Monday, August 4, 2014

August 4 – The unforgivable sin

“I tell you the truth, people will be forgiven for all sins, even all the blasphemies they utter. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven, but is guilty of an eternal sin” (because they said, “He has an unclean spirit”).   (Mark 3:28–30  NET) 

Whenever Jesus was about to say something of particular importance, he would preface it with “I tell you the truth,” which means that today’s promise is an important one.

Every once in a while someone will ask about the unforgivable sin, or be afraid that they have inadvertently committed it.  Though one of God’s greatest attributes is that He forgives anyone, anything, the Bible does refer to an unforgivable sin, and this is one of the passages that mentions it.  

Throughout the Bible we have examples of people who were forgiven for terrible sins and terrible pasts, and subsequently accepted as children of God.  This is an intrinsic part of who God is — merciful and compassionate.  Rahab was a Gentile prostitute living in Jericho (a city destined to be destroyed along with all of its inhabitants), but she was saved, was accepted as an Israelite, and married into the royal line of David, and the Lord Jesus.  Moses murdered a man in a fit of anger, but years later was chosen to lead God’s people out of slavery and to the Promised Land.  Paul was a religious fanatic that had murdered Christians, but became one of the greatest pastors of the first century church.  And we could go on and on to speak about Gideon, Hannah, Matthew, Simon the Zealot, Peter, Mary Magdalene, Zacchaeus, and the prostitute who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and then anointed them with expensive perfume.

All these people had blasphemed God and yet were forgiven, transformed, and used in a mighty way by Him.  Blasphemy is defined in the dictionary as the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for God, and every one of the people above did this, and so have each of us.  So what is so serious about blasphemy of the Holy Spirit?

Anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit is treating that Person of the Trinity whose job it is to convince us of sin and to be our counselor, as if He were nothing.  Without God’s Spirit we cannot be saved.  If you repent of sin, you are only responding to the Spirit’s voice.  If you go to church, read the Bible, or pray, you are responding to His encouragement.  The Holy Spirit is at work in unbelievers and believers alike, always long before they are ever aware of His presence.  If you are encouraged by a pastor’s message, it is the Spirit that guided him with what he said and warmed your heart to those words.  So if a person rejects the Holy Spirit and considers Him useless, he is rejecting God’s attempts to reach out to him.

But clearly, the unforgivable sin is not one single act of defiance; it is a continual state of willful rebellion.  The tense of the original Greek of “they said” at the end of today’s promise indicates continual action, not a single act.  This is great news because all of us have blasphemed against the Holy Spirit at some point in our lives, but we are forgiven when we finally stop and start to respect His guidance.

What I’d like you to understand from today’s passage, is the extreme importance of the Holy Spirit.  Rejecting Him dooms us for eternity, but being humble to His voice and working to make our lives a dwelling place for Him brings countless blessings from now through eternity.  Don’t be quick to blame God for your problems and misfortunes, rather, trust that He has your welfare in mind and that His plan is much better than yours.  Let’s trust the Holy Spirit, especially when we don’t have all the facts and don’t understand how things are going to turn out.  As long as He is leading us, we can be sure that our future will turn out great.

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