Denying Jesus | Matthew 12:22-37 (Mville)
Topic: New Testament Passage: Matthew 12:22–12:37
Good Morning! We are continuing our series in the book of Matthew covering chapters 8-13
called Mission of the King. Over the last few weeks we have seen Jesus speaking to large
crowds about who he is (The Messiah, the Son of God, savior of God’s people) and what
he has come to do (seek and save the lost, call people to repentance of sin and into the
Kingdom of God). Jesus never stops being on mission until the mission is complete. Because
sin and brokenness have entered the world God made good, there is hostility and opposition
to God. Despite how powerful opposition to God appears to be or how intense the hostility
is, God is always capable of overcoming it. It is in this environment of hostility where we find
Jesus working, Jesus teaching, and Jesus warning. There is not going to be a lot of practical,
immediately useful advice or ways of living a better life found in this section. We are going to
see Jesus heal and save. People will verbally opposing Jesus work charging Him with evil.
Jesus will refuting their claim based on their own premise, as he calls attention to the reality of
spiritual conflict in the world where lives and souls in the balance and the stakes are as high as
eternal condemnation or salvation.
Matthew 12:22-37 22 Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to
him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. 23 And all the people were amazed,
and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” 24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is
only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.”25 Knowing their
thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or
house divided against itself will stand. 26 And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against
himself. How then will his kingdom stand? 27 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom
do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. 28 But if it is by the Spirit of God
that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29 Or how can someone
enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then
indeed he may plunder his house. 30 Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does
not gather with me scatters. 31 Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven
people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32 And whoever speaks a word
against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be
forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad,for the
tree is known by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are
evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 The good person out of
his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth
I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they
Matt 22-24 Jesus Heals, Jesus Denied
A miracle leads to slander. A man suffering from demon possession, blindness, and who
was mute is brought to Jesus. This is one of the most infirmed, debilitated people Jesus ever
encounters with a trifecta of ailments. Jesus heals him and does so comprehensively. He
doesn’t help him in one area and tell him to figure it out on his own for another. Jesus takes a
guy the whole town would have known for what is wrong with him and makes him whole and
new. A man was blind and silent and now can see and speak.
The people were “amazed” at what they had just seen. This is the only place in Matthew that
describes the crowd’s reaction to Jesus this strongly. This was so unique they collectively were
wondering if Jesus was the “Son of David” the savoir of God’s people. The strong reaction
from the crowds leads to an even stronger reaction from the Pharisees. The Pharisees have
been challenging Jesus identity, his authority. They have been seeking to discredit him by his
associations with sinners and tax collectors, they have been questioning the religious practice
of him and his follows in how they observe the Sabbath, and with that they actually had a
legitimate disagreement or misunderstanding, in this case they are confronted with His power.
Here they have no choice to but to acknowledge the amazing miraculous work Jesus has done.
The crowds all witnessed it. They are all marveling. The Pharisees have had a front row seat
to some of the most amazing things God ever did through Jesus. Face to face with Jesus they
can’t deny His work, so they deny His goodness. They see a person healed, saved, able to
speak and see and call it a work of evil. They don’t actually care about people they only care
about their agenda, denying Jesus as God and savior. They say he is working for “Lord of the
Flies, Lord of Dung, satan.” They are quite literally accusing Jesus of sorcery. Sorcery is a
capital crime under OT Law (Ex 22:18) Pin this on Jesus and it’s game over.
Matt 25-27 Jesus Debates
Jesus does not always engage every opponent, but this charge deserved a clear and firm
response. Jesus is a great debater and in a few sentences basically says “hey dumb, dumb,”
your entire premise is illogical. God is a God of great mystery and wonder, but He is also a
God of great order and logic. Opposition to Him will never make “logical” sense. He is God, the
for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
creator of and ruler over everything. So choosing to oppose Him is foolish and “illogical”. But by
nature, sin is not logical.
Jesus lays out some general wisdom plain to all. Division leads to impotence (expand) this
type of strife can tear apart kingdoms (countries), cities (look at communities divide along racial
lines), and even households (how well do families thrive when Mom and Dad are in conflict).
Internal conflict leads to an ineffective mission, division, and ultimately to destruction. Internal
conflicts cannot remain enflamed they will consume from the inside out. Jesus tells them their
charge doesn’t even make sense.
Jesus goes on and says “Let’s play this out, let’s see what it looks like if what you say is true. I
am doing this work with a word, or touch, near and far. It happens effortlessly. But Pharisees,
your followers, your disciples who are performing exorcisms are doing so in a way that look
allot more “mystical” then Jesus. “You better be careful with your charge on this one, your boys
are doing the same works I am. How are they doing it?” Ever said something you immediately
regretted? Ever been arguing/debating with some and they take your assumption and link it to a
logical conclusion you didn’t originally see? Jesus shows them, they spoke too soon. They are
so eager to oppose Jesus they do not think their argument through. In a panic to refute what can
be plainly seen by all they immediately spin literally demonizing their opponent without realizing
what they are accusing them of is what they are also engaged with. (Election Year) Point one.
