An eternal sin

Read: Numbers 3-4, Mark 3:22-35

Mark 3:28

It’s a nice thought, knowing that all of our sins and blasphemies will be forgiven us. On this verse alone, we could hinge our very existence. Jesus said it, after all. But that’s not all he said.

But whoever blasphemes against he Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin.

Mark 3:39 (NIV)

Yikes! We tend to believe that nothing we could ever say or do is beyond forgiveness, but apparently there’s this one thing that would earn us eternal damnation. Why? Why is this one sin so much worse than anything else we could possibly do? Once we understand who the Holy Spirit is and what his purpose is in our lives, the answer becomes very clear. Let’s start with what Jesus had to say about the Spirit.

If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.

John 14:15-17 (NIV)

In Jesus’ own words, he describes a Helper that will come to live with and in us. So we have a Counselor, a Helper. Great. Why is it such a big deal to speak against the Holy Spirit?

But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

Jon 14:26 (NIV)

Oh! Are you starting to get the picture? Without Jesus, in phyical form right in front of us, we need something or someone to give us a nudge in the right direction and remind us the right path we need to take. But there’s more!

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.

1 Corinthians 12:4-6 (NIV)

Not only does the Holy Spirit help us, but he comes bearing gifts. Good gifts. No, not just good, great. Great gifts. The Spirit gives us gifts of wisdom and knowledge, faith, healing and miracles. Gifts of prophecy, discernment, tongues, and interpretation. Without the Spirit none of these things exist. And, without the gifts of the Spirit, how can the body be edified?

For we are all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.

1 Corinthians 12:13 (NIV)

And there’s the verse that wraps it all together. Why is speaking against the Holy Spirit so unforgivable?

  1. The Holy Spirit was sent to help us when Jesus’ time on earth was complete. Just as John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus, Jesus prepared the way for the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is there to help us, to guide us, and to remind us of all Jesus taught and commanded us.
  2. The Holy Spirit is here for our edification. He gives us these incredible gifts so that we can communicate better with God and do His amazing works on His behalf.
  3. Lastly, and possibly most importantly, the Holy Spirit is what holds us all together as one body. To blaspheme the Spirit is to speak against God, against Jesus, and against the entire body of Christ.

God has given us all that we need to succeed in the path He has set out for us, the Holy Spirit being our guide and Jesus, the Word, being the lamp that lights the way. Let us not fall into sin by reaching for one gift and not another, but let us take every advantage available to us so that we can live the full life intended for us.

Isolate

Read: Leviticus 13, Matthew 26:20-54

Leviticus 13 is probably one of the most disgusting chapters in the Bible. I don’t mean that in a Hey man, that was totally disgusting! (which really means cool) kind of way. I mean it’s gross. It’s an entire chapter on rashes, boils, pus, and other infections that I’d rather not read about in such detail. But it’s important.

In a practical sense, removing from the camp those with infections was helpful to the entire nation. Left to fester, a person could end up infecting a high percentage of the population over a period of time.

In a spiritual sense, we can take away a few things. If we take the concept of an infection and apply it to our spiritual lives, those infections become ideas. Some ideas are good and, like a nasty rash, some are bad and can spread in a hurry. So what can we do?

  1. Identify. Is my perceived issue really an issue at all? Are the ideas rolling around in my head just ideas or are they more? Do they have the potential to create bigger issues down the road if left unchecked? If you’re not sure about some thoughts or ideas you’ve been entertaining, check with the Word of God. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says that we demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. Once you’ve identified whether a thought is obedient to Christ or not, we can move on.
  2. Incubate. Some ideas never go beyond an initial thought. They come and go. Others may need more time to fully form so that they can be weighed against the Bible. Leviticus describes some skin rashes that either healed over a period of seven days or began to fester and spread. Some thoughts will be brought into line simply by renewing our minds while others may start to get out of control if not reined in.
  3. Isolate. If a thought or idea that you’ve been entertaining proves to be set against the knowledge of God, it’s time to isolate. When a person was found to have an infectious skin disease, they were isolated until they were healed and could once again be made ceremonially clean. If the infection persisted, these people were forced to live outside the camp to prevent the infection from spreading to others. If you find your thoughts leading you astray, isolate them. Take them captive. Don’t entertain them. Don’t spread them.

Leviticus 13:46

Ideas, when they become words, are like an infection. Once they’re out there, it’s pretty difficult to take them back without a great deal of effort and energy. By dealing with issues before they ever get to the contagious stage, we could solve a lot of issues in the church. Our standard always has been and should be the Word of God. If what we think or say is not for God, it is against Him. And it is up to us to keep ourselves and each other in line—even if it means taking the time to correct our thought patterns. Better to live in isolation for while than to have to live outside the camp and fellowship of other believers.

Difficult? Maybe. But we have the mind of Christ according to 1 Corinthians 2:16.

