Friday, January 16, 2009

a house divided

mt 12:22-30, mk 3:20-27, & lk 11:14-23 relate a conversation between Jesus and pharisees who have accused him of casting out demons by the power of satan. Jesus quickly disarms this ridiculous and desperate accusation but in so doing gives us a great lesson on unity and defines what we call 'blasphemy' as well as what we so forebodingly call 'the unforgivable sin.'

Jesus is explaining that, strategically, a house (army, team, etc.) cannot stand if there is conflict from within. this is the root of the 'divide and conquer' tactic. there is strength in unity but vulnerability in division and discord. Jesus closes this section by saying (in mt 12:30) "he who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad."

Jesus builds on this principle in the next section (mt 12:31-32 & mk 3:28-30).

because division creates weakness in a house and because 'he who is not with Me is against Me,"

"every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven me, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men."

i knew that 'the unpardonable sin' was blasphemy but i didn't understand the distinction between blasphemy against Jesus and blasphemy against the Spirit or why it was so unpardonable, isn't Jesus just as important as the Spirit? reading these verses in context, considering the previous section, leads one to believe that Jesus isn't talking about what's the 'worse' sin necessarily. He is being strategic here, blasphemy against the Spirit (whatever that means) cannot be tolerated or forgiven because it weakens the body of Christ and Jesus will not allow His house to fall.

another verse that shed great light on this topic is 1 tim 1:13

"although i was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but i obtained mercy because i did it ignorantly in unbelief."

okay so now we have another clue about this 'blasphemy' concept. paul was a blasphemer yet he was forgiven because he did so out of unbelief. this implies by contrast that one who does not have this qualification...that is, someone who is a believer, does not fall under the same grace as paul.

so we have a few things that we can KNOW
-there is some distinction between blasphemy of the -spirit and blasphemy of christ
-the blasphemy of an unbeliever will be forgiven (provided he repents)
-by extension, the blasphemy of a believer will not be forgiven

further (regarding the Spirit)....
-an unbeliever is not indwelt by the Holy Spirit
-a believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit

i don't have an answer in full at this point but i'm beginning to see that what Jesus is primarily concerned about in this section (mt 28, mk 3) is those within the body, believers, indwelt by the Holy Spirit who are blaspheming against the Spirit within them. i get a picture of those christians who misrepresent the Spirit or who, having received Him, deny the Spirit.

Father, thank you for your holy word, how you reveal it to me in new ways every day. thank you for how you reward even my mustard seed of faith with blessings and insight that i do not deserve. i pray you would continue to teach me by your Spirit. that you would make me a worthy vessel of your grace, father; that Your word would proceed from my mouth. thank you for your immeasurable blessings.

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