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Unpardonable Sin and Careless Words

The Gospel of Matthew  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Jesus uses the careless words of the Pharisees to show them their condemnation is just.



Opening Revelation

Psalm 119:9–16 ESV
9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. 10 With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! 11 I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. 12 Blessed are you, O Lord; teach me your statutes! 13 With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth. 14 In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. 15 I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. 16 I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.
Sermon Summary: Jesus uses the careless words of the Pharisees to show them their condemnation is just.


Today we are going to be covering two very important statements. One of which is probably the most misunderstood, and the other is probably one of the most misapplied (or under-applied).
I’m also going to warn you, today we are going to be talking about the doctrine of election. As we’ve experienced before, this is a hot-button topic, and I’ll say up-front what I plan on saying later. We cannot ignore verses of the Bible to fit our presuppositions, but we should also not let our presuppositions determine the meaning of the Bible. I won’t say it exactly like that, but I want to encourage you to listen with open ears and closed textbooks, because we want to be people of the Book, not people who determine the meaning of the Book.
Considering how last week I interrupted the argument of Jesus in order to go through the various proofs He gave, I want to dedicate time to read the whole section, though I will be focusing on verses 31-37.
So, let’s reread the situation from last week in addition to our text for today.
Matthew 12:22–37 ESV
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. 33 “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 evil. 36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

What is the “unpardonable sin?”

One of the most misinterpreted verses of the entire Bible, so we have to examine this carefully.
God is a forgiving God (Exodus 34:6-7; Luke 24:47)
In context, Jesus is saying this to the Pharisees who are wholeheartedly opposing Him and also ascribing His works to Satan
They are blaspheming Him
But they are also blaspheming and slandering His works
We can understand two things from both the situation and Christ’s words:
Blasphemy against the Son may be forgiven (Mt 12:32a) as long as repentance accompanies the conviction
Peter was forgiven after he denied Christ three times (Mt 26:69-75; Mk 14:66-72)
Paul was a blasphemer and persecutor of Christ’s people, yet he was forgiven (1 Tim 1:13-14)
Every person, at some point in their lives, has blasphemed Christ and not ascribed to Him His proper deity
Blasphemy against the Spirit is not forgivable (Mt 12:32b) because repentance is resisted following conviction
The Pharisees were blaspheming, yes, but they were also opposing Christ wholeheartedly
They opposed Him in everything He did
They refused to receive any of the rebukes that Christ was frequently giving them
They were unaffected by His preaching since the beginning, and they only hardened their hearts further by listening to Him
In resisting the conviction Christ was giving them, and by furthering that resistance by ascribing His works to Satan, they were placing themselves in mortal peril
The Pharisees had seen Christ graciously deal with all types of people, giving them the cures they most needed
The blind received sight, the deaf received hearing, the mute had their tongues loosened, the hard-hearted were given rebuke, the weak were lifted up, the demonized had their demons removed, and the afflicted had their afflictions removed
All of these things should have amazed the Pharisees, but they destroyed their amazement and polluted it into hatred
They had complete and utter willful unbelief
They were given irrefutable proof of Jesus’ divinity, power, and Messiahship, they gleefully rejected Him
They persistently rejected Him and are justly condemned to sin and condemnation
Therefore, those who reject Christ persistently and are truly unrepentant are responsible for their sin
It’s true that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23) and that “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God” (Rom 3:10b-11)
Every single person who has ever lived and whoever will live is wretched, depraved, and worthy of absolute and utter condemnation
Each and every person deserves condemnation, deserves to be punished for their wickedness, and cannot earn be righteous enough before a perfect God in order to earn salvation
But it’s also true that God “has mercy on whom [He] has mercy” (Rom 9:15; cf. Ex. 33:19)
One such mercy that God gives is revealing the sinfulness of sinners, and in their refusal to repent they are therefore condemned
What about election?
We know that the Bible does not contain lies, and when we read
Ephesians 1:5 that God “predestined” or “pre-ordered” Christians for adoption, or in Ephesians 1:11 Christians have been “predestined according to the purpose of Him
We also know that Jesus was not lying when He said in John 6:44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him...”
Or in Romans 11:7 we need to affirm “What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened...”
All of these must be affirmed, even that last one where God hardens those who are not elect...
But God is also so gracious as to bring conviction to those who are hardened, giving them opportunity to repent, but in their own desire for sinfulness, they refuse the opportunity and remain in sin
Without God’s powerful and kind hand in regenerating dead sinners, all would remain justly condemned as self-serving, self-righteous sinners.
As Paul puts it:
Ephesians 2:1–5 ESV
1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—
So, what is the unpardonable sin? It’s directly related to what we are reading: It’s where a sinner receives correction, rebuke, conviction, yet remains unrepentant and hard-hearted.
Now, stop scanning your Bible for verses, stop looking at your screens to try and prove me wrong.... Stop
The reason that I wanted to dedicate an entire sermon to this is because of the illustration that Jesus gives. In most of our Bibles, this section ends at v. 32 with a new section beginning in verse 33. But these two sections, the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, the unpardonable sin, and the mouth speaking out of the abundance of the heart are linked… They are the same conversation.
Transition: So, let’s ask a new question in relation to the last question: What are careless words?

