Saturday, August 21, 2010

“So what IS the unpardonable sin?”

Recently I’ve been thinking that when we misunderstand any part of the Word of God, it actually cause our mind to be bound in such a way that we will think, believe, feel and act wrongly. And I thank God for the Holy Spirit who opens our understanding to know it accurately, as well as a study of the context in which a certain thing is said is needful.

One of such instances is found in Matthew 12:31-32 where it’s said “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.”

You may ask “So what IS the unpardonable sin?”

The concept of an unpardonable sin has been a source of difficulty for many because it seems to go against the Bible’s teachings about grace. We understand that God’s grace forgives every sin, but our Lord mentioned one sin that cannot be forgiven. I guess this may have caused many to secretly wonder and fear “did I or will I in this lifetime commit the unpardonable sin?”

In its context (go read verses prior to Matthew 12:31-32), the religious leaders had come out to hear Jesus, but they opposed virtually everything He said. As He was casting out demons, they accused Him of doing this by satanic means (Matthew 12:24).

Those people were so blind spiritually that they were attributing the work of the Holy Spirit to Satan. Furthermore, they were rejecting the Holy Spirit’s work in their own lives. In essence, the Holy Spirit was saying of Jesus, “This is the Son of God. This is God,” and they were saying, “He is not God! He is Satan’s agent.” It was then Jesus said, “Every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven” (Matthew 12:31).

Obviously, the unpardonable sin is not merely saying an unkind thing about the Holy Spirit. The religious leaders involved had turned totally against the revelation of God. They were so far into their own wickedness that they rejected not only Jesus Christ, but also the Holy Spirit. They were saying that good was evil and evil was good. They called the Spirit of God, Satan!

Once they had rejected Jesus, the one source of forgiveness, there was now no forgiveness. A person who turns away from Jesus Christ can receive no forgiveness, and that is what these had done. Romans 10:9-10 says “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

If you want to obey God but are concerned that you may have committed the unpardonable sin, you have not committed it. If anyone today has committed this sin, it would be one who is hard-hearted, who has turned against Jesus, reviled Him, and become so depraved that he would claim that God’s Spirit is Satan.

So take heart! Think of yourself as one who is forgiven and whom Jesus loves and who loves Jesus. Only then will you be free and confident to be a disciple (a serious follower) of Jesus. That’s what grace will and should do to us – to love and follow Him all out. Even that is by His grace!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Be Strong and of Good Courage

The LORD will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O LORD, endures forever; do not forsake the works of Your hands (Psalm 138:8 NKJV).

Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6 NKJV).

In English there are two words which are spelled ‘perfect.’ Each has a different pronunciation and definition. The Per-FECT here is a verb which Biblical definition is “completion”. This verse means the Lord will complete, end, finish, accomplish or fulfil that which concerns us.

Every area of your life is in a state of development. All of life is a learning process. The Lord is bringing you along by a timetable which has a divine design to it. You are not standing still, nor going around in circles, but you are making progress. Your faith is growing. You are maturing in love. Your understanding of God’s purposes is unfolding. Your knowledge of God’s attributes are expanding. Your priority lists are constantly changing as we evaluate what is important to you and what is not.

Knowing God ‘perfects you’, you can move ahead in the 2nd half of year 2010 with two words: strength and courage.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9 NKJV, see also verses 6-7).

The Lord issued this statement as a command to Joshua. Often we think of God’s commandments as being strictly prohibitive (“you shall not”). Here the command is quite affirmative. The Bible tells us that the commandments of the Lord are not burdensome (see 1 John 5:3).

Remember, each commandment given by the Lord carries with it the enablement of its own fulfillment. Each command comes with an assurance that you and I are able to perform it. God sees you as strong and courageous as you face the unknown future. These are ideal characteristics for making progress in our life. Refusal to face challenges and overcome it will cause us to remain where we are and not grow. In meeting resistance, you will build your strength. If you only do what is easy, you will always remain weak.

Life will show you that courage is found in the inner man, and strength is shown in bodily action. Courage motivates our will, and strength accompanies effort. It is not possible to say, “I have a lot of courage, but no strength,” or, “I am a powerhouse of energy, but am afraid.” The best confession is: “The Lord is my strength. The Lord is my source of courage for the rest of this year.”

As you live life, you need to have your mind and your eyes fixed on God with trust in your heart.

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You (Isaiah 26:3 NKJV).

In the original text the words “perfect peace” read shalom shalom. This double word indicates a dual peace internally and externally. The word “stayed” is camak (saw-mak’) which is defined as “to lean upon”, “to place or lay something upon an object so that it rests upon and is totally supported by that object.”

When you feel challenged and have lack of courage and experience some fear, you and I can lean on the Almighty continually and His peace will be ours continually. This “leaning” is an attitude of mind which gives God the benefit of every doubt and question; it trusts Him without question and believes without a doubt that all things work together for good to those who love Him (see Romans 8:28).

Many times, unbelief and doubt will cause us to disobey, resulting in lack of peace and not able to experience success. When the Bible says that David was a man after God’s own heart, it is speaking of direction. It is saying that David’s inclinations (his leanings) were towards the Lord, to know what is in His mind and heart.

So, transform Isaiah 26:3 into a personal confession and say: “The Lord will watch over me and guard me with an internal and an external peace because my mind and its thoughts are ever leaning in His direction.”

I want to remind you that God’s eyes are always on you and His hands are always near to lift and sustain you. His eyes are on your daily, continual progress. We can be confident that God loves us too much to leave us the way we are. He will not leave it hanging half-way and abandon it. Believe that God always finishes what He starts, including His work in you!