It’s not a family trait / it’s nothing that I ate / and it didn’t come from skating with holy rollers / it’s an early warning sign / it keeps my life in line / but it’s so hard to define – never mind…/ it pushes when I quit / it smells a counterfeit / sometimes it works a bit like a teleprompter / when it’s teleprompting you I pray you let it through / and I’ll help you with the how but for now it’s just a spirit thing / it’s just a holy nudge / it’s like a circuit judge in the brain / it’s just a spirit thing / it’s here to guard my heart / it’s just a little hard to explain…
- Newsboys, Spirit Thing, from the 1994 album “Going Public”
The authors of our intro song above (Steve Taylor and Peter Fuhler) hit the proverbial nail on the head when it comes to explaining the Holy Spirit and how it works. Up until this point, Jesus has been in the spotlight; the center of attention with all His miracles and stories. We’ve only caught glimpses of the third and final member of the trilogy band (think: Jesus’ baptism by cousin John) – the Holy Spirit. It’s mostly been a background character with Jesus as the lead but for a moment here, the script flips. The Son of Man starts to highlight the Spirit’s importance right in the middle of His first shot speech to the Pharisees.
Remember, they accuse the Christ of getting His power to perform miracles from the Prince of demons, Satan. That didn’t sit well with Jesus. So He responds by giving it to them with both barrels, so to speak. In the opening statement, He argues that a house divided against itself cannot stand. If His power really came from Satan, then Satan was working against himself. Then, rather than leave any doubt what He’s talking about, the Christ attributes His ability as coming from this third, mysterious player – the Holy Spirit.
And then He says that to suggest otherwise is blasphemy which cannot be forgiven either in this world or the world to come (v. 31-32). What the heck does He mean?
This act is referred to as the unpardonable sin. It is “the deliberate refusal to acknowledge God’s power in [the] Christ. It indicates a deliberate and irreversible hardness of heart…only those who have turned their backs on God and rejected all faith have any need to worry. Jesus said they can’t be forgiven – not because their sin is any worse than any other but because they will never ask for forgiveness (Study Bible, p. 1567) which is prompted by the Holy Spirit. Whoever rejects the Spirit’s prompting has removed themselves from the only force which can lead them to repentance and restoration with God. Therefore, it is interesting to note that as a result, God will not condemn anyone to an eternity without Him, it will be their choice. And God always honors our choices.
Back to Jesus’ speech. He continues by sharing with the Pharisees a little bit of His Sermon on the Mount. He focuses on the theme of how 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” (v. 33). Then He goes in for the kill: “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. 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” (v.34-35). Wow.
He’s calling the religious leaders of His day evil. He just says it plainly and outright. He’s not playing anymore. Snap. Makes me wonder about the words He would have to say to the right-wing leaders of our day. Jerry Falwell Jr. or Joel Osteen or Franklin Graham or some of the others. Pat Robertson comes to mind. Judging by their actions in recent decades, it’s hard not to say that they have all lost their way when it comes to bringing people closer to God. They spend their time fearful of those who are different and gather wealth for themselves while ignoring the needs of those around them. If Jesus is willing to call the Pharisees a brood of snakes, just what would He call these so-called men of God nowadays? I don’t think the Spirit has given up on them; it seems they have given up on the Spirit.
It’s a heart problem.
The only way to solve a heart problem is to let the Spirit fill a person with new attitudes and motives. Jesus ends His speech by saying that all men must give an account on judgment day for every idle word spoken. “The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you” (v. 37). That sounds pretty harsh but again it goes back to the heart problem.
How am I responding to the Spirit? Do I allow it to convict me when I’m wrong and change my behavior? Do I listen to its nudges to seek forgiveness? Or do I block it outright and continue on my way?