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"Sinning Against the Holy Spirit"
[Read Matthew 12:22-32]
I am going to talk about sin this morning, serious sin.
But before I do that, I would like to talk about sin that would be considered less serious.
Several years ago, a high-rise hotel was built in Galveston, TX, overlooking the Gulf of Mexico.
They actually drove pilings into the gulf and built the hotel out over the water.
When the hotel was about to have its grand opening, someone thought, "What if people decide to fish out the hotel windows?"
So they placed signs in the hotel rooms that said, "No fishing out the hotel windows."
Many people, however, ignored the signs and it created quite a problem.
Fishing lines got snarled.
People in the dining room saw fish flapping up against the picture windows of the dining room.
The manager of the hotel solved the problem by taking down those signs.
After that, when new people checked in, the thought never crossed their minds to fish out of a hotel window.
I would consider fishing out of a hotel window a less serious sin.
A sin that might be a little more serious than that is speeding in a school zone.
Dale Rooks, a school crossing guard in Florida, tried everything to get cars to slow down through the school zone.
But nothing worked until he took a blow dryer and wrapped it in electrical tape, making it look like a radar gun.
Dale just points the thing at cars and its incredible how quickly they hit the brakes.
It really is important to slow down for the school zones.
But there are other sins much more serious.
I. Blaspheming the Holy Spirit
Of all the sins committed against the Holy Spirit, none is worse than that of blaspheming the Holy Spirit.
The reason for this is clear.
It is the one sin for which there is no forgiveness.
We can repent of other sins, be forgiven and make a new start.
But that is not the case with blaspheming the Holy Spirit.
This sin is often called the unpardonable sin.
It was committed by the enemies of Jesus when they accused Him of casting out demons by the power of Satan, the prince of demons.
Jesus had clearly stated that the demons were cast out by the Spirit of God.
How can we define the "unpardonable sin?"
How can I know whether or not I have committed the unpardonable sin?
Let me say this, if the Holy Spirit continues to disturb you or convict you, you have not committed the unpardonable sin.
But when a person has so resisted the Holy Spirit that the Holy Spirit no longer strives with him or her, that person may have committed the unpardonable sin.
And that person is in eternal danger.
In other words, the unpardonable sin involves a total final rejection of Jesus Christ.
The heart of the gospel is that God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
Forgiveness is found in Christ, the Christ who took upon Himself the sin of men and women.
Jesus paid the penalty of our sin on the cross.
But if one completely rejects what God did in sending His Son Jesus to die for our sins, that person places himself or herself in a dangerous place.
Here in Matthew, Jesus is saying that those who blaspheme the Holy Spirit are separating themselves from the only power that can bring them to repentance.
Forgiveness always takes place in a relationship.
Forgiveness can not be known if one shuts God out of his or her life.
Matthew 12:32 = "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."
It is possible that someone may not fully understand Jesus of Nazareth and, out of ignorance, may speak critically of what Jesus did.
Yet, there is that possibility of forgiveness at a later time.
On the other hand, where the truth of God comes through by the illumination of the Holy Spirit and men and women continually reject that truth, there comes a time, perhaps, when they place themselves beyond a pardon.
From our text, the unpardonable sin can be defined as the act of attributing the work of the Holy Spirit to Satan.
One commentator named Barnes, paraphrases Matthew 12:32 in the following way:
"He that speaks against me as a man of Nazareth, that speaks contemptuously of my humble birth . . . may be pardoned; but he that reproaches my divine nature, charging me with being in the same league with Satan, and blaspheming the power of God manifestly displayed by Me, (that person) can never obtain forgiveness."
The unpardonable sin is a sin that so changes the person's position toward God that he places himself outside of the experience of pardon forever.
It is much more an attitude than a single act.
It is a state of willful sin.
It is an attitude that closes one's mind and conscience to the conviction of the Holy Spirit until the conscience becomes so hardened that repentance is no longer an option.
Stephen may have had the unpardonable sin in mind when he spoke the following in Acts 7:51, 52.
Acts 7:51, 52
In the Old Testament, there were those who opposed, ridiculed, persecuted and killed the prophets who had been sent by God.
Since the prophets were inspired by the Holy Spirit, these people were in fact resisting the Holy Spirit.
So Stephen says that when the people, to whom he was speaking, refused to hear Christ's apostles who were also inspired by the Holy Spirit, they were also resisting the Holy Spirit.
Proverbs 29:1 = A man who remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed - without remedy.
Resisting the Holy Spirit is a sin when carried on long enough will lead to eternal damnation.
The only way any one can be forgiven for resisting the Holy Spirit is to stop resisting and accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
We ought to be extremely hesitant to draw any conclusions as to when someone has committed the unpardonable sin.
In other words, when has someone resisted the Holy Spirit to the point beyond a pardon?
At what point does that sin become unpardonable?
We will never know for sure.
Only God knows the answer to that.
Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is rejecting completely and finally the witness of the Holy Spirit that declares that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who alone can save us from our sins.
Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is the most serious of all sins.
Those who commit this sin do not know Jesus as their personal Savior and Lord.
But there are some sins that Christ-followers may commit that may have an impact on their relationship with the Holy Spirit.
