Luke 12:1-12 — As we conclude our look at this passage today, we tackle one of the most misunderstood verses in the Bible, Luke 12:10 (and its companion verses at Matthew 12:31-32 and Mark 3:28-29). Jesus says, in Luke 12:10, “Anyone who speaks against the Son of Man can be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.” It is called the unforgiveable sin, to blaspheme the Holy Spirit, but what does this mean?

First, we must establish what the word, blaspheme, means. Since we are in the New Testament, we must go the Greek language. The English word, blaspheme, comes from the Greek word, blasphemeo. The meaning in the Greek language is to use speech that brings down another’s value, honor, due respect, or to injure another’s reputation in the eyes of others. So, in this context, Jesus is saying that discrediting the Holy Spirit is the unforgiveable sin. Matthew 12:31-32 tells it a little different in saying that this sin will “never be forgiven” whereas Luke says “not”. Matthew goes on to say that this sin will not be forgiven “either in this world or in the world to come.” Mark 3:28-29 concludes that statement with “This is a sin with eternal consequences.” To discredit the work of the Holy Spirit (part of the Holy Trinity) is to discredit God and to discredit God has consequences of eternal ramifications for those who commit this sin both in this life and the hereafter. Jesus lays it all out on the line here.

To illustrate the concept, my ex-wife used to get mad at her boys and tell them in anger that they were “on restrictions for the rest of your life.” That’s a long time! I used to tell her not to say that because you are automatically setting yourself up for a loss of credibility with the boys. If you tell them that they are going to be on restrictions for the rest of their life, you better be prepared to carry that out. The boys knew she wasn’t serious when said such things and they would go on about their business. It didn’t help that even when she calmed down that she would put them on restrictions for say two weeks. But, my ex was a softie, and the boys knew they could beg and plead long enough that they would get themselves off restrictions by bargaining with her about promises of action that they knew they would never keep. It was this type of thing that was the undoing of our marriage (second marriages often break up over kid issues). The boys knew that my lines in the sand were realistic and were not to be crossed. But often when they got in trouble with me and I would not negotiate with them about their punishment, they would go behind my back to their mother and she would eventually cave in to their constant begging and pleading. The line in the sand was washed away. My credibility as a disciplinarian/father destroyed. Children learning nothing about consequences to your action. It was not to be mean to them but rather it was to grow them into men who could function in a society that rightly so includes consequences for the stupid stuff we do as adults. Men, especially, must learn to be providers for their families and must learn that life is about hard knocks. You make mistakes. You learn from them. You dust yourself off and move on. Boys must learn at a young age that the world throws stuff at us that is not fair as we see it in our eyes but we gotta put up with and and deal with. They learn that at home as boys when there are consequences to breaking established family rules.

Jesus is saying here that there is indeed a line in the sand. There is a consequence for action. Just as good parenting to our own children sometimes includes there being real consequences for bad behavior that are non-negotiable. There has to be a line in the sand in parenting our kids and there has to be a line in the sand when it comes to matters about God and our eternity either with Him or separated from Him.

You must be saying wow like I am right now. This is the first time that I am really studying and writing on the concept of blaspheming the Holy Spirit as the unforgiveable sin. I am partially in shock. The God of love that we preach about has a line in the sand that cannot be crossed. A God of love and forgiveness seems to be contradictory to what we want to believe about God. However, what is lost in today’s watered down gospel world is that God is not only a God of love but He is a God of justice as well. There are real consequences here. Jesus is saying that very thing as plain as day right here in this passage. Remember in the context of this passage, we have been talking all week about standing up for Jesus. We have been talking about not denying Him. We have been talking about acknowledging Him and following Him even when it costs us our comfort and even our freedom or even our very lives. Thus, when Jesus gets to this statement at this point in the passage, it is very clear that rejecting Jesus, rejecting the Holy Spirit, rejecting the Father (the holy trinity of God) has real consequences. We all know what that is but we never talk about it much today. The real consequence of rejecting God is an eternity in hell. The place of darkness and the burning of flesh and the gnashing of teeth against flesh and bone – for eternity. Not just a couple of weeks on restrictions, like my stepsons in my previous marriage, but eternity. As Prince says in the song, “Let’s Go Crazy”, forever is a mighty long time. Rejecting Jesus as the Messiah is blaspheming the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that illuminates to us who Jesus is. Rejecting that power to see Jesus as who He is reveals a heart that is beyond illumination and is therefore hopeless. Those who reject God as a figment of ancient imaginations are blaspheming the Holy Spirit and there is consequence to that. Those who reject Jesus as the Messiah have real consequences that await those who stay on that path and never accept Jesus Christ as their Savior. Real consequences for bad behavior that cannot be changed or made wishy-washy.

