Many people worry about this verse. It speaks of an unpardonable sin, but for whom? This warning is actually spoken by Jesus in the context of the evil deception and eternal opposition of the demonic realm towards the true work of the Holy Spirit. Jesus seems particularly determined to reassure us of God’s persevering heart of forgiveness towards mankind.
I was talking to a young man recently who was troubled by some of the things he was seeing on a Christian TV channel. During prayer ministry, people were sometimes reacting in seemingly uncontrollable ways. The movements were often violent, sustained, haphazard and certainly very undignified for those involved. But everyone present seemed to be seeking even more of them!
The young man decided to talk to a pastor friend, who told him that that when encountering spiritual power like this, it was important to ‘go with the flow’ and not quench what the Holy Spirit wanted to do. ‘But what if it’s not the Holy Spirit manifesting the spiritual power,’ asked the young man. ‘Surely God wants us to discern what spirit is at work?’ His friend replied that he’d always been concerned not to speak against the Holy Spirit, so he’d much rather not confront such manifestations, but wait and see what happened afterwards with those involved.
The young man went home still troubled and relayed the pastor’s comments to his wife. He found her response simple and very wise. She said, ‘Our friend is being controlled by fear, and that will never be how Jesus wants our lives to be directed. We need to pray for him to be willing to confront as God gives him discernment.’
The Holy Spirit is certainly not waiting to trap us into eternal damnation if, on occasions, we fail to recognise Him. It’s consistent rebellion which separates us from God, not if we make a mistake when we sincerely seek to discern and confront the difference between the true manifestation of God's Spirit and the defiling deception of the enemy.
Prayer: Thank you Lord that discernment is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Help me to use it to recognise and bless what you are doing, and not be trapped by deceptions from the enemy. In Jesus, Amen
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