GNB 2.16

January 18, 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)

TODAY’S REFLECTION:

I have been reflecting on the scripture concerning the unforgivable sin. And while with a sense of compassion we want to believe there is a wideness in God’s mercy, it must not be infinitely wide. In that moment when God allows and tolerates “everything,” God becomes nothing. Order turns into chaos. Light becomes darkness. Life ends up as death. We certainly have seen such a cycle in our own nation. Let us not become cynical, this same cycle exists across the face of the earth. The culture and climate of tolerance and entitlement exists, I believe, because we are fearful of our own failures to “comply with God’s will.” The depravity of humanity is being encouraged so that the penalty of sin might be avoided. But, wait! Romans 6.23 teaches us “…for the wages [the consequence or the penalty] of sin is death.” What we fear most of all in life is death. It seems we do everything we can to assuage the call of the end of life by living life to an intoxicating fullness. What happens when in our “drunkenness with the world” we find ourselves on death’s door. And we can include all kinds of death at this juncture: physical, mental, emotional, psychological, relational, financial, vocational and most of all- spiritual. I might offer this thought: what we fear most may not be death at all but LIFE! We fear living into the fullness of life because such fullness has boundaries which encourage growth. We often see boundaries as limitations not opportunities. Without truly investigating and developing the opportunity to live the life we have to the fullest, we have probably missed the richest moments and grandest experiences to know authentic living. Such “living” is by direction of the Holy Spirit of God promised to us by the faith Jesus Christ has in us.

So, yes, God has put a limit on His mercy and grace in order to call us to live in discovery of the whole of who we are. Not all sin will be forgiven. There is a line which we can cross over but just because we can doesn’t mean we should. We even have an example of one who did and took with him one third of heaven’s population with him. His name was Lucifer. We know him best by the name Satan. The Pharisees called him by the name Beelzebub. Beelzebub is a name derived from Philistine demonology. See, the Philistines were more than just enemies at war with Israel militarily. They were spiritually enemies of God and thus of God’s people. The Philistines worshiped Ba’al as their God. In their understanding, Beelzebub was the antithesis of Ba’al. He represented the deficit makers in life called “glutton and envy.” If that sounded similar to an introduction to the “seven deadly sins,” you would be right so I don’t have to go there. In demonology, Beelzebub was one of the seven deadly demons or “princes of Hell.” What is significant for us is that the worship of Ba’al was a sin to the Israelites because it failed to acknowledge God as the One True God. Acknowledging Beelzebub (notice the similarity and connectedness of Baal and Beel) as a powerful force standing against Baal in spiritual terms also recognized that he stood with Baal against the people of Israel and their God. It was a battle in the spiritual realm. The fact that the Pharisees even used such terminology to represent their understanding of God and Satan showed how enculturated and adulterated their thinking had become. They used the terminology with the intention to defraud the ministry and message of Jesus by assigning it as His source of power and authority. In essence, they were accusing Jesus of being enculturated, accommodating and spiritually adulterated. His words did not promote life but death. His casting out of demons and His healing of sicknesses (which they attributed to being caused by demons) were a “bait and switch.” People would follow Jesus because of the “good” works He did and then He would suck the life out of them in their naivety. His promise of life was only intended to recruit others into the kingdom of death. The parenthetical line had been drawn in the sand, so to speak. To the Pharisees and teachers of the Law, Jesus had violated the boundary of “good” religion and true faith. He had stepped across the line. It was the line of “the unforgiveable sin.”

As mighty ones of God and followers of the “Way, Truth and Life,” we have to grapple with this discernment of “crossing the line.” How shall we hear the Word of God and what shall we believe about it. The nuances of interpreting teachings of “life and death” must be measured out by the consequences of those teachings. There is a reason why Jesus so often deferred the titles of “Messiah,” “Christ,” “Good Teacher,” “Son of God,” “Son of David” and “Savior.” Jesus did not come to establish Himself as God over and among the people. He came to reestablish the authentic understanding of living in the Kingdom of the One True God and Father of us all. The ministry of Jesus was keen on pointing people in the direction of God and being totally faithful to His Word and His Promise. He came to reinstitute and revive the “spirit of the people” toward God. He was the “polar star” of faith. He had been appointed and anointed to be the “pointer” toward truth, faith, hope and love. The validity of such orientation was seen in the midst of the Sermon on the Mount where He said “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all else that is needed will be provided.” The Kingdom of God and God’s righteousness is the benchmark of what is the true understanding of living fully and holistically the authentic life. The very fact that Jesus did not point to Himself as the goal of religion and faith verified that His ministry in the world was of God and not man. He could not say the same for those who accusingly stood against Him. He challenged them in the very scenario of their accusing Him with being aligned with Beelzebub by asking the defining question “If I am guilty of such things when I heal and cast out demons, then when you do the same by what authority do you act?” (Matthew 12.27) Jesus had, in turn, drawn His own line in the sand. Interestingly enough, it was not a line intended to keep them out. He drew a circle of intentionality to include them in the acknowledgement of the Kingdom of God as their ultimate desire and identity. It was their opportunity to include Jesus and all those who had been seen as outcasts to be included in the reconciliation of God’s people. But, an understanding had to be reached, agreed upon and made known. And only the Spirit of God could definitively discern what that understanding was and who truly understood it. And the Spirit of God was, is and will always be without ambiguity. Even the Spirit of God points others to God and not to itself. It would seem clear then why God could not and would not forgive “blasphemy of the Spirit” whether it would be blasphemy by the Holy Spirit as an actor or as blasphemy of the Holy Spirit as the action. Jesus would say to His detractors and accusers “Your own words and actions will speak against you or for you by those who have heard them and seen them.” In other words, true blasphemy is a matter of what direction your life points in. Do you point in the direction of God and life or self and death. Jesus would later teach, “I have come to give them life and to give it abundantly; whereas the thief only comes to steal, kill and destroy.” (John 10.10) Seems really clear to me. How about you?

TODAY’S PRAYER:

Father, You have given us the opportunity to live life authentically, fully and abundantly in spirit and in truth. We take it upon ourselves by seeking the anointing and affirmation of Your Holy Spirit to live that life in the name of Jesus who did the very same for us. AMEN.

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