God is a God of justice. Yes, He is a God of love but He is also a God of justice. If we had judges in our court systems here in the US that did not mete out punishment for crimes we would throw them off the bench. But, yet, we today in our anything goes world believe that there is no eternal consequence if we believe in eternity at all. We think that there is no hell. All roads lead to heaven. If we just do more good than bad we will make it there. If there were no consequences in eternity for our actions here, then Hitler got to to heaven. Even the most unrepentant soul gets to go to heaven. In this philosophy, there is no need for the Holy Spirit. There is especially no need for Jesus. We control our fate. We are God. But that is a fabrication of Satan, of hearts that are hardened. We blaspheme the Holy Spirit when we reject Jesus. A just God will judge us for our rejection. A just God will judge us for our imperfection and cast us out because we need to be perfect and holy to be with Him. We are all sinners in need of rescue. We need Jesus. We need the Holy Spirit to enlighten us to who He is. We need to know that Jesus is the only way to the Father. We need to know that He is the Messiah. We need to know that our sins will keep us from spending an eternity with a Holy God. We need to know how precarious our eternal situation is. We need to know that we need saving. We need to know that we cannot do it ourselves. We need to know of our need for grace. We need to know. When we purposefully reject the Holy Spirit because we do not believe in all that Jesus stuff, we shake our fist at God. When we purposefully reject the Holy Spirit by scoffing at Jesus as the Savior and the only way to eternity, we shake our fist at God. When we do this, we are disobedient children who deserve the just punishment of not recognizing what we have been told, what we have witnessed and seen. Hell is that consequence. As the Reformation Bible says in its commentary on this passage, “When His influence is deliberately and knowingly refused, in opposition to light, then the irreversible sin can be committed as a voluntary, informed act of malice. In response there is a hardening of the heart from God that rules out repentance and faith.” That leads us to two other things to consider. One is for ourselves as Christ followers and one is for those who currently reject Him.

As Christ followers, the first thing that pops into our mind is that, if blaspheming the Holy Spirit is the unforgiveable sin, have I done it? None of us came into this world perfect except for Jesus. There is a period in each of our lives that we have rejected Jesus in one way or another. For example, I did not accept Christ as my Savior until I was 39 years old. In those 39 years, I must have blasphemed the Holy Spirit in one way or another. Am I hopeless? Am I destined for hell because I once shook my fist at God and grieved and blasphemed the Holy Spirit by the way I lived – a life of rejecting God. If this is the unforgiveable sin then it does not matter that I have accepted Christ as my Savior. Does it? The answer is that it has to do with repentance. I may have actively rejected God for a long period of my life but I came to realize my folly finally. Christians need not worry because this sin is defined as a heart attitude. It is defined as an ongoing rejection of God, an active rejection of God. As the Reformation Bible commentary says, “a person who wants to repent, that is, to reverse the sins they are guilty of, has not suffered this hardening [of the heart] and has not committed the profound act of hatred that God has determined that He will not forgive. Anyone who has been born again will not commit this sin, because the Spirit lives in that person and God is not divided against Himself (1 John 3:9).” What the commentary is saying to me is that the unpardonable sin is to actively go to our grave shaking our fist at God. As the Quest Study Bible puts it, “Jesus gave the solemn warning in these verses to people whose hard-heartedness placed them on the brink of disaster. Blasphemy against the Spirit evidently is not just a one-time offense; rather, it is an ongoing attitude of rebellion – a stubborn way of life that continually resists, rejects and insults the Holy Spirit. This is what makes it, in effect, an eternal sin (Mark 3:29). Blasphemy against the Spirit is not unforgivable because of something done unintentionally in the past, but because of something being done deliberately and unrelentingly in the present.”

