One does not have to look too closely to see the worst elements of humanity at work. It seems that in our fallen and broken world there is more than ample supply of unsavory elements working against the goodness of God. It’s not uncommon to hear of unidentified scam artists taking advantage of the eldest and weakest. Alerts and announcements exclaiming “You’ve won the (name your foreign country) lottery!” or “You’ve been chosen!” usually mean you’re going to be duped if your respond. Sadly many do respond and experience great losses. Preying upon the elderly and weak is certainly sinful, but it’s not unforgivable. There is, however, one sin that God will not pardon.
As the news spread that Jesus was casting out demons and unclean spirits, the religious leaders who enjoyed their status became jealous and viewed our Lord as a threat to their lofty position in society. They also took great exception to his teaching which exposed their own as faulty and self-serving. In order to stop the momentum of Jesus’ message, some Pharisees asserted that he himself was demon possessed and that is why he was able to expel evil spirits from the hearts and minds of others. Jesus, however, exposed this plot of the Pharisees by pointing out how ridiculous it would be to consider Satan to be working against himself.
Jesus says, “If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end” (Mark 3:25-26). One cannot build himself up by tearing himself down; it just doesn’t make sense. It would make no sense for Jesus to be using the powers of evil to rid God’s people of evil. Taking it a step farther, Jesus also points out to those who would accuse him that God will not forgive anyone who commits blasphemy against the Holy Spirit in order to suit their own purposes. Doing so means willfully and completely rejecting the power of God’s saving grace.
Corruption runs rampant throughout our world. It even extends into the Church. There are those who would call themselves evangelists, yet prey upon the most unsuspecting believers. This is one harsh reality of sin, but it is not unforgivable. Because Jesus remained obedient to God even unto death, giving his life as ransom for sin, forgiveness and reconciliation with God is possible. Does sin exist within the Church? Certainly it does. Can such sin be forgiven and sinners be saved? Absolutely! For this reason we pray:
Gracious Father, we pray for your holy catholic and apostolic Church. Fill it with all truth, in all peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in anything it is amiss, reform it. Where it is right, strengthen it; where it is in need, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of Jesus Christ, your Son, our Savior. Amen.
Photo: PPG Square, Pittsburgh, PA. August 2012