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Jesus’ followers and true family; Jesus explains why his power couldn’t come from Satan and refuses to give a sign to the Pharisees, mentioning Jonah by way of explanation. He tells the parable of the farmer sowing seed then later tells the disciples why He speaks in parables and what they mean: Luke 8:1–3; Mark 3:20–30; Matthew 12:22–45; Mark 3:31–35; Matthew 12:46–50; Luke 8:19–21; Mark 4:1-9; Matthew 13:1–9; Luke 8:4–8; Mark 4:10–20

So Jesus casts out demons, the crowds gather as a result, and the religious teachers decide it’s a bit too scary. Where in the scriptures did it say that the Messiah would do that?

Mark 3:22 But the teachers of religious law who had arrived from Jerusalem said, ‘He’s possessed by Satan, the prince of demons. That’s where he gets the power to cast out demons.’

Maybe here, when Jesus was talking about setting the oppressed free?

Regardless, Jesus had a good answer for the teachers of the religious Law:

Mark 3:23-27 How can Satan cast out Satan? A kingdom divided by civil war will collapse. Similarly, a family splintered by feuding will fall apart.And if Satan is divided and fights against himself, how can he stand? He would never survive. Let me illustrate this further. Who is powerful enough to enter the house of a strong man like Satan and plunder his goods? Only someone even stronger—someone who could tie him up and then plunder his house.

So far, it’s just a logical explanation for someone who is the Messiah, anyway.

But then Jesus took it one step further:

Mark 3:28 I tell you the truth, all sin and blasphemy can be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven. This is a sin with eternal consequences.

So what is this blaspheming the Holy Spirit (a sin so many people are terrified of committing)?

What is blaspheming the Holy Spirit?

Blaspheming the Holy Spirit is often called the unforgivable sin.

One thing is clear: it’s not in what you do or say in terms of your lifestyle as a Christian. That might grieve (or bring sorrow to) the Holy Spirit. For example, there’s no sense of unforgivable sin in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians:

Ephesians 4:30-32 And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

If these sins weren’t forgivable—bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior—then Paul wouldn’t have bothered telling Christians to stop doing them. If they were unforgivable, no one could be saved. So it can’t be that.

And Jesus Himself said that not even what you might say about Him was unforgivable:

Matthew 12:31-32 So I tell you, every sin and blasphemy can be forgiven … Anyone who speaks against the Son of Man can be forgiven.

So what could blaspheming the Holy Spirit be? The clue is in this:

Mark 3:30 [Jesus] told them this because they were saying, ‘He’ is possessed by an evil spirit.’

This was not the first confrontation between Jesus and the teachers of the religious Law. These were the people who should have known the scriptures better than anyone, and who therefore should have been looking for the Messiah. Even if they didn’t see that, they could have at least recognised Jesus’ authority over demons as coming from God (but who knows which came first—accepting Jesus’ authority might have meant accepting other things that He said).

Instead, they rejected Jesus as coming from God, possibly because they were worried more about their own positions, as shown by their later reaction to Lazarus being raised from the dead. And because they had seen so many miracles, the Pharisees were persistently denying what the Holy Spirit was trying to tell their hearts: this was the Son of God.

Rejecting God

Ignoring the evidence of God before their eyes led them into the same sin as the increasingly hard-hearted Pharaoh, with the consequences predicted in Romans 1:28-31. They all saw the miracles (those performed by Moses and Jesus), but refused to believe God.

The Pharisees were probably too religious to engage in any of the publicly bad behaviour listed in Romans (such as sexual immorality or disobeying their parents), but it leaves a lot of other behaviour, such as being full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness, and being undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful …

This spiral of evil thoughts, words and deeds described in Romans aren’t in themselves unforgivable (as Paul explained to the Ephesians). It was the hearts they came from, which Jesus explained to the same teachers at some other time:

Matthew 12:33-34 A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad. You brood of snakes! How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? For whatever is in your heart determines what you say.

The suggestion is that the people on the receiving end of this condemnation from Jesus weren’t worried about it, and they never would be. That is where the unforgivability comes from. Anyone who is even slightly worried about being forgiven could be—it shows a willingess to hear God. Only those who couldn’t care less are the ones who probably should be most concerned about committing the unforgivable sin.

So it’s a good idea to not blaspheme the Holy Spirit, and you can do that simply by believing Him when He tries to lead you towards Jesus.