The “Unpardonable Sin”

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Matthew 12

31 “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. 32 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.

 

The teaching of an “unpardonable sin” has been hijacked away from the teaching of Jesus to all sorts of controlling ideas.  You see, if you can scare someone into thinking that there is an unpardonable sin then you can also control what they do and don’t do. For instance, if suicide is the unpardonable sin then people contemplating it might think twice before sending themselves to hell.  If blasphemy of Allah is the unpardonable sin then men and women can never leave Islam with any hope of ever getting to their heaven. Every religion will have some controlling unpardonable sin to keep its followers from committing it.

 

As a pastor, I have met people who were convinced that they had committed the unpardonable sin.  Though they often could not put their finger on it, they just knew they were beyond the forgiveness of God.

 

What did Jesus say?  Jesus taught that the only unpardonable sin was blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.  Let’s look at an example that makes this clear. When Jesus was crucified he hung on the middle cross. On one side was a man, a criminal of society, who heard the call of the Holy Spirit, realized his sin and realized that Jesus could save him from the damnable sin of his life.  All of his life this man had lived in his sin growing in its severity until ultimately society said, “Enough is enough,” and so condemned him to death by crucifixion. He knew he was a condemned sinner facing eternal punishment. In a moment of submission to the Holy Spirit’s call, this man cried out to the Lord Jesus for mercy and found mercy, forgiveness and the most wonderful words he had ever heard, “Today, you will be with me in Paradise.”

 

The other criminal, just as bad as the first, was hanging next to the same Savior. Let’s assume that he had the same opportunity as the other fellow.  Let’s assume that the Holy Spirit also spoke to his heart that day.  But this man rejected the truth he heard, rejected the Lord Jesus, and blasphemed him instead.  As far as we can tell, this man committed blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, died in his sins, and was eternally condemned.

 

Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is rejection of His call, rejection of His application of the Word of God, and rejection of the extended mercy of God.  When rejects the call of the Holy Spirit, that person has committed the unpardonable sin and without repentance before death will be eternally condemned along with the unrepentant criminal on the cross.

 

Let us, as followers of Jesus Christ, be ever submissive to the Holy Spirit who brings the Word of God to our minds.  Let us pray for those who are living rejecting lives that they, before they die, will also come to submit to the call of the Holy Spirit to their salvation.  I ever remember the call of Jesus to all, “Come unto me all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  Those who hear and come are the ones who are saved.

 

We had a great time at youth group last night.  Three teens who haven’t been able to come much this school year and we really enjoyed having them back.  Young Zach had his first night in youth group, having finished the 6th grade this year.  He brings his youthful zeal to the group. Andrew and Stefani prepared a lesson and brought it to the teens.  It was very personal and very pointed to their friends in the room.  Pray for our teens to have a revival of heart for the things of God.

 

We will be going out Saturday afternoon to pass out flyers for VBS.  If you can grab some and go to parks and places near your home, please do.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Who Can Live a Pure Life?

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The Apostle John calls all children of God to live pure lives.  In this message, Pastor Steve looks at this passage as a call to purity to all who have received eternal life by grace.  John says that Jesus is coming back and that we will be like Him when we see Him. He then calls us to live in purity as we await the Savior’s return.  In a time when churches are drifting away from greater purity of life, this passage calls us to an increase in pure living each day until we meet Jesus.

Binding the Strong Man to Enter the “House.”

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Matthew 12

27 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. 28 But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29 Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house. 30 He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.

 

There has been much discussion and debate about the power of Satan in the child of God.  Can Satan possess a child of God? Can Satan overcome a child of God? These are some of the questions that come up.  Jesus makes a point here that we need to understand. In John 8 Jesus told the Pharisees that they were of their father, the devil. But in Romans 8 we are called children of God. In John 1:12 we are called children of God when we believe in His name.

 

The Bible teaches us that all of us are born in sin under the spiritual parentage of Satan.  We are separated from God because of our sinfulness. Through faith in Christ and the application of his blood upon our sin, God spiritually adopts us into His family by His grace.  Now then, the only way that God can bring us out of Satan’s darkness into His marvelous light is for God to be stronger than Satan.  In today’s passage Jesus talks about entering the house of a strong man and binding him to plunder his house. Satan is the strong man and Jesus is the one who binds him.  Jesus casts out demons because He is stronger than the demons and stronger than their boss.

 

So then, when we become children of God, Satan must be bound and cast out so that the stronger, the Holy Spirit of God, can come in and abide in us. The Holy Spirit of God and the perverse spirit of Satan cannot inhabit the same “house” that is, the same body. Once Satan is bound and cast out the Holy Spirit abides in the true children of God and they then are “for” God, that is, the new children of God are on God’s side thankful to be released from Satan’s parentage and adopted in God’s eternal and holy family.

