“‘Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin’— for they were saying, ‘He has an unclean spirit.’” – Mark 3:28-30
Hardness of heart is never something to take lightly. This hardness of heart kept many of the religious leaders of Jesus’ day from recognizing their promised Messiah. They could see the people gathering around Jesus, see the miracles he was performing, and hear that he spoke with a new power and authority. Yet, their hearts were hard. Instead of delighting in God’s perfect provision of his Son, they held tight to their law and religious practice. Jesus was an unwanted disruption to their way of life and faith.
Jesus warns these leaders and all those who would hear or read his words. Many refer to this teaching of Jesus as “the unforgiveable sin.” And my oh my, has this teaching created fear in the hearts of God’s children. I have been asked numerous times throughout the years how one would know if he or she has committed this blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Ironically, the ones who ask the question are the ones who have nothing to fear. The Holy Spirit bring conviction to the life of a believer. That conviction leads to repentance and restoration. Just the concern is an indicator that one is on the right path with God.
Jesus was specifically addressing the scribes and other religious leaders who sought to destroy him. Their ongoing hardening of heart was a true danger. The fact that they would attribute the perfect, holy work of Jesus to Beelzebub indicated they were walking on that slippery slope. To accuse Jesus of having an unclean spirit was blasphemy. To continue in that spirit of blasphemy could lead to such a hardness and denial that there would be no point of return.
These words of Jesus are intended to continue to challenge the people of this world. Jesus came to bring forgiveness of sin and redemption for God’s people. To continually deny or refuse this offer of salvation could very lead to that blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, the unforgiveable sin. The writer of Hebrews wrote these words of warning: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion” (Hebrews 3:15). This warning looks back to the nation of Israel traveling through the wilderness when the people grumbled against Moses and against God. Instead of marveling and delighting in their deliverance, they accused God of bringing them out to the wilderness to die (Exodus 17:1-7). Because of their challenges, they doubted God – doubted his goodness towards them, his plan, and his love for them.
Jesus came to show us the love of the Father, to make the way for our salvation, and to give us a glimpse into the kingdom of God – the place of eternal dwelling for his people. May the Lord create in us soft and humble hearts that receive this amazing gift.
Reflect & Respond:
Have you ever found yourself concerned about committing this unforgiveable sin? If so, spend some time listening to the love and assurance that the Spirit has for you. And as you soak in that love and assurance, ask the Lord to create in you a soft heart towards him, his Word, and his way. We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Let's face it, the Christian life is hard. Relationships take work. Christians forget. Sometimes it is tempting to go back to the days when God was not the center of our lives - to backslide. We are all faced with tremendous pressures to drift away from intimacy with Jesus and the community of the Church. However, the Lord invites us to pay attention, to move forward, to draw near, and to live lives of worship. Draw Near: Hebrews on Christian Worship is a Bible study on the Book of Hebrews intended to lead participants into a deeper intimacy with the Living God in the context of New Testament worship. Draw nearer to God in authentic worship today!
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