The question about what the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is has a long history. Most agree that it is a state of mind, rather than a few words or even a few sentences. If we look at the context we can see that.
In Matthew 12 Jesus had healed a man and was accused by the Pharisees of doing it by the power of Beelzebub, the prince of demons. Jesus says Satan can’t cast out Satan, and then said anyone who was not with him was against him. It was at this point, in this situation, that Jesus said, “And so (referring back to what had just happened) I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy of the Spirit will not be forgiven.: vs.31.
“Every sin and blasphemy”, except what? What had they criticized Jesus for doing? Keep in mind that Jesus said if it was against him it could be forgiven. If it wasn’t against Jesus, who, or what was it against? (Trinitarians would have a problem with this.) It was against the very nature of God. It was against who God is and what God does. Jesus is offended that they have witnessed a man set free from a terrible problem and they refuse to give the credit to the Spirit, the goodness, the essence, of who and what God is. Why have they done that? The only contextual reason is their refusal to see the act as meeting their requirements. They do not deny that it was a good thing. You will notice in the text that Jesus asked if he casts out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do they cast them out? vs. 27.
When Jesus said Satan can not cast out Satan, and that a house divided against itself can not stand, he was saying evil can not do what is against evil. Good is always against evil. Good is what evil isn’t. Good, when it is done, no matter who does it, always reflects the nature, the Spirit, of God. So to see a good work and then call it something other than good, and to attribute it, not so much to evil, but to something not like God, is essentially to blaspheme the nature of God, to blaspheme God’s Spirit.
As I said, it’s not a one time thing. It is not to be angry with God and say something foolish. It is an attitude of the heart. It is a teaching that refuses to recognize any good work accept that which meets that individual, or group’s criteria. To put it bluntly, anything not done by them and those like them is tainted, even when it shows the true nature of God.
Tragically, something of that attitude is taught in churches every day. “We can’t do anything for anybody, even if it is good, if others are helping with whom we don’t agree. If a hurricane destroys a place, we will only send money as long as it is to those we agree with on all points of doctrine. If a child’s family needs help with staggering medical bills, we will not give if there are others giving with whom we do not agree on points of doctrine.”
Sadly, the last sentence of the above paragraph happened in the case of the fund raiser for Isabelle Simmons, the little two-year old with leukemia. Two local congregations refused to have any participation because some other churches not like them were also involved. The elders of at least one of those congregations instructed their members not to be involved. Some women from that same church went so far as to go to a nursing home and tell the great-grandmother of the little girl that she could not give, nor attend the fund raiser. The grandfather and grandmother of Isabelle was with us last Sunday and told that story. He added that if his mother had been able she would have been there. He also added that as long as she was in the nursing home, when they visited her they would no longer darken the door of that congregation.
Remember, this is not about the individual’s right not to be involved. The issue is an attitude that condemns a good work done by the wrong people.
Am I saying those who refused to help because it didn’t meet their criteria of “sound” have blasphemed the Spirit? Well, I can’t help but see the very close proximity to the situation with Jesus and the Pharisees. A proximity that distorts the nature of God’s goodness and love.
Remember, Jesus said it was not about him. It was not about the deed itself. Even the Pharisees and their disciples cast out demons. So, what was it about? Fear and blindness. The Pharisees knew Jesus was not like them. He didn’t do the things they believed made a person righteous before God. If Jesus could do such things as casting out demons as they did, where did that leave them? Was all their hard work to be righteous in vain? He couldn’t be righteous, because they were, and he wasn’t like them. What to do? Discredit him. Say the Godlike things he did were not really Godlike because he didn’t belong to God, but to Satan. How could they say that? Because he didn’t meet their standards of what was acceptable to God, which meant God couldn’t be behind it. They were blinded by a legalistic doctrine based on a false idea of righteousness.