 

Who possesses you today? Has Satan been bound and cast out by the stronger one, by the Holy Spirit of God?  Do you hate the sin you used to love?  Do you reject the selfishness you used to enjoy? Do you see the works of Satan as repulsive and love the works of the Holy Spirit so much the more?  On Sunday I plan to bring a message from 1 John 3:4-10 which addresses the Christians attitude toward sin.  This new attitude is the result of the binding of the enemy by the stronger Spirit of God.  “Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.”

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When we were in Park City, we did several hikes in the mountains.  One day we hiked from this lodge out and back.  It was fun to pick flowers and play in some snow on the same hike.  The kids were so much fun, so full of energy, and got along like they saw each other often.  We are still thanking God for our time together. 

 

My house is a construction zone. We have crews outside and inside working on it.  Pray with us as there just seems too much to do and to keep up with the other responsibilities. 

 

Pray especially for VBS as we begin next Monday and desire to see children come to the Savior during the week together.  Pray for children to come. If you have children near your house, invite them to come.  If you have time to help, call Bobbi and ask her what you can do.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Jesus’ works verified who He was

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Matthew 12

22 Then one was brought to Him who was demon-possessed, blind and mute; and He healed him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw. 23 And all the multitudes were amazed and said, “Could this be the Son of David?”

 

How amazing it must have been to see the miracles that Jesus did every day and throughout every day!  Jesus was the talk of the town, yes, even the talk of the nation.  The Romans talked about Jesus and Herod looked forward to meeting him in hopes of seeing one of his miracles.  In my lifetime there have been “faith-healers” who received national attention.  But in the end, most of their “healings” were not healings at all, at least not quantifiable healings.  The names of these charlatans have been forgotten and their messages did not save souls.  But Jesus was something different; he did verifiable miracles every day and the world took notice.

 

As a result of the miracles that Jesus did, the people began to question who he really was. In the Old Testament days the prophets spoke of one who would come as the Son of David who would eventually restore the kingdom to Israel.  He would come with power and authority as the Messiah, the Deliverer, the Prince of Peace.  As the people read the Scriptures and watched the works of Jesus, they began to put the pieces of God’s puzzle together and came to a very natural conclusion: “Could this be the Son of David?”

 

As we know today, they were exactly right in their supposition.  Jesus was the very Son of David, the Messiah, the One promised by the prophets who would come and set His people free.  No, Jesus did not do what the people of his day thought he should do, but he did exactly what the Father had planned, Jesus became our Savior.  When we today see lives changed by the power of the Gospel, we too should sit up and take notice that Jesus has come and that he has made the spiritually blind to see and the spiritually lame to walk.  Jesus has done exactly what He came to do and is still doing so in lives today.  Hallelujah!  Jesus, the Son of David, came and proved who he was by miracles then and continues to prove who he is by miracles of grace today.

 

It is good to be home and to be back with you.  Our trip was fantastic and we are so thankful to God for our family and the time we could spend together.  While our sons were growing up we often took time to worship and pray together.  As we were together in Park City, Utah, we were able to take time for family worship together.  We now pray for the grandkids to know the joy of the Savior and to surrender their hearts and lives to him. 

We spent Sunday in a thriving church in Salt Lake City.  How thrilling to see the Lord at work in the world’s strongest Mormon city.  God is saving souls and changing lives there for His glory.

I am thankful for a great day Sunday at Grace for Life!  What a joy to honor six high school seniors with Bibles and pens for their journey.  Keep Kameron, Lydia, John, Stefani, Ana, and Natalie in your prayers for their immediate future decisions. 

VBS starts Monday! There is much to do.  Call Bobbi and ask where you can help.

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, and Eternal Life – 1 John 2:18-27

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Jesus Christ is the way, the TRUTH, and the life.  In this passage the Apostle John emphasizes the truth of Christ and God over the lies of the antichrists of this world.  The truth of Jesus Christ and the anointing of the Word and the Spirit lead to God’s promise of eternal life.

Jesus was gentle, are we?

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Matthew 12

15 But when Jesus knew it, He withdrew from there. And great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them all. 16 Yet He warned them not to make Him known, 17 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying:

18      “Behold! My Servant whom I have chosen,

My Beloved in whom My soul is well pleased!

I will put My Spirit upon Him,

And He will declare justice to the Gentiles.

19      He will not quarrel nor cry out,

Nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets.

20      A bruised reed He will not break,

And smoking flax He will not quench,

Till He sends forth justice to victory;

21      And in His name Gentiles will trust.”

Jesus was gentle.  Jesus did not act gentle toward people, he was, of his very nature, gentle. Yes, Jesus was God’s servant and yes Jesus was beloved of the Father and he pleased the Father.  Yes, Jesus had the Spirit of the Father in him for he and the Father are one.  The prophecy here that Matthew refers to from Isaiah 42 and 49 emphasize the gentleness of Jesus toward the people that he came to save.

Yes, Jesus had many conversations with the Pharisees where it looks to us like he was arguing with them.  But from another viewpoint, they were arguing with him as Jesus simply upheld the eternal truth of God.  Jesus, though ever truthful, was also ever loving and gentle.  He wept when the rich young ruler went away; he wept over the unbelief of the people of Jerusalem, and he wept at the tomb of Lazarus when no one there believed he could make a difference.