You’re an idiot. Point two, you didn’t think about the fact your boys are doing the same thing!
Matt 28-30 Jesus Wins
But if .... Jesus is working by the Holy Spirit there are greater implications. Luke says “by the
finger of God” Jesus acting with the very hand of God to save, heal, and restore. Jesus begins
to draw the lines between two kingdoms, one where God reigns that Jesus represents. More
than simply winning the debate with the Pharisees Jesus is telling everyone he has overcome
the work and rule of satan himself. Jesus says I am here, satan has had rule on earth. I have
come and I have restrained the work of satan. You have been owned by him. He still kicks,
screams, and spits venom from his restrained position. Jesus says he is absolutely and
completely powerless to stop me from redeeming, saving, and taking back my people from his
possession and carrying them back to my kingdom. I am gathering by restraining evil and taking
back what belongs to me. Jesus is living out the promises of God to save his people from satan.
Isaiah 49:24-25 Can the prey be taken from the mighty, or the captives of a tyrant be rescued?
25 For thus says the Lord: “Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken, and the prey of
the tyrant be rescued, for I will contend with those who contend with you, and I will save your
This is the saving work of God. From the Fall of humanity in the garden there has been a tyrant
enslaving humanity to sin and rebellion from God. The tyrant is restrained and will be ultimately
In light of Jesus victory, there are only two alternatives, neutrality is not an option. In this
sections Jesus is saying in a spiritual sense there are only two teams. There is not a moderate
option. When we try paint ourselves as moderates, not too extreme, middle of the road what
were are really doing is putting ourselves not in between two sides but above both. It is like
we have been made a referee, no one likes referees! Jesus says there is not a third, fourth,
or fifth team. You are either with Jesus on His mission or you are against him. Indifference is
opposition. Inaction is not neutral, it is negative.
You may feel you have no power to actually affect change, tip the balance, or win the war. Truth
is you do not. But you are called to speak, to act, to decide. Saying nothing, doing nothing,
choosing nothing is effectively saying the enemy can do whatever it wants. Jesus says “I am
going to make the choice easy for you. The enemy is subdued and ineffective, I am stronger
than any tyrant even satan. He is powerless compared to me. I have called my people and I am
taking them from his reign of terror, brokenness, and death, and carrying them to my kingdom
of joy and life everlasting. You have just seen what I am capable of, by the power of the Holy
Spirit, acting as the very finger of God, I just saved and heal a man with 3 different types of
spiritual and physical debilitations. Who I am is no mystery, the power of the Holy Spirit reveals
I am from God. Are you going to accept that and be forgiven of all your sin of rejecting God and
slandering the name of Jesus? or are you going to deny the work and presence of the Holy
Spirit to the point of calling good saving works the works of evil, harden your heart towards the
obvious power of God and stand condemned for eternity.” That is the question Jesus unpacks in
the next two verses.
Matt 12:31-32 Denying the Holy Spirit
Jesus forgives sin. Jesus forgives sin, even the sin of blasphemy, but Jesus is not a universalist.
Sin separates us from God. God is gracious and forgives sin, but His forgiveness is always
tied to our repentance and faith in Him. The bible teaches all of these are a gift of God. Here it
sounds like Jesus says he’ll forgive some sin, but not others. So what is Jesus precisely talking
about here? We need to know a few things first.
What is Blasphemy? It is any grievous insult to God’s honor, rejecting his Lordship, and
defaming His character. Blasphemy was also punishable by death. Jesus was accused of
blasphemy, saying he was God, it is part of why he was executed. 3rd
not to take the Lord’s name in vain.
We are Trinitarian, meaning we worship the God who is both 3-1, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
In our church if there is member of the God-head who gets the least attention is it likely the
Holy Spirit. This is to our shame. Unfortunately in the church environment in this city and part
of the county there is great abuse given to how the Holy Spirit is talked about, taught, and how
churches engage with the Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit – Convicts of sin, reveals the identity of
Jesus, comforts. It is what gives us the gift of faith.
John 16:8-14 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness
and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning
righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning
judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he
will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears
he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he
will take what is mine and declare it to you.
What is this sin Jesus is talking about? It’s not well, I’ve dropped a few JC bombs but never a
HS in anger, whew! This leads to misunderstandings and foolish attempts to minimize sin, like
the Blasphemy Challenge- Ridiculous you tube videos where people were saying “I deny the
Holy Spirit and I am not afraid.” in exchange for a DVD copy of an atheist documentary. It even
says the price of the DVD is “your soul”.
