by Elder Louis Holder, written September 14, 2017
Some years ago, at the church near Cameron, Texas, we were having a fifth Sunday meeting. As we went through the lunch line on Saturday, the preacher in front of me, seeing a bowl of mustard greens, turned to me and said, “Elder Holder, old Elder so-and-so told me that he thought that the sin against the Holy Ghost was cooking your greens without a chunk of pork fat in them.” We all laughed of course, but I doubt that is really it. Jesus was a Jew, after all, and couldn’t eat pork.
Jesus tells us that all manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men, except the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, which will not be forgiven “neither in this world (the old testament world in which he lived), neither in the world to come” (the new testament world in which we live ) (Mt 12:31-32 ).
Don’t you think it would be odd if Jesus told us something this important, and left it so deep, dark, and mysterious, that we could not understand it?
There are some hints to help us understand this dreadful warning, I think. In Mt 10:33, Jesus says if you (baptized Christians) deny me before men, I will deny you before my Father in heaven. The historians tell us that the early Christians considered denial of the faith during persecution the absolute worst sin you could commit because of this statement. There is a similar statement that the writer of Hebrews tells us: For those who have been made partakers of the Holy Ghost, that if they fall away, it is impossible to renew them again (Heb 6:4-6). Same sentiment as what Jesus said. We also have John’s statement that there is a sin unto death, though he does not elaborate on it as apparently it was common knowledge in his day (1John 5:16).
On the day of Pentecost in about 30 AD, God poured out His Spirit, in a visible way, upon the 120 disciples (Acts 2:1-4). The purpose of this display was to draw a crowd, which it did (Acts 2:6). There were men there from every nation under heaven who, after hearing Peter preach, wanted to know what they should do. Peter told them to repent of their sins and be baptized, and they too would receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. According to Peter, the order of things is: belief, repentance, baptism, receive the Holy Ghost. About 3,000 were added to the number of believers from that multitude and after staying in Jerusalem for a time, listening to the Apostles, they finally returned home to tell of their experience.
The next example is that of the man named Saul, who was struck down on his way to Damascus to persecute the Christians there. When Ananias entered the place where Saul was he said to him “Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus….hath sent me that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.” Saul arose and was baptized (Acts 9:1-18). Saul, now using the Romanized version of his name, Paul, came upon certain disciples who had been baptized unto John’s baptism and not even heard of the Holy Ghost. Paul then baptized them in the name of the Lord Jesus and they too received the Holy Ghost (Acts 19: 1-6).
Jesus, promising not to leave us totally alone after he goes back to his Father, tells us about the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost. He says that it is not for “the world” but for his followers only, and would be in them, (from Pentecost onward) (John 14:17) To make the promise even plainer, Jesus goes on to say “If a man loves me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him” (John 14:23). So, it seems clear, only baptized Christians have the Holy Ghost, and therefore, only baptized Christians can blaspheme the Holy Ghost.
Baptism is a serious thing. In the early days it could mean your life. During the Empire wide persecution of the Emperor Decian in 250 A.D., if you were brought before the Magistrate, accused of being a Christian, you had to prove you were not one or be condemned to death.
To prove you were not a Christian you had to deny any belief in Jesus, then offer a sacrificial meal to a statue of a “god” and partake of it yourself. You were then given a certificate signed by the Magistrate and a witness or two, that you had worshiped the “gods” and partaken of the sacrificial meal, and thus were no Christian. When we ask for and receive baptism, our “old man” is symbolically buried in the watery grave, and a “new creature” in Christ Jesus (2Cor. 5:17) is symbolically resurrected. We have asked for and received citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven (the New Testament Church) and have willingly placed ourselves under the authority of the King.
Blasphemy, in this case, is basically, any insult that we may offer to the very Spirit of God. Our very bodies are the Temple of the living God ( 1Cor.6;19) Shall we cause this Temple to bow down to an idol? To make our God inferior to a man-made god? Surely that would be an insult to our God.
Holy, with respect to God, means pure, without spot or blemish, sacred, reverend. This Holy God has taken up residence in our very bodies, His temple. What if we then pollute this temple in some way? Will God just scooch over to make room for the pollution we have imposed on Him, or will He depart from us in disgust? Would polluting the temple with God in it be an insult to God? A blasphemy? Paul tells us that fornication is a sin against this temple (1Cor, 6;18). According to Webster’s un-abridged dictionary, fornication means any sexual sin.
Fornication is one of the things that Jesus says defiles a man (Mt. 15:19). Defile means to pollute, make dirty. Will the pure, sacred, reverend, God of Heaven continue to live in a defiled temple? What do you think?