II. Grieving the Holy Spirit
Sins committed by Christians against the Holy Spirit can be placed in one of two categories:
- Sins that grieve the Holy Spirit
- Sins that quench the Holy Spirit
Let's talk first about grieving the Holy Spirit.
The Bible tells us in Ephesians 4:30:
. . . do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
How can we grieve the Holy Spirit?
The next verse tells us this:
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. (Ephesians 4:31)
These are some of the ways we can grieve the Holy Spirit.
Whatever is not Christ-like in thought, word or deed grieves the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth according to John 14:17.
So anything false, deceitful or hypocritical grieves Him.
According to Hebrews 10:29, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Grace.
So whatever in us is hard, bitter, malicious, ungracious, unforgiving or unloving grieves Him.
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Holiness according to Romans 1:4.
Therefore, anything unclean, defiling or degrading grieves Him.
I believe that any sin we commit has the potential of grieving the Holy Spirit.
Speaking of sin, I read of 3 preachers who were on a non-productive fishing trip.
Because the fish weren't biting, they began to discuss various topics to pass the time.
One preacher said he thought it would be nice if they confessed to each other their biggest sins and then pray for each other.
They all agreed.
The first preacher said that his biggest sin was that he liked to sit at the beach now and then and watch pretty women walk by.
The second preacher confessed that his biggest sin was going to the horse racing track occasionally and placing a small bet on a horse.
Turning to the third preacher, they asked, "Brother, what is your biggest sin?"
The third preacher had this big grin on his face and he said, "My biggest sin is gossiping."
What happens when we grieve the Holy Spirit?
Ordinarily the Holy Spirit delights to take the things of Christ and reveal them to us.
The Holy Spirit also imparts to us joy, peace and power.
But when we grieve the Holy Spirit, this ministry is suspended.
When we depart from the clearly seen pathway of the will of God, then the ministry of the Holy Spirit is impaired in our lives.
Though we may appear happy on the outside, inwardly we are lacking joy because we are out of full fellowship with the Holy Spirit.
There will be an absence of joy and power in our lives until we renounce and confess our sin.
After the confession of our sin, the full ministry of the Holy Spirit is restored in our lives.
Psalm 32 is an example of this.
Many believe that this was written by David after his sin with Bathsheba.
When we yield ourselves totally every day to Jesus Christ our Lord, the wonder-working power of the Holy Spirit will be evident in our lives.
It is at this point of an absolute surrender that the secret of purity, peace and power lies.
III. Quenching the Holy Spirit
What is meant by quenching the Spirit?
I Thessalonians 5:19 in the New American Standard translation says, Do not quench the Spirit.
The New International Version says, Do not put out the Spirit's fire.
A fire may be put out in one of two ways.
First, a fire may be put out by withdrawing the fuel supply.
When we fail to pray or read the Word of God, the fire may go out.
These are the channels through which God gives us the fuel that keeps the fire burning.
Second, a fire may be put out by extinguishing it.
We can extinguish a fire by throwing water on it or smothering it with a blanket or a shovelful of dirt.
In a similar way, intentional sin quenches the Holy Spirit.
You know, we don't have to sin.
There is nothing in the Bible that says we have to sin.
Oh, it's easy to sin.
We can sin in thought, word or deed.
But we don't have to sin.
It will require living a very disciplined and guarded life.
It will mean guarding our eyes, our minds and our hearts.
It is possible to keep the Holy Spirit fire burning in our lives.
It is possible to avoid grieving the Holy Spirit.
God said "Be holy because I am holy."
Thank God we don't have to sin even though we are all very capable of sinning.
But it will require nothing less than an absolute surrender of our will to God's will.
This absolute surrender takes us to another level in our walk with God.
Every one of us is as close to God as we want to be.
Every person is as holy as he or she wants to be.
Every person is as full of the Spirit as he or she wants to be.
We must distinguish wanting from wishing.
Wanting means a wholehearted desire.
Wishing means a desire but not willing to pay the price.
The truth found in Romans 6:11-13 is the pathway to the deeper spiritual life:
. . . count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.
Wholeheartedly, pray through this passage on a regular basis.
It will take us to another level in our walk with God.
Discussion Questions for Wake Up with the Word for Sunday, December 6th:
Discussion Question #1: Read Matthew 12:22-32. Focusing on verse 32, what makes speaking against the Holy Spirit a more serious offence than speaking against the Son of Man since they are both equally God?
Discussion Question #2: What do you think it means to commit the unpardonable sin?
Discussion Question #3: Read Acts 7:51-53. Do you think Stephen is speaking to a crowd that has committed the unpardonable sin? How many times are we allowed to resist the Holy Spirit before it's too late?
Discussion Question #4: Read Ephesians 4:29-32. What do you think it means to grieve the Holy Spirit? Do you think the Holy Spirit actually experiences sorrow when we sin?
Discussion Question #5: Continuing on with Ephesians 4:29-32, notice the sins listed in verse 31 are relational sins. What does this tell us about the importance of healthy relationships in the Body of Christ?
Discussion Question #6: Read I Thessalonians 5:19. Do you think quenching the Spirit is a more serious sin than grieving the Spirit?