The Power of God, and the Unpardonable Sin
AN EXPOSITION OF MATTHEW 12:22-50
Jesus Casts out a Devil
22 Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw.
23 And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David?
24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.
25 And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand:
Jesus knew the thoughts of the Pharisees because He is very God and endowed with Divine omniscience.
There is a practical way to know the thoughts of others and that is to patiently listen to them speak. Eventually, every person will reveal exactly what is on their heart.
26 And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?
The wisdom of Jesus is simple, and profound. Our Lord taught that a house divided against itself cannot stand. This is true in the family, in a nation, and in the Church.
27 And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? Therefore, they shall be your judges.
In their effort to slander Jesus and diminish the source of His authority, and power, they only hurt themselves. When we try to diminish and discredit others we hurt ourselves. When we think we know what others are up to and doing, we are often wrong. When the Pharisees said that Jesus was casting out demons by Satan, they only condemned themselves, for they too believed in exorcism by the power of God.
28 But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.
Since Jesus does cast out demons by the Holy Spirit of God, it proves He is the Messiah. The King has come, according to prophesy. Come to His kingdom by faith and be saved.
The Binding of Satan
29 Or else how can one enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? And then he will spoil his house.
Allowing Scripture to interpret itself, Revelation 20:6 becomes clear in light of the teaching of Jesus. Satan has been bound in some sense, and to a specific degree: that he should deceive the nations no more.
30 He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.
It is important to have the proper view of the person of Jesus Christ to be orthodox in one’s theology. There is no neutrality concerning Christ. Either a person is for Him or against Him.
31 Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.
The Unpardonable Sin
Against the Holy Spirit
32 And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come. Isaiah 5:20
What is the unpardonable sin?
One popular view, is that the unpardonable sin is rejecting Jesus Christ as personal Savior. However, that cannot be true, because many people have resisted Jesus, and spoken against Him, only to repent, be converted, and love the Lord. Saul of Tarsus is one Biblical example.
Nor is the unpardonable sin a form of moral debauchery. Jesus spoke to pious men about the unpardonable sin, suggesting they could commit it.
Moreover, the unpardonable sin is not something that is common, but, when committed, it is final and deadly.
In context, the unpardonable sin is ascribing to Satan the work of God.
One of the heretics in the early Church c. 178 AD, was a Roman philosopher named Celsus. He accused Jesus of learning to perform tricks like an Egyptian juggler, and passing them off as a divine miracle. With this accusation, Celsus blasphemed the Holy Spirit. He committed the unpardonable sin. He blasphemed, or slandered the Holy Spirit, and he would not repent.
It is a divine principle that if a person does not respond to the gospel, hardening of the heart takes place. It is the natural result of rejecting God. The older a person grows, the harder the heart becomes against the Lord, and all things spiritual.
It is a serious matter to hear the Word of God and reject it. There is retributive judgment. Individuals are given over to a reprobate mind. Men cannot repent at will.
33 Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit.
Though ever person is responsible for the sin they perform, the Lord Jesus is the only one who can make the tree good.
34 O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.
The view of Jesus concerning basic human nature is clearly stated. The heart of the natural man is no better than that of a viper. It is ready to strike out to wound and kill, without any concern, or warning.
A poisonous snake seeks only to destroy that which it sinks its venom into.
35 A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.
The story of Herod Antipas, the Tetrarch of Galilee, illustrates the truth of this teaching. He divorced his wife, beheaded John the Baptist, and sought to kill Jesus. In the end, the Lord had not a word for Herod. The heart of the monarch had grown hard to the point that no Word from God would be spoken to him, and no hope given.
36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.
37 For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.
A Rebuke to Sign Seekers
38 Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. 1 Cor. 1:22
There is a polite hypocrisy given to Jesus by the scribes and Pharisees. They call Him, “Master,” but do not bow to His will or His teaching. Bold is their disbelief as they demand to see a sign from Jesus after the many signs they had already witnessed.
What kind of sign the scribes and Pharisees desired is not stated. Jesus had already spoken with authority, unlike all others. He had already healed the sick, and forgiven people of sin. What sign did they want?
39 But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:
There was a special judgment being pronounced by Jesus on the scribes and Pharisees when He used the terms “evil”, and “adulterous,” for Israel was “married to Jehovah in a covenantal relationship. “Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you” (Jer. 3:13). Israel broke the spiritual marriage bond.
40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so, shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
The story of Jonah being swallowed by a whale, or better, “a great fish” (Gk. ho ketos), is not a myth, but a historical fact, according to Jesus, who appealed to the incident to establish a point.
There are many teachings and beliefs that are a myth. Many things are accepted based on tradition, which can be dangerous, for “Custom without truth, is error grown old” (Tertullian). The Mediatrix of Mary, her bodily assumption, and the Infallibility of the Pope are examples of “error grown old.”
But it is no error to believe the Bible, and the stories and teachings the Scriptures contain.
Having asked for a great sign, despite their hearts of sin, the Lord did give the scribes and Pharisees a sign, the sign of Jonah. Three days the Lord would be in the heart of the earth, and so He was if Jewish reckoning of time is kept in mind whereby a part of a day stood for the whole day and night (see Esther 5:15-5:1).
Gentiles Condemn the Jews
The Men of Nineveh
41 The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.
Jesus, Greater than Jonah
Jonah, a rebellious prophet.
Jesus, a true prophet of God.
Jonah, a sinful prophet.
Jesus, a prophet without sin.
Jonah, a prophet without pity.
Jesus, a prophet filled with compassion.
Jonah, a prophet with a message of doom.
Jesus, a message of love and saving grace.
Jonah, a prophet without miracles.
Jesus, a prophet who comforted and healed.
The Queen of Sheba
42 The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.
Jesus, Greater than Solomon
Solomon was loved by God.
Jesus is eternally loved by God.
Solomon built a temple.
Jesus is that Temple.
Solomon was arrayed in glory.
Jesus has been given all power in heaven and earth.
Solomon was wise.
Jesus is Wisdom incarnate.
The Behavior of a Wandering
43 When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none.
44 Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished.
45 Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.
Jesus viewed the scribes and Pharisees to be like an empty house that is being revisited by an unclean spirit. All attempts at religious renewal and keeping the Law, with pomp and ceremony, have availed nothing. The hearts of the people are not right with God. A Generational Judgment is passed on “this wicked generation,” the generation to whom Jesus was speaking, His own generation. It is possible to have a religion without any corresponding reality.
Identifying the True Family of Jesus: Matthew 12:46-50
46 While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him.
47 Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee.
48 But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? And who are my brethren?
Speaking in spiritual terms, it was a valid rhetorical inquiry, because, despite their close intimate connection to Jesus, not one of His brothers believed in Him until after His resurrection. Not one of His brothers supported Him, encouraged Him, or followed behind Him as a humble disciple during the days of His ministry. There was an opportunity of monumental significance, lost forever. Even Mary, who did believe in Him, warned Jesus not to be too “beside Himself,” or be too fanatical in the service of God (Mark 3:21).
49 And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!
50 For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.
Are you part of the true family of Jesus? It is possible to be part of the family of God by doing the will of the Father which is in heaven. It is the will of the Father to believe in Christ, and to love Him. “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12). May God give you the grace and the power to believe.