Give your Bibles with you. Turn with me, if you would, to Mark chapter 3, and we're going to start this morning verses 20 through 30. I'll go through verse 35 as we get into the message. If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 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 whosoever blasphemies against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin.
For they were saying, he has an unclean spirit. Bow with me now as we go to our Lord in prayer. Heavenly Father, we continue to pray for our sick today. I pray for Nicole Lohse, who's struggling continually with vertigo. Nancy Lindley and Dolores Steelwell recovering from surgery. Wanda Abercrombie experiencing renal failure. I pray for Ed Nolan, who this week experienced his mother's passing.
Alicia Caldwell, as her husband Doug, is going to be with the Lord. We all lift up our lost loved ones and ask that you do that work in their hearts that we can't do. Father, we deal with a subject today that sends chills up and down our spines. The subject is unforgivable sin.
Is that possible? Is there really a sin that a person can commit that is so horrible and horrendous that he or she could never be forgiven? Is there really a sin so heinous that you will separate yourself so far from them that there is no present hope and no future hope? This biblical truth should awaken our hearts but not fill us with fear. It should deepen our love for you and your grace. It should increase our hatred for Satan and sin. It should drive us to the cross. Lord, please do a work in our hearts this morning. May we leave Grace Church today with joy in our hearts, a burden for the lost, for it is in the precious and holy name of Jesus that we pray.
Amen. You may be seated. Verse 20 says, Then he went home and the crowd gathered again so that they could not even eat. After a long, hard day at work, many of you have probably experienced this, you get tired. Maybe you've not been able to go to a break all day long.
Maybe you've completely missed lunch. And as the day is coming to an end, you just really look forward to being able to leave that place, to go back home, to maybe eat a little bit, crank back in your La-Z-Boy, and just finally get some relaxation and a little bit of rest. I think that's what Jesus and the disciples were experiencing that day. They had worked hard, had been extremely busy, but finally they get back home and the crowds are so big that they're not even able to eat.
They have to continue to keep working. That's the scenario that we are looking at as we get into this particular passage today. I want you to remember that as I've got five points that I want to share with you in this passage. Point one is this, Lord, liar, or lunatic.
Look with me at verses 20 through 21. Then he went home and the crowd gathered again so they could not even eat. And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, he is out of his mind.
C.S. Lewis was an atheist as a young man. The Lord broke his heart. He came to trust in Christ as his Lord and Savior. He became a great Christian author, an amazing biblical apologist. He was a great man of God. But there was one particular thing that irritated the dickens out of him, and that is when people would say, I believe that Jesus is a good man, a good moral man. I believe that Jesus was a great teacher, but I just don't believe that Jesus was God. In his book, Mere Christianity, he dealt with that.
I want to take a moment and just share with you what Lewis said. He said, I'm trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about him, that is Christ. I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept his claim to be God.
That's the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic on the level with the man who says he's a poached egg, or else he would be the devil of hell.
You must make your choice. Either this man was and is the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool. You can spit at him and kill him as a demon. You can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us.
He did not intend to. Now it seems to me, Lewis said, it's obvious that Jesus was neither a lunatic nor a fiend. And consequently, however, strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that he was and is God. Jesus is teaching now in his hometown. The crowds are unbelievably large. And Jesus is saying things to this crowd that is just blowing them out of the saddle. Well, his mother and brother and sisters heard that he was in Capernaum and that the crowds were huge and they came and they came to take him back home.
And they came and what they said about him was this, we think maybe he's lost his mind. Now I want you to think about who his brothers were. We know two of them pretty well. They were James and James was the first pastor at the church in Jerusalem. He was also the man who wrote the epistle of James. Judas was a great, great evangelist and wrote the epistle of Jude. And so these were men who at this point in time do not believe in Jesus at all. And they will not believe in Christ until after the resurrection. So they look at Jesus and they hear what he's saying and they say, oh my goodness, he has lost his mind.
And so I can just see James and Judas as they're over there at Jesus and they're pulling on his tunic and they're on his sleeve and they're saying, Jesus, please stop this. Quit talking like this. People think you're crazy. Just come on with us now.
You need some rest and we'll just take you back home and you can get some much, much needed rest. At this point in time, they are essentially saying, well, maybe Jesus is a lunatic. Yet, in less than two months, two months, I mean two years, in less than that time, he goes that James and John experienced something that they never would have imagined in a million years. Jesus has been resurrected from the dead and they talk with him and he ministers to them. He ascends back into heaven and guess what they say? Jesus was not the one that was a lunatic.
We were the ones that were fools. Now we understand who he is. He is Lord. He is King of kings and Lord of lords. He is the Son of God.