Boast

Boast is a strange word. We don’t use it often and when we do, it can have negative connotations. Pride. Arrogance. Biblically speaking, the root word translated to boast can also be translated to shine.:

SHINE: To emit rays of light; to give light; to beam with steady radiance; to exhibit brightness or splendor.

Now that changes things a little bit, doesn’t it?

This is what the Lord says: “Let not the wise man gloat in his wisdom, or the mighty man in his might, or the rich man in his riches. Let them boast in this alone: that they truly know me and understand that I am the Lord who is just and righteous, whose love is unfailing, and that I delight in these things. I, the Lord, have spoken.

Jeremiah 9:23-24 (NLT)

As humans, we cannot truly boast. We cannot truly shine. While we are made in God’s image, we are meant to reflect His glory, His light. We have no light of our own. Anything that we reflect other than God’s glory is a counterfeit.

But God, in His love and kindness has given us the capacity to know Him. And not just know about Him, but to truly know Him.

KNOW: To perceive with certainty; to understand clearly; to have a clear and certain perception of truth, fact, or any thing that actually exists.

God has given us both the capacity and the right to know Him, with clarity and certainty. And He delights in us when we do what He has allowed us to do. God loves it when we get to know Him. He’s not hiding from us. He doesn’t hold back from himself. He gives. Freely. This is what we should boast in—the truth that should radiate from us: that God knows us and that we can know the Creator of the universe, that He doesn’t want us to just know about Him, but that He wants us to know Him intimately and without doubt.

The more time you spend with someone, the more you reflect that person’s attitudes, ideals, and even mannerisms. It’s the same with God. Our time with Him should be so influential that we imitate Him in every way. Like a proud parent when their child mimics their (good) behavior, so God also delights in us when we act like Him.

So go ahead, boast. Shine.

Daily Bible reading: Jeremiah 9-10, 1 Timothy 3

Living knowledge

[God] saves men because He loves them individually, and desires to make them blessed; but He also saves them because He desires that through them other shall be brought into the living knowledge of His love. It is most especially true about great religious teachers and guides.

MacLaren’s Expositions

In Paul’s first letter to Timothy, he tells his son in the faith to stop letting people waste time in endless speculation. Many in the church had begun to spend more time in discussion over fruitless facts rather than actually bearing fruit. They lost sight of the purpose of their salvation.

Our salvation is not only for our own personal good, but for the good of everyone. As stated in the quote above, God saves us because He loves us, but He also saves us so that we can share His love and be brought into the living knowledge of it.

Facts are great. I love facts. I love statistics. I like knowing things. But those things bear no fruit. Facts have no life to them. This is why Paul directed Timothy to keep the church from spending all their time arguing over these things. While genealogies may be important to an extent, when compared to eternity, it’s a bit of a waste of time. Because God wants to save everyone—not just a specific few.

This is a true saying, and everyone should believe it. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—and I was the worst of them all. But that is why God had mercy on me, so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life.

1 Timothy 1:15-16 (NLT)

The greater the fall, the greater the story of salvation. (Please don’t take this as an invitation to go on a sinning spree just so you can say you’ve been saved from all of that.) If Paul, a man who spent his life pursuing and killing Christians, could be saved, we can all be saved. And, if that same man can spread the Gospel, we can all spread the Gospel. This is the point he was making.

In the Kingdom of God, your earthy pedigree means nothing. The very same grace saves us all. Let’s not lose sight of that fact and let us not lose sight of the fact that we are saved so that others might be saved.

The purpose of my instruction is that all Christians there would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and sincere faith.

1 Timothy 1:5 (NLT)

Love is what we should be filled with, not fruitless arguments. Look for that living knowledge of God, that which edifies the soul and strengthens the spirit. Those are the thoughts that should be consuming us.

Daily Bible reading: Jeremiah 5-6, 1 Timothy 1

 

In conclusion

As we come to the end of the book of Ecclesiastes, some may be left with the idea that, since nothing seems to really matter, we should just live our lives in pursuit of personal pleasure.

“All is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “utterly meaningless.”

Ecclesiastes 12:8 (NLT)

There’s nothing like a bit of encouragement from the Teacher (largely presumed to be Solomon) first thing in the morning. If everything still to come is meaningless (11:8), why bother trying to do good? Why should we help other people when we can help ourselves? Because it is our duty—not as Christians, but as human beings.

Here is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is the duty of every person.

Ecclesiastes 12:13 (NLT)

As soon as someone tells me that I have to do something, I suddenly don’t want to do it whether it’s good or not. Words like fear and obey are often not see in the best of light and we tend to not want to comply when they’re thrust at us. If you’ve been following along in your daily Bible reading, though, you’ll have already come across hundreds of reasons why fearing God and obeying His commands are really good things.