There wasn’t a funeral Jesus passed by that he did not raise the dead person.   There wasn’t a sick person, a blind person, a crippled person or a demon possessed person that when they came to Jesus that he did not completely fix.  Jesus was gentle toward all people; he was gentle to men, gentle to women (remember the woman at the well, the woman with the issue of blood and the woman taken in adultery?), gentle to children, gentle to people with questions, and gentle to crowds of hungry people.  They flocked to him wherever he went and he always received them.

If we are going to live as Jesus lived then we must consider his gentleness as our example and our goal.  Recently, Bobbi and have been reminded of the importance of framing what we say with gentleness. Someone told us something and did so with anger. It became a very uncomfortable situation.  They had bottled this up assuming we should have realized it but we had no idea.  They later came back and apologized but it left us all with a bitter taste.  The example of the gentleness of Jesus should be at the forefront of our speech, our actions, and our reactions.

 

I have to apologize for my remiss actions in not keeping up with the devotionals.  I don’t know when in my life I have been busier than now.  Pray with us as there is just much to do and every day is packed from early till late.  Today we are leaving on vacation and the preparation is not yet done.  We are going to Park City, Utah where a man is letting us use his vacation home for the price of the cleaning.  All of our family will be there for a week together.  We don’t get together much anymore so this will be a precious time for us all. 

Saturday morning is our men’s prayer breakfast at 7:30 at Denny’s.  Men, show up, bring something from your devotions to share with the others.  Enjoy the fellowship of one another.

Sunday, missionary Justin Smith with his wife Jeimmy will be in the service.  They have been there before and are looking forward to second day with our church.  I know you will show them the wonderful family love of our church.  Edna is playing the piano for the service Andrew is leading the music.  Rob will be leading the service.  Be on time as it always frightens me when at 10:30 there are 20 people in the auditorium.  We will be praying for your service as it happens. 

When we get back, VBS starts a week later.  Whatever part you have in VBS this year, spend time preparing and praying for it now.  Pray for children to come.  Pray for children to hear the gospel and to be saved.  Pray for parents of children to come and know our love and to hear God’s gospel.  Maryellen is going to need help with church decorations.  Contact her to find out when she will be at the church.

If you need me this week, send me a text.  We will have wifi in the house but phone service in the mountains is spotty.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

When The World Tries To Accuse You For Their Benefit

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Matthew 12

Now when He had departed from there, He went into their synagogue. 10 And behold, there was a man who had a withered hand. And they asked Him, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—that they might accuse Him.

11 Then He said to them, “What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out? 12 Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” 13 Then He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and it was restored as whole as the other.

 

Let’s take a look at those who are trying to catch us in some assumed inconsistency.  Maybe at an office party you break into a silly dance move and someone yells out, “Hey, I thought Christians didn’t dance!” Or maybe everyone is in the car and you are driving over the speed limit but with traffic and someone says, “Hey, your speeding; I thought Christians kept the law.”  Have these things happened to you?  They happened to Jesus too.

In today’s passage we find a man who needed Christ’s attention.  He had a withered hand. This would have been a birth defect that would keep this man from being able to work, and would have kept him poor.  This man had a legitimate need.  The Pharisees, ever seeking to accuse Jesus of something, pointed the man out to Jesus on the Sabbath when no work was to be done.  Asking Jesus if he would heal the man or not, the Pharisees thought they had something to question the validity of Jesus commitment to the Law.  (Like I said, there are those around us waiting to see if we fail in their eyes so they can feel better about themselves.)

Jesus, before healing the man, asked the Pharisees if they would get their animal out of a pit on the Sabbath.  Well, this was one specific loophole in the Sabbath law for if your animal was stuck it was merciful to the animal to get it unstuck and back in the barn even on the Sabbath.  So Jesus was asking them if they showed mercy to their animals on the Sabbath.  He knew they did so then he healed the man’s withered hand showing mercy to a person who was of more value than the Pharisees’ animal.

When the world tries to trip you up, show them the logic of their accusation.  I was once asked if I danced.  I answered, “Yes, I dance with my wife but I wouldn’t dance with your wife.”  They laughed and got my point.  We can do good to all people, keep God’s laws, and be a testimony of His grace and mercy wherever we go.  Did Jesus break the Sabbath?  I suppose so but He did it to show mercy which was an acceptable reason to break the Sabbath.  The man whose hand was healed was glad for the mercy of the Savior.  Whenever you show mercy to another human being, whether it appears right to those around you or not, the one you show mercy to will be forever grateful.

 

Tonight is our regular time of Bible study and prayer.  Our church is in need of the Lord’s guidance, come join us in prayer for God’s clear direction.  Kids4Truth and Youth group will also be meeting at 7:00. 

 The devotionals are now available on your phones and tablets through the church app.  In the app store look up “grace for life Naperville.”

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS