January 17, 2023
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE REFERENCE:
“Whoever is not with Me is against Me. Whoever does not gather with Me scatters. So, I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven. However, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.” (Matthew 12.30-31)
Yesterday, I reflected upon the “blasphemy of the Holy Spirit” as living with the belief that the Holy Spirit doesn’t exist. Life without the Holy Spirit leaves a person powerless against the consequence of our sin which is eternal death. I have known the grief of loved ones dying. Those scars still exist as reminders of life that should have been lived better. No matter how good the good ol’ days were, we have to humble ourselves enough to know even they should have been better. Too much we rely on the systems of works and rewards to justify and validate our choices in life. Too easily can we slip from believing in God to believing we are a god in someone’s realm but most assuredly in my own. When good things happen, there are two choices at that point to be grasped. We can take credit for it as if we have done something to earn or create the good thing. We can consider it luck, chance or good fortune for being in the right place at the right time even if we didn’t know it at the time. And when bad things happen, whether we are good people or not, we have two choices to grasp at that point. We can believe that we didn’t deserve it and someone else is at fault which penalizes us. We can accept it as an unfortunate circumstance of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. We would have most certainly avoided it if we had only known. If we had only known, things would be different. Strangely enough, that “if we had only known” can never be based on what we know because we can never know enough nor everything. In those times, it seems we know nothing at all. Our knowledge is limited when we divorce ourselves from the truth of the person and presence of the Holy Spirit. So, the conclusion was and is first, there is a Holy Spirit; and second, that without the Holy Spirit there is no hope for forgiveness, redemption and salvation.
Yes, I know that without Jesus as the Christ in and over our lives there can be no salvation apart from living perfectly and flawlessly according to the plan of God. Those who hope and desire to live such a life according to their plan will always find that in a broken world even the best plan is broken. It is broken before it is even broken. The hemorrhage comes not only in stepping away from believing in the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit but in the denial of the works which the Trinity does in, around and through our lives. And those works happen whether we recognize them or not, believe them or not or desire them or not. Why do they happen beyond our control? Yes, you said it yourselves- because we cannot always be in control. Living in a broken world dictates that we are not in control. Such lack of control has always pushed humanity to consider that there must be a higher power, a greater force or a better way. The determination is how do we grasp it for ourselves. The gospels are filled with such moments of determination when Jesus is approached and asked “What must I do to, let’s use that previous word, grasp eternal life?” The answers are quite simple.
If you believe it is works, then complete the work that is given to you with the most important work of all: submit yourself humbly to the truth that you cannot do all that makes for salvation. We cannot literally die to be saved. We cannot sacrifice another life to be saved. We cannot purchase or create salvation to be saved. We cannot deny the ravages of sin and say they do not exist to be saved. Only Jesus Christ, God’s begotten Son, can bring us to our salvation which comes from God alone. The works of no other god, philosophy, religion, work ethic or “deal with the Devil” can save us. We are saved by grace alone, God’s grace expressed to us in what proves to be an “undying love” for those who desire to be the people of God. Or,
If you believe it is belief, then believe fully in what you believe and have no doubt in the most important belief of all which is NOT believing in yourself but believing first and foremost in God. The hardest thing to believe in is in something that we literally cannot see. We can see evidences and opportunities but we cannot always see what the causes and reasons are. We call it fate, luck, karma, kismet or dozens of other vocabulary words which serve to keep us from confessing what we actually know to be true: there is a higher power, a greater force and a better way than we know. We certainly know of our attempts and the attempts of others to believe that knowing more will ultimately give us what we desire. And in part, that is true when we come to know that we do not know, cannot know and will not know everything there is to know. We will not live long enough, big enough or well enough to capture the knowledge of this world must less the knowledge of any other world. “Show us the Father and that will be enough” was the answer to “I know where You, Jesus, are going.” Jesus responded with “I have shown you the Father because the Father and I are one, so you should already know where I am going.” Believing is our best knowing. We know what happens when we know our limitations but we believe we can be better and do better. We can achieve more literally and/or figuratively. But, when we believe in who we know is “the way, the truth and the life,” then what we know and do becomes a far greater reality than we could have imagined or become on our own.
So, how can we grasp it for ourselves, this eternal life? We do so through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Just as grace is a gift from God to satisfy the requirement for eternal life, so is the Holy Spirit a gift from God to teach us how to live a life that is eternally better than anything this world can imagine. The gift of the Holy Spirit allows us to journey back into the wholeness which God first created us. He breathed His Spirit into us and brought us to life. We cannot remove it but we can most certainly deny its validity in our lives. We can deny the truth but that does not keep it from being the truth about us. Without the Holy Spirit of God in us, we have no chance of living “successfully” in this world and most assuredly not in the next. This is why Jesus taught, affirmed and prayed for His Father to share His Holy Spirit with all those who would receive Him as the Christ and believe in Him to be the Messiah. The Holy Spirit helps us make sense of what does not make sense to us in our worldly-mindedness. We confess we cannot see how some things happen. Just when we think we have a grasp on what we believe, then something else happens which challenges us to deal with “there must be something else more than what we have believed.” And when we assign those occurrences, happenings, events, evidences to something else other than God, then we have blasphemed the Holy Spirit. We have denied the truth which is being given to us, shown to us and taught to us to be the only “way, truth and life” that will ever make sense. And if we deny such truth then we have also removed the opportunity to be forgiven of such denial because there will be nothing left to show us what is the truth. Well, that is true except for that moment when we are so much apart from the truth that the truth becomes self-evident. For that, Jesus told His disciples the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man. The rich man’s denial of the truth left him in a place after death much like his place before death. The truth was just a “hand out” away but he wouldn’t take it. Now after death, the truth was just far enough away that it couldn’t be grasped by him or those who followed after him. Denying the work of the Spirit by claiming it was the work of something other than the Spirit puts us in that impossible to reach place. As my daddy was wont to say “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.” Now I might say, “Don’t fight the hand that saves you.”
Father, You have handed to us the gift of Your Son, our salvation, Your Spirit, our inspiration. You have given them to us freely with great hope and a firm knowledge of what all they can do in and through our lives. We surrender ourselves to You now knowing there is no other way, truth or life that can truly satisfy this longing in our heart, mind, body, soul and spirit. Receive our thanksgiving and our desire to be one with You because that is truly enough, AMEN.