He is the Messiah. Now we can believe everything that he ever said and they bow before him unconditionally surrendering their lives to him. Folks, what we have in verse 20 and 21 would have surely embarrassed James and John.
Oh, but that didn't stop them. They went on to become mighty, mighty men of God and they finished well. Point two is a wicked accusation. Look with me at verse 22. And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, he is possessed by Beelzebul and by the prince of demons, he cast out the demons. In Luke chapter 11 verse 14, we were given more detail than Mark gives us.
Some great background information. Listen, because Mark doesn't tell us about this. In verse 14 it says, Now he was casting out a demon that was mute. When the demon had gone out, the mute man spoke and the people marveled. Now we don't know the age of this guy, but he was an adult and he had a great problem. He was not able to speak. In those days, if a person had that kind of malady or that kind of handicap, he was in trouble. For he could not be taught how to do sign language because sign language had not been developed yet. And he couldn't read or write because people would look at a mute person and think, well, they're unteachable and they wouldn't even try to teach him. And so he was in a situation where the only way he could communicate was either to point or to make facial expressions, and he was extremely, extremely limited. Now I have known people who were mute, and many of them were mute and unable to speak because of some disease that they had, maybe throat cancer, maybe a problem that they'd had a disease in the larynx. I heard about one guy who was a pitcher, and this is a true story.
He threw the ball to the batter. The batter hit a line drive back to him, hit him right in the throat, and crushed his larynx, and he was never able to speak again. But this guy in this story is not mute because of a disease or a deformity or some kind of injury. He is mute because he's indwelt by a demon. And that demon has stopped him from being able to speak. And he's so worked in his life that he can't get out anything. All he can do is make these guttural sounds. Jesus sees him, and he walks over to the man.
He immediately knows exactly what's wrong with him. And the Scripture says that Jesus cast out the demon. And as soon as he did, this man could speak, and he could speak clearly, fluently, and coherently. And the people marveled, absolutely marveled.
This was an exorcism, an exceedingly successful exorcism. Nobody there questions this miracle. Nobody there thinks that it's a possibility of being a fake, for here was this man at one point that could not even say a word, could do nothing but just make these guttural sounds and point at stuff, and now he's talking a hundred miles an hour.
Well, that's the background for this wicked accusation. Mark doesn't even mention the mute man, and Luke mentions him, but he talks a whole lot more about what happened after the miracle than he did before. Folks, there's a group of people here who are extremely belligerent, and they could care less about what's going on with this poor man who could not speak. They don't care about him at all.
And what do they say? They say, well, yeah, Jesus did a miracle. No doubt about that.
Everybody knows that. He did a miracle, but he did it by the power of Beelzebul. That's how he accomplished the miracle, by the power of Beelzebul.
Now, who is that? Folks, Beelzebul is synonymous with Satan. Beelzebul was the false god of Ekron. Beelzebul is the elongated name of Baal.
It's an elongated name of Baal. What does that name mean? That name means Lord of the Flies. Probably most of you back in high school days might remember reading a novel by William Golding called The Lord of the Flies. I want you to know that William Golding didn't come up with that name. That name he derived from this false god of Ekron, Beelzebul, the Lord of the Flies.
And why did they call him that? Well, back in that day, the heathen in Israel would go out into pastures. And they'd go out into the pastures and they'd see a heaping pile of sheep manure or a pile of cow manure. And what they would notice about it is that all of a sudden all these flies were ascending right up out of it. And what they didn't see was that flies had come and landed on it. They'd laid their eggs and the warmth of the manure would hatch out the larvae. What they saw was the flies just coming up out of it.
And what they said was this, look at that. That pile of manure is a life giver. It gives life.
It must be a god. And they bowed down before a pile of sheep manure and worshiped it as if it were a god. Folks, that's one of the most vile, and I can't think of anything more vile and more blasphemous in that kind of absolute satanic filth. These religious leaders were saying that Jesus was in cahoots with Beelzebul, that he did his power and performed these miracles through the power of Satan.
When you don't know the Word of God and you don't know the Son of God, that's the kind of stupidity that you can get hung up in. It's happening in America today, isn't it? Unless the Lord brings deep spiritual awakening to our nation, and brothers and sisters, we can count on this, the antagonism against Christ and the antagonism against God's people is going to get heavier and heavier. The huge fight in American culture today is a fight over moral absolutes. The American culture today is saying there are no moral absolutes.
Everything is relative. There is no good. There is no bad. There is no right. There is no wrong. There are no moral absolutes.
