This is the third message on The Blasphemy Against the Holy Ghost, and completes my summation of the passage preceding Christ’s terrible statement. It deals with the Lord’s power to bind the strong man and spoil his house, and the possibility of forgiveness for “all manner of sin and blasphemy,” including the blasphemy against the Son of man. The message concludes by stating that this passage stands as a powerful proof of the full deity both of Christ the Son and of the Holy Ghost.
Now John again overwhelms us by declaring that the person born of God does not commit sin. We have considered this idea before, proving that John is not arguing for sinless perfection, but seems rather to be pointing out that the general course of the believer’s life is after holiness. In this case, a stronger argument can be made that the apostle is showing that the new nature implanted in the Christian by regeneration does not sin, for he speaks of that seed which remains in us, and that because we are born of God we cannot sin. Nevertheless, I still aver that he speaks here not in an absolute sense, but of the general course of life. Just as the lost man does not love and practice every single vice of Satan, so the Christian, who is yet encumbered with a carnal body, does not perfectly love and practice everything that God approves. Nevertheless, the new nature created in regeneration strives towards the goal of being perfect even as our Father in heaven is perfect, and one day in the glorified state will attain to that goal for which he so greatly hungers now.
“The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side.
The rich man also died and was buried.” Luke 16:22
Observe how all classes alike come to the grave. Lazarus died–and the rich man also died. As different and divided as they were in their lives–they had both to drink of the same cup at the last. Both went to the ‘house appointed for all living’. Both went to that place where rich and poor meet together. Dust they were–and unto dust they returned.
This is the lot of all men. After all our scheming, and contriving, and planning, and studying–after all our inventions, and discoveries, and scientific attainments–there remains one ‘enemy’ we cannot conquer and disarm–and that is Death!
The chapter in Genesis, which records the long lives of Methuselah, and the rest who lived before the flood, winds up the simple story of each, by two expressive words, “He died.” And now, after thousands of years, what more can be said of the greatest among ourselves? The histories of Washington, and Napoleon, and Shakespeare arrive at the same humbling conclusion. The end of each, after all his greatness, is just this, “He died.”
Death is a mighty leveler! He spares none, he waits for none! He will not tarry until you are ready. He will not be kept out by doors, and bars, and bolts. The Englishman boasts that his home is his castle–but, with all his boasting, he cannot exclude death. An Austrian nobleman forbade death to be named in his presence. But named or not named, it matters little–in God’s appointed hour, death will come!
One man rolls lazily along the road in the smoothest and handsomest carriage which money can procure; another toils wearily along the path on foot–yet both are sure to meet at last in the samelong home!
One man, like Absalom, has fifty servants to wait upon him and do his bidding; another has none to lift a finger to do him a service–but both are traveling to a place where they must lie down alone!
One man is the owner of millions; another has scarcely a dollar that he can call his own property–yet neither one nor the other can carry one penny with him into the unseen world.
One man is the possessor of half a county; another has not so much as an inch of land–and yet ‘six feet’ of dirt will be amply sufficient for either of them at the last!
One man pampers his body with every possible delicacy, and clothes it in the richest and softest apparel; another has scarcely enough to eat, and seldom enough to put on–yet both alike are hurrying on to a day when “ashes to ashes, and dust to dust,” shall be proclaimed over them!
Fifty years hence, none shall be able to say, “This was the rich man’s bone–and this the bone of the poor man.”
Reader, I know that these are ancient things. I do not deny it for a moment. I am writing stale old things that all men know–but I am also writing things that all men do not feel. Oh, no! if they did feel them, they would not speak and live as they do.
We see ‘death’ gradually thinning our congregations; we miss face after face in our assemblies; we know not whose turn may come next! We only know as the tree falls–there it will lie, and that “after death comes the judgment!”
Oh, that men would learn to live–as those who must one day die! Truly it is poor work to set our affections on a dying world and its short-lived comforts–and lose a glorious immortality! Here we are toiling, and laboring, and wearying ourselves about trifles, and running to and fro like ants upon a heap–and yet after a few years we shall all be gone, and another generation will fill our place!
Live for eternity, reader! Seek a portion which can never be taken from you!
