Title: The Unforgiveable Sin – Fighting for the Wrong Team
Text: Matthew 12:22-32
FCF: We often struggle to adjust our theology to fit the bible.
Prop: God’s Kingdom is Jesus’ Kingdom, so we must defect and join with Jesus.
[Slide 1] Turn in your bible to Matthew chapter 12. Last week we saw how God’s Messiah came to offer spiritual revolution and not the earthly revolution of the Israelites. And how that was entirely keeping with the prophesies about the Messiah in the Old Testament. Especially when you consider that the prophesies could be completed at two separate times. Today we will see the depth of the opposition that Jesus faced. The exact nature of how lost the religious elite truly were. That they would commit a sin that Jesus says – cannot be forgiven. I’m in Matthew chapter 12. I’ll start reading in verse 22. I’m reading from the NET but follow along in whatever version you prefer.
[Slide 2] Remember that T-Mobile commercial where the family was pulling out of a parking garage and the husband was singing Pour Some Sugar on Me by Def Leppard, only he was singing the lyric “Pour Some Shook Up Ramen”. His wife questions his lyrics and then Catherine Zeta Jones enters to say that you can call the Library any time with their free minutes. It is somewhat outdated since now we would look it up on google but the point still stands. Now how many of you have been caught singing the lyrics to a song only to find out that you have been completely wrong the entire time? I figure you got two options. You can either eat your humble pie and admit you got it wrong. Or you can swear by thunder that everyone on the internet is wrong – including the artist who wrote it. Now one of those options makes sense. The other is pretty ridiculous.
But as ridiculous as it is when it comes to music lyrics, it gets even more ridiculous when it comes to God’s plan. We are about to interact with a group of people who saw the truth, knew it was right, and still refused to follow it. And unless we are careful we too can interact with the truth of the Word of God and refuse to submit to its teachings.
But what exactly is happening here. Let’s dive in.
I.) If Jesus casts out demons by the power of Satan, than Satan’s Kingdom is overthrown, so we must defect to Christ. (22-27)
a. [Slide 3] 22-23 – Then they brought to Him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute. Jesus healed him so that he could speak and see. All the crowds were amazed and said , “Could this one be the Son of David?”
i. Focusing on prophesy from the Old Testament about the Messiah, there were definite references to him healing the blind to see and the mute to speak.
ii. Matthew confirms for us that the source of these ailments for this man was demonization.
iii. With ease Jesus wipes away the infection and restores the man’s sight and speech.
iv. The crowds were taken aback with astonishment.
v. They began to murmur among themselves- “This can’t be the Son of David Can it?”
1. By this they could have meant one of two things
a. The Son of David is to be a conqueror and this man is a healer. Surely They are not the same. Or they could have meant
b. The Messiah is to be a healer – is it possible that in our day the Messiah has come?
2. Both interpretations fit with the context. Matthew is talking about opposition , and has already alluded to the fact that Jesus was not fulfilling the role that the Israelites expected Him to.
3. But for reasons we will see in a moment – I believe that the latter interpretation is correct. That the crowd was astonished to think that they could be living in the time when the Messiah would come. When the Kingdom would be established forever.
4. So let’s assume, for now, that that is what the people meant.
b. [Slide 4] 24 - But when the Pharisees heard this they said, “He does not cast out demons except by the power of Beelzebul, the ruler of demons!”
i. Now what exactly are the Pharisees accusing Jesus of doing? And what is their purpose in doing this?
ii. We won’t understand the fullest scope of this until we move on through the text – but suffice it to say, they were attempting here to destroy Jesus’ credibility and put to an end the suggestion that He could indeed be the Messiah.
iii. So to suggest that He is a pretender. An imposter. A false healer. A Diviner or Wizard that drew His power from darkness. From the enemy of God… well that might do it. If they can get the crowd to believe it.
c. [Slide 5] 25-26 – Now when Jesus realized what they were thinking, he said to them,
i. Now wait a minute – if they said these things, why would Jesus need to read their thoughts?
ii. Pretty sneaky Matthew to say Jesus read their thoughts when actually He just heard what they said… But Matthew’s choice of words here is not deceptive, in error, or arbitrary.
iii. Jesus heard their words – and discerned their motive for saying them. Did they really believe that He did this by the power of Satan?
iv. Next week Matthew is actually going to discuss how out of the mouth the heart speaks. Jesus is reading their hearts, so He can adequately dismantle what they said without risking misunderstanding them.
d. [Slide 6] “Every kingdom divided against itself is destroyed, and no town or house divided against itself will stand. So if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand?
i. The first crushing blow is a logical conclusion.
