And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebub,” and, “By the ruler of the demons He casts out demons.”So (Jesus) called them to Himself and said to them in parables: “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself, and is divided, he cannot stand, but has an end. No one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. And then he will plunder his house. “Assuredly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they may utter; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to age-enduring condemnation”— because they said, “He has an unclean spirit”.
According to One who should know, the only sin that will not be forgiven either in this age or the next (cf. Matthew’s account 12:22-32) is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. The above passage indicates that relates to knowing or sensing in one’s heart that something is of God working through the Spirit but asserting it to be wicked or satanic, precisely as these scribes did with regard to Jesus’ miracle which they wished to discredit in order to preserve their own status and traditions.
One may well have challenged the working of the Spirit in ignorance, but what is done in ignorance cannot be the unforgivable sin, which is why even blasphemy against Christ can be forgiven but not what is said against the direct working of the Spirit where the matter is perceived within the conscience. In such cases the Spirit Himself convicts the person of their error yet they are determined to persist with their accusation. In the field of activity that I’m currently concerned with, writing and blogging and of necessity challenging some established Christian teaching (and esteemed teachers) as a result of what I believe the Spirit has shown me, I have to be very careful to pay heed to the dictates of conscience before asserting my ideas or challenging others. But so also would anyone determined to defend a particular theological position or tradition against what they sense might in fact be divine light. If they do sense as much, it is because the Spirit affirms it in their mind and conscience, yet they rebel against it. Such a sin is a form of intransigence being an unwillingness to be persuaded of the truth by any means. Heretics and false prophets can be sincere but simply mistaken or deluded for which they will no doubt be punished for their presumption, but those who directly revile or obstruct the workings of the Spirit are in still greater danger. Such were these scribes and Pharisees who will have known in their hearts that the Saviour’s acts of compassion and miraculous healing were never the devil’s work, but were determined to malign them for their own ends, wilfully speaking evil of the work of the Spirit.
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