On the other hand, we have the servants of the Devil, who are characterized by their course of unrepentant sin. False teachers, who are very much in view in this context, can be identified by their ungodly mode of life. They manifest no spirit of repentance, they show no humility; in short, they do not hunger and thirst after righteousness. This proves that they, and indeed all who are outside of Christ, are of the Devil. The Devil sinned from the beginning, and these follow in the footsteps of their spiritual father, hardening their hearts in rebellion against the authority of Almighty God.
The contrast continues to be drawn over and over by John, because he wants us to be in no doubt that there are clear and evident proofs of the new birth. Continuance in a life of sin and rebellion proves that one is “of the Devil.” It proves that he has not received the salvation of Christ, because the Son of God was manifested that He might destroy the works of the Devil. The angel prophesied to Joseph that the Saviour Who would be born of Mary would “save His people from their sins.” This certainly includes deliverance from the power of indwelling sin. Paul put it this way to the Romans: “Sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” We are not only justified in the court of heaven, we also come under a new power in our minds, so that our affections are turned away from sin and the follies of this earth, and are set upon the things which please God. The tyrannical power which the Devil held over our will and affections has been shattered by the power of the Son of God, so that we are now Christ’s free men, at liberty to serve the God Who gave us life and salvation. True liberty is that which strikes off the shackles of sin, and gives the sinner liberty to walk above the mudpit of this world, in the cleanness and purity of obedience to the law of God.
This second message on the unpardonable sin continues to deal with the context of the scene in which Christ uttered His famous and terrible words. This message deals with the accusation of the scribes and Pharisees, that Christ cast out devils by the power of Beelzebub, and our Lord’s response. It deals with the Lord’s contention that a house divided against itself shall not stand, as well as His question, “If I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out?” Finally, it deals with the Lord’s proclamation that if He, by the Spirit of God, cast out devils, then the kingdom of God was indeed come upon them.
These words are just as appropriate to the 21st century as they were in the year 1885, when the Prince of Preachers uttered them.
We need a work of the Holy Spirit of a supernatural kind, putting power into the preaching of the Word, inspiring all believers with heavenly energy, and solemnly affecting the hearts of the careless, so that they turn to God and live. We would not be drunk with the wine of carnal excitement, but we would be filled with the Spirit. We would behold the fire descending from heaven in answer to the effectual fervent prayers of righteous men. Can we not entreat the Lord our God to make bare His holy arm in the eyes of all the people in this day of declension and vanity?
We want a revival of old-fashioned doctrine. I know not a single doctrine which is not at this hour studiously undermined by those who ought to be its defenders. There is not a truth that is precious to the soul which is not now denied by those whose profession it is to proclaim it. To me it is clear that we need a revival of old-fashioned gospel preaching like that of Whitefield and Wesley. The Scriptures must be made the infallible foundation of all teaching; the ruin, redemption and regeneration of mankind must be set forth in unmistakable terms.
Urgently do we need a revival of personal godliness. This is, indeed, the secret of church prosperity. When individuals fall from their steadfastness, the church is tossed to and fro; when personal faith is steadfast, the church abides true to her Lord. It is upon the truly godly and spiritual that the future of religion depends in the hand of God. Oh, for more truly holy men, quickened and filled with the Holy Spirit, consecrated to the Lord and sanctified by His truth. Brethren, we must each one live if the church is to be alive; we must live unto God if we expect to see the pleasure of the Lord prospering in our hands. Sanctified men are the salt of society and the saviours of the race.
We deeply want a revival of domestic religion. The Christian family was the bulwark of godliness in the days of the puritans….How can we hope to see the kingdom of our Lord advance when His own disciples do not teach His gospel to their own children? Oh, Christian men and women, be thorough in what you do and know and teach! Let your families be trained in the fear of God and be yourselves “holiness unto the Lord”; so shall you stand like a rock amid the surging waves of error and ungodliness which rage around us.
We need saints. We need gracious minds trained to a high form of spiritual life by much converse with God in solitude. Saints acquire nobility from their constant resort to the place where the Lord meets with them. There they also acquire that power in prayer which we so greatly need. Oh, that we had more men like John Knox, whose prayers were more terrible to Queen Mary than 10,000 men! Oh, that we had more Elijahs by whose faith the windows of heavens should be shut or opened!
