Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit

Part 4: Identifying a Hard Heart

By Christopher Schwinger

The Series

How Confusion Thwarts Holiness
Interpreting Context
Being Serious without Fear
Identifying a Hard Heart
Hope in the Journey to Freedom
Understanding Grace

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The Apostle Paul thought he was doing everything right but, like other contemporaries of Jesus, he missed some of the biggest clues of what the Messiah would be like — welcoming toward other nations, for example. The 2nd half of Isaiah (chapter 40 to the end) has so much about God's new order, welcoming all the nations through the future Davidic leader (Messiah). The Jews of the 1st century were deeply bitter with Rome and fiercely nationalistic, causing them to miss this, and Paul was so focused on the Mosaic Law that he missed some of the glorious themes of the psalms and prophets which prefigured Jesus. Like Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, God gave him a special revelation, a conversion experience, because God knew his wrong path was out of ignorance rather than defiance against Him. Many atheists defy God, cursing His name and morals as a concept, because they can't get answers to their questions, but few people defy God with the knowledge that God truly exists. There are some, though, who are like that.

For instance, we should remember that when people use profanity it could be a combination of peer pressure, carelessness/thoughtlessness, and deep-seated anger. When Ted Turner, for example, made hostile remarks about Christianity, he expressed deep frustration and agony about how it wasn't able to help him in the past; many people miss this subtext when they hear angry statements such as the ones he made. Also, the harshness of his father needs to be remembered as an important factor in his spiritual state of mind, because we generally define our concept of God according to how our earthly parents, guardians, and mentors were. My main point is that there's a difference between ignorance and willful ignorance. Many people would believe if someone worked through issues with them, but many others don't see a need for it, or have already determined it's not an option, which is called willful ignorance. Sometimes willful ignorance comes through a lack of reflection on the beliefs that led to this point (Scrooge and the Apostle Paul/Saul of Tarsus). Sometimes it is because other deeper issues haven't been pinpointed and addressed.

The doctrine of "blasphemy of the Holy Spirit" has relevance in our Christian life because if it's basically calling evil good and good evil, then it's essentially a misconstrued understanding of morality, which we are all naturally prone to. (Isaiah 53 really means "all" when it says all of us like sheep have gone astray!) The opponents of Jesus thought Jesus was immoral to do good things on a Sabbath day, and that His miracles must have been Satan's way of deceiving people, so they had already rejected His heavenly agency based on how His philosophy was different. In John 9, they make the conclusion and then reject the evidence which goes against it. They conclude the man who was born blind and healed is not telling the truth, and rationalize it by saying he was born entirely in sin, so he has no right to talk back to them. They throw him out — even though, by saying he was born in sins which made him blind, they are admitting he used to be blind (but he isn't anymore!) and using illogical theology by saying a person who had a disability at birth was a worse sinner, even though he hadn't had a chance to sin yet when he was born!!!

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Published 2-3-16