In this passage, we see another confrontation between the Pharisees and Jesus. A blind and mute man was brought to Jesus, apparently because of demon possession. Jesus cast out the demon, and immediately, the man could talk and see.
Everyone was astonished, but the Pharisees immediately tried to discredit Jesus’ miracle by saying he did it by Beelzebub’s (i.e. Satan’s) power. It’s interesting to note here, by the way, that the Pharisees (and all of Jesus’ other enemies) never denied Jesus performed miracles. They only said that it was done by Satan’s power. It’s only people who lived thousands of years after the fact that ever deny it happened. It’s easy to deny something happened thousands of years after it occurs. It’s much more difficult to do when it happens right in front of you. And the Pharisees never did.
All of this brings us to the main point, and we saw this earlier: some people simply won’t believe, no matter what they see. Not because they can’t believe, but because they don’t want to believe. Because they don’t want to believe, they harden their hearts to God, and try to explain away anything that God does to show he is really there.
The Pharisees tried to explain away Jesus by saying he had a demon and that he was casting out demons by the authority of Satan.
But Jesus countered that in two ways. First, Satan’s kingdom wouldn’t be able to stand if he were fighting himself. Second, by casting out the demon, Jesus was showing he wasn’t on Satan’s side. Rather, he was fighting Satan. Satan was the enemy, so Jesus was coming against him and making him and his demons scatter. And in binding Satan up, Jesus set people free.
Then Jesus warns,
And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come. (Matthew 12:31-32)
Mark explains Jesus’ words, saying,
He said this because they were saying, “He has an evil spirit.” (Mark 3:30)
In other words, the Pharisees had so hardened their hearts to Jesus, they couldn’t even see what God was doing anymore. Not only that, they were crediting the Holy Spirit’s work to Satan.
And that’s the danger of hardening our hearts. If we do it long enough, there comes a point where we can no longer hear the Spirit’s voice, nor recognize his work even when we see it. When that happens, all hope of salvation is lost. This is what Jesus calls “the unpardonable sin.” It’s unpardonable because there is no hope once we’ve hardened our hearts to that point. Pharaoh in the time of Moses was a perfect example of this, and it led to his destruction.
When does a person reach that point? Only God knows. There have been people that seemed to be hardened beyond redemption and yet were saved. The apostle Paul was such a man.
Some Christians worry that they’ve committed the unpardonable sin. But if you are worried about it, it’s almost certain you haven’t committed it. If you can recognize the sin in your own life and your need for forgiveness, you have nothing to worry about so long as you keep a repentant heart.
It is only those who have hardened their hearts to God that are in danger of the unpardonable sin.
How do we keep our hearts from hardening? Keep a humble and repentant heart before God. And live each day in communion with him as Jesus did: seeking the Father’s will, and following it.
How about you? Is your heart soft or hardened toward God today?