Matthew 12:31-32 (The Unpardonable Sin and The Mark of the Beast)

In reviewing Mat 12:25-30 observe Jesus’ increasing invective against the Pharisees as he answers their charge that He cast out demons by the prince of demons; what conclusion does He now draw concerning them in these verses for their hardness of heart?  Cf. Mat 23:33.  What was the unpardonable sin that they had committed, and how had they done so?  Cf. Mat 12:24, Mar 3:28-30.  What is blasphemy?  Note: to blaspheme means to “blast the fame” of another; it is often translated as malign, slander, revile, dishonor, hurl abuse, etc…, so that we understand it to be “impious, reproachful speech injurious to another’s good name”.  In what way was the Pharisee’s charge against Jesus in Mat 12:24 such an affront to God and so much more grievous than their other oppositions to Jesus (see Mat 12:14, 10:25) as to be an “eternal sin” that was unforgiveable “either in this age or in the age to come”?  See Num 15:30-31, Isa 5:20, and think: how deceived and hardened must a person’s heart be to defiantly ascribe to Satan the good work that Jesus had done in healing the demon possessed man who was blind and dumb, which was a clear manifestation of the mighty power of the Holy Spirit working in Him (Mat 12:23)?

Why is it sobering to consider that these were the most religious, evangelical, biblically sound people of that day?  See Isa 5:18-21.  What does this teach us about the great danger of religious pretense to one’s soul?  Think: in what way unlike all others is religious pretense able to harden a person’s heart even so far as to resist the redemptive, sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit and to act deliberately and defiantly against the truth?  Cf. Deut 29:17-21, Act 7:51, Heb 3:7-13.  In this light, is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit and the unpardonable sin most likely to be committed by those who are religious or non-religious?  See Joh 9:39-41, Heb 6:4-6, 10:26-31, 2Pe 2:20-22, 1Jo 5:16, Rev 2:9 and think: was it the irreligious Romans who sought to put Jesus to death or the religious Jews?  Of what concern should this understanding be to the large number of evangelicals today who consider themselves to be the most religious and biblically sound of all Christians but believe that it is impossible to commit an unpardonable sin because their salvation is eternally secure and cannot be lost?  Cf. Pro 9:10, 15:33.

Considering the hardness of heart and religious pretense that are associated with the unpardonable sin, is it likely that a person who is earnestly seeking God in truth with a good and honest heart, though he stumble even in grievous sin, would commit an unpardonable sin?  Cf. Act 7:58, 8:1-3, 1Ti 1:12-17.  Because a person recognizes his sin and even confesses it and seeks to repent of it, is this necessarily evidence that one has not committed an unpardonable sin?  See Num 14:39-45, 1Sa 15:24-29, Heb 12:15-17.  Although Paul considered himself a blasphemer and the foremost of sinners and was perhaps even more “religious” than those Pharisees who blasphemed the Holy Spirit (Gal 1:14), in what key way was he different from them, and from Esau, Saul and those whom Moses led out of Egypt?  See Act 23:1, 24:15, 2Ti 1:3, 1Ti 1:13, and then again Heb 6:4-6, 10:26-31, 2Pe 2:20-22; cf. 2Co 7:10.

What insight does this give us about those whom John describes in Rev 13:11-18 and 14:9-11 as receiving the “mark of the beast” on their forehead?  Is such a mark a literal physical mark, or a spiritual mark?  Cf. Rev 7:3, 14:1, and contrast Eze 9:4-6, Exo 13:9, Deut 6:6-8, 11:18 with Isa 3:9, Jer 3:3, 5:3, 6:15, Eze 16:30, 1Ti 4:2.  In what way is a harlot a fitting description of those who are outwardly religious and have a form of godliness, but whose consciences are seared so as to no longer have any shame or remorseful sorrow for their sin that would lead them to a sincere and true repentance?  What insight does this give us about the identity of the “great harlot who sits on many waters” in Rev 17:1, upon whose forehead is the name “Babylon The Great, The Mother of Harlots” (Rev 17:5), and from whom God says, “Come out of her, my people, that you may not participate in her sins and that you may not receive of her plagues” (Rev 18:4)?  See Rev 17:9 and think: who are the harlot daughters of Rome, the city on seven hills?

Of what concern should these truths be to those who believe themselves to be followers of Christ and yet play the harlot with the world by loving the world and things in it (Jam 4:4, 1Jo 2:15-17), with no remorse or concern and without even a thought that the business and profits they pursue, the worldly amusements and pleasures they seek, and the vain and temporal activities that consume their time constitute spiritual fornication and adultery against Him to whom our affections rightfully belong?  To what extent have our own hearts become hardened and to what extent have we ourselves become bold-faced harlots who feel no shame for allowing our worldly amusements, pleasures and pursuits to compete with and often win out over our affections for Christ and His desire for a holy Bride who will serve Him?  What does the music we listen to, the movies and television we watch, the pleasures we pursue, the things we talk about with other people throughout the week when we are not in church, and how we spend our time and money indicate about what our affections really are?  Do they belong to Christ?  Are we in love with Him?  Or are we in love with this world and have no conscience that there is anything wrong with our spiritual adultery?  Like those Pharisees who were the most religious and biblically sound followers of God in the first century, are our hearts so hardened that we too could commit an unpardonable sin?  Is our conscience so seared and our hearts so proud that we see nothing wrong with our love for the world and believe, like they, that we know the truth and cannot be wrong and so cannot be lost?  Or is it still capable of being pricked, as was Paul’s, who was once a Pharisee?  And will we, like Paul, serve God with a good and honest heart and seek to do our best “to maintain always a blameless conscience both before God and before men” (Act 24:16)?  May God remove from each of us our heart of stone hardened by sin and replace it with a heart of flesh (Eze 11:19, 36:26).  May He restore to each of us a tender conscience that winces at even the thought of sin.  By His grace may He grant to each of us the resurrection power of the Spirit to truly walk in newness of life and not sin against our conscience, the law written upon our hearts by His Spirit.  Let us never defiantly harden our hearts against the truth and so resist the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit.  For it is “those who are led by the Spirit of God” who are sons of God (Rom 8:14), and where the Holy Spirit leads us is into holiness.

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