The Bible says, yes, there are moral absolutes. The Bible says that God created man and God created woman. And if a man chooses to say, I'm not a man, I am a woman, that doesn't change anything.
He's still a man. How stupid can this get? Let me tell you how stupid. There is a couple of students, girls, up in Michigan going to school, and they decided that they were going to identify as cats. They call themselves furries. And they climb up in the window sill of their school room and they hiss at people as they go by and they paw at them. They ask the principal to put cat litter in the girls' bathroom for them. Now, that's crazy. But let me tell you what's crazier, is the school officials are telling the students and telling their teachers, affirm them in their identity.
Tell them that it's okay that they think they're cats, because if they think they're cats, they're cats. That's what happens when the Word of God is no longer your standard. With that said, let me throw something else in that Luke shares in Luke chapter 11, verse 16. The Pharisees are accusing Jesus of doing his miracles by the power of Satan. There's another group that's there, and these people are skeptics. They are skeptics.
Verse 16 says this about them. While others, to test him, kept seeking from him a sign from heaven. Folks, these folks were not antagonistic toward Jesus. They were just skeptics.
They were skeptical. They said, well, we know he did a miracle here. We see that, but that doesn't really prove anything. It doesn't prove that he's the Son of God. It doesn't prove that he's really the Messiah. So we need more miracles. We need more evidence to make us believe that Jesus is really the Messiah. J.C. Ryle said this. It is one mark of a thoroughly unbelieving heart to pretend to want more evidence of the truth of religion. The truth is that God has given more than enough evidence.
What holds people back is the pride of their own skepticism. In Luke 16, Jesus tells the story of the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man and Lazarus die. Lazarus goes to a place called Abraham's bosom.
It is a place of comfort, of rest, of peace, and of great joy. The rich man dies, and he goes to a place called Hell. Hell is a place of great torment, a place of pain, a place of frustration, a place of great anguish, a place of burning. And the rich man cries out to Father Abraham. He says, Father Abraham, send Lazarus back to the earth to tell my five brothers about this horrible place called Hell.
Tell him and make him go back and make him do that. And Father Abraham says no. He says they have the Moses and the prophets. In other words, they have the Word of God. And if they won't believe the Word of God, neither would they believe it if one were to rise from the dead. Do you hear that, folks? If you refuse to listen to the Word of God, if you reject the written Word of God, and it doesn't matter what kind of miracle you might see, it's not going to be enough to change your mind. Even if one were to be raised from the dead, was one raised from the dead?
Absolutely. Jesus was raised from the dead. Did they believe him? Herod knew that Jesus was raised from the dead, and Pilate knew that Jesus was raised from the dead. The religious leaders knew that Jesus was raised from the dead. The religious leaders went and paid off the soldiers and said, look, go and tell a lie. Tell people that the disciples came and stole the body out of the tomb.
Tell that lie. Folks, we could go on and on, but the bottom line is this. If you reject the Word of God, no amount of miracles is going to change your mind.
All right, point three is a logical conclusion. Look at verse 23 through 27. 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 it's 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. The strong man here is Satan. The stronger man is Christ. Folks, before we came to know Christ, we were under the power of Satan. Paul tells us in Ephesians chapter 2 that before we were saved, when we were dead in our trespasses and sins, that we were by nature children of the devil, children of God's wrath. We were controlled by three things, the world, the flesh, and the devil. But God, who is rich in mercy, hath quickened us and seated us in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
Folks, before we were saved, when Satan said jump, we said how high. Before we were saved, when Satan had a power over us that we couldn't do anything about, so we gave in to his temptations and we gave in to his power. But Jesus, the real strong man, set us free from that power when he saved us. And he not only set us free, but he changed our appetites, he changed our heart, he changed our desires, and gave us power to be able to overcome. That's the way Paul said it in Acts chapter 26 verse 18.
He said Jesus gave us power to overcome Satan's power in order that we might relish in God's power. Luke chapter 11 verse 23 through 26 says this, When the unclean spirit is gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places, seeking rest and finding none. It says, I will return to my house from which I came. It comes, it finds the house swept and put in order. Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. That's the parable. What happens if you try to do a little small spiritual cleanup?
Kind of like a New Year's resolution. What happens if that's what's going on in your life and it's not a genuine transformation? Let me tell you what happens. Reformation without regeneration is absolutely meaningless. If you had this idea that you can do some good works and that's going to put you in right relationship with God, that you can do this little thing or do that little thing, God's going to be so pleased with you, he's going to bring you into his kingdom, then you have believed a lie.
