MAIN TEXT: MARK 3:22-30
And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.” And he called them to him and said to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end. But no one can enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house.
“Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— for they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.”
Mark has set out to show the world that Jesus was the Son of God, the Messiah. His readers understood the humanity side of Jesus, but the claims that He was the Son of God wasn’t as easily understood by them. Mark goes about from the beginning of His Gospel to write a history of who Jesus was and what He did. So Mark begins writing his gospel account by saying, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”
People get very uneasy when they hear the term unpardonable sin. Any time we talk about sin and that there is a sin that is unforgivable, it cause us to feel uncomfortable. We start to relive our actions, taking a tally of all the things we did or said, checking our motives over the years. Many questions seem to stream through our minds.
Whatever this sin is, we must approach it with the greatest possible seriousness. If ever there was a warning that would compel us to run from sin with fear and trembling to Jesus in faith and repentance, surely this is it.
So, what do we learn about the unpardonable sin?
It Reveals a Hardened Heart that Calls Good Evil. (v.22)
We find Jesus, coming out of a moment when the crowds are making it difficult for Him to do almost anything. He can’t get away with his disciples very easily. He tries to spend some time at home and the crowds are so great that scripture says “they could not even eat.” His family hears of all that has been going on and they send family members to bring him home because they are convinced that He is out of his mind.
Jesus’ family considered him insane, but the religious leaders had another theory. It is at this moment that Jesus has a run in with some scribes who have come down from Jerusalem. The designation by Mark that the scribes were specifically from Jerusalem would go to show that the Jerusalem leaders had heard of Jesus, news had traveled about His miracles, His preaching and the crowds that were following Him..
These scribes had been sent for a purpose and Mark makes that very clear in verse 22. They were here to make Jesus’ life difficult. They were here to ruin his reputation, not by claiming that Jesus was out of His mind, but to explain that His motives and actions are powered by hell. They are continually saying to people that He is possessed and that He casts out demons because He has a demon himself.
They knew that the miracles that were happening were not false signs and wonders, but the real thing. We don’t see them denying the signs and wonders that follow Jesus. Instead, they work hard to figure out the best way to discredit Him. Their hearts had become so hardened, that they were able to look on the Holy Son of God and call him evil.
Those who move in the direction of unforgivable sin are aware of the miraculous works of Jesus which cannot be denied. They reject the obvious and logical conclusion that these are done by the Spirit of God. Instead, those guilty will verbally and consistently declare that these works are Satan’s activity. It is a persistent rejection and declaration against what the Spirit of God is doing in and through Jesus.
It Reveals Spiritual Blindness that is Willful and Intentional. (v.23-27)
Jesus goes right at the accusations these scribes are spreading. Mark says, “he called them to him”. He knew who they were and He knew where they had come from. He also knew what needed to be said. So He goes after them with short, figurative parables to make a quick, pointed statement. The first parable He gives them starts with logical foolishness and then goes to logical reality.
He begins by asking them a question He knew they couldn’t answer without making their accusations sound absurd. “Can Satan cast out Satan?” He is making it clear that Satan isn’t going to work against himself, because a kingdom or house divided can’t stand.
Jesus then uses a positive reality that they can’t deny by using a parable of how no one is able to enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods without first taking care of the strong man. Satan is the strong man, then Jesus is saying, “I am stronger than Satan, as I have bound him and am plundering his house.”
There is only one stronger than Satan, and He is God. He has come to bind Satan, to free the captive, heal the sick, to redeem sinners through his life, death and resurrection.
It Involves a Verbal Declaration that is Continual and Unforgivable. (v.28-30)
Jesus closes this portion of scripture with declaration of Jesus’ grace and forgiveness and ends with a stern warning. We find forgiveness for our sins in Christ as we come in repentance and faith. However, if one knowingly, willingly, and persistently attribute to Satan what God has done by and in Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit, along with having an unrepentant heart, they are in jeopardy of committing the unpardonable sin.
So how should we look at our own hearts in light of this knowledge?
We must look at our heart’s disposition, that we don’t resist the conviction of the Holy Spirit, that we don’t attribute the goodness of God as evil, or the work of God to Satan. We must heed the warning and run to the grace of Jesus Christ and recognize that this is a sin not committed by one who is concerned that he may have committed it.
We have heard the warning. Now we must hear the offer of grace.
Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter. Mark 3:28
We must continue to repent of our sins, rest in His grace, allow the Holy Spirit to do His work in us, and there we will find forgiveness.
Run to Jesus!
APPLY TO LIFE
This week, as you reflect on the message, utilize this section to help you apply what has been taught to your life. Think of friends, co-workers, neighbors, family etc., that you could meet with to have a time of mutual sharing as you open God’s Word together.
This simple acronym (BLESS, B - Bless, L - Listen, E - Eat, S - Speak, S - Sabbath) should help you to frame your life according to the great commandment “love God” (Matthew 22:37) and the expression of that commandment in loving your neighbor (John 13:34). Each time you meet, start by discussing the rhythms of your life according to B.L.E.S.S.
Intentionally bless: Christ-followers, non-believers and those different than you.
Listen to what God is saying to you, through His Word and others.
Share a meal with a Christ-follower and also a non-believer.
Talk to God through prayer and to others about Jesus through witness.
Be intentional about taking time to both rest and recreate.
DISCUSS THE MESSAGE
Have you ever spoke to anyone who worried that they had committed the unpardonable sin? Was there ever a time when you were afraid you had done so?
Why would the scribes sent by the Jerusalem Sanhedrin come to the conclusion quickly that Jesus was collaborating with Satan?
What do Jesus’ parables in 3:23-27 teach us about Satan’s goals and tactics in the world?
How would you counsel a Christian who was concerned that he /she had committed the unpardonable sin?