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September 8, 2019

Sermon Matthew 12:31 . . .“Jesus said:  ‘Blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven’”

“Jesus said:  ‘Blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven’”

Matthew 12:31

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus.

Louisville, Kentucky, the largest city in the state, and the twenty-ninth most populous city in the United States, is the home of legendary boxer Muhammed Ali, Louisville Slugger baseball bats, the Kentucky Derby, and of course, Kentucky Fried Chicken.  Most anyone would tell you it’s a good place to live and work.

Except for Darryl Davis.  He’s seen a completely different side of the city.

It all started when he was just a young boy.  His father was delusional, and often spent time in and out of mental hospitals.  He and his four siblings never knew if they would ever have anything to eat.

When he was a teenager, his parents divorced.  Of all things, he chose to stay with his dad.  Till he was fifteen.  That’s when his father kicked him out.

So where would he go, and what would he do?  He slept in a car in a downtown parking garage.  His dinner was a bag of chips.

Eventually, he landed a job as a dishwasher, which was just enough to pay for his food and his drugs.

He married when he was eighteen, and moved in with his sister.  That’s when he got a new job--selling drugs.  But when a friend turned him in, he went to his apartment, armed with a knife.  Later, he said he remembered walking in the door, confronting him, and arguing with him.  And he remembered the fight.  But he said he blacked out and didn’t know how many times he had stabbed him.  

Arrested and charged with murder, he would spend the next twenty-two years of his life in prison.  That’s when he came to Christ.

When he was released in 2012, he said:  “I can’t imagine one day without God’s love, one day without His grace, and His mercy.  And every single day when I wake up, I feel that need.”  And he said:  “I sit here today in total love with my Savior, my Creator, my God, Jesus Christ.  He is my all in all.”

Is there a sin so great that it cannot be forgiven?

People magazine once asked that question.  They asked, in a survey, how guilty would you feel, on a scale of 1 to 10, if you committed one of some fifty-one different sins.  

What they found was rather interesting.  Most said murder, child abuse, and spying against your country were the worst sins.  Smoking, swearing, and lying, they said, were the least sins.  Parking in a handicapped spot was rated surprisingly high.  Cutting in front of someone in line was considered worse than divorce.

The survey concluded with the words:  “Overall, readers said they commit about 4.64 sins a month.”

In the book of Matthew chapter 12, Jesus had something to say about sin.  Please turn in your Bible to page 1038.  I’ll start where it says:  “Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.”  Matthew chapter 12, verse 22:  “Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to Him, and He healed him, so that the man spoke and saw.  And all the people were amazed, and said, ‘Can this be the Son of David?’  But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, ‘It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.’  Knowing their thoughts, He said to them, ‘Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand.  And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself.  How then will his kingdom stand?”

As I mentioned last Sunday, Jesus’ work among us had only just begun.  He said in chapter 10:  “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth.  I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.”  He said in chapter 11:  “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  Then in chapter 12, when Pharisees condemned Him for healing a man on the Sabbath, He said:  “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

Now in verse 22, men brought a blind and mute man to Him, oppressed by a demon.  And just as soon as Jesus saw him, He healed him.  And as the Bible says, suddenly, he could speak and see.  Then when the people saw what happened, they asked in verse 23, “Could this be the Messiah, the Promised One, the Son of David?”

But the Pharisees had something very different to say.  Verse 24:  “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this Man casts out demons.”  And knowing their thoughts, He said in verse 25:  “No city or house divided against itself will stand.”

Then come the most difficult words of all.  Verse 31:  “Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.”

Now wait just one second here.  Did I hear that right?  “Blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven”?

I thought the gospel covers all sin, all kinds of sin, all types of sin--small sins, big sins, black sins, and crimson sins.  Isn’t that the gospel message we speak to sinners, that it doesn’t matter who you are, or what you’ve done, there’s always “forgiveness in the blood”?

Even worse, remember Who’s speaking!  If someone we know might ever say, “I will never forgive you,” we hope that “never” doesn’t mean never, so we can get on with life.

