Teaching Sermons For Pastors and Laymen

                                                                                     27 February 2000


Matthew 12:31-12:32

 I am going to read two verses which are probably among the most questioned & misunderstood scriptures in the Bible.


We love John 3:16, the 23rd Psalm, & others, but these two verses really bother many people.


Listen as I read them to you.

“I tell you, every sin & blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.” Matthew 12:31-32)

The scene that precedes these words of Jesus in Matthew 12 is this:


A man who was both blind & mute has just been healed.


Matthew tells us that this man was possessed by a demon, & that Jesus ordered the demon out of him.


Once the demon left, then the man was able to see & speak.

It should have been a moment of great rejoicing, because the man could see the faces of loved ones & friends.


He could see the beauties of nature, & he could communicate with people for perhaps the first time in his life.

But it was not a time of rejoicing for everyone.


Hard-hearted Pharisees were upset by what Jesus had done.


They could not deny His miracle, but they could attempt to explain it away.


So they said, "It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons" (Matthew 12:24).

Then Jesus responds to them.


They should have learned by now that Jesus is not a good one to challenge to a debate, because He always won.


This time is no different, for Jesus makes some pretty solid arguments in His behalf.

He says, "I am not in collusion with Satan, but rather, I am in collision with him. Satan is in the business of sending evil spirits, not casting them out."


In vs. 26 Jesus said, "If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand?"

Then in vs. 29 Jesus takes the argument one step further.


He asks, "How can anyone enter a strong man’s house & carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can rob his house."

Jesus had just freed this man from the grip of Satan.


Therefore the logical conclusion was that Jesus was stronger than Satan.


And a stronger man does not submit to the weaker man.


Obviously, Jesus is not in submission to Satan because He is stronger than Satan.


The argument is won.

Then Jesus issues a warning. He says, "Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come" [Matt. 12:32].

Jesus is saying that the sin against the Holy Spirit is unforgivable.


Not because the Holy Spirit is greater than the Father, or greater than the Son, but because the Holy Spirit is later than the Father & the Son.

So we come face to face with what man has called the unpardonable sin.


Christians have wrestled with the question of the unpardonable sin in every generation.


Some have even wondered, "Have I committed the unpardonable sin & thus cannot be forgiven by God?"


Our devotion/lesson today will answer 3 questions.






Before we can answer that question correctly, we need to know the responsibilities that God has given to the Holy Spirit today.

Listen to this promise that Jesus made in John 14:16-17, "I will ask the Father, & He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever - the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him . . ."

Notice that word, "Counselor."


In some translations you’ll find the word "Comforter" instead.


The Greek word here is "paraclete" & it means "one who stands alongside."


In the Greek courts a "paraclete" was a witness who came to testify in your defense.


Your lawyer, your defense attorney who used all his ability to speak on your behalf was also called a "paraclete."

The Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit comforts us in time of trouble or sorrow; He helps us to overcome temptations & to live the way we should; He educates our conscience; He helps us to pray as we should; & He bears witness to God on our behalf that we are children of God.

Jesus also said two other very important things about the Holy Spirit in John 14:16-17.


Did you notice them?


He promised that the Holy Spirit would be with us forever, & also said that the Holy Spirit would not be known or received by everyone - but just by those who are Christians.

But even though the people of the world, the people who aren’t Christians don’t know Him, Jesus tells us that the Holy Spirit is working on them.


In John 16:8, Jesus says, "When He comes, He will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin & righteousness & judgment."

That is exactly what the Holy Spirit is doing today.


I am convinced that He uses every opportunity possible to convict us of our sins, to call us to righteousness, & to warn us about the judgment to come.

That is what the Holy Spirit did to the evil & weak Governor Felix.


Acts 24:24-25 says, "Felix . . . sent for Paul, & listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus. As Paul discoursed on righteousness, self-control & the judgment to come, Felix was afraid & said, `That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.’"

The Holy Spirit is God’s final contact, God’s last attempt to reach man & save him from sin.


The Holy Spirit is God’s agent in the world today showing us the great love of God & offering us His salvation.

To the Christian, the Holy Spirit is God’s great Helper - helping us where we are weak, lifting us up when we fall, comforting us in trouble or sorrow, guiding us in the way we ought to go, & standing alongside us as a witness for our defense before God on that great judgment day.

So now we know what the Holy Spirit is doing in this world today.


But just what does Jesus mean when He warns that treating the Holy Spirit with blasphemy or contempt cannot be forgiven?


Just what is this unpardonable sin?