Going to your grave without letting in the Holy Spirit to your heart to illumine who Jesus is a death warrant. There is no stay of execution for it. A just and righteous God gives us every opportunity to come to Him through the action of the Holy Spirit in our souls. The Holy Spirit teaches us of our need for a Savior whose name is only Jesus Christ. To reject that all the way to your grave reserves your place in the prison of tortured souls in hell. There are no ways to get off the hook on this one. It is the final consequence. It is like the parent who finally has to punish their kid after having given them every opportunity to reform. It is not what the parent wants and it is often more emotionally punishing to the parent than to the child. But the parent must teach the child that there are consequences to behavior no matter how much it pains the parent to do so. Just as, too, when a child emerges from their punishment and has learned from it, the parent lovingly accepts the new behavior of the child and never revisits the past but only praises the child for the new and better behavior. God does the same with us when we accept Christ as our Savior. He only praises us for what He sees in us going forward. We are a new creation and it is the new creation by which He judges us. Thank God for Jesus taking my punishment on the cross for the punishment I deserve. Thank God for the Holy Spirit opening my eyes to who Jesus is and what He did for me. Thank God for not holding my past against me.

That leads us to the sorrow that we must feel as Christians for the non-believers that we know that are all around us all around the world. We must be pained to the core. We must cry for their souls. The Reformation Bible commentary that I just mentioned goes on to say, in its discussion of the Unforgiveable Sin, “God permits the decision of the human will to be permanent in this case. God does not do this lightly or without cause, but in response to an offense against His love” that he offers freely in Jesus Christ. Jesus says there is a hell. Jesus says that going to our grave rejecting the work of the Holy Spirit in our soul consigns us there.

Many people say that “if I could just see a real miracle I would believe in God.” We have plenty of evidence. All acknowledge that Jesus existed. We know of His birth, death, resurrection and ascension. We know of centuries of His work in believers around the world. Romans 1:18-25 tells us that we are born to know God and that we can see evidence of Him in the universe that He created. Yet we reject Him actively. Even though we are born with knowledge of God from the intrinsic sense of right and wrong that we all have in us, we actively reject Him. Romans 1:32 says, “though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” Just think of today where those who condemn anyone who says that our anything goes lifestyles are not of God. We get vilified when we say such things. We guarantee at health clubs now that if I feel like a woman I can go dress in the women’s locker room. If you stand up against that which is blatantly wrong (that feeling we are wired with by God), you get your gym membership revoked. Just see how lifestyles that are anti-biblical are glorified on television and in film because by doing so they think they validate these lifestyles as acceptable. Such behavior must resort to governmental enforcement to get its way because it takes this force to enforce that which is fundamentally against the nature of man and the way God created us. We reject God in favor of the lifestyles that we want to lead. I am not just talking alternative lifestyles but any lifestyle that stands as blatantly against God. We shake our fist at Him.

If we as Christians know the consequences of rejecting God in these ways, we should not be protesting we should be crying for these people who out and out shake their fist in the air at God. You do not protest when someone is in a burning house. You run in and try to save them. We know that anyone who goes to their grave shaking their fist at God will spend their eternity in hell. We should be pained to the core by this. We should be crying for the lost souls that think they are so enlightened but yet so completely ignorant of their eternal fate. When we reject the Holy Spirit in favor of living in ungodly ways we cannot see the train wreck we are approaching at our death. We think that we are enlightened. We think we have grown beyond God. We think that God was some fiction created by society just to keep us from living out our potential. God was nothing but to hold us back from the very nature of man and the freedom to pursue what is right for the individual. We must not let them go to their grave in defiance of God only to find out that they were wrong permanently in eternity. We should be getting into their lives by befriending them and looking for ways to teach them of what Jesus did in our lives. How he fundamentally changed us to the core. How we used to be like them in shaking our fist at God and where that road led us. How we are sinners. How we all grieve the heart of God. How God though loves us so much that He sent Jesus to save us from ourselves. How recognizing that fact changes everything. How that fact clears the ledger for each one who accepts Christ. No judgment due for past crimes. Just the joy of being set free. Just the joy of salvation. Just the joy of living on Christ’s dime and not ours. Just the joy of knowing that we are no longer under the judgment of the unpardonable sin. Let us have that urgency for those who still are shaking their fist at God and the judgment that they are currently under for that.

Let us resolve to spread the gospel in each of our individual Judeas, our individual Samarias, and our individual ends of the earth. There are souls at stake. There is eternity at stake. We should be like Mr. Schindler at the end of the movie, Schindler’s List, who wept at the Jews he did not save. Just one more, he said. Just one more. That is how we should be about those currently stand condemned before God, don’t even know it, and shake their fist at Him. Let us cry for them. Let us be heartbroken for them. Let us be so moved that we witness to one more…and one more…and one more. The stakes are high. They are eternal. Our resolve to not see someone not go down into their grave shaking their fist at God should compel us to action. Love can. Love can. Love can compel us. Let us be Schindler-esque in our desire that lost souls come to Christ. Let us weep. Let us care.

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