Fear of the Lord teaches wisdom…

Proverbs 15:33 (NLT)

Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge…

Proverbs 1:7 (NLT)

Fear of the Lord leads to life…

Proverbs 19:23 (NLT)

Life. Wisdom. Knowledge. Who doesn’t want those? We should fear the Lord. And not just out of duty, but because we want to.

And what about obedience?

Praise the Lord! How joyful are those who fear the Lord and delight in obeying his commands.

Psalm 112:1 (NLT)

When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.

John 15:10 (NLT)

Joy! Love! We could go on all day about the benefits of fearing God and obeying His commands. It may be our duty, but it is also to our benefit to do so. If the wisest man who ever lived concluded that we should do these things, perhaps there’s something to it.

Daily Bible reading: Ecclesiastes 10-12, 2 Corinthians 11:16-33

Don’t bother

Maybe I’m the only one, but when I read a controversial article online, I can’t help but scroll through the comments. And then I start to get riled up. Some people can be so ignorant! How can they even believe things like that? How can someone agree? How can they disagree? Can’t they even bother to use spell check? My initial reaction is to respond to every ignorant and inane comment right away. On the few occasions I have, I end up regretting it.

If you’re reading this, you have internet access and you’re probably aware that there are thousands of people out there who feel it is their calling to set things straight. They troll news and social media sites looking for topics that have the potential to spark debate and then they light it up. They believe themselves to be enlightened and on top of current social justice issues. They’re right. Every time. I have to resist the urge to respond to these types of people. The book of Proverbs would refer to them as fools, simple minded, wicked, liars. There is no use in responding to these people.

Anyone who rebukes a mocker will get a smart retort. Anyone who rebukes the wicked will get hurt.

Proverbs 9:7 (NLT)

Whether online or in “real life”, the best way to respond to these types of people is to not respond at all. But they need to know the truth! Yes, they do. But if they’re not looking for it, reading one comment from you isn’t likely to lead them down the path of enlightenment.

Don’t talk to much, for it fosters sin. Be sensible and turn off the flow!

Proverbs 10:19 (NLT)

Why would you bother to pour out the wisdom that God has given you into a fool? They won’t receive it. Save it. Don’t join in the foolishness of the simple-minded.

So don’t bother rebuking mockers; they will only hate you. But the wise, when rebuked, will love you all the more.

Proverbs 9:8 (NLT)

This doesn’t mean that we leave this group of people alone entirely. It means that we learn from Kenny Rogers.

You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run

Save your wisdom. Save your knowledge of truth. Don’t waste it on those who don’t want it. Don’t bother trying to guide the blind. Don’t try to correct those who won’t accept it. Spend your energy leading those who are searching. And, above all, learn to fear the Lord, not the bored musings of blind fools.

Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in understanding.

Proverbs 9:10 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Proverbs 9-10, 1 Corinthians 15:1-32

Find her

We often look upon wisdom as this elusive, nigh unattainable thing. Wisdom is just for a select few. Maybe you’re born with it, maybe you’re not. If you have it, hold on to it. If you don’t have it, good luck finding it.

How we ever began thinking that way of wisdom is beyond me. Wisdom isn’t a country club for the rich and famous. Wisdom is out on the street corner calling out to anyone who will listen to her. She cries out to the foolish and simple-minded aching to be heard above the dull roar of humanity.

I call to you, to all of you! I am raising my voice to all people.

Proverbs 8:4 (NLT)

Wisdom is for anyone and everyone who will stop to listen to her voice. Wisdom isn’t fleeting or coy. She does not play hard-to-get. She isn’t corrupt, but rather pure. We should all seek wisdom above all else.

Choose my instruction rather than silver, and knowledge over pure gold. For wisdom is far more valuable than rubies. Nothing you desire can be compared with it.

Proverbs 8:10-11 (NLT)

Wisdom will not only lead you from foolish decisions, but she will lead you toward knowledge, understanding and wealth.

Unending riches, honor, wealth, and justice are mine to distribute.

Proverbs 8:18 (NLT)

But wisdom should not be sought for the purpose of gaining wealth. For if wealth is what you seek, wisdom is not what you will find.

I love all who love me. Those who search for me will surely find me.

Proverbs 8:17 (NLT)

This sounds a lot like something someone else said…

Keep on asking, and you will be given what you ask for. Keep on looking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And the door is opened to everyone who knocks.

Matthew 7:7-8 (NLT)

Wisdom and God go hand-in-hand. God formed wisdom before He formed the earth. If we find Him, we will find wisdom. If we find wisdom, we will find God. The two are inseparable.

For whoever finds me finds life and wins approval from the Lord.

Proverbs 8:35 (NLT)

Ask for wisdom. Look for her. Seek her. Find her. She will multiply your days and add years to your life (Proverbs 9:11).

Daily Bible reading: Proverbs 7-8, 1 Corinthians 14:21-40