Thursday, September 11, 2014

Thursday, September 11 ~ Miriam

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Isaiah 23-24; Proverbs 11; Colossians 4.
Today's scripture focus is Mark 3:20-30

20 And He *came home, and the crowd *gathered again, to such an extent that they could not even eat a meal. 21 When His own people heard of this, they went out to take custody of Him; for they were saying, “He has lost His senses.” 22 The scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “He casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons.” 23 And He called them to Himself and began speaking to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26 If Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but he is finished! 27 But no one can enter the strong man’s house and plunder his property unless he first binds the strong man, and then he will plunder his house.

28 “Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— 30 because they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.”

Most of today's text is pretty easy to understand.  Obviously Jesus was different than anyone else at the time and taught different things than what the people were used to hearing from their religious leaders.  One explanation for Jesus' seemingly irrational behaviour or statements would be that he either was crazy, or possessed by a demon.  That would be one of the go-to diagnoses of the times, when many ailments and their symptoms were ascribed to demons or unclean spirits.  As we see in all the gospels, and other places in the New Testament, demons were very active then and they still are today, however with our advanced knowledge of medicine and other scientific and technological advances, we now know that much of what was once considered demonic possession was not always so.

But I digress.

Jesus tells them that a house divided against itself cannot stand, so it makes no sense for Satan to throw his own demons out of people.  He would want them to stay there!  It was an illogical argument on the part of the scribes.

The verses that I wanted more information on today was verses 29-30.  This is serious stuff.  "...whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”

Rev. Rayburn says the following, in The Strong Man and the Still Stronger:

The Lord’s saying about the sin against the Holy Spirit is a difficult one and has been the source of untold anguish for many believers through the ages. It is clear that the Lord is addressing a fixed state of mind, a hostility against the truth of God and the manifestation of that truth in Jesus Christ. It is not the utterance of a word or the thinking of a thought as many Christians have feared. It is not even said precisely that the scribes here have actually committed that sin. The Lord may be warning them of their danger of doing so. [Cranfield, 142] But here, clearly, the sin against the Holy Spirit is the settled rejection of Jesus Christ by someone who knows better. Calling Jesus a servant of the Devil is an act motivated by a determined unwillingness to accept the truth. Members of Jesus’ family said that Jesus was out of his mind, that he was insane, but that was not the sin against the Holy Spirit for they would later be brought to faith. But for men of the Word of God, as the scribes were, to continue to attribute his work to Satan in the light of what everyone could see him do and hear him say, that is a defiance of God’s revelation that must finally place a person beyond the willingness of God to forgive. That is blasphemy, a slander against the very name of God, the Holy Spirit – the revealer of Jesus – a slander that defies forgiveness.

That portion is from the verse-by-verse breakdown at the top of the page.  Later in the sermon he talks about the authority Jesus had over the demons and how the power to resist them is in every Christian as well:

But, the still more important implication of this material and the one the Lord himself draws our attention to is the certainty of his victory and so the victory of those who love and serve him. At every point in the Gospel history, Satan is revealed as impotent in the face of the authority of the Lord Christ. When Jesus commanded a demon to come out of a man, he came out. He couldn’t do otherwise. He may have cried out, he may have pled with Jesus for some concession, in his bitter hatred he may have torn the poor man one last time, but come out he did. When the demons spoke something the Lord wanted to remain a secret, he silenced them and they remained silent. They were utterly helpless when confronted with the authority of the Lord Christ.

All of this is indicated in the Lord’s remarks about the strong man encountering one stronger than himself, and about his binding the strong man and plundering his possessions. And it is still more emphatically indicated by the authority that the Lord bestowed on the Twelve to drive out demons. His rule over the demonic realm is so absolute that he can grant a measure of that same authority to mere human beings to exercise. And he does so still. As the New Testament makes clear, every Christian has the power to resist the Devil, to send him packing, to see through his schemes and render them harmless. The Devil has no power at all in a Christian life unless a Christian cedes it to him.

There is a great deal of difference, all the more when having to face a dangerous enemy, to know that one is on the winning side and that victory is secure. It is an altogether different experience, producing an altogether different mind, heart, and spirit, to know that one cannot win and that one’s destruction is only a matter of time. Like the Japanese soldiers on Iwo Jima, who knew both that they could not prevail in that battle and that they had lost the war, and so were motivated only by the prospect of killing as many of the enemy as possible before they were killed themselves. So the demons are motivated only by the desire to take as many others to hell with them as they possibly can. And this, this is the heart, this is the spirit, this is the will, this is the character of the One who holds so many human beings as willing subjects in his thrall. This is the true mystery of evil and of unbelief. Men would rather do the will and serve the cause of the one who craves nothing but their ruin and their misery than to submit to the will of the living God of love, grace, mercy, and goodness.

In that defiant spirit, to attribute to Satan the saving power of Jesus, is and must be blasphemy indeed. To attribute the deliverance of poor, benighted men from the clutches of the Devil to the Devil himself, that is blasphemy indeed. But for us who believe, it is life and hope to know that the one so darkening this world and so blighting the lives of countless human beings cannot and will not stand before the authority of the Lord Christ. Strong though he be, there is one much stronger than he.

Happy Thursday!

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Mark 3:31-35
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage:  Isaiah 25-26; Proverbs 12; 1 Thessalonians 1.

1 comment:

Tammy said...

That was MacArthur's explanation as well - makes total sense.