That is absolute futility. What has to happen? What has to happen is this. God, Almighty God, has to do a work in your heart of regeneration, and when that regeneration takes place, then what takes place in your heart? There is an absolute submission, unreserved submission to the lordship of Jesus Christ.
When that happens, everything changes. Abraham Lincoln used these verses when he was speaking to the nation back during the time of the Civil War, trying to bring the nation back together. He made this statement. He said, a house divided cannot stand. And he said, Jesus said that. Jesus said that. I remember talking to Harry Reader one time, and Harry's a Civil War buff, but he said that he believed that if Stonewall Jackson had not died and he had been the general during the time of the Battle of Gettysburg, then the South would have won the Battle of Gettysburg, and then they probably would have gone on to win the Civil War, and if that had happened, then the nation would have been divided into two countries.
And then when World War I started, the nations probably would not have gotten back together to go and fight against Germany, and Germany would have conquered the world. He might be right there, I don't know. But I tell you this, I know Jesus was right. And Jesus said, a house divided cannot stand. Point four is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Look with me at verse 28 through 30.
Truly I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, but whoever blasphemies against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness but is guilty of an eternal sin, for they were saying he has an unclean spirit. The religious leader said Jesus was casting out demons by the power of Satan. Over in the 11th chapter of Luke, the scripture says that Jesus was casting out these demons by the finger of God.
Where'd that expression come from? Have to go all the way back to Exodus chapter 8. God's casting the ten plagues on Egypt. And the Egyptian magicians were trying to duplicate the plagues that God was doing through the power of Satan. They did that for a couple plagues. And then a plague of gnats came, and when the plague of gnats came, they couldn't do a thing.
And they stepped back, and do you remember what they said? They said, wow, this is the finger of God. Luke 11 says that Jesus was casting out these demons by the finger of God. If you read it in Matthew's Gospel, it changes the word finger of God to spirit of God. What is the finger of God?
The finger of God is the Holy Spirit. So Jesus did this miracle through the power of the Holy Spirit. Folks, one of the greatest deceptions that Satan has used against the modern evangelical church is to get us, because of some of the junk that's going on in the charismatic movement, to distrust anything to do with the Holy Spirit.
How crazy is that? Folks, the Holy Spirit is God. The power to fight sin, the power to live holy, the power to understand the word of God, the power to stand when others are running away comes from the Holy Spirit of God.
Listen, you Presbyterians. We need to remember that the Holy Spirit is divine. He is God. He should not be the forgotten member of the Trinity. The Holy Spirit is the one who conforms us in the image of Jesus. We ought not to run from the Holy Spirit. We need to run to the Holy Spirit. We need to embrace Him.
We need to love Him. We need to realize that it is the Holy Spirit who gives us the power to become like Jesus. I'm going to go over into Matthew's Gospel just a second, because Matthew adds some words that Mark leaves out. In Matthew, Jesus explains what these religious leaders have done by attributing the work of the Holy Spirit to Satan. In Matthew 12 through 32, it says this, Whoever is not with me is against me.
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. The sin is referred to as blasphemy of the Holy Spirit or the unforgivable sin.
In Matthew 12, when the religious leaders accused Jesus of doing a miracle of exorcism by the power of Satan, Jesus said that what they were doing was blaspheming or guilty of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. I want you to think for just a minute about the most heinous sins that you can think about. I guess there would be sins like murder, adultery, pedophilia, child abuse, spousal abuse. Those type of things, those sins make us cringe, don't they? They make us angry. Let me ask you this. If a murderer, an adulterer, child molester, pedophile, if they were to genuinely repent and turn to the Lord, would they be forgiven?
The answer is absolutely yes. But there is a sin that can be committed that will never be forgiven. And what is that sin? That sin is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.
Now, the religious leaders attributed the work of the Holy Spirit to the devil. I think that action is the fruit of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. So what is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit? It is a continual rejection of the Holy Spirit's conviction and of the Holy Spirit's illuminating power. It is rejection that makes the heart so calloused that the person has no fear of God, no conviction of sin, and no concern for eternity. That person would rather be in hell than he would be in the presence of God. Now, I want to take a moment and I want to address something here because I know that there are some people here in this congregation who I love very deeply who have very tender and sensitive consciences. And there is the possibility of you being deceived into believing that you've committed the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit because you just don't quite understand that.
And Satan uses this to bring great destruction. I remember in the first church that I pastored, there was a young lady that came to me and she said, Doug, I need counseling. I said, okay. I met with her and her husband in my office. And as we sat down, her hands were just shaking and trembling. She started crying.
I said, what's the matter? She said, Doug, I'm afraid that I might have committed blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. This lady was a strong Christian. She sang in the choir. She taught children's Sunday school. She had a wonderful godly family.
