Matthew 12:22-37 – Either You are All-in or Not. There’s No Halfway!

Posted: December 18, 2015 in Gospel of Matthew

Matthew 12:22-37
Religious Leaders Accuse Jesus of Getting His Power from Satan

Here in South Carolina, there is an old saying that goes like this, “At birth, we are required to choose between the Gamecocks and the Tigers.” In a state that is completely bonkers about the football programs of its two major school, University of South Carolina and Clemson University, you have to choose a side. You are either a Gamecock fan or a Tiger fan. There is no in-between. Even if you are resettled here from out of state, our culture forces you to choose one or the other. This rivalry is one of the greatest around. In other states that are larger than South Carolina both in land mass and in population, there are regions of the state that support one school or the other and there isn’t much mixing of the fans of the two major school in a given state. However, in little ol’ South Carolina with is small land mass and population of about 4.5 Million people, Gamecocks and Tigers are mixed together more readily than other states. Here it can pit neighbor against neighbor. It can even pit members of the same household against one another. Like in my household, my wife is a Gamecock fan and I am a Tiger fan. Elena’s daughter is a University of South Carolina graduate while my oldest daughter is a Clemson graduate. It makes for interesting Saturdays in late November in our household. The loser must wear the colors of the other team to church on Sunday after the game and be photographed wearing it. We call it “The Sunday After Sweatshirt of Shame”. From 2009-2013, I had to wear that hideous garnet and black sweatshirt for five straight years. Oh the horror! Oh the pain! However, my Tigers have returned the world to the say it is supposed to be the last two year and my wife has had to wear the wonderfully great colors of Clemson University. In fact, this year’s picture was my most “liked” photo of the year on my Facebook page. Passions run deep about our football teams in this state. You must be one or the other. Why do I bring this up in relation to a passage from Matthew? Sadly, sometimes, to get people to relate to Scripture, we have to use examples of things that people are passionate about in this life that matter not in eternity to get them to understand things that do matter in eternity.

In this passage, Matthew 12:22-37, we find that Matthew says,

22 Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see. 23 All the people were astonished and said, “Could this be the Son of David?”

24 But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.”

25 Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. 26 If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand? 27 And if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. 28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

29 “Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can plunder his house.

30 “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. 31 And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32 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.

33 “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. 35 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. 36 But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. 37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”
I think that from the words of this passage, you can understand why I used the illustration of Clemson and Carolina here in our state. You have to choose one or the other. Jesus is saying that when it comes right down to it, you are either for Christ or against it. There is no middle ground with Jesus just like there is no middle ground here in South Carolina between Clemson and Carolina. We are either fully for Jesus or you are not. There is no half-assing it when it comes to Jesus.

Jesus, first off, knows our heart. He sees straight through the outward appearances. He knows when we are beautiful mansions on the outside but nothing but rotting decay on the inside. Jesus knows when we are pompously religious on the outside and think we have it covered and have everyone fooled on the outside but we are liars, swindlers, cheats, adulterers, etc. on the inside. We will account for who we are on the inside. Jesus will judge us for our heart not for our appearances. The thing that in this life you can compare it to is be on trial where we try to present ourselves as not having committed a crime but the prosecutor goes about meticulously showing that our story is a fabrication and the truth is revealed. The truth about us is revealed at judgment day when we meet our Maker. Jesus knows our thoughts. He knows when we lust in our heart for something that we do not have. He knows we lie. He knows when we cheat. He knows what we do when no one is looking. We cannot escape Him for He is God and He knows what we do even when we try to hide. Sometimes I think we forget that. I don’t say that to scare you but I think the fact that God knows everything about us including our thoughts should force us to be real and honest about who we are and get real with God. Beg him to change us from the inside out by inviting the Holy Spirit into our lives through accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior who takes away the penalty for our true thoughts and actions. When we repent of the real person we are, not the one we show to the rest of the world, we can allow the Holy Spirit to make us more like Christ daily. The Holy Spirit forces us to be real about our sins and leads us toward humble repentance.