What are “careless words?”

The illustration
In verse 33 we see this saying: “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.”
What’s interesting about this verse is the use of the word “make.” It’s a word that means “make, produce, or create.”
It’s the same word we would use to describe God in His acts of creation, but it’s only used that way a handful of times in the New Testament.
Think about the image for a second. Let’s say you plant several fruit trees. All of them in good soil, you water and fertilize them as necessary, and you do everything that’s right… But, when the trees grow they don’t yield any fruit. It turns out there’s a disease that’s struck them all and they are withering away. You trim off dead limbs and tend to them the best you can, but your trees are dying because something in them is rotten.
This is what Christ is saying: The Pharisees are the trees and their fruit is rotten
Look at v. 34: “How can you speak good, when you are evil?”
The answer to that question is that they cannot. Why not? Why can’t they?
Because they are continuing to resist Jesus, to resist His kindness in conviction, to resist His words, and now they are even blaspheming the good works that He’s doing!
“For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks!”
Something inside them is rotten. They are being eaten away by their own sin and self-righteousness, they are fully responsible for not repenting
But wait, how can they be responsible if they need God to “regenerate them?” Or, to use the argument that Paul uses in Romans 9:19-23 [[Read verses]]
As the Pharisees continue resisting Christ, as they continue in their hard-hearted rebellion rebellion against Him, there are also people surrounding these situations whose hearts are warmed to the Good News of Jesus coming and working these miracles
There’s people sitting around thinking, “Why are the Pharisees so hard on Jesus? Don’t they see how kind He is? Don’t they see how many people He’s healing? Don’t they see how merciful He is?”
They see His glorious riches of mercy, while the Pharisees are proving that Christ is worthy to shower them with His wrath
In the midst of God’s righteous condemnation of the self-righteous Pharisees, there are people who are witnessing the beauty and wonder of God the Father through His Son, Jesus Christ, who condescended to humanity in order to rescue them from their sins
“The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil.”
Those who saw Jesus’ wonderful works of mercy brought forth words of praise and acclamation, but those who resisted that mercy spewed forth words of blasphemous ruin
Be careful how you speak of God and His servants
Verses 36-37 bring about our application, which is to be very careful how you speak about God
The words of man, whether they blaspheme God by refusing to acknowledge Him, or the blaspheme God by twisting or ignoring what He has inspired about Himself in the Bible, they will be our witnesses when we face judgement day.
Remember back in Matthew 7:23 when Jesus tells people who have done mighty deeds in Jesus’ name: “Depart from me, I never knew you?”
Their defenses were worthless, because their words throughout their lives didn’t acknowledge God rightly
They may have said they served God, but God knowing the treasure of their hearts, the words they spew forth, and even the words that they didn’t even say but kept quiet in their minds… They bore a different witness than that of someone who knew Jesus

Conclusion and Application

So, how do you carelessly speak of God?
We all do it. We all reach back into our minds quickly, in the heat of the moment, drawing out truths we’ve learned about God and then we speak out of that treasure
Is your treasure in your heart good or bad? Is bound to Scripture, or is it bound to something else?
Now, this is not a sermon on predestination, but the question has arisen. If you think I’m pressing too hard on these verses, that’s one thing...
But let’s watch our careless words. No one who calls themselves a Christian wants to be seen as misrepresenting God, and it is a sheer misrepresentation to ignore or “blot out” the verses I mentioned
That’s how the Pharisees were able to miss who Christ was. They ignored some of the most important parts of the Old Testament.
May we not be people who do the same, who carelessly blaspheme God
One final note about the unpardonable sin
One final note on the unpardonable sin. I know there are lots of people, myself included, who have wondered if we’ve blasphemed the Holy Spirit and are therefore unsaveable...
But, remember that to commit the unpardonable sin is to lack repentance… So if you are concerned that you’ve commited it, it’s safe to say that you have not committed the unpardonable sin.
If you truly are afraid that you’ve commited it, if you’ve consistently and wholeheartedly resisted God and what He says of Himself, attributing His works to the works of the devil, I’d wonder why you’re here today, but turn in repentance to the God who forgives, who sent His one and only Son to die to secure you forgiveness
If you truly want that, and if you store that as the treasure of your heart growing in wisdom and knowledge of God and His ways, then I don’t think you’re beyond forgiveness, friend.
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