In Jesus’ Words: One Unforgivable Sin (Mark 3:22-30)

Jesus only mentions one sin that will not be forgiven – blasphemy against the Spirit.

Jesus warns, “He who is not with Me is against Me. Any sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.” Matthew 12:30-31

This is a very specific statement from Jesus, so it is important, even life-critical, that we understand exactly what this blasphemy is and what it is not.  In this story about Jesus, the Jewish leaders or Pharisees are accusing him of being an evil spirit or the devil himself.  This is one of the biggest insults a person could say to Jesus, but insults alone are not blasphemy.  Insults or curses that are said in ignorance or unbelief against Jesus or the Spirit are not blasphemy.

Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is a deliberate rejection from those who know Jesus’ claims are true, yet reject Him anyway.

These Pharisees could not deny Jesus’ claims and miracles to be true so they said He was from an evil spirit instead.  Their hearts were hardened, and they rejected Jesus even when they had the fullest possible revelation of who he was.  The Holy Spirit testifies of Christ and makes His truth known to us.  These Pharisees had that ultimate truth but rejected it, and that is why it was blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (truth).

Rejection in ignorance or unbelief that later gives way to repentance is not blasphemy.

Saul of Tarsus’ conversion is a good example of this.  He was a murderer of Christians, and a hater of Jesus.  His sins could not get much worse than that.  But when the Holy Spirit (Jesus in Spirit) was revealed to him on the road to Damascus, he did not deny or reject it.  He embraced the truth, even when he knew what that meant in facing his past sins, and what it would cost him in changing his ways.  Paul was forgiven.

Blasphemy of the Spirit is a rejection of God and His truth, when you know exactly who God is.
It is the ultimate and final rejection of God.
 

~ Jesus mentions one unforgivable sin ~
Mark 3:22-30

The scribes who had come down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebul in Him!” and, “He drives out demons by the ruler of the demons!”

So Jesus summoned them and spoke to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan rebels against himself and is divided, he cannot stand but is finished!

“On the other hand, no one can enter a strong man’s house and rob his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he will rob his house. I assure you: People will be forgiven for all sins and whatever blasphemies they may blaspheme. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— because they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.”

Pray for Our World: Turkey

Turkey is in two continents, with 3% in Europe and 97% in Asia.  Its strategic position of being located on the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea has made it of prime importance throughout history.  The Turkish Ottoman Empire once stretched across North Africa, Western Asia and Southeast Europe, but WW I led to its demise and fragmentation and also the birth of modern Turkey. Turkish society is split – it is secular yet Muslim.

For over one thousand years, Turkey was a bastion of Christendom.  Mt. Ararat, the place where Noah’s ark landed, is located in Turkey, but is closed off from most of the world.  Much of the activity of the New Testament apostles was located in Turkey.  The ancient city of Antioch, now called Antakya, is where Paul and Barnabas preached, and it is there that the disciples were first called “Christians”.  Much of Paul’s missionary journeys were in Turkey, and he wrote his letters to the assemblies in Turkey: Galatians, Ephesians and Colossians.  The book of Acts records a lot of this history.

Turkey later became a strong propagator of Islam.  Christians have since declined from 22% in 1900 to .21% today.  Few Muslims today have ever heard the gospel or the teachings of Paul.  The ancient churches have nearly been wiped out by massacres, persecution and emigration over the years.  Pray for the remnant that survives, and for a re-kindling of the Christian faith among this ancient and special place.

Pray for Our World: Syria

Syria is an ancient civilization, located on the Mediterranean coast between Turkey and Iraq.  Damascus is known as the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world.  Syria is written about throughout the Bible, both Old and New Testaments.  Its people trace their origins back to Noah, as descendants of Shem, Noah’s son.  King David of Israel led a successful conquest against Syria and the Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites who occupied the land.  In New Testament times, Syria became a Roman province.

Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them.  Matthew 4:23-25

The apostle Paul and members of the Early Church spent a lot of time in Syria.  Antioch was the center of one of the first Christian churches and they primarily preached to the Gentiles.  In 634-640 AD, Syria was conquered by the Muslim Arabs. The Orthodox and Catholic churches that had existed since before Islam still endure and have many members. The majority in the Church are Arab but there is also a large Armenian community. Christians do experience some discrimination in housing and employment, and must exercise caution and wisdom in relating to the state and Muslims.

Pray for this ancient country, once walked upon by Jesus and where Paul had his conversion. Pray that the historical sites will be preserved and not destroyed by the fighting, and that the people will once again be renewed in the faith of Jesus Christ and the Apostles, in one of the most ancient and historical countries on earth.

Pray for Our World: Malta

St. Paul’s Bay at the island of Malta

Malta is an island in the center of the Mediterranean Sea.  The Apostle Paul shipwrecked on the island during his missionary journeys, and it became one of the first nations in Europe to embrace Christianity.  Can you imagine seeing Paul swimming to the shore or climbing out of his shipwrecked boat onto the island, and then beginning to tell the islanders about Jesus Christ?  Even to this day, the bay is named after him – St. Paul’s Bay.

The Phoenicians in 1000 BC occupied the island, and it has since had many seizures from Romans, Arabs, Normans, Ottomans, French and British, yet it has maintained its Christian heritage ever since Paul came.  Today, most are Catholic.  Pray that they will remember their heritage and continue to stand in their Christian identity.

Pray for Our World: Macedonia

Macedonia is a landlocked state surrounded by Serbia, Kosovo, Bulgaria, Greece and Albania.  It is one of the poorest of the former Yugoslavia state.  There is high unemployment and low standard of living, which has spurred an exodus of young people.  The ethnic composition is made up of Albanians, Romani and Turkish communities.

In New Testament times, Paul visited Macedonia several times on his missionary journeys.  The first European convert was from Macedonia after Paul had a vision about a man from Macedonia.  Today, the evangelical population is small and has a stigma of being a cult, but they are growing.  The people of Macedonia are responsive to the gospel, and their needs are great.  Pray for the people of Macedonia, that they will embrace the good news that Paul brought to them many years ago.  While our circumstances may have changed since then, the truth and message of the Good News of Jesus Christ has not changed over time.