty of an eternal sin.

Why is this so? A man could blaspheme Jesus or God and be forgiven but to blaspheme the Holy Spirit is an unpardonable sin. When we consider who the Holy Spirit is we can perhaps understand why the Lord took such a harsh stand on this matter. The Holy Spirit dwells within man on this earth for the purpose of transforming man into the image of Christ.

The Holy Spirit has possibly the worst of jobs because he is living in the kingdom of Satan and subjected to all the sin, evil and unholiness of this world. He is living with the filth of man to try and change man. Within each person he will have to put up with the failures each person makes and the setbacks that occur as they try to walk in the ways of God. He will have to put up our weaknesses, failures, faults, disobedience and faithlessness as he performs his task.

For the Holy Spirit who has been sent by God to do this task it must be a rotten job. To have to put up with the evil of this world day in and day out when he could be in the heavenly places with God and Jesus, it must be a terribly difficult task and cause one who is holy great anguish. It is my opinion, and only an opinion, that it is for this reason that blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is the only sin that will not be forgiven. To have to put up with the filth of this world and then to be called evil is too great a burden and thus unforgivable.

Seeking the Lost Sheep

(Matthew 18:10-14)

The previous section spoke about the fact that temptation was necessary, but what happens when a Christian succumbs to temptation? Here we see that God protects his people and goes seeking the lost sheep when one of his people falls. This scripture tells us of the love of God for his people and why Jesus said woe to those by whom the temptation to sin should come.

In verse 10 Jesus tells us, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that in heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven.” Now in this and the previous sections from Matthew 18:1-9, he is talking about those who are the children of God. This conversation began with the disciples asking who was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven and Jesus is addressing that question. So the people he is speaking of are those who have come to God and are children of God, that is, they are Christians.

Now the literal translation of the word “Christian” means an anointed one, that is, someone who has received the Holy Spirit as Christ did. This is important because it helps us to understand what Jesus was talking about when he says, “…their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven.” The question arises, who are these angels?

If we look at Hebrews 1:7 he speaks of the angels in this way, “Of the angels he says, “Who makes his angels winds, and his servants flames of fire.” He describes the angels as being able to take the form of wind and fire. We saw that description fulfilled when the disciples received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. This is described in Acts 2:2-4, “And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” This indicates that the Holy Spirit is an angel for he fits the description that God gave to the angels.

Furthermore we see again in Hebrews 1:13-14 the angels described as, “But to what angel has he ever said, “Sit at my right hand, till I make thy enemies a stool for thy feet”? Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to serve, for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation?” We are those who are to obtain salvation. We are those whom the angels as ministering spirits are sent forth to serve by God.

When we look at the work of the Holy Spirit we see that his role is to serve by ministering to each individual. In John 16:7 we see that the Holy Spirit is sent to us by Jesus and the Holy Spirit is given to us from the Father to dwell within us (John 14:16-17, John 15:26). The Holy Spirit teaches, guides, counsels and comforts so that we may be saved. (John 14:26, John 16:13) And the Holy Spirit does the work of transformation in our life to change us into the image of God from one degree of glory to another. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

So from this it is clear that the Holy Spirit given to each of us is an angel sent from God to do this work of transformation in each person. This is why Jesus says to be sure we do not despise one of God’s people. In doing so we would also despise the Holy Spirit within that person as well. If a person succumbs to temptation and wanders away from God they are like a lost sheep. Within the spiritual realm there is great concern for the one who becomes lost this way, and we see that God seeks that person to bring them back into the fold. This too is through the working of the Holy Spirit in us. And when that person returns to Him, there is great joy in heaven over the return of a lost person.

So we can take comfort that we have this protection by the Father through the Holy Spirit. When Jesus says, “…their angels behold the face of my Father…” he is speaking of the Holy Spirit within each person given by God. The Holy Spirit has full access to all that the Father has to give for Jesus says of the Holy Spirit, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:13-15)

One Important Reason to Receive the Holy Spirit

(Matthew 12:43-45)

Jesus gives us two fascinating insights in this short section. First he provides an insight into the spiritual realm. He shows us what happens to a demon when it is cast out of a man. Second, he then gives us a warning to make the necessary changes that will keep the evil spirits away.

In relation to the first point we see that when an evil spirit is cast out it “…passes through waterless places seeking rest, but he finds none.” (Vs. 43) It is clear that for an evil spirit to exist outside the flesh of man is a harsh experience, like being in the desert. There is no rest and it is a difficult existence for the evil spirit. (Don’t take pity on them…they deserve what they get!)

After wandering in this spiritual desert for some time the evil spirit then returns to the man from whom it was cast out. In the example Jesus gives we see the evil spirit finds the “house” from which it came, that is the man it was cast out from, “…empty, swept and put in order.” (Vs. 44) This is showing us that the man has been cleaned up but is empty, ready and waiting for a new occupant. But as the “house” (man) is empty, the spirit goes and gets seven demons worse than him…and moves in.

Now why does the evil spirit bring back seven worse demons than itself? I believe it is for self-preservation and protection. You see if the demon has all these strong and worse demons with him, they may be able to take a stronger hold over the man to prevent him seeking the Lord and thus make their “home” secure…from the Lord. By making the evil in the man stronger they can control him.

Jesus pointed to this in Matthew 12:29 saying, “…how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house.” This is important for it tells us both what the evil spirits were thinking and also how we can keep the evil spirits away.

This brings us to the second point, how to keep the evil spirits at bay.

The reason this man had such trouble is that although he had been swept and put in order, ready for a new “tenant”, he was still empty. By being put in order by the Lord he was made ready to receive the Holy Spirit, but the man had not taken that step. Now if they do not receive the Holy Spirit after cleansing of the evil spirit, what is there to stand in the way of the evil spirit returning? But if the new tenant is a “strong man” as referred to in verse 29, then he will prevent the old evil spirit from coming in. And the Holy Spirit is a “strong man” having access to both Jesus and the Father himself.

So the warning we see here is…don’t leave the “house” empty after it has been cleaned. Otherwise the evil spirit squatters will return and, “…the last state of that man becomes worse than the first.” (Vs. 45)

Jesus also warned the people of his generation that they too could end up like this. They were being prepared through his teaching and ministry to repent and be baptised (i.e. swept and put in order), in preparation to receive the Holy Spirit. If they chose not to, then they too would be in a worse state than they were previously. So we too must heed his warning. When your “house” is swept and put in order, don’t leave it empty. Fill it with the in-dwelling Holy Spirit so you can be led into all of the truth.