But when God says, “I will never forgive you,” that’s entirely different.  His “never” really does mean never.  His justice is like iron. His judgment is like granite.

And if these words aren’t enough for you, think of Hebrews chapter 6.  That’s where it says:  “For those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the Word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen, it is impossible to restore them again to repentance.”

These words are what one author called, “the most fearful text in all of the Bible.”  Or as another put it:  “Pound for pound, the passage on the unpardonable sin can deliver the most guilt in all of Scripture.”

So what’s going on?  First, let me tell you the good news.  Look again at verse 31:  “Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people.”

You know, that’s the best and purest gospel we could ever hope to find.  Notice Jesus didn’t say some sin, and neither did He say most sin.  He said:  “Every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people.” 
So as I said a moment ago, it doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done--you could be a Paul who persecuted the church...you could be a Peter who said, three times, he didn’t even know who Jesus was...you could be a David who stole another man’s wife--there’s always forgiveness at the cross.

But, (now for the bad news), Jesus also said:  “But the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.”

Let’s look at that word “blasphemy” for a moment.  What’s it mean?  Simply put, “blasphemy” is when you insult or show a lack of respect for something that’s holy.

In the book of I Timothy, the apostle Paul called himself, “a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor.”  In Matthew chapter 9, when Jesus told a man his sins were forgiven, men called Him a blasphemer, because He made Himself out to be God.

To question God’s goodness, His wisdom, His fairness, His truthfulness, His love, or His faithfulness is all a form of blasphemy.

But as Jesus said in verse 31, to blaspheme against Jesus is one thing.  But blasphemy against the Spirit is an altogether different thing.

So what is it?  It’s when we absolutely and deliberately reject God’s work in our lives.  It’s when we constantly and willfully choose our sin, our plans, and our agenda over the love of Christ.  It’s when we unwaveringly and defiantly hate God and absolutely refuse to have anything to do with Him.  

And it’s of this that Jesus said:  “But the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.”

So are you guilty of committing the unforgivable, unpardonable sin?  If your heart is open and filled with sorrow for your sin, then no matter who you are, and no matter what you’ve done, you can find forgiveness and healing at the cross.  Paul did.  Peter did.  David did.  And you can too.

As John wrote in his first epistle:  “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  But if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Let me take you back, for a moment, to the middle of June 1944, to the end of World War II.  The Allies had already taken North Africa, Sicily, and the beaches of Normandy.  All of France, Italy, and Germany would soon be next.

But before the war could come to an end, there was the battle of the Philippine Sea.  It’s where American forces sank three Japanese aircraft carriers and downed more than six hundred planes.

But that was June 19th.  June 20th was a different story.  That’s when, late in the afternoon, an admiral sent planes, five hundred and fifty of them, to find the rest of the Japanese fleet.  And everyone knew, from the commander down to the pilots, that they’d have barely enough fuel to make it, and they’d have to find their way home in the dark.

And after sinking one carrier and severely damaging three more, they managed to turn back home.  But as night fell, some of the pilots became disoriented, and crashed into the sea.  It was no surprise.  It was a pitch black night in the middle of the world’s biggest ocean.

So what would you do if you were the commander of the fleet of American carriers?  Normally, all lights were off.  That’s the way it had to be in the middle of an unfriendly ocean.  But if the ships were dark, the planes couldn’t find their way home.

That’s when Admiral Marc Mitscher made a decision.  He ordered all the ships, carriers as well as battleships, to turn on their lights.  And while it risked the lives of thousands of others, all but sixteen of the pilots found their way home.

We have a Savior who loves us.  And He will stop at nothing, no matter what the cost, to help us find our way home.

 

Holy Spirit, light divine, shine upon this heart of mine; chase the shades of night away, turn the darkness into day.  Let me see my Savior’s face, let me all His beauties trace; show those glorious truths to me, which are only known to Thee, for Jesus’ sake.  Amen

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