Matthew 12: 22-27: The Sin of Blasphemy
You remember how messengers once came to Jesus from John the Baptist, asking if He were really the Lord, and how He let them see the kind works that He was doing and sent them back to tell John what they had seen. Men like them with simple, good hearts, felt the Lord's great love and goodness. They were as persons whose eyes had been opened spiritually to see the Lord, and their lips to confess Him. (Verse 22.)
But the same goodness which simple, good people felt in the Lord's works and which made them happy, made selfish people angry; they hated it, and showed their hatred by calling it "Beelzebub the prince of the devils." (Baal-zebub, "Lord of flies," was an idol of Ekron, 2 Kings 1:2, which the Jews identified with the worst of evil spirits.) How utterly false! All evil things were leagued together as a united army to do harm. The Lord's loving powers stood against them. He bound the strong man by overcoming the evil spirits of hell, and so He had power to save men from them. Good and evil, right and wrong, are opposites, and we should draw a sharp line between them. As the evil stand together against the Lord, so we ought to stand bravely and consistently with Him and not leave it in doubt on which side we are. (Verses 25-30)
Blasphemy means irreverent and contemptuous speaking of holy things. There were, no doubt, many people who saw the Lord when He was in the world, who did not know that He was different from other men. If they said something against Him, they were not so much to blame. When they knew Him better they might be sorry and learn to love Him. But suppose they felt the Divine, loving spirit in the Lord's works and words, and hated it and spoke against it, then they were much more to blame; they were despising the only power that could save them. Even in the other world there is no other power to, save, and if they hated it here they would hate it there.
It is the same with the Lord's Word. Some people do not know that it is different from other books. They may criticize its language and speak against it, but perhaps by and by they will learn that it is Divine and love it. They are speaking a word against the Son of man, which may be forgiven them; for the letter of the Bible, like the natural body of the Lord, is taken from men and may be called the Son of man. But if one feels the holiness and goodness of the Bible and hates it, he is closing his mind to the only power that can help him. This is blaspheming against the Holy Spirit, and it cannot be forgiven, because there is no other power to save and protect us.
The same lesson is taught in the second Commandment: "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain: for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain." When people speak against the Lord or the Bible and holy things, let us hope that they do it without really knowing the Divineness of these things. "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." But how very necessary it is for us who do know how holy and Divine the Lord and the Bible are, not to speak carelessly of them, and not to neglect or disobey them.
It was the Divine spirit of goodness and love in the Lord's works and words that made them so good. The spirit in our acts and words makes them good or bad. If selfish and bad thoughts and feelings are within, they make the acts and words bad even when they look outwardly good. People are like trees, and their works and words are the fruits. The fruits cannot be good if the spirit in them is not good. If the spirit is like a poisonous viper, the words that we speak are not good. In this world we cannot always judge the spirit of other people, but in the other world the hidden thoughts and feelings will be plainly seen. The angels then can read one's whole character in a single act or word. And even now nothing is hidden from the Lord; He knows the spirit in everything we do and say.
1. Why should a Divine work done by the Lord lead some to confess and love Him, and some to deny and hate Him?
2. What does the word "blasphemy" mean? What Commandment forbids it? Why would it be more wrong for us to speak against the Lord than for some others to do so?
3. A tree is known by its fruits; what shows the quality of a man? What is there within an act or word, which makes it good or evil?
4. Can we always see which it is? Will it sometime be seen more plainly than now? Who sees even now?
The man who was possessed was blind and dumb. At another time the devil was deaf and dumb. (Mark 9:25.) If we let any evil have possession of us it dulls our senses to spiritual things. It makes us blind so that we cannot understand and see the truth of them, or deaf so that we cannot take them in and love and obey them, or dumb because we cannot acknowledge them and teach them and thank the Lord. We must ask the Lord's help and get free from the evil thing. Then our senses will be opened; we shall know that the Lord and the Bible are Divine, and heavenly things which we are taught will be plain and beautiful to us. (A. 6987-6990)
The Lord's words about blasphemy show the importance of being very careful to be reverent. If others use the Lord's name in careless swearing, or if they joke about the Bible, that is no excuse for our doing so. They may know no better, and it may be forgiven them; but in proportion as we do know better, such irreverence does us harm, and makes us less able ever to be reverent toward the Lord, or to feel the holiness and power of His Word. (E. 778; A. 8882; P. 231; T. 299)
When is the "day of judgment"? It is for each one when, soon after death, his real character is revealed. (Matthew 13:39.) Shall we be judged by our words alone? What else reveals the character? (Revelations 22:12.)