Christian Theology

October 8, 2007

On Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit and the Proclamation of Christ

 

22 Then one was brought to Him who was demon-possessed, blind and mute; and He healed him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw. 23 And all the multitudes were amazed and said, “Could this be the Son of David?” 24 Now when the Pharisees heard it they said, “This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.” 25 But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. 26 If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? 27 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. 28 But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29 Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house. 30 He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad. 31 “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. 32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come. 33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. 34 Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. 36 But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Matt. 12:22-37 – New King James Version

We all know that the words we choose to speak are significant. They can heal, hurt, comfort, or destroy. They can also proclaim Christ or curse Him. Scripture is clear that we are to take heed to the words we speak. One of the reasons they are so important is because reveal our hearts.

This passage in Matthew covers quite a bit, but for the sake of our discussion we will break it down into three different parts. First we will look at blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, Second we will look at idle words, and third we will look at our positive confession of Christ.

In this situation we have Jesus who has just healed a man who was blind and mute. Because of the work of the Holy Spirit through Christ, the man is healed and the truth that Jesus is the Messiah was being revealed. Many in the crowd even began to ask if this Jesus is the son of David. Understanding this truth themselves, the Pharisees say that the work that is being done by the Spirit of God is actually being done by the Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons. With this in mind Jesus goes on to give a few arguments as to why this could not be the case, and then lays on them some of the most terrifying words in scripture. He tells them that blasphemy of the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven in this life or the life to come.

Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit

What exactly is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit? There are a few basic views. The first one is that it could only be done while Christ was on the earth. This sin was to see what Christ was doing through the Holy Spirit and call it evil, but since Christ is no longer on the earth this sin can no longer be committed. Many great men and women of the faith have held this position. But the problem as I see it stems from the fact that the sin in this case is not against Christ, it is against the Holy Spirit. One of the greatest works of the Spirit is to reveal that Jesus is the Son of God. He has not ceased in doing this work and this work can still be called evil. Mark 3:29 says, “Whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness.” The use of the word “whoever” does not seem to limit this sin to the time of Christ being on the earth. Much like when Jesus says, whosoever believes in me shall have eternal life. The “whosoever” in this passage is clearly not limited to the time Christ was on the earth.

The second view is held by many and it is considered rejecting the Holy Spirit’s work until death. And I believe this is ultimately true. But it seems leave out the fact that blasphemy is a sin of the tongue.

A Third view holds that it is actually a sin of the tongue. It is a known, malicious, calling of the working of the Holy Spirit evil, and can still happen today, but it cannot be committed ignorantly. What this means is that there is some sort of mental assent or knowing that the Holy Spirit is actually the one doing the work, but in an attempt to suppress that truth in unrighteousness the person blasphemes against it.

One of the reasons some hold to this being a sin that involves a knowing or mental assent is because it is often linked with the sin found in Hebrews 6. In this passage, the person has been enlightened to the truth, and has even partaken in the Holy Spirit’s work in the fact that they understand the truths, and still reject Christ. In rejecting Christ they are rejecting the Holy Spirit. The person who does such a thing is said to have crucified Christ afresh, and that it is impossible to renew such a one to repentance. Since the scripture tells us that all sin is forgiven of men except blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, and the sin committed in Hebrews 6 also seems to be unforgivable, there seems to be a good reason to link the two together.

So how do Bible expositors link this specific sin to being a continuous denial of the grace of God? They do this by looking at Jesus’ words which shows us that this blasphemy is ultimately a sin that flows from the heart. Jesus says, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” This sin comes from a heart that is so hard toward the things of God that it will never repent, and God in his purposes has refused to bring it to repentance.

This passage has undoubtedly caused many people trouble and fear. They wonder after reading it if they have committed this sin. If this concern stems from a heart that desires to be right with the Lord then this person has not committed it. If a person’s heart is sensitive to the truths of God, then they are not guilty of it. The person who’s heart is as hard as those in this scripture would not be concerned about being right with the Lord. They would despise Him.

Another aspect of this sin is that those who have been saved cannot commit this sin. In Hebrews 6 the author says, to his audience of believers that he didn’t expect them to fall away and crucify Christ afresh. Instead he expected to see from them things that accompany salvation. From the context perseverance seems is one of those things that will accompany salvation. So a Christian is unable to commit this sin.


Idle Words

So what does this passage teach us as Christians who have not and cannot blaspheme of the Holy Spirit? First what this shows us is that our words reveal a lot about the state of our hearts toward Christ. What do your words say about your heart towards Christ? Maybe you say, Well I definitely do not blaspheme Him, but Jesus goes on in verse 36 to say, “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give an account of it in the day of judgment.”