One of her sons recently called me and told me about the work that he was doing as a missionary in Africa. She loved the Lord. She loved the church, and yet Satan was having a field day with her emotions. Satan was just bringing all kind of junk into her mind in order that he could steal away her assurance of salvation. I remember looking right into her eyes and said, why in the world do you think you might have blasphemed the Holy Spirit? And she said, well, I had a dream. And she said, in my dream, I said something against the Holy Spirit. I said, listen, listen carefully. The unforgivable sin is not something that can happen accidentally.
If a person has committed the unforgivable sin, then it is purposeful, it is intentional, it is hardening of the heart, hardening of the heart against Jesus Christ. I said, if you had committed blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, you wouldn't be concerned about your salvation. I said it wouldn't bother you in the least. You wouldn't have a fear of God. You would not be tender and sensitive and introspective like you are. You would be this. You'd be angry. You'd be bitter. You would be hard.
And you wouldn't give a rip what God thinks. Folks, we had to meet about five times before that bondage was broken in that young lady's life. I talked to her recently. She's walking with the Lord. Strong, strong Christian. But I know there's so many that take this passage wrong and that are Christians, that love the Lord, that have been born again. If that's the case with you and you have been born again by the Spirit of God, realize this, you have eternal life, and nothing can take that away from you. I love the way the Apostle Paul said it in Philippians chapter 1 verse 6, when he said, being confident of this very thing, that he who has begun a good work in you shall perform it or complete it to the day of Jesus Christ. I love what Paul says in Romans chapter 8 verse 38 and 39, when he said, for I am persuaded that neither death nor life nor angels nor powers nor principalities nor things present nor things to come nor height nor depth nor any other creature shall separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. I love what Jesus said in John 10 28, when he said, and I give unto them eternal life and they shall never perish, neither shall anyone snatch them out of my hand.
You get that truth in your mind as a genuine Christian, and Satan will not be able to shake you. Point five, those who belong to Jesus, verse 31 through 35. And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him. And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, Your mother and your brothers are outside seeking you. And he answered them, Who are my mother and brothers? And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother. Jesus and mother and brothers were genuinely concerned about him. They thought that he had worked so hard that he'd just become totally delusional. And so they came to him in order that they might take him home. When they got there, the crowd was so big they couldn't even get to him. So finally a messenger was sent to Jesus, and the messenger said, Your mom's here, and your brothers and your sisters are here.
They've come to take you home. Jesus used this as a teaching lesson, and he said, Who are my mother and my brother and my sisters? And then he said this as the answer, Those who do the will of God. John chapter 1 in verse 11 and 12 says, He came into his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the children of God, even to those who believe in his name. Jesus spoke to Nicodemus. He said, Nicodemus, except you be born again, you shall not see the kingdom of God. In other words, don't depend on your family line. Don't depend on your physical lineage.
Depend on this. Has God done a work in your heart? Have you been born again? Have you come to the point in your life where you realize that your hope is in the grace of God, and then through that, your submission to his Lordship.
I want to close with something John Stott said. He said, In order to follow Christ, we have to deny ourselves, to crucify ourselves, to lose ourselves. The full inexorable demand of Jesus Christ is now laid bare.
He does not call us to a sloppy half-heartedness, but to a vigorous, absolute commitment. He calls us to make him our Lord. The astonishing idea is current in some circles today that we can enjoy the benefits of Christ's salvation without accepting the challenge of his sovereign Lordship.
Such an unbalanced notion is not to be found in the New Testament. Jesus is Lord, his earliest known formulation of the creed of Christians. In days when Imperial Rome was pressing its citizens to say, Caesar is Lord, these words had a dangerous flavor. But Christians did not flinch.
They could not give Caesar their first allegiance because they had already given it to the Emperor Jesus. God has exalted his Son Jesus far above all principality and power and invested him with a rank superior to every rank that before him every knee should bow and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Amen? Amen.
Let's pray. Heavenly Father, this passage is an eye-opener. We all tend to be filled with pride. We say to ourselves, I love Jesus. I desire to walk in his statutes and obey his commands. I could have never blasphemed the Holy Spirit. I could have never committed the unforgivable sin. Father, help us to see our error.
Except for the grace of God, we could have all been hopelessly lost for all of eternity. Lord, help us to revel in your grace. Help us to see that anything that we do that is pleasing to you is simply your grace extended to an unworthy creature. May the subject of the unforgivable sin humble us and make us deeply appreciative of Christ's work on the cross. For it is in the precious and holy name of Jesus that we pray. Amen.
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