Today, we get to see a bit of what the Bible says about demons, and how Jesus handled them, but we'll also cover what's called the "Unforgivable" or "Unpardonable" sin.
As always, you can find all our previous posts in this series, going through the Gospels chronologically to find the real Jesus, here.
And as always you'll find the scriptures for today are here. (Note that you can change the human-translation version on this scripture page as suits you. I default to the NASB to get the more literal translation, but do use the one that works for you. Note also that I have no theological or other tie to the bible site I list above – it's just one that lists the NASB, KJV, and The Message, and most folks I've corresponded with seem to use one of those. However, another brother says you can also get the NRSV human translation at bible.oremus.org. If you prefer yet another human-translation that isn't on one of these other pages, do send it to me. I will also list it here).
Despite all our religious and secular culture "knows" about demons – who they are, how they act, the power they have or don't have, how they look, and so on – the Bible really says very little that gives us much detail beyond the kinds of damage they can do. In fact, most of what we or others "know" about demons has been completely manufactured by human beings – and ideas created from combining our imaginations with regional myths. So let's see a bit about demons, today (and there will be more in coming weeks, to be sure). What people of that place and time 2,000 years ago thought of them, and so on.
First in our scripture-read for today we see Jesus getting the same kind of treatment His followers often get even now, when they're living God's (real) way and not the Good Religious Way (or even the Great Scientific Way): Jesus was accused of being "crazy" by those who felt they knew Him and the "right" way best. And truly, we can see where they might be coming from. There were cults back then just as there are today, and they could be just as dangerous back then as the ones we see today. And imagine if your son or brother was suddenly thronged by huge crowds of people who believed he was capable of curing horrible illnesses just by a touch, and who hung on his every word as if it came from God Himself. Wouldn't you be a little worried?
Here's the thing, though. His family wasn't really seeing Who He was any more than the Good Religious People were. Who else should have already seen the God-spark in Him (even if just to see Him as a great prophet, if nothing more) than those who knew Him in all the daily life-details of family life? And yet they missed it. Assumed He must be crazy. His biological family hadn't really learned anything since they'd "lost" Him when he was a kid at the Temple and couldn't figure out why He would stay talking and debating with the scholars there. In fact, His family would remain among the most painfully ignorant of who He really was, and how pleased God was with Him, until His resurrection.
- Have there been ways your family thinks you're "crazy", simply because you don't conform to all the ways they believe you should? Are your nonconforming ways part of God's (real) ways? How can you protect your godly nonconformity from those whose eyes aren't yet opened to the real Jesus yet?
- Jesus' biological family would also have wanted to protect Him from charges of being a fake teacher, which in that place and time could end in death if it went too far with the wrong crowd. What might have helped them open their eyes to His real existence as the Son of God? What might help you to more open your own eyes to who Jesus really is?
So, those who thought they knew Him best as family accused Jesus of being crazy. But those who weren't family had another charge for him: they accused Him of being demon-powered.
Back in those days, people so interested would often call on the power of a larger demon to overpower or drive out a smaller demon. That's what these people were accusing Jesus of doing. They were saying that He was possessed by Satan, and using the power of Satan to boss around lesser demons.
But is that even how the world of demonry works? And is this how good people can fight against evil?
Jesus says no. Evil is evil, and no one drives out evil by using evil. It would be like using water to dry something – the world just doesn't work like that.
- Our human world is absolutely overrun by the idea that we can use evil to accomplish good. The big example today is our "good" use of the evils of war, with all the terror, murder, rape, child-killing, food and water destruction, and more that always are part of it to "spread democracy" or "liberate" people and so on. But we also create and participate in all kinds of "good" religious "devotion" that only massages our feel-good brain chemicals and makes us feel all righteous-y and Jesus-y without having to actually live the way Jesus Himself actually told us to live. What are some of the ways you have or continue to use or do evil things to do "good"? Have you considered that in those ways you are just doing the devil's work for him?
- What kinds of damage can you see being done by Good Religious People doing "good" in evil ways? Have you considered how false teachings about what the Bible says / doesn't say about Gay people, women, the poor, and so on are all evil being done in the name of "good"? How can you help heal the huge amount of this kind of damage done in "Jesus" Name to yourself and others?
Then Jesus tells the folks who are accusing Him of doing His good through the devil's power that they are on the verge of making themselves unforgivable. Lots of heartache has sprung up over the centuries over Jesus' assertion that it's possible to do something God will not actually forgive. But what is He actually talking about? What isn't forgivable?
First of all, we have to look at the whole context. The Bible tells us over and over again that God forgives all sins that we feel bad about AND turn away from. In this scripture, though, here are people who are so against admitting in their hearts who Jesus really is – so against it that they accuse Him of being demonic, to justify their refusal to see who He really is – that they are falling into the trap Paul talked about in Romans 1.
And what trap was that? It's refusing to let God's way into their hearts, so that finally God simply let them keep their own way in their hearts, and they suffered the penalty of having to live neck-deep in their own evil garbage.
Remember that God had already been at work in Jewish lives for many centuries now. He'd done miracles in their lives, even promised them He'd send them a great Savior – but the Bible tells us that again and again "His people" turned their backs on Him and trashed their relationship with Him, preferring their own crap to His shining glory. And here, finally, was God Himself, standing right in front of the people in this scripture, once again doing huge miracles to prove He was there – and they were STILL preferring to stay neck deep in their own crap rather than come to His truly good side. And they were making it even worse by "justifying" their love of their own crap by accusing God of only having power because the devil gave it to Him.
Jesus here is simply giving the same warning we get elsewhere in the Bible: if you let your heart get so hard that you refuse God's good way all the way to your end, God will punish you by letting you remain in your own evil way to rot to your heart's content.
That's the eternal sin: preferring human evil over God's good. That's what can't be forgiven, because the people committing it refuse the forgiveness. And when that happens, the Bible tells us, God will finally say, "Ok, have it your way – forever."
- Some argue that God will ultimately save everyone, because God is love. Yet the Bible tells and shows us that while God's love does reach out to everyone, eventually, with those who just absolutely refuse to choose (real) good, He will just let them go their own way. And, unfortunately, our own human way leads to eternal hell. Have you had times in your life where you refused God or His goodness? If you've since felt badly about that, do you realize that means you have NOT committed the unforgivable sin?
- There are a lot of people who are angry with God today. Many Gay people, for example, have a lot of bitterness against God because they've not yet understood that He's not only not any happier with fake-"Christians" than they are, but that He not only predicted those fake-"Christians" would show up and cause all this hurt but also told us to prepare and defend ourselves from their "good" evil. What are some ways you can help yourself or others to realize that being angry at God because of a Good Religious Lie is not the same as outright rejection of the real, living God? What are some ways you can help yourself or others to heal this damage?
See you next week, when we'll see Jesus in action against demons!
This article written by Lynne at http://NoJunkJustJesus.blogspot.com/. You can contact Lynne at NoJunkJustJesus@gmail.com.