I am not going to be a pastor that tries to explain away difficult teachings of Jesus by saying
“well Jesus didn’t really say that, or what he meant to say was....” However, when we come
to God’s word and encounter difficult to understand passages it is important to look at them
in their proper context. Meaning, this sermon is not about this two verses standing alone, it is
about Jesus teaching on the spiritual conflict between good and evil. God and satan. There are
no words that can be said, no deeds that can be done that are beyond the grace of God where
forgiveness is granted by repentance turning from sin to God. Jesus is talking about the entire
orientation of your life. He is talking to the Pharisees who are not ignorant of Gods power or
works, they have just seen them on display, they have seen God at work and are so hostile to it
they are calling it evil. Denying the Holy Spirit’s is essentially denying Jesus identity and work.
The “unforgivable sin” is blaspheming the Holy Spirit by blaspheming against Christ after the
Spirit has revealed to a person that Jesus is the Son of God. – RC Sproul
Hebrews 10: 26-29 26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the
truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,
fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.
dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses.
27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a
28 Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses
do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has
profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of
It is a blatant rejection of the work of God the Holy Spirit in your life or that you’ve seen
witnessed in others. It is a rejection that leads to a hardness of heart where you have no
concern for the consequences of sin. You may even believe God is incapable in determining
what is right and wrong. You, not him are the judge. This attitude can be repented of, but it
cannot be forgiven without our repentance. It is not because God refuses to extend His grace,
but it is because in the experience of and the call too God, the person has knowingly rejected
God. The Pharisees were seeing the supreme goodness and power of God on display and were
equating it with the supreme evil.
Can a Christian commit this sin? This is one of our biggest concerns. No, we likely don’t go
through the day dwelling on this but when we get to texts like this it can certainly raise our
anxiety level, and in some sense it should. We should have a healthy fear and reverence of
God and His judgment that should lead us to be concerned with falling outside of his mercy and
grace. A person concerned with their sin, who wants to repent, who is concerned with God’s
judgment has not suffered the hardness of heart that results from a rejection of the Holy Spirit
and salvation offered by and through Jesus Christ.
RC Sproul says “Yes and No” Yes- because left to ourselves without the sustaining power of the
Holy Spirit we still have the capacity to blasphemy the Holy Spirit. We can and will fail to remain
faithful to God and will deny Him, His Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. No - because we are not
left alone. If we are Christians we have the Holy Spirit with in us!
If the Holy Spirit possesses and uses the power that turns spiritually dead sinners into living
worships of the God of the Universe. If He is the force who convicts us of our sin, comforts us
with the gospel of sins forgiven by the cross of Jesus, then He is powerful enough to guide and
protect our hearts (leading out to our words and action) and keep us from the sin rejecting His
own work. Put simply the same powerful person who saves us, sustains us. A house divided
cannot stand. As much as satan cannot/would not cast out a demon from a possessed person.
Infinitely more God the Holy Spirit would not/will not let someone in its possession deny or reject
his work. Yes we work out our faith with fear and trembling but those in Christ, empowered by
and held by the Holy Spirit rest knowing. Phil 1:6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a
good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
This is a hard teaching because it pushing against our understanding of who God is and who we
are. This is not a limitation of God’s capacity for grace, but rather men’s capacity to reject God
and choose sin.
We can’t believe Jesus does not forgive blasphemy (rejection/defaming) of the Holy Spirit, which
we find as an insignificant sin, because we underestimate God’s holiness. We can’t believe
Jesus forgives sins we find unforgivable, because we underestimate God’s grace.
Jesus forgives and restores Peter after he denies Jesus three times. Jesus calls on God the
Father to forgive His very executioners because they are “ignorant of what they are doing.”
Jesus forgives Saul for breathing threats and arranging the imprisonment/murder of Christians
on the Damascus Road and commissions him for ministry and changes his identity to Paul.
Why? Because he is loving and merciful.
1 Tim 1:12-14 12
he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, 13
persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in
unbelief, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ
Jesus calls, forgives, restores, and commissions, his opponents because that is all he has to
12:33-37 Choose Jesus, Trust Jesus
Get off the fence he says. Denying Jesus is choosing evil. Listen, this is not a one-time choice
if you have missed before today you cannot still turns and repent. But there will be a time
of Judgment and your confession of who Jesus is or is not meaningless. We will be held
accountable our lives, our actions, and even our words because they reflect the condition of our
Romans 10:9-10 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe
in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one
believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
Decide, confess Jesus, follow Jesus, Trust Jesus!
I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because
More in Mission of the King | Matthew Part II
September 14, 2014Rejecting Jesus | Matthew 13:53-58 (Mville)
September 7, 2014Parables of Kingdom Power and Price | Matthew 13 (Mville)
July 20, 2014Doubting Jesus | Matthew 11:2-24 (Mville)