Mark 3:22-30 (CEB)
The legal experts came down from Jerusalem. Over and over they charged, “He’s possessed by Beelzebul. He throws out demons with the authority of the ruler of demons.”
When Jesus called them together he spoke to them in a parable: “How can Satan throw Satan out? A kingdom involved in civil war will collapse. And a house torn apart by divisions will collapse. If Satan rebels against himself and is divided, then he can’t endure. He’s done for. No one gets into the house of a strong person and steals anything without first tying up the strong person. Only then can the house be burglarized. I assure you that human beings will be forgiven for everything, for all sins and insults of every kind. But whoever insults the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven. That person is guilty of a sin with consequences that last forever.” He said this because the legal experts were saying, “He’s possessed by an evil spirit.”
- Leaving the toilet lid DOWN
- Not emptying bins when they are overflowing – balancing rubbish on top instead
- Damp towels on the bathroom floor
- Not squeegeeing the glass after showering
- leaving hair in the shower plughole (clearly not me!)
- Putting stuff that could be recycled in the wrong bin
- Taking the last piece of toilet paper and not replacing the roll
- Leaving the radio tuned to Radio 2
There are lots of things in life that are simply unacceptable. But Jesus appears to go much further in this passage – he appears to say that there is a sin that is not only unacceptable but UNFORGIVABLE.
Lots of words have been written about this – and I am told that there are lots of Christians who are genuinely worried that they might have inadvertently committed this sin and are therefore now in a state of eternal unforgiven-ness.
I usually say to people that if they are worried they have committed this unforgivable sin, whatever it may be, then that is a sure sign that they haven’t. I’ll stand by that!
I suspect that this is a precis of a longer encounter – it reads as if it is an argument that has been seriously condensed, and only the highlights and the punchline recorded. You might say it’s cheating to assume that – but it’s my blog and it seems that way to me!
What I THINK Jesus is trying to say here is that there appears to be no hope for those who would follow him around and paint with their words the very opposite of what they witness before them – good is evil, love is hatred, hope is despair, the Christlike is demonic. “You see this light here, banishing the darkness? Well, it’s actually just more darkness.” I think Jesus is despairing at the sheer stubbornness of will that is capable of seeing the world like that, denying the goodness that lives and breathes before them. In refusing to acknowledge the light right in front of them – shielding their lives from it so they no longer even see it – they are (in a way) cutting themselves off from an encounter with God – it is a separation, a serious separation. “Separation from God” is, of course, one of the core understandings of the effect of “sin”.
Ultimately, though, nothing can separate us from the love of God…
Who will separate us from Christ’s love? Will we be separated by trouble, or distress, or harassment, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? …. I’m convinced that nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus our Lord: not death or life, not angels or rulers, not present things or future things, not powers or height or depth, or any other thing that is created. (Romans 8)
I am equally sure that ultimately nobody will fail to recognise the light that is in Christ.