Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Importance of Attitude

Matthew 12:30-42

“He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.  Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.

And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.  Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit.” (Matthew 12:30-33)

The Pharisees had accused Jesus of casting out demons by satanic power.  As Jesus pointed out that was an untenable position, both because it would have resulted in Satan’s defeat, and because if true, then their own efforts must also be satanic. 

Jesus then pointed out that one cannot be neutral about who Christ is.  Either you are on his side or you’re drifting farther away.  Inevitably those who try to serve God without seeking the fellowship of the church and Christ drift away.  It is why Hebrews 10:25 commands, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”

Many people distinguish between mortal or unforgiveable sins and venial or forgivable sins.   Jesus said there is only one sin, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which will not be forgiven.   To blaspheme means ‘to vilify, to speak evil of, to falsely accuse.’  They could say whatever they wanted about even Jesus and still be forgiven, but when people begin to falsely accuse the Holy Spirit of doing evil or being satanic, it will never be forgiven. 

A tree only produces one kind of fruit.  They do not naturally produce more than one kind unless someone has grafted in other branches.  In the same way, the Holy Spirit only produces good results and Satan only produces evil ones.  The test whether something is good or evil is what its end result is, not in how good it appears along the way.   Some of the most deadly things are the most attractive in appearance.

“O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.  A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.” (Matthew 12:34-35)

A person’s speech and actions are the product of his core beliefs and attitudes that determine what a person is.   Sooner or later those attitudes and beliefs will spill out and reveal what the person is really like.  The Pharisees had focused on getting power since the time of Alexander the great.  There was no way they would recommend Jesus teaching when it challenged their practices.   What a person is really like inside shows in his actions and attitudes.

But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.  For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” (Matthew  12:36-37)

God is keeping track of every word we say, and will judge us on those unguarded moments when we let our real feelings and attitudes come out because they show what is really in our hearts.  Literally our words will control whether we are rewarded or punished in the judgment.

“Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee.
But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Matthew 12:38-40)

The entire discussion had arisen because Jesus healed the man with the withered hand on the Sabbath day, that very day.  Now the scribes and Pharisees wanted him to do a special sign for them to prove he is from God.  Jesus refused.  He said that people who insist on constantly having signs to serve God are like a prostitute who will only relate to her man if he pays her fee.  They have no real commitment to God and God will not provide those signs just to keep them.

The only sign that they had to look forward to as proof that he was the Messiah was that of his death.  Just as Jonah had spent three days and nights in the giant fish’s belly, the Messiah would spend three days and nights in the tomb.  There would be no special signs to prove he was the Messiah.

“The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.  The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.” (Matthew 12:41-42)

When Jonah went into Nineveh he just stated that in forty days Nineveh would be destroyed, hoping they wouldn’t listen.  They acted on his words, repenting of their sin and were spared.  Unlike Jonah, Jesus had done miracles to try to get them to listen.  When Judgment came the Pharisees would be condemned because they had far more reason to believe Jesus than the people of Nineveh did to believe Jonah, but had refused.

The queen of Sheba had travel several hundred miles to learn from Solomon.  Jesus had shared more with them and had given more reason to listen than Solomon, yet they were not listening, and when Judgment came, the Queen of Sheba would point it out to show they had no excuse for not believing.

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