At the time that Jesus was speaking, the Jews had their own teachings about the Holy Spirit.


According to Jewish teaching the Holy Spirit had two supreme functions.

First, the Holy Spirit brought God’s truth to men; the Holy Spirit was God’s instrument in helping us come to know God’s will for us.

Second, the Holy Spirit enabled men to recognize & understand God’s truth when they saw it; the Holy Spirit works upon the heart & minds of men.

Therefore, man needs the Holy Spirit both to receive & to recognize God’s truth.


To put it another way, the Holy Spirit is working on us to cause us to believe in Jesus Christ, & to bring us to accept Him as our Savior & Lord.

But we dare not forget a very important principle of life, "What you don’t use, you lose."


This principle is true in almost every area.

It is true physically.


If we cease to use & exercise certain muscles, they will weaken & become unusable.

It is true mentally.


Most of us learned things in school that we have since completely forgotten - because we haven’t used them in years.


Maybe it was a foreign language - or how to play a musical instrument.


The knowledge we once had has long since gone because we did not exercise & make use of it.

It is true morally.


We can lose the ability to enjoy good clean fun - if we spend long enough in seeking our pleasure among those things which are soiled & degraded.


What we see & hear, & with what kind of people & pleasures we indulge ourselves can really be a matter of life & death.

We can also lose the ability to be moved or changed by God’s goodness & truth when the Holy Spirit presents it to us.

If we consistently shut our eyes & ears to God’s way, & insist on our own way; If we continually refuse to listen to the guidance God’s word offers to us, & turn our backs upon the messages which the Holy Spirit brings; if we continue to prefer our own ideas to the ideas that God is seeking to put into our heart & mind; then in the end we will come to the stage where nothing the Holy Spirit seeks to do will move or change us in any way.

That is the stage to which these Pharisees had come.


They had so long been blind & deaf to the guidance of God’s hand; they had insisted on their own way for so long; that they had come to a stage where they could not recognize God’s truth & goodness when they saw it.

They could look at God’s goodness & call it Satan’s evil.


They could look on the Son of God & call Him the servant of the devil.

What is the sin against the Holy Spirit?


The sin against the Holy Spirit is the sin of so often & so consistently refusing God’s will that in the end we no longer even recognize it, even when it comes in all of its power.

That brings to the last question, WHY SHOULD THAT SIN BE UNFORGIVABLE?

What makes it so much worse than all other sins?


The answer is simple.


When someone reaches that stage, repentance becomes impossible.

1. If we cannot recognize good when we see it, we can’t desire the good.

2. If we do not recognize evil as being evil, we can’t be sorry for it, & hate it, & wish to change for the better.

3. If we cannot love the good & hate the evil, then we can’t repent; & if we do not repent, we cannot be forgiven, because repentance is a vital condition for forgiveness.

It was to that stage that the Pharisees had come.


They had so long been deliberately blind & deaf to God that they had lost the ability to recognize God when they were confronted by Him.

It was not God who had shut them out; they had shut themselves out, for years of resistance to God had made them what they were.

There is a dreadful warning here.


We must so pay attention to God’s will all our days that our sensitivity is never blunted, that our awareness is never dimmed, that our spiritual hearing never becomes spiritual deafness.

It is a law of life that we will only hear what we are listening for, & what we have fitted ourselves to hear.

There is a story of a farmer who was in the office of a city friend, with the roar of the traffic coming through the windows.


Suddenly the farmer said, "Listen!"


"What is it?" asked the city man.


"A grasshopper," said the farmer.


Years of listening to country sounds had attuned his ears to country sounds, sounds that a city man’s ear did not hear at all.

On the other hand, let a coin drop, & a banker will hear it immediately, while the farmer might not hear it at all.

Only the expert, the man who has made himself able to hear it, will pick out the note of each individual bird in the chorus of sounds.

Only the expert, the man who has made himself able to hear it, will distinguish the different instruments in the orchestra.

It is the law of life that we hear what we have trained ourselves to hear.


Day by day we must listen to God’s word, so that God’s voice may become, not fainter & fainter until we cannot hear it at all, but clearer & clearer until it becomes the one sound to which our ears are attuned.

It is decision time again.


I hope that you will hear the words of Jesus as He calls you to come, & asks you why you are waiting.


The desire you have to know Jesus comes from the Holy Spirit working on your heart.


Don’t refuse Him because that only helps harden your heart against God until you will come to the point that you can no longer hear Him calling for you.


Won’t you come now to answer His call, “Come unto me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”                                                                                 


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