by John Lowe
(Laurens, SC)

27 February 2000

Matthew 12:31-12:32

I am going to read two verses which are probably among the most questioned & misunderstood scriptures in the Bible. We love John 3:16, the 23rd Psalm, & others, but these two verses really bother many people. Listen as I read them to you.

“I tell you, every sin & blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 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.” (Matthew 12:31-32)

The scene that precedes these words of Jesus in Matthew 12 is this: A man who was both blind & mute has just been healed. Matthew tells us that this man was possessed by a demon, & that Jesus ordered the demon out of him. Once the demon left, then the man was able to see & speak. It should have been a moment of great rejoicing, because the man could see the faces of loved ones & friends. He could see the beauties of nature, & he could communicate with people for perhaps the first time in his life. But it was not a time of rejoicing for everyone. Hard-hearted Pharisees were upset by what Jesus had done. They could not deny His miracle, but they could attempt to explain it away. So they said, "It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons" (Matthew 12:24).

Then Jesus responds to them. They should have learned by now that Jesus is not a good one to challenge to a debate, because He always won. This time is no different, for Jesus makes some pretty solid arguments in His behalf.He says, "I am not in collusion with Satan, but rather, I am in collision with him. Satan is in the business of sending evil spirits, not casting them out."

In vs. 26 Jesus said, "If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand?" Then in vs. 29 Jesus takes the argument one step further. He asks, "How can anyone enter a strong man’s house & carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can rob his house." Jesus had just freed this man from the grip of Satan. Therefore the logical conclusion was that Jesus was stronger than Satan. And a stronger man does not submit to the weaker man. Obviously, Jesus is not in submission to Satan because He is stronger than Satan. The argument is won.

Then Jesus issues a warning. He says, "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" Matt. 12:32. Jesus is saying that the sin against the Holy Spirit is unforgivable. Not because the Holy Spirit is greater than the Father, or greater than the Son, but because the Holy Spirit is later than the Father & the Son.
So we come face to face with what man has called the unpardonable sin.

Christians have wrestled with the question of the unpardonable sin in every generation. Some have even wondered, "Have I committed the unpardonable sin & thus cannot be forgiven by God?" Our devotion/lesson today will answer 3 questions.


Before we can answer that question correctly, we need to know the responsibilities that God has given to the Holy Spirit today.

Listen to this promise that Jesus made in John 14:16-17, "I will ask the Father, & He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever - the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him . . ." Notice that word, "Counselor." In some translations, you’ll find the word "Comforter" instead. The Greek word here is "paraclete" & it means "one who stands alongside." In the Greek courts, a "paraclete" was a witness who came to testify in your defense. Your lawyer, your defense attorney who used all his ability to speak on your behalf was also called a "paraclete."

The Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit comforts us in time of trouble or sorrow; He helps us to overcome temptations & to live the way we should; He educates our conscience; He helps us to pray as we should; & He bears witness to God on our behalf that we are children of God.

Jesus also said two other very important things about the Holy Spirit in John 14:16-17. Did you notice them? He promised that the Holy Spirit would be with us forever, & also said that the Holy Spirit would not be known or received by everyone - but just by those who are Christians. But even though the people of the world, the people who aren’t Christians don’t know Him, Jesus tells us that the Holy Spirit is working on them.

In John 16:8, Jesus says, "When He comes, He will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin & righteousness & judgment." That is exactly what the Holy Spirit is doing today. I am convinced that He uses every opportunity possible to convict us of our sins, to call us to righteousness, & to warn us about the judgment to come. That is what the Holy Spirit did to the evil & weak Governor Felix. Acts 24:24-25 says, "Felix . . . sent for Paul, & listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus. As Paul discoursed on righteousness, self-control & the judgment to come, Felix was afraid & said, `That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.’"

The Holy Spirit is God’s final contact, God’s last attempt to reach man & save him from sin. The Holy Spirit is God’s agent in the world today showing us the great love of God & offering us His salvation. To the Christian, the Holy Spirit is God’s great Helper - helping us where we are weak, lifting us up when we fall, comforting us in trouble or sorrow, guiding us in the way we ought to go, & standing alongside us as a witness for our defense before God on that great judgment day.

So now we know what the Holy Spirit is doing in this world today. But just what does Jesus mean when He warns that treating the Holy Spirit with blasphemy or contempt cannot be forgiven! Just what is this unpardonable sin?


At the time that Jesus was speaking, the Jews had their own teachings about the Holy Spirit.

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