Jesus rebuked the Pharisees (Matt 12:25-28) for accusing Him of casting out demons by the power of Satan (Matt 12:22-24). The exact opposite is true. He said in the previous verse, in the form of an analogy, that to accomplish His work on earth, He had to first bind the “strong man,” meaning Satan, so He could plunder Satan’s domain (Matt 12:29).
In other words, Jesus came to earth to gather citizens for the kingdom of God by the power of the Holy Spirit (Matt 12:28). Those who receive Him by faith will be rescued from Satan’s domain of darkness and delivered to Jesus’ kingdom (Col 1:13). Contrary to the Pharisees’ charge, Jesus is declaring to them and the listening crowds just how deeply He is working against Satan.
Now Jesus looks the Pharisees in the eyes and draws a line in the sand. “Anyone who isn’t with Me opposes Me, and anyone who isn’t working with Me is actually working against Me.” (Matt 12:30) Whoever does not help Him in His mission to gather citizens into His kingdom is guilty of scattering them. That means that the Pharisees, in their conspiracy to destroy Jesus, have put themselves against the Holy Spirit and the kingdom of God. With Satan, they stand against the work of God. He demands full acceptance and participation in His mission from those who are with Him. Anyone who does not join Him is on the other side.
And then Jesus speaks the truth to those who said He was working for Satan: “So I tell you, every sin and blasphemy can be forgiven—except blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which will never be forgiven. Anyone who speaks against the Son of Man can be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven, either in this world or in the world to come.” (Matt 12:31-32) The word “blasphemy” means expressing something disrespectful or evil about God. Among the worst forms of blasphemy are those which twist sacred truths about God into lies.
Jesus isn’t warning about casual or thoughtless stumbles; He’s speaking about an extremely specific sin, which in a broader sense implies that our words reveal our hearts, which is where the true problem is. Looking at the same text in Mark is helpful. “‘Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin’—for they were saying, ‘He has an unclean spirit.'” (Mark 3:28-30)
To lump the Holy Spirit, One of the Triune Godheads along with demonic spirits is the blasphemy which can’t be forgiven, and is in the most absolute sense working against the One True God. The Pharisees goal wasn’t truth; it was to discredit Jesus at any cost (John 5:39-40).
The only way for anyone to be forgiven for their sins, is through faith in Jesus (John 3:16-18). Faith in Christ causes God to take Jesus’ death as payment for our sin and to give us the credit for Jesus’ righteous life (2 Cor 5:21). A major work of the Holy Spirit is leading people to faith in Jesus (John 16:7-11). Those who “blaspheme the Holy Spirit” today continue to reject the Spirit’s message. They keep saying “no” to the Holy Spirit’s leading, in essence calling Him a liar.
Those who persist in stubbornness and disbelief will not be forgiven, because they refuse to trust in Christ as the Holy Spirit is leading them to do. Since there is no other path to forgiveness except through faith in Jesus, their choice to consistently reject the Spirit’s leading causes them to remain unforgiven, which puts them on the broad road to hell. “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” (John 3:36)
Then Jesus lays out the cause of those who choose to remain in the wrath of God. “A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad. You brood of snakes! How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? For whatever is in your heart determines what you say.” (Matt 12:33-34) The Pharisees are so committed to rejecting Jesus as the Messiah that they would rather glorify Satan’s power than acknowledge that God is working through His Son!
As a bad tree is incapable of growing good fruit, a person committed to hate for Christ can’t speak spiritual truth. Jesus bluntly calls these men evil. Good words cannot come out of evil hearts. Good people generally produce good things out of a good treasure within them. Evil people generally produce evil things from the evil treasure they carry. The heart of a person reveals the nature of a person by what comes out in their words and actions.
“A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you.” (Matt 12:35-37) When Jesus returns, He will hold all people accountable for their words and actions. Jesus says that a person’s own words will justify or condemn him—including even the most casual or careless remarks. This ties the principle back into daily life: words reveal what is truly in a person’s heart.
There are quite a few people in my life who have shown themselves to have evil hearts. I’ve struggled how to deal with it, what to do, what to say. This study today has shown me that I must stand with and work with the Lord, because anything else is working against Him, including friendship with evil mockers. There’s no room to sit on a fence — I’m either with Him or against Him. I choose to be with Jesus, and shake the dust off my feet from those who bear bad fruit.
“Don’t envy violent people or copy their ways. Such wicked people are detestable to the Lord, but He offers His friendship to the godly. The Lord curses the house of the wicked, but He blesses the home of the upright. The Lord mocks the mockers but is gracious to the humble. The wise inherit honor, but fools are put to shame!” (Prov 3:31-35)
Thank You, Lord, for Your clarity. Please forgive me in my words I’ve used in anger that would condemn me, except that it is Your righteousness that covers my sin when I repent. Keep this reminder in my heart so that I may not sin against You. In the precious name of Jesus, amen!