Jesus’ Rebuke to the Pharisees
10. The Pharisees’ Judgment on Jesus
Mak 3:21–22 And when His friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on Him: for they said, He is beside Himself. And the scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, He has Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casts He out devils.
11. Jesus’ Rebuke to the Pharisees
Mat 12:31–32 Why I say to you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven to men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit shall not be forgiven to men. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.
Mat 23:13–15 But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for you neither go in yourselves, neither suffer you them that are entering to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayer: therefore you shall receive the greater damnation. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, you make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.
The content of the two passages above is different. Let us first take a look at the first passage: The Pharisees’ Judgment on Jesus.
In the Bible, the Pharisees’ appraisal of Jesus Himself and the things that He did was: “[T]hey said, He is beside Himself. … He has Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casts He out devils” (Mak 3:21–22). The scribes’ and Pharisees’ judgment of the Lord Jesus was not them merely imitating other people’s words, and neither was it baseless conjecture—it was the conclusion that they drew about the Lord Jesus from what they saw and heard of His actions. Although their conclusion was ostensibly made in the name of justice and appeared to people as if it were well-founded, the arrogance with which they judged the Lord Jesus was difficult for even them to contain. The frenzied energy of their hatred for the Lord Jesus exposed their own wild ambitions and their evil satanic countenances, as well as their malevolent nature with which they resisted God. These things that they said in their judgment of the Lord Jesus were driven by their wild ambitions, jealousy, and the ugly and malevolent nature of their hostility toward God and the truth. They did not investigate the source of the Lord Jesus’ actions, nor did they investigate the essence of what He said or did. Rather, blindly, in a state of crazed agitation, and with deliberate malice, they attacked and discredited what He had done. They went so far as to willfully discredit His Spirit, that is, the Holy Spirit which is God’s Spirit. This is what they meant when they said, “He is beside Himself,” “Beelzebub,” and “the prince of the devils.” That is to say, they said that the Spirit of God was Beelzebub and the prince of the devils. They characterized as madness the work of God’s Spirit incarnate, which had clothed Himself in flesh. They not only blasphemed God’s Spirit as Beelzebub and the prince of the devils, but also condemned God’s work and condemned and blasphemed the Lord Jesus Christ. The essence of their resistance and blasphemy of God was entirely the same as the essence of the resistance and blasphemy of God given by Satan and the demons. They did not just represent corrupt humans, but more so they were the embodiment of Satan. They were a channel for Satan amongst mankind, and they were the accomplices and lackeys of Satan. The essence of their blasphemy and their denigration of the Lord Jesus Christ was their struggle with God for status, their contest with God, and their unending testing of God. The essence of their resistance to God and their attitude of hostility toward Him, as well as their words and their thoughts, directly blasphemed and angered God’s Spirit. Thus, God determined a reasonable judgment based on what they said and did, and God determined their deeds to be the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. This sin is unforgivable in both this world and the world to come, as is borne out in the following passage of scripture: “[T]he blasphemy against the Holy Spirit shall not be forgiven to men,” and, “whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.” Today, let us talk about the true meaning of these words from God: “[I]t shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.” That is, let us demystify how God fulfills the words: “[I]t shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.”
Everything that we have talked about is related to God’s disposition and His attitude toward people, events, and things. Naturally, the two passages above are no exception. Did you notice anything in these two passages of scripture? Some people say they see God’s anger in them. Some people say they see the side of God’s disposition that does not tolerate mankind’s offense, and that if people do something that is blasphemous to God, then they will not receive His forgiveness. Despite the fact that people see and perceive God’s anger and intolerance of mankind’s offense in these two passages, they still do not truly understand His attitude. Implicit in these two passages are hidden references to God’s true attitude and His approach toward those who blaspheme and anger Him. His attitude and approach demonstrate the true meaning of the following passage: “[W]hoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.” When people blaspheme God and when they anger Him, He issues a verdict, and this verdict is an outcome issued by Him. It is described in this way in the Bible: “Why I say to you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven to men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit shall not be forgiven to men” (Mat 12:31), and “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” (Mat 23:13). However, is it recorded in the Bible what the outcome was for those scribes and Pharisees, as well as for those people who said the Lord Jesus was mad after He said these things? Is it recorded that they suffered any punishment? No—this can be said for certain. Saying “No” here is not to say that there was no such recording, but in fact only that there was no outcome that could be seen with human eyes. To say that “it was not recorded” elucidates the issue of God’s attitude and principles for handling certain things. God does not turn a blind eye or a deaf ear to people who blaspheme or resist Him, or even those who malign Him—people who intentionally attack, malign, and curse Him—but rather He has