Matthew 12:22-29: 22 Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see. 23 All the people were astonished and said, “Could this be the Son of David?” 24 But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.” 25 Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. 26 If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand? 27 And if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. 28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29 “Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can plunder his house.
“Apologetics” is a discipline in religion today in which we defend our faith in a reasonable way. It has nothing to do with apologizing for what we believe. Jesus uses apologetics to answer the accusation of the Pharisees that he was driving out demons by Beelzebub, the prince of demons.” Jesus answered them by saying, “That doesn’t even make sense, because then Satan would be working against himself.”
Sometimes we have to do the same thing. Someone may accuse you of being an unloving bigot because you believe that Jesus is the only way to heaven. A reasonable defense would be to say, “Well, if it is true that Jesus is the only way to heaven, wouldn’t it be an unloving thing to do to say that he is not? I’d love the opportunity to show you why I believe this.”
Apologetics is not helpful if we just want to win an argument. It is helpful if we can bring the conversation back to faith and back to Jesus. That’s what Jesus did in the words above, when he said, “But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” We win, not when we win an argument, but when we get a chance to teach more about Jesus.
Prayer: Dear Jesus, in the world today we are always having to defend what we believe. First, make me more rooted and grounded in the Scriptures every day so that my faith remains strong. Second, teach me the art of turning every conversation into an opportunity to tell someone about you. I ask this in your name. Amen.
Matthew 12: 30-32: “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. 31 And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
Have you committed the sin against the Holy Spirit? If you have ever asked yourself that question in a serious moment of self-examination, you probably felt a shudder in your soul, a chill up your spine. This is a question which I have often had to answer in my ministry.
First, we should take the words of Jesus very seriously. Jesus spoke these words to warn us against unbelief. He was talking to the Pharisees of his age, who were very religious people. They took God’s law seriously and made every effort to keep it. But they did it because they thought they could earn their salvation. It was for that very reason that they rejected Jesus, even plotting to kill Jesus. Worse, they rejected the working of the Holy Spirit in their hearts. The sin against the Holy Spirit cannot be forgiven because it is a sin of unbelief.
Have you committed the sin against the Holy Spirit? If you have, then you are almost certainly not reading this devotion. In fact, you wouldn’t be asking yourself the question, if you have committed the sin against the Holy Spirit. The question wouldn’t make you shudder in your soul or send a chill up your spine. You take this question seriously, because you DO believe in Jesus and you are afraid that you might fall into sin and unbelief and cast it all away.
You should distrust yourself. Only, don’t distrust Jesus. Trust your Savior, who died to save you. Trust the Holy Spirit, who wants you to be saved as much as Jesus does and will continue to work in your heart.
Prayer: Dear Jesus, I do believe. Help me overcome my unbelief! Thank you for the warning today not to frustrate the work of the Holy Spirit in me or to cast him out of my heart. Keep me listening to your Word. Keep me growing in my faith. Own my heart until you come to take me to heaven. Amen.
Matthew 12: 33-37: “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. 35 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. 36 But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. 37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”
“For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” Just take a few minutes to think about that for a moment, a moment to examine your heart by what comes out of your mouth. Jesus applied these words to the Pharisees, who criticized and condemned Jesus. The lies they spoke came from lying hearts. The evil words they spoke against him came from evil hearts. On the last day, their words will condemn them and show the world what was in their hearts.
But what do our words show is in our hearts? Are we boastful about our accomplishments? Do we speak about yourselves a lot? Do we like to hear ourselves talk? That’s evidence of a sinful pride in our hearts. Or do our words contain a lot of gossip and criticism of others? Such words speak of a judgmental heart. Do we use a lot of foul and vulgar language? What does that say about our heart?
On the other hand, “a good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him.” When we speak kindly of our neighbor, people see a generous and kind heart in us. When we are quick to listen and slow to speak, people see a patient heart in us, a heart that puts our neighbor before ourselves. When we are quick to admit our faults, people see the humility of repentance in us. When we speak about Jesus and how blessed we are in him, people see the faith in our hearts.
Prayer: Dear Jesus, I pray that I will always praise and honor you with my mouth and lips! I ask you to forgive me for all that I have done wrong today, especially when I have spoken carelessly or my words have hurt and offended. I ask this in your name. Amen.