How on earth can the Spirit be “blasphemed”?

The story leading up to “blasphemy against the Spirit” in Matthew 12:31 began when Jesus healed a man who’d been made blind and dumb by a demon. Some Scribes and Pharisees from Jerusalem who’d seen the miracle decided among themselves that the only reason Jesus had been able to drive the demon out of the man was because Jesus was possessed by Satan, the ruler of the demons, and he was acting on Satan’s orders.

It sounded like a great argument, that Jesus was able to cast out demons because he was one of Satan’s cronies and he was simply doing what Satan wanted, because Satan had a total hold over him. But Jesus asks them why on earth Satan would drive his own demons out of people when it would destroy Satan’s purpose of controlling people and expanding his kingdom. Why would Satan have a demon successfully take a person over and then drive the demon out freeing the person from the demon’s clutches? Clearly, then, it couldn’t be Satan who drove the demon out.

And Satan wouldn’t allow anyone else to drive his demons out of people either. Satan was far too powerful for any human being to break into his kingdom, steal his demons, and turn them against him. So how could they think Jesus was operating by the power of Satan when the last two things Satan would ever do was, first of all, give up control over someone and, secondly, allow someone else control over people instead?

So who was driving demons out of people instead, then, if it wasn’t Satan himself doing it, nor was it Satan allowing it?

Well, the only person who could break through Satan’s defences was someone stronger than him. But here was Jesus driving a demon out of someone, and Satan couldn’t stop him. Clearly, then, Jesus was operating by a power far greater than Satan’s. To continue accusing Jesus of operating by Satan’s power, therefore, was to accuse the power Jesus was operating by as Satan’s power too. And that to Jesus was a step too far, because he knew the Holy Spirit was the source of his power. People could say what they liked about him, but to directly accuse the Holy Spirit of being Satan was unforgivable from people who were supposed to be priests of God.

So Jesus lets them have it: “You accuse me of being demon-possessed, and the Holy Spirit being Satan. Well, you’ve just revealed yourselves for exactly who you are. You are a pit of snakes, and one day you will answer for every stupid, ridiculous word you’ve said” (verse 36).

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