a clear attitude toward them. He despises these people, and He condemns them in His heart. He even openly declares what their outcome will be, so that people know that He has a clear attitude toward those who blaspheme Him, and so that they know how He will determine their outcome. However, after God said these things, people could rarely see the truth of how God would handle those people, and they could not understand the principles behind the outcome and verdict that God issued to them. That is to say, people cannot see the particular approach and methods God has for handling them. This has to do with God’s principles for doing things. God uses the occurrence of facts to deal with the evil behavior of some people. That is, He does not announce their sin and does not determine their outcome, but rather directly uses the occurrence of facts to dole out their punishment and just retribution. When these facts happen, it is people’s flesh that suffers punishment, meaning that the punishment is something that can be seen with human eyes. When dealing with some people’s evil behavior, God just curses them with words and His anger also comes upon them, but the punishment they receive may be something people cannot see. Nonetheless, this type of outcome may be even more serious than the outcomes that people can see, such as being punished or killed. This is because under the circumstances that God has determined not to save this type of person, to no longer show mercy or have tolerance for them and to provide them with no more opportunities, then the attitude that He takes toward them is one of putting them aside. What is the meaning here of “putting aside”? The basic meaning of this term is “to put something to one side, to no longer pay attention to it.” But here, when God “puts someone aside,” there are two different explanations of its meaning: The first explanation is that He has given that person’s life and everything about that person over to Satan to deal with, and God would no longer be responsible and would no longer manage that person. Whether that person be mad or stupid, or whether they be dead or alive, or if they have descended into hell for their punishment, none of this would have anything to do with God. That would mean that such a creature would have no relation to the Creator. The second explanation is that God has determined that He Himself wants to do something with this person, with His own hands. It is possible that He will utilize this person’s service, or that He will use them as a foil. It is possible that He will have a special way of dealing with this type of person, a special way of treating them, just like with Paul, for example. This is the principle and attitude in God’s heart by which He has determined to deal with this kind of person. So when people resist God and malign and blaspheme Him, if they aggravate His disposition, or if they push God past the limit of His tolerance, then the consequences do not bear thinking about. The most severe consequence is that God hands their lives and everything about them over to Satan once and for all. They will not be forgiven for all of eternity. This means that this person has become food in Satan’s mouth, a toy in its hand, and from then on God has nothing more to do with them. Can you imagine what misery it was when Satan tempted Job? Even under the condition that Satan was not permitted to harm Job’s life, Job still suffered greatly. And is it not even more difficult to imagine the ravages which would be inflicted by Satan upon someone who has been completely handed over to Satan, who is completely within Satan’s grasp, who has completely lost God’s care and mercy, who is no longer under the Creator’s rule, who has been stripped of the right to worship Him and the right to be a creature under God’s rule, and whose relationship with the Lord of creation has been completely severed? Satan’s persecution of Job was something that could be seen with human eyes, but if God hands over a person’s life to Satan, the consequences are beyond the human imagination. For example, some people may be reborn as a cow, or a donkey, while some may be occupied and possessed by unclean, evil spirits, and so on. Such are the outcomes of some of the people who are handed over to Satan by God. From the outside, it looks like those people who ridiculed, maligned, condemned, and blasphemed the Lord Jesus did not suffer any consequences. However, the truth is that God has an approach for dealing with everything. He may not use clear language to tell people the outcome of how He deals with every type of person. Sometimes He does not speak directly, but rather acts directly. That He does not speak about it does not mean that there is no outcome—in fact, in such a case it is possible that the outcome is even more serious. From the outside, it may seem as though there are some to whom God does not explicitly speak about His attitude, but in fact, God has not wanted to pay any mind to them for a long time. He does not want to see them anymore. Because of the things they have done and their behavior, because of their nature and their essence, God only wants them to disappear from His sight, wants to hand them over directly to Satan, to give their spirit, soul, and body to Satan and to allow Satan to do whatever it wants with them. It is clear to what extent God hates them, to what extent He is disgusted by them. If a person angers God to the point that God does not even want to see them again and is prepared to completely give up on them, to the point where He does not even want to deal with them Himself—if it gets to the point where He will hand them over to Satan for it to do as it will, to allow Satan to control, consume, and treat them in whatever way it pleases—then this person is utterly finished. Their right to be a human has been permanently revoked, and their right to be a creature of God’s creation has come to an end. Is this not the most severe kind of punishment?
All of the above is a complete explanation of the words: “[I]t shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come,” and it also serves as a simple commentary on these passages from the scriptures. I believe you all have an understanding of it now.
Excerpted from The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself III
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