I know about those who Jesus said would speak of driving out demons and performing miracles in his name, and yet will be called by Jesus, “evil doers“.Now this is a slippery slope! But notice Jesus never denied that the casting out of demons by the Pharisees in Matt 12 was in itself, evil. Does the fact that they did good make them good? No. Does the fact that Jesus says he will call some who have done powerful works in his name, “evil doers”, make the good they did evil? No. Jesus said Satan can not cast out Satan. Some commentators say in Matt. 7, these were only “claims” and that the prophesy and miracles never happened. However, there are a number of places where the less than accepted by God did such things. Can an evil person do good for evil reasons? Yes. But the wrong reason does not erase the good that was done. It is all about the attitude of the heart.
What the attitude was of those in Matt 7 is anyone’s guess. All we know is that it was not the attitude of Jesus. In Matt 12 the attitude of the Pharisees is quite clear. It is an attitude that rejects anything good that does not meet their standards of righteousness. It is an attitude of blindness and fear that kills you spiritually.
CONCERNS: Martha Albert has been having trouble with what is residual effects of childhood polio. Melanie Almeder, (Melanie Beaver’s teacher) Ron Matney’s nephew, Mike Breeding, heart attack. Polly Altice and her son, James. Isabelle, who is being treated for leukemia, It’s been good to see Helen Niklas able to be out some. Evelyn Hammer, The Phlegar’s friend, Julie, in Texas. (stroke) Mrs. Kelly, a recent widow and neighbor of Alice Blessing’s. Teri Burks and Trixie Long. Roger Fisher’s nephew in Fla. Barbara McCauley, Chris Phlegar and Tim Elder. Those shut-in: Jewel Racer, Wilma and Jenni Cullum and those involved in helping those in need all around the world.
OUR DAILY BREAD: MARCH 22-27
Monday: John 8:21-47
Tuesday: Luke 22:14-30
Wednesday: Luke 12:13-34
Thursday: Psalm 51:1-19
Friday: Acts 4:32-5:11
Saturday: Psalm 99:1-9:110:1-5
OUR DAILY BREAD: MAR. 29-APR.3
Monday: Hebrews 4:1-5:10
Tuesday Matthew 5:17-48
Wednesday: Genesis 1:1-31
Thursday: II Samuel 12:1-15
Friday: Ephesians 6:10-20
Saturday: Psalm 104:1-35
Last Sunday we welcomed the Bolin family as part of our church family. They have been with us for several months and have become deeply involved in the work here.
They consist of Dell, Leena, Nick and Jon, as well as Leena’s mother, Helen Niklas.
Dell is a physician, Leena is a busy mom, and Nick and Jon are teenaged students. We are thrilled to have them with us to share the gifts God has given them.
They live at 5933 Blackhorse Ln., Roanoke, 24018. Phone 769-5127
Our sympathy is extended to Martha Foy and her family in the sudden death of Martha’s nephew, who died of a heart attack last week.
Today, March 21, is Super Sunday. This is always a day of good food and fellowship. Be sure to plan to stay after the service and enjoy this time together.
The teenage class will have a lock-in here on Friday night and Saturday morning of April 9-10.
CITY-WIDE VBS TRAINING
There will be a city-wide training session conducted here on Saturday, April 17. Erma Williams will be doing that and she always needs a few extra hands if you can help.
The women’s retreat, Sweet Life Cafe’, will be April 23&24. All activities will be at the building, starting on Friday evening, April 23, and conclude mid-afternoon on Saturday, April 24. An optional “sleep over” is at Leena Bolin’s home on Friday evening. Information and registration forms are on the table in the foyer. The cost is $25.
Erma Williams needs the names of any women beyond the congregation that might be interested so they can be sent a personal invitation.
ISABELLE’S FUND RAISER
The amount collected for Isabelle from the congregation was $500.00. This did not include tickets bought for the fund raiser and things purchased at the action, as well as other individual gifts. ALSO: $650 was the amount collected for Gideon Bibles.