John 6:60 “Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, “This is a hard saying; who can understand it?”
Jesus spoke in sayings. And some of them were difficult to understand, in fact the disciples were often in error, Jesus constantly had to demand: “He that has ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15; 13:9,15,16,43; Mark 4:9; 4:23; 7:16; Luke 8:8; 14:35). For example, did they not for a long time after Christ’s departure think John would live to the second coming because of something Jesus taught them, which they misunderstood (John 21:22)? Were not they constantly mistaken about the necessity of his death (John 2:22; 12:16; 16:4; Luke 24:7-8)?
With that understanding, we proceed to examine some of the “hard sayings” of the Bible.
Romans 9:15,18 states:
15 For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.”
18 Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens.
And since God loves us, he warns us so we can avoid being hardened. The verses on blasphemy against the Spirit and apostasy are warnings not to continue in certain spiritually dangerous behavior. Warnings so that we don’t go beyond the point of no return.
So let’s look at them. We’ll start with the blasphemy against the Spirit. Matthew 12:24-33 says:
24 Now when the Pharisees heard it they said, “This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.”
25 But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.
26 “If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand?
27 “And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges.
28 “But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely thekingdomofGodhas come upon you.
29 “Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house.
30 “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.
31 “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men.
32 “Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.
33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit.
The first thing I want to point out is that in verse 31, Christ says, “every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men…” This of course is only if they repent. Jesus did not say the Pharisees had committed the blasphemy against the spirit, he warned them against doing so.
Later, those who saw the miracles and still rejected Christ as evil and had him crucified, repented and were forgiven. Acts 2:22-39 says:
22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know––
23 “Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death;
24 “whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.
25 “For David says concerning Him: ‘I foresaw the LORD always before my face, For He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken.
26 Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad; Moreover my flesh also will rest in hope.
27 For You will not leave my soul in Hades, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.
28 You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of joy in Your presence.’
29 “Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.
30 “Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne,
31 “he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption.
32 “This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses.
33 “Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.
34 “For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: ‘The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand,
35 Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”’
36 “Therefore let all the house ofIsraelknow assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”
37 ¶ Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”
38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
39 “For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”
They had not yet blasphemed the Holy Spirit, and now they were going to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit!
But if those who saw the miracles or Christ and had him crucified as evil did not blaspheme the Spirit, then what is the sin of blasphemy against the spirit? It is the sin of going to far. Of blaspheming to the point that God hardens you against having faith in Christ, as Romans 9:15,18 warns.
Now we’ll turn our examination of Scripture to apostasy. Hebrews 6:4-8 says:
4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit,
5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come,
6 if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.
7 For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God;
8 but if it bears thorns and briars, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned.
And Hebrews 10:26-29 says:
26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,
27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.
28 Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.
29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?
In Acts 12:25 we read, “And Barnabas and Saul returned fromJerusalemwhen they had fulfilled their ministry, and they also took with them John whose surname was Mark.”
But in Acts 15:37-40 it says:
37 Now Barnabas was determined to take with them John called Mark.
38 But Paul insisted that they should not take with them the one who had departed from them in Pamphylia, and had not gone with them to the work.
39 Then the contention became so sharp that they parted from one another. And so Barnabas took Mark and sailed toCyprus;
40 but Paul chose Silas and departed, being commended by the brethren to the grace of God.
But later Paul says in 2 Timothy 4:11, “Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry.”
So here we see an example of someone “wandering from the truth,” as James 5:19,20 says, and later repenting and being forgiven. It was apostasy type behavior, but Mark didn’t go beyond the point of no return, and God brought him back to faith in Christ.
In Matthew 26:69-75 we have a similar example with Peter:
69 ¶ Now Peter sat outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came to him, saying, “You also were with Jesus of Galilee.”
70 But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you are saying.”
71 And when he had gone out to the gateway, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, “This fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth.”
72 But again he denied with an oath, “I do not know the Man!”
73 And a little later those who stood by came up and said to Peter, “Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you.”
74 Then he began to curse and swear, saying, “I do not know the Man!” Immediately a rooster crowed.
75 And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” So he went out and wept bitterly.
Peter certainly “wandered from the truth” in what looks like apostasy here, but he didn’t go beyond the point of no return. Because we see that he does return in John 21:15-17:
15 ¶ So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.”
16 He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My sheep.”
17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.
Christ had said in Matthew 10:32,33:
32 “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven.
33 “But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.
Peter did deny Christ before men (again, apostasy type behavior), but later he confessed Jesus before men, and was forgiven.
Concerning blasphemy, apostasy and all other sins, James 5:19,20 says:
19 Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back,
20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.
And 1 John 1:7-9 says:
7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
8 ¶ If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
We see that these sins, which are stated in such a way as to seem like doing them once means you will never be forgiven, are in fact forgiven. These are some of the “hard sayings” of the Bible, but with some Bible study, it becomes clear that all who believe in Jesus will be forgiven for “every sin and blasphemy.” The warning of James 5:19,20 and Romans 9:18 is that you can go to far. You can sin to the point that God hardens you, so that you will not “return to repentance.”
Let’s remember John 3:16-21:
16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
17 “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
19 “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
20 “For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.
21 “But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”