ii. He says, alright guys – assuming what you said is true, let me show you why that makes absolutely no sense.
iii. If I am using the power of Satan, to undo the work of Satan, than Satan’s kingdom is overthrown.
iv. Now you can use these words to talk about marriage, or a church, or a business, or a family if you want to. This is a proverbial phrase that is generally always true. When any entity suffers division from within, it is destined to fall.
v. But Jesus’ words are primarily used to show the absurdity that He would use Satan’s power to do this.
vi. If He needs Satan’s power, then Satan is more powerful than Him. And if Satan is more powerful than Him – why would Satan allow Him to do this?
vii. But He isn’t done.
e. [Slide 7] 27 – And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? For this reason they will be your judges.
i. Now some commentators think that Jesus is referencing Jews here and specifically pointing to His own disciples who cast out demons. Briefly I considered this as a possibility until I consulted Luke’s gospel on this. From Luke – I think it is more clear that these are actually disciples of the Pharisees.
ii. These prophets or miracle workers claimed to have the power to cast out demons. Whether they could actually do it is hard to know for certain.
iii. Regardless, if Jesus must be using Satan’s power to do it – by what power are they able?
iv. The indictment they gave to Jesus - is now spread to their own followers. Which ultimately would be used to implicate their own involvement in using Satan’s power.
f. [Slide 8 (blank)] So Jesus just explodes their argument here. Not only does it not make sense… but if it were true… they are going down with Him. This reveals some of what Jesus saw in the hearts of the Pharisees. He saw that they didn’t actually believe what they were putting out there, because it wasn’t very well thought out. It also shows that he Pharisees want to be as dissimilar to Jesus as they can – because ultimately, they want His influence to die – while theirs remains.
But Jesus is not done with the Pharisees. He wants to say one more thing to them that allows us to understand one more thing about their hearts.
II.) If Jesus casts out demons by the power of the Spirit of God, than The Kingdom of God has come, so we must defect to Christ.
a. [Slide 9] 28 – But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has already overtaken you.
i. Jesus posits an alternative explanation for his abilities.
ii. That He is the Son of God – and the Spirit of God has been given to Him to have power and authority over all things. Just like Isaiah 42 predicted.
iii. And if this is true… if He is empowered by God’s Spirit and given authority to heal, then they are in the midst of the coming of the Kingdom of God.
iv. This is the primary reason that I think the crowds were expressing their shock at the possibility that they were living in the days of the Messiah. Because if that is what they were saying, Matthew draws the attention of his readers directly to the contrast between the common rabble, beginning to accept the possibility that Jesus is the Messiah and the Religious Elite trying to suppress Him.
v. Jesus’ words here also help us to see deeper into the heart of the Pharisees. That they knew, or at least feared the probability that Jesus was the Messiah and did these works by God’s power. And if that were true, and his message was not of toppling earthly kingdoms but spiritual ones – and the replacement of the old covenant of which they had become proficient in keeping the outward points. If all this were true… then their way of life, their prominence and piety, was starting to crumble.
vi. Jesus continues to prove his point – not by suggestion but again by logic.
b. [Slide 10] 29 – How else can someone enter a strong man’s house and steal his property, unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can thoroughly plunder the house.
i. If you are going into the house of a man roughly the size of Ryan… you had better go in prepared.
ii. If you go in and try to physically take everything from him and you are… well… my size… it isn’t going to go well for you.
iii. [Slide 11] But If you are Eddie Hall – 2017 World’s Strongest Man, who holds the world record for deadlifting 500kg which is 1,102.31 pounds. – All credit to Ryan… but I think you might be walking out with all Ryan’s stuff.
iv. [Slide 12] Jesus’ point is this. Casting out demons by Satan’s power makes no sense. What makes more sense is that God and His Spirit, having power and authority over demons – cast them out.
v. What makes most sense is that this is God’s work – but they can’t admit that because if they do – they are on THE WRONG TEAM! And that is exactly what Jesus is pointing out to them and look what He says next.
c. [Slide 13] 30 – Whosoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.
i. You are with me guys or you are against me.
ii. He has made His point. He has drawn the line in the sand. And He says very clearly…
iii. You cannot play these religious and political games whereby you are continuing to subvert the will of God and hope to come away unscathed.
iv. You cannot be on a third team. There are only two. And I am on God’s team.
v. So where does that leave you.
vi. And He doesn’t leave them to guess – He makes it very clear where it has left them.
d. [Slide 14-15] 31-32 – For this reason I tell you, people will be forgiven for every sin and blasphemy, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven. But whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
i. This passage is known notoriously as the unforgivable sin.
