Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.” Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can someone enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
Understanding And Applying the Text
Many are blind and/or mute because of physical issues. But that was not the case with this man. His ailments were spiritual. They were the result of demonic oppression.
Jesus healed the man. It was a visible display of God’s power. It caused the people to question rather or not Jesus was the Messiah. But those who saw it only asked, “Is Jesus the Son of David?” Their words show there was no belief. Their reaction shows Jesus’ power and actions had them in awe. But they had not yet formed an opinion. Jesus casting out demons only raised the possibility He was the Christ to them.
The Pharisees could not deny something miraculous occurred. But they could not allow the question to go unanswered. The people might come to the wrong answer. They could not allow for the possibility that Jesus was the Messiah. They had only evil in their hearts. They were not afraid to slander God. They attributed God’s handiwork to Satan.
We often make erroneous judgments. But the Pharisees’ errors were unintentional. We do not intend to oppose what is right. Instead, we err through ignorance. But the Pharisees are not in such a position. They knew the scriptures. They saw Jesus’ deeds. As Jesus told John’s disciples when they asked if Jesus was the one. Jesus said, Go and tell John what you hear and see. The blind receive their sight. The lame walk. Lepers are cleansed. The deaf hear. The dead are raised. And the poor have good news preached to them. Jesus quoted the scripture. He quoted from Isaiah. (Isaiah 29:18; 35:4-6; 42:6-7)
The Pharisees knew these scriptures too. They understood their meaning. They both ignored and denied them. Even when their fulfillment occurred in front of them. “I know what I believe. Don’t confuse me with the facts,” was their stance. And that is evil.
Jesus knew what they were thinking. And he addressed it head-on. He demonstrated the absurdity of their thinking. They maintained that Jesus got His power from the devil. If Jesus casts out demons by the ruler of the demons, then Satan is fighting against himself.
Jesus quoted a common proverb. “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand.” This may not ring to us. We know Satan sometimes will appear to fight against himself. He does so to entrap men in superstitions. Roman’s Pope is nothing less than Satan pretending to fight against himself. But this is not what Christ did. He cast out demons to return to the Father what belongs to Him.
Whenever Satan pretends to fight evil, in the end, he is the one who wins. But Christ attacked Satan in open combat. Christ defeated him. Christ did not defeat Satan in one respect and build him up in another. Christ’s victory was total and complete. The accusation was absurd. The devil’s whole goal is to make men slaves. Satan does not, of his own accord, destroy the power he uses to enslave men. The conclusion is obvious. There was no collusion between Jesus and Satan.
This passage shows the religious leaders’ desperate condition. Their hatred for Jesus was strong. It was strong enough for them to attribute the work of God to Satan. This was something for which God will hold them accountable.
Jesus then stated that a strong and powerful tyrant must be overthrown by force. He will not yield an inch until he is overcome by a superior force. He must be stripped of his defenses.
Scripture calls Satan the prince of the world. And his defenses are strong. He entraps men. And they are already his slaves. His grip is so firm men actually cherish their slavery. They confuse enslavement for freedom. Only God’s restraining power prevents Satan from terrorizing the world without control.
Christ eliminated the middle ground. If we are not for Christ we are against Him. Many will not claim to be atheists. They are agnostics. They try to take a middle ground. They claim they need more information. But, with that, they call God a liar. God said they have enough information. They have all they need. “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”(Romans 1:20)
No one can take a middle ground. Why? Because there is no middle ground.
We now address the elephant in the room. That is what many refer to as the “unforgivable sin.” What is it? Have I commuted it? How do I know? Questions about the unforgivable sin have caused great concern.
What is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit? There are three rules of biblical egregious. They are context, context, and context. So to answer that question we must look at the context in which Jesus brings up this subject.
The first thing we must notice is it is not an ordinary offense. Blaspheme against the Holy Spirit is an atrocious crime. It is not commuted unconsciously. Those who commit it are aware of what they are doing. They commit it knowingly and willingly. This is no accidental sin.
It is not impenitence. Why? Faith comes through faith and faith is a gift from God. (Ephesians 2:8) We are impenitent until we receive the gift of faith and God changes us. Plus there is no mention in the immediate context of repentance. So impenitence can’t be the unforgivable sin.
There are two things we know. The first is from the immediate context. The second is from the greater context. Let’s look at the immediate context. The “unforgivable sin” is explicit, and willful. It is a decision to rejection of the very power that can bring about repentance. It is attributing the power of God to the devil. That is what the Pharisees had just done.
From the greater context, we know anyone who is convicted of sin has not committed it. For salvation is fully and wholly the work of God. For in our natural condition we do not seek God (John 1:13 Romans 3:11). We do not pursue God. He pursues us. Even our repentance is a gift from him. (2 Timothy 2:25, Philippians 1:29, Hebrews 12:2, 1 John 5:1, Romans 3:24, Ezekiel 11:19-20; Ezekiel 36:26-27)
Salvation is completely from God. If the Holy Spirit convicts you of sin. You have not commuted the unpardonable sin.