This power comes not by a sudden effort; it is the outcome of a life devoted to the God of Israel! If our life is all in public, it will be a frothy, vapoury ineffectual existence; but if we hold high converse with God in secret, we shall be mighty for good. He that is a prince with God will take high rank with men, after the true measure of nobility.
Beware of being a lean-to; endeavor to rest on your own walls of real faith in the Lord Jesus. May none of us fall into a mean, poverty-stricken dependence on man! We want among us believers like those solid, substantial family mansions which stand from generation to generation as landmarks of the country; no lath-and-plaster fabrics, but edifices solidly constructed to bear all weathers, and defy time itself.
Given a host of men who are steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, the glory of God’s grace will be clearly manifested, not only in them, but in those round about them. May the Lord send us a revival of consecrated strength, and heavenly energy!
Franklin Graham seems to have more courage to speak the truth than his dad ever possessed. The below article is spot on about the moral spiral our nation is in.
The sexual revolution that began in earnest five decades ago with promises of new and liberating sexual freedoms has instead left behind a shattered moral landscape that has undermined the fabric and foundation of our nation. Casting off what was perceived as the puritanical restraints of previous generations, the ’60s and ’70s launched a new era of sexual experimentation. The revolution, publicly inaugurated by 1967’s “Summer of Love” in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district, promised an enlightened age of sexual morality.
The new thinking said cohabitation wasn’t really a problem. Divorce wasn’t nearly as harmful as once thought. Promiscuity presented no clear and present danger to the family unit. Same-sex attraction was perfectly normal. Pornography was little cause for concern. Indeed, an entire industry developed around its spurious allure.
Fifty years later, we can see that the results have been catastrophic.
In many respects the American family is completely unrecognizable, courtesy of a failed sexual revolution that has left a devastating wake of destruction.
In certain segments of American culture, more than 70 percent of children are born to single parents and remain in single-parent households. Nationally, more than 1 in 4 children today live in households with only one parent. Demographers predict that by age 18, nearly 50 percent of all children will have lived with just a mom or dad.
Nearly half of all marriages end in divorce, and couples who cohabitate before marriage are even more likely to split. Some studies show that the proliferation of pornography available on the Internet has likely contributed to the declining marriage rate.
The freedoms promised by the sexual revolution have instead given way to ever increasing slavery and captivity to sin. The attempt to cast off moral restraint has only opened wide the devil’s destructive, deadly toolbox. “For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved” (2 Pet. 2:19).
The plague of immorality has so swept across the American landscape that there is virtually no place where its corrosive influence is not felt. The pervasive, immoral reach of popular media, which actively promotes every type of sexual misconduct imaginable, constantly agitates against the biblical norms of upright, godly behavior.
The Scripture is clear: “But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you. … For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous … has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God” (Eph. 5:3, 5).
Today, what our society seems to value most is the freedom to do whatever we want, whatever makes us feel good. Anyone who would try to stop us from doing what we want—even when what we want is destructive to ourselves and to others—is mocked and vilified.
But God’s laws and commands are given for our good. Sexuality is a gift from God to be used within His wise restraints. Like the levees that hold back mighty rivers from destructive floods, God’s Word and ways are designed to keep our thoughts, passions and desires in godly bounds. They are for our good, not our harm.
“The body is not meant for sexual immorality,” wrote the Apostle Paul to the Corinthian church, “but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body'” (1 Cor. 6:13). Our bodies, which one day will be redeemed, glorified bodies, are made by God for God. To flaunt His design is, in essence, to commit idolatry by prizing and delighting in what God hates.
Our culture, like ancient cultures that ultimately were destroyed in large part due to their own moral depravity, has been severely weakened. A stable family unit committed to the truth and precepts of the Bible was once the foundation and backbone of our nation. That model is now the exception, not the rule.
We know that as the end draws near, this world will be characterized by escalating violence and rampant sexual immorality. In Revelation 17 and 18, Babylon represents the “great prostitute” of the earth. It stands for the unbridled pursuit of sensual pleasures. The earth, about to be judged by the King of kings and Lord of lords, has become completely intoxicated by wanton pleasures. “For all the nations have drunk … of her [Babylon’s] sexual immorality” (Rev. 18:3).
The only answer I know for any society in any era is the strong word of the Lord to the church in Thyatira who, though faithful in some ways, apparently tolerated sexual permissiveness that spread through the church: “I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality” (Rev. 2:21).