Sunday, March 11, 2012

Own Worst Enemy

Matthew 12:22-32

Have you ever been wrong ...and had the courage to admit it? A humbling, but liberating, feeling to be sure. Remember Mr. Harold Camping? He, and his organization, had made several, as recent as 2011, predictions of Christ' coming. Camping's recent statement of wrongness and repentance seem to indicate a primary example of the good from admitting wrong-doing..... "We tremble before God as we humbly ask Him for forgiveness for making that sinful statement, -- "We are so thankful that God is so loving that He will forgive even this sin." ...repented Camping.

Have you ever been at least wrongly accused? Ever been set up to fail? I know a preacher who spent his entire ministry under this cloud. His evangelism plan did not convince all to follow the way. There were even some who followed and soon fell away. Yet there were indeed some who stayed the course. Following the way cost them more than they likely, at least originally, anticipated. Despite the good works the preacher performed, he was doubted and viewed, at best, unstable in his ways and teaching. At worst, a blasphemer of God by many in religious circles. And persecution? Definitely.

The gospel according to Matthew draws this picture of false accusation, defense of the truth (not the proclaimer), denial of the truth, and a clear statement of the only excuse our Lord could find NOT to forgive us. Was He, is He, a liar, a lunatic, or Lord of all?

Those who knew Him then saw Him as Healer
"Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, "Can this be the Son of David?" vv.22-23

The religious establishment, and unbelievers, called Him Blasphemer
"But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, "It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons." v.24

Many today call Him "friend of sinners" and Forgiver
"Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, "Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can someone enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come."  vv.25-32

Love and forgiveness were Christ' major, over-arching themes. Though He spoke so much of the reality of Hell, and our free choice toward it was His desire that none should perish. In healing, in encouragement, in rebuke, in warning ....He was intent on proclaiming, and being, the truth, To a fault.... many would say! He made clear that there were higher offenses of sin beyond lying, thieving, adultering, even murder. Only ONE unpardonable transgression ....utter, deliberate, continual, to the point of final, rejection of the work of the Holy Spirit.

"We have met the enemy and he is us." ...said Pogo

Our worst enemy may be ourselves, but our best friend, our advocate, our forgiver, is most definitely in Jesus Christ.