Secondly, you are either all-in with Jesus or you are not. There is no half-way. A lot of people claim to believe in Jesus but don’t believe He is the Son of God. They claim to believe in Jesus but do not believe that He performed miracles. Some people claim to believe in Jesus but only buy into certain parts of Him and discard the parts of Him that do not agree with their lifestyle. There is no middle ground with Jesus. Either you accept all of Him or you as a result of taking parts of Him don’t take Him at all. Either you believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God or not. Either you see Him as the only way to the Father or you don’t. Either you accept everything the Scripture says about Jesus or you do not. There is no halfway with Jesus. Either you believe or you, by the mere nature, of not being full-on, all-in, with Jesus, you do not believe in Him. It’s that simple. We cannot take parts of Jesus and not take the whole. It is like buying part of a car and not the whole car. The car is worthless unless you buy the whole thing. Jesus as radical revolutionary rabbi is not the whole Jesus. Jesus as the great philosopher is not the whole Jesus. Jesus as the peace-loving all accepting hippy flower child is not the whole Jesus. If you love Jesus at the nativity scene as a heartwarming story at Christmas time but do not accept Him as the Resurrected One, you are not for Jesus. Jesus is more than a cute story. Jesus is the Son of God. If you are not down with that, you are not down with Jesus. To be for Jesus is to accept all that Scripture says about Jesus as true. Sure, Jesus invites you to question Him. Sure, he wants to answer your doubts about Him. I am not saying that unless you blindly accept Him you are not for Him. However, the getting to know the whole Jesus, you must accept who He is to truly be a Christ follower. You are not truly a Christ follower until you accept Jesus as the Son of God who came to earth to take the punishment for our sins that we alone deserve and who conquered death and arose from the dead to give us hope for a future in eternity with Him. No half-ass belief. Full-on belief. Because if you don’t accept the full Jesus, the whole Jesus, you have not accepted Him at all. You have to buy the whole car for the car to be worth anything.

Finally, Jesus says that the unforgivable sin is to blaspheme the Holy Spirit. What Jesus is saying here is that the only unforgivable sin is unbelief. When the Holy Spirit reveals to us who Jesus is and we blatantly reject Him. We cannot lose our salvation when we have doubts about Jesus when we are going through tough times. Jesus is saying here is that when we know the truth about Him through the Holy Spirit but blatantly reject the revelation to the day we die, we have committed ourselves to hell. The worst thing is to know the truth and reject it. There are those that refuse to accept Jesus Christ as the Son of God and refuse to listen to the arguments are grieving the Holy Spirit. The only way to make this sin unpardonable is to never have accepted Christ as our Savior before we die. We have a lifetime of opportunities to accept the gospel as truth. But when death comes or Jesus returns, whichever comes first, we will no longer have options. We will be judged as to whether we fully accepted Christ as our Savior or not. That is the test. Jesus knows our heart. We can be outwardly religious and inwardly rotten no more. The truth is revealed at judgment. We can no longer only buy certain parts of Jesus and reject the rest. At judgment, we will be judged as being fully for Jesus or not. No middle ground. It will be like being a Carolina fan when they are winning and jumping ship when they are not and switching to Clemson because they are and vice versa. At judgment, we will either be judged as all-in for Christ or not. That is the line that is drawn in the sand. Either you have accepted Christ as your Savior or not. When we reject Jesus blatantly, at judgment, the argument will be clear cut. Reject Jesus and turn you back on Him, there is no argument, no consideration, the deal is done. Hell is yours with the gnashing of teeth, burning of flesh, eternal darkness, and no escape. Does this not behoove us as those who fully believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God to get out there and convince people that He is and that full-on belief is what is required. Do you wish hell on you worst enemy? Hell is the worst of all things and it is eternal. Do you really hate anyone that much? We must get out in the world and show people the love and the judgment of Jesus and lovingly guide them to see their need for the cross. Help them not to blaspheme the Spirit by not believing. Let us be grieved to see people die without knowing of the full-on saving grace of Jesus Christ. We are called to make disciples. We are called to preach the gospel. Let it not be said that we gave up on giving people the opportunity however tireless we must work to do it to get people to see the truth of Jesus Christ and to give their lives to Him. The alternative for the lack of belief in Jesus Christ is a horrible eternity separated from God. We must go out there and make disciples! Eternity is at stake!

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