We may not be saying anything negative about Christ, but that does not mean we are not saying anything at all. Our idle words speak volumes about our hearts condition toward Christ. If all we speak about are the things of this world and trivial matters. Constantly engaging in gossip, slander, course jesting, using His name in vain, and other vanities of speech, we have failed to see that the words we speak are extremely important. Const

Jesus said to the Pharisees, “he who is not with me is against me.” Scripture also asks us, “How long will you halt between two positions, if God be God then serve Him.” One of the ways we serve him is by speaking about him, praising Him, and praying to him. Be not idle in your words.

Our Confession of Christ

We have seen here two negative commands from the lips of Christ. We are to neither blaspheme the Holy Spirit, nor are we to be idle in our words. As with every negative command of scripture there is a corresponding positive command. In this case we are to be purposeful in our words and we are to positively confess him.

How often do you confess Christ? To understand the importance of this we must realize that to be able to confess him is a gift from God. This is because without the Holy Spirit it is impossible to receive the things of the God. 1 Cor. 2:14 tells us, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: For they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” We cannot confess what we cannot receive because it is foolishness to us, but through the work of the Holy Spirit He opens our blind eyes to see the truth.

Scripture then goes further by telling us that we cannot even say Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit. 1 Cor. 12:3 says, “Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed; and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.” When we confess Christ as Lord and mean it, and speak His truths, this is due directly to the Holy Spirit’s work in our life. It is truly a gift of grace.

This is expressed in the miracle that Jesus did which caused the Pharisees to blaspheme. It is no coincidence that the man who was healed was blind and mute. Like him, we were blind to the things of God, unable to receive them in their truthfulness, and because of this we were also mute in our ability to confess Him as Lord. But through the work of the Spirit we were healed of both infirmities.

Our confessions stems from a heart of flesh that is now sensitive to the things of God, but used to be a heart of stone. Paul in Roman’s 3 tells us that the true child of God has always been the one who has been circumcised of the heart. And Deut. 30:6 tells us that this is the work of God, as it says He is the one who does this. Most people know this as being regenerated or born again. This is another reason why we cannot commit blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Our new hearts won’t let us.

Make your confession of Christ and speak His truths. It can never disgrace you. Jesus in Luke 12:8 says, “Also I say unto you, whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God.” When we confess Christ, our name is being confessed in the heavens. More importantly Jesus says in Matt. 10:32-33, “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heave. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God.” When we confess Christ He confesses us before His Father. The world may marginalize you, laugh at you, and my even put you to death, but your confession of Christ cannot disgrace you. In fact, God is exalted because He is the one who works in you to will and to do His good pleasure.

Paul said of his confession, that it was for the Glorification of God and to lead men to salvation. He says this in Rom. 15:9 which says, “And that the gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, for this cause I will confess thee among the gentile, and sing unto thy name.”

Jesus then goes on to make an extremely interesting statement. He says, “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” What does this mean? Are we not justified by faith alone? In order to answer this many have said that Jesus was not speaking of Justification before God, but justification before other men. People will know you’re a Christian by the words you speak, and your speech should set you apart. There is a lot of merit in this understanding, but the context seems to be going deeper than that. He seems to actually be making a comment about our justification before Him. Ultimately the answer is yes, we are saved by faith alone, but true faith produces works. Our confession is one of those works, and even the thief on the cross had time to do this. When he asks Jesus to remember him in his kingdom, he was saying I believe you are the Messiah, the Son of God.

This is why our confession is often linked to our salvation. Romans 10:9 says, “That if thou shalt confess with they mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” We do not make our confession to be saved, but we make our confession because we are saved. Just to clarify, this does not mean that if a man was to die alone and come to faith right before death that he would not inherit the kingdom of God because he didn’t confess it to anyone. His confession would be in his heart toward God.

Make your confession now, because eventually everyone will make this confession. Phil. 2:10-11 says, “Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” Let the world reject you. Let the authorities of this world laugh. They too will one day make the same confession as you, but if it is not in this life it will be too late. There is no other name under heaven by which men can be saved.

Christian, your confession of Christ is evidence that you have been justified before God by Christ’s death on the cross. It brings glory to God, and leads others to Him. Non-Christian, by your words you will be condemned. Do you not confess that Jesus is Lord? Do you put down a message such as this as foolishness, or are you completely idle toward the truths of Christ? All three of these things condemn you, and you will bear the weight of them at the final judgment if you will not confess Him as Lord.

Make your confession. Make it now and make it often, whatever the cost in this life may be. Be careful of the words you speak, by avoiding negative and idle talk. You have been given a gift to speak His word and confess His name. You are no longer blind and mute. Use this gift, and be a witness. Contend for the faith. Make your words purposeful and true, casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. May God give us the grace to do this.

God Bless,

Doug

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