Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Matt. 12:32b (Holman) “. . .either in this age or in the one to come.”
That is, never. Mark 3:29, a parallel passage, reads, “Whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin.”
The scariest trait of this sin is not its remaining unforgivable in the after-life, but its being unpardonable before death, during our only time of probation.
All sins are either forgiven in this world or not at all. There is no place to go to suffer punishment for our sins and thereby pay off the remainder of our sin debt. Jesus already paid it all. Regarding forgiveness of sins, it’s now or never.
A person can know for sure they passed the shrouded line of blasphemy only after death. Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is obstinance maintained to the end of probation, when the day of death closes the day of grace. It manifests itself ultimately and surely in the final rejection of Jesus in this lifetime.
Matt. 12:33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree
bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit.”
Jesus was saying, “Make up your mind. Be consistent. Judge by results. If I do good deeds, believe I am good. If my deeds are evil, call me evil. But don’t say my deeds are good, and yet call me evil. If you say I do good, call me good.”
Whatever the Pharisees thought of Jesus personally, they were on the horns of a dilemma because His deeds were good. All the Pharisees agreed sickness, hunger, death, and demon possession obviously resulted from sin. Thus, healing, feeding, raising the dead, and exorcism had to be God’s work, not Satan’s.
What is Jesus? This is the ultimate question of history. The answer has to be based on what He did. He did good and rose from the dead. The die is cast.
He claims to be God, gives evidence He is God. This forces every human being to have to decide for or against Him. Do you deem Him God or man, good or bad, Lord or liar? In-between is not an option. There is no neutrality, no middle ground. What Jesus told the Pharisees applies to us also. Don’t vacillate.
We evaluate people by scrutinizing their deeds. What more would Jesus have had to do to convince us He is God? His entire life showed Him to be more than human. Our decision in this matter has huge everlasting implications for us.
We are forced to decide, is He the Son of God sent to do the work of God? In His death do we have God’s only appointed method for forgiving our sins?
Skeptics snarl at us, asking if we truly believe Jesus is the only way to Heaven. Wrong question. The issue is rather, was His death God’s way of dealing with sin? This last question, whichever way it is answered, makes the first moot.
Matthew 12:34a “Brood of vipers! How can you speak good things when
you are evil?
“Brood of vipers!” directly quoted what John the Baptist had called the religious leaders. Everyone understood this denunciation. Viper was a generic name for poisonous snakes that used camouflage to hide in their surroundings, to stay undetected, and then suddenly ambush victims.
Viper was also a description commonly used for Satan. Jesus was saying the religious leaders were “birds of a feather” with the old serpent (Genesis 3:1). Elsewhere Jesus out and out said they were children of the devil (John 8:44).
Full of venom, they were poisoning the common folk with their teachings. Being inwardly filled with malice, envy, and evil made their breath pestilent.
These men riled the ire of gentle Jesus. He came to save sinners, and was known as a Friend of sinners, but something about these leaders perturbed Him.
The problem was their hypocrisy, a sin God hates. They outwardly claimed to be of God, but were inwardly sold out to evil. Jesus helped and ministered to the brokenhearted, but opposed the sanctimonious, the self-righteous.
Evil hearted people can at times play the part of the righteous and speak impressive “holy” words. They often speak the language of Zion, but hypocrisy always reveals itself ultimately. It betrays itself in word and/or deed. In a sudden emergency, a time of anger, when the guard is down, the real self shows through.
Due to Jesus’ anger at hypocrisy, we need to carefully define exactly what it is. Believers sin. Often the cause is hypocrisy, but not always. Christ-followers have the life of God in their spirit, the Holy Spirit of God in their heart, the peace of God in their conscience, and the power of God in their life. Nevertheless, even with all this, it is hard to be consistent, and impossible to be perfect all the time.
Even with this disclaimer, though, we believers have dirty laundry aplenty. Christianity groans under the burden of heavy baggage, sinful lives lived by many people claiming to be Christians. Some of this nightmare derives from a failure by the observer to distinguish cultural Christians from committed Christians. Not all who claim to be Christ-followers actually are. Jesus dealt with this forthrightly. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).
Until one has truly been born again, and consistently gives evidence of this change through Godly living, no genuine Christianity is at work. Christianity and Christ are often blamed for events totally contrary to everything they stand for.
In our culture, there is currently much legitimate disappointment toward believers. We claim to love sinners, but do a much better job of hating the sin than of loving the sinner. We claim to love each other, yet have so many squabbles among ourselves that unbelievers shake their heads in disbelief and say we do not look like legitimate followers of the Prince of Peace. We claim to love God, but our passion for Him is too often anemic at best.
We believers need to search our hearts regularly. Are we truly what we claim to be? Does inward commitment measure up to outward profession? Hypocrisy is insidious. It can sneak up on us, and often does.
Having made this confession about believers, a word to our detractors may also be in order. Do not always equate our failures with hypocrisy. A hypocrite is a fake, a person who knowingly pretends. Many sincere believers fail often. Their shortcoming is not hypocrisy, but rather frailty. We believers are not perfect. We strive to be, but can never achieve it fully in this lifetime.