There is a series of stories in Mark 3 that was part of my change of heart and mind on the work of the Holy Spirit. Jesus heals a man on the Sabbath. The reaction of the Pharisees was not to recognize the prophesied work of the Spirit and the Messiah and praise God for it! No. Instead, the plotted to kill Jesus (Mark 3:6). A few verses later Jesus is challenged on his miracles. None of his opponents deny that Jesus did any of the miracles. That is undeniable. They know that no man of God, much less Messiah, would be a lawbreaker and breaking the Sabbath would certainly be breaking the Law (although Jesus didn’t really break the Sabbath). So they reasoned that Jesus’ power must come from somewhere else. Who else could grant power over the human body? Well, the demons sure seemed to be able to influence the human body and its wellness or illness. So they reason that Jesus is in league with the devil, with Beelzebul, the prince of demons (Mark 3:22) and they accuse him this.

What Jesus says next is stunning,

23 So Jesus called them over to him and began to speak to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 26 And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. 27 In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house without first tying him up. Then he can plunder the strong man’s house. 28 Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.”

30 He said this because they were saying, “He has an impure spirit.” – Mark 3:23-30

I certainly don’t want to be guilty of an eternal sin. It sure seems to me that the eternal sin Jesus is talking about here is witnessing the very work of the Holy Spirit and attributing it to another power, even the devil himself. Now, I cannot ever remember attributing something that I thought was holy and right to the devil. But, if the Holy Spirit was actively involved in the world and even in my life, and I didn’t care to notice it or even flat out denied that reality, I was not far from what Jesus was talking about here. Imagine that the Holy Spirit is working today while the very people of God are saying not only that it doesn’t happen but that it is false teaching to say that it does. In all of our “play it safe” theological reasoning this one didn’t work out very well. In my mind, the conservative view on this would be to affirm the operation of the Spirit because it is affirming what the Bible directly teaches. Our arguments to the contrary have typically been reactionary to disprove the theology of others rather than from anything directly taught in the text itself.

I would much rather attribute things to the Spirit and be wrong about it in the end than fail to attribute things to the Spirit that the Spirit never did and be wrong about it in the end. The reason itself may not be the most compelling reasoning every constructed (although it was for me) but the consequence of being wrong on this matter was too great for me to ignore. This was one more brick out of the wall.

What were some of the compelling reasons you have adjusted your view on the Holy Spirit over the years?

2 Responses

  1. Why my adjusted view of the Holy Spirit? One, because i actually started reading the bible (large chunks at a time) instead of using it as a “supporting argument” for the doctrine i adhered to. There’s way too much in there describing Him as a living Spirit – not simply as one who solely resides within the ink and paper. Secondly, i’ve seen too much evidence of Him in my own life and in the lives of others. Addictions overcome, events and occurrences come about, overwhelming compassion, and putting to death fits of rage – none of it because “we just tried harder! ”
    When we don’t put out His fire in our lives, He’ll actually fan a flame that will lead us to an undeniable existence in our lives and others around us. It is by God’s grace and patience that this change of perception has come about!

  2. If one reads Luke-Acts as a unit (which one may or may not choose to do), one may see that Luke’s focus is on the crucifixion (and resurrection) for the removal of sins for those who return to God through repentance. Acts’ focus is on the promised Holy Spirit being poured out upon all flesh and His use of the repentance-forgiven believers as vessels. They destroy the works of the Devil in the name (authority) of Jesus and the power of Jesus (the promised Holy Spirit). In this manner, they also do the good works which were prepared from before the foundation of the world (other Pauline writings). We have 20,000 denominations (disunity of the Spirit) because where the Holy Spirit exists in a faith community, paid clergy perks (mammon-ish) are diminished — because the Spirit distributes (often unrecognized / uncompensated gifts [as opposed to preaching]) to every believer. It is the role of the congregational leadership to make an effort to acknowledge these gifts and commission the ministry of each believer (extrapolation from Barnabas and Paul’s experience). In my opinion, if your congregation doesn’t have a “LinkedIn directory” of every members gifts and ministries then your leadership has failed your congregation. Failed congregational leadership is a mark of a true New Testament church 😉

Leave a Reply