ii. Many turn here and wonder if they have committed such a sin and worry as to whether they can ever be forgiven.
iii. But what is Jesus saying?
iv. He is saying that it is indeed possible to in ignorance or even out of hate, to spout blaspheming speech about Jesus, the Word of God, God the Father Himself and His works –and still be forgiven. Indeed our very lives prior to repentance are works of blasphemy against our King and Lord.
v. All this can be forgiven. All this is covered by the blood of Jesus Christ. All this – is redeemable.
vi. But what is not redeemable?
vii. The Spirit of God moves silent and secret. He is the breath of God – the Wind of God – The Hand of God. Even to the disciples He was a mystery.
viii. But if you are able to recognize the Spirit’s work in a situation. If you see His power. If you recognize His leading and guidance. And you choose to work against Him…
ix. There is no hope for you.
x. God is promising that if He reveals His Spirit to you, and you KNOW that it is Him, and you actively try to undermine Him… you cannot be forgiven.
xi. He is talking about apostates. He is talking about those who actively work against what God is doing in this world. Such sin – such understanding coupled with opposition is unforgiveable, not because it is more heinous than any other crime that Jesus listed.. but because working against God LITERALLY prevents repentance and belief from taking place.
xii. They know the truth and work to suppress it.
e. With this last point we realize exactly what Jesus saw as he peered into the hearts of these Pharisees. They believed He was the Messiah. They believed that He cast out demons by the Spirit of God. They realized they were wicked and needed to repent. And they chose their team. They chose their side in the battle. And it was a foolish choice.
f. They would rather be cast into hell than to lose their religious ceremony.
[Slide 16 (blank)] What shall we learn from this message today? What can we take with us?
There are only two teams. Two gates. Two paths.
And Jesus says that if you are not with Him – then you are against Him.
If you don’t rally beside Him as He preaches God’s plan, then you will scatter from His presence as He brings that plan to fruition.
And before we leave here today I need to share with you some things about what the Pharisees believed to be true. Things that the Son of God peered into their hearts and saw.
He peered in and saw people who believed in God. He saw people that wanted to live God’s law.
To believe in God and desire to be moral is insufficient. To believe that God is real and to desire to keep His law does not guarantee you are on the right team.
And Jesus peered in and saw that these men knew that He was the anointed one of God. The Son of David. They saw His works and concluded that His power and authority had come from God.
But to believe that Jesus is the Son of God, chosen to take away the sins of mankind. To mentally assent that such things are true, also does not guarantee you are on the right team.
But Jesus also peered into their hearts and saw that these men did not approve of God’s plan. They understood that the Old Covenant was passing out of existence. And that they had not been keeping it the way He wanted. They realized that God cared a great deal more about their hearts and things like love, mercy, compassion and forgiveness than He did about tithe, sacrifices, and keeping the Sabbath. They saw that His Messiah did not come to free them from Rome. He did not come patting them on the back and congratulating them for their ability to keep most of the law. Instead He came and preached repentance. About Human depravity. About Religious failure. And empty worship.
Jesus peered into their heart and saw a people who thought their God was one thing – and when they met Him in person – He wasn’t who they thought He would be. And their response… “That’s not MY God” He wouldn’t cast aside the Old Covenant so flippantly. He wouldn’t come to preach spiritual revolution before earthly revolution! He wouldn’t care more about the things people can’t see than the things people can see! And before they realized it – they were on the wrong team…
Listen to me this is very important. It should not be abnormal to come to God’s word and be challenged by our false understandings of who God is. It should not be odd for us to continually find ourselves to be misunderstanding certain aspects of God or holding attributes out of balance. In fact, as the recovering depraved, we should always be in a state of adjustment as we reform and reform and reform our view of God to align with His Word.
But there is another option. If we want to overemphasize God’s love, and declare that there is no hell because God will save us all eventually – we can say that. If we want to dismiss certain sins as cultural misunderstandings like adultery and fornication we can do that. We are always able to come to the mirror of the word of God and leave thinking the mirror is defective. We can trim sections of scripture out of our bible like Thomas Jefferson did if we wish.
But the more we undermine or reinterpret what God actually said, the more likely it is that we will be judged by Him.
There is no third option. You are with Christ, with the Word, Completely dependent and submissive to all He teaches, or you are not. There is no middle ground.
So defect. Lay down your arms. Submit to the Messiah He is, the God He is – Not the God you want Him to be. Stop foolishly rebelling and cry out in dependence.
Because it is by this great name that all men have hope – The name of Jesus. And friend, it is only by that name. Who He was, What He taught, unfiltered and unchanged.