Good Advice for the Church, and The Unforgivable Sin

Apostle Paul never abridges his sound advice for the church. One of the clearest, most concise examples is:

Titus 3:1-11 Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, (2) to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. (3) For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. (4) But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, (5) he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, (6) whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, (7) so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (8) The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. (9) But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. (10) As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, (11) knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.

If I, and you, and each member of Christ’s body, the church, followed Paul’s counsel without regard for what all others do, we’d be amazed at the widespread revival that would break out in our communities. I’m convinced that most non-believers are not only receptive to God’s gospel of love, but truly long to find its authentic expression. Sadly, they won’t find it in most churches, or most “Christians,” today. We’ve earned such a bad rap that unsaved seekers avoid us like the pox, and, grace notwithstanding, Christ will hold us accountable for our self-serving, religious behavior.

Matthew 12:31 Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.

Ever since Jesus said that, controversy has raged over specifically what that “unforgivable sin” is. Funny thing is, its meaning is perfectly obvious; just look at its context. Only religious pretenders can commit that dreaded transgression, as did the Pharisees when Jesus healed the demon-possessed man.

But, what about today? We have no Pharisees, right?

Wrong! “Pharisees” occupy prominent positions in all religions, and philosophical, scholarly, political, and social establishments. They’re the ones who manage to convince others that they “know it all,” whether or not they know anything. They use their charisma, or their bombastic power, to override their less convincing brethren, and make others conform to their self-serving will.

While that influence-peddling is sin, it’s not the “unforgivable sin.” It becomes that only when they do one of two things: First, when they do as the Pharisees in the above Scripture passage did; they branded Jesus, and his miracles, as demonic. Since Jesus performed his miracles through the Holy Spirit’s power, that fits the definition.

Second, when they perform works, or declare “truths” or prophetic utterances as Holy Spirit-motivated or empowered, when in fact they come from their own pride or ambition. Most Christians would agree with the first example, above, but the second will likely cause some controversy. I personally have no right or authority to judge anyone’s motives, and in truth, I can’t even be sure of my own.

I keep praying and hoping for revival in the church, but I must ask myself if I’m doing all I can to help bring it about. Am I walking in the light God has given me? Am I obeying his clear injunctions? Am I loving my brethren and my neighbors as Christ loves me? Unless, or until, I walk as a true Christ-follower, I have no right complaining about the state of his church.


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