Growing up, I never dreamed that I would be where I am today. I never dreamed that I would have the opportunities that I have today or that God would use me in the capacity that He is using me today. This was not because I didn’t feel qualified or because I felt too insignificant. It was because, growing up, I didn’t care about God at all. To me, church was a joke and the people within the church were hypocrites. God was not apparent, at least to my own perception, and Christianity, though I claimed it through my parents, seemed like a religion I could do without. Think about it. If I didn’t go to church, I would have much more time to do what I wanted to do or to sleep in. If I didn’t go to church, I would not have to be around the people who pretend that they have life figured out and who pretend that everything is perfect. I would not have had to listen to some guy talk about a God who may or may not have existed. I would not have had to listen to the contradictory statements that seemed to define the faith.
“God loves you and will accept you as you are, but you have to give your life up and change.”
“Jesus Christ died to conquer sin, but sin still reigns in the world.”
Allow me to share with you, not only what I learned about God, but how I came to know God and how my cynicism toward the Christian faith, and how it is supposed to be, was reversed.
And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.” And he called them to him and said to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And 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. But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house. Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”- for they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.”
Mark 3:22-30 ESV
The beliefs of the world are a contradiction by nature
Jesus answered in response to the accusation being made against Him, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.” Consider the travesties of September 11, 2001; the Nazi movement led by Adolf Hitler; death; genocide; murder; rape and slave trafficking. The world we live in is evil, and it has no mercy. Here is the contradiction: the same world that is so evil can also be good. The world that is inherently evil works to rid itself of the evil that is in it. This means that, the world is a kingdom that stands against itself. As a natural result, it cannot stand. Satan uses this aspect of the world to tear the world down and to encourage its demise because God wishes to establish it according to Jeremiah 33. Satan does not stand against himself, but the world does stand against itself.
If the world stands against itself, and the world is under the authority of humanity, given by God as recorded in Genesis, chapter 1 and verses 26 and 28, then the nature and actions of humanity also causes the human race to be divided against itself. We are not good, but we try to be good: either by being religious, gaining knowledge or being moral. Here is the problem. Human religion contradicts itself. Knowledge is subjective. Morals depend on the culture around us, and cultures in different areas are different and therefore have different morals that do not agree with one another. The entire belief system of this world is a contradiction to itself. Since in living apart from Christ, I was a part of the world, I was living in contradiction to myself and therefore needed a change.
Reason behind the name of Christ
Jesus uses this concept to begin proclaiming His purpose for even being on the earth. No one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods. He must first bind the man, then he may plunder his house. The most important reason that Jesus Christ was on the earth was to bind sin, so that humanity, who had given itself over to sin, could be removed from sin and returned to God. Jesus Christ accomplished this through His death and resurrection. Jesus Christ is not divided against Himself in any manner. He waged war and wages war against the power of darkness; against sin. So, when we choose to trust in Christ and are found in Him, we are no longer destined for destruction. We can stand. We gain life because God wages war against the world on our behalf and becomes our Lord. What must we do in order to be found in Christ? According to Romans, chapter 10 and verse9, all those who declare Jesus Christ as the Lord of their lives and who also believe that God raised Jesus from the dead will be saved. In order for Christ to wage war on any sin, means that Christ wages war against all sin and all darkness. If Jesus overcame sin once and for all, then there is no sin and no rebellion that can keep us from God. Correct? Does this not mean that all men can be saved? Does it not mean that all of humanity can be returned to its rightful place under the Lordship of Jesus Christ?
All sin forgiven
Jesus looks intently into the eyes of the scribes and says, very plainly, “ALL SINS WILL BE FORGIVEN THE SONS OF MAN.” Take the worst thing that you have ever done. Take the worst thing that you will ever do. I don’t care how evil or vile it was, and I don’t care if you have asked forgiveness for that or not. All sin was forgiven of all men at the moment Jesus Christ was crucified on the cross. There exists no sin committed by any human being that has not been forgiven by God.
Does this mean that we no longer have to ask forgiveness? No. Our asking forgiveness creates within us a repentant heart. Our asking forgiveness from God is what allows us to let go of the sin we are holding on to and allows us to be transformed by the work that God is trying to do in our lives. Even though God has forgiven all sin, we still allow that sin to destroy us because we hold on to it. Stop holding on to it. Let it go. Confess it. Ask forgiveness from God. Repent. It will empower you to grow in your relationship with Christ.
Consider how we also react to others. If we are to follow the example of Jesus Christ, should we not also forgive all wrongs we receive from others even before the wrong is committed? Does Paul not write in Ephesians, chapter 4 and verse 32, that we should forgive others just as Christ forgave us? Then, we someone wrongs us we have already forgiven them and are able to act redemptively with them. Restoring them. Maintaining a relationship and a ministry with them. Leading them further into the Kingdom and presence of God.
Does the fact that God has forgiven all sin mean that all people will ultimately be with Christ for eternity?
Blaspheming the Holy Spirit
Jesus states that the only sin that will not be forgiven of men (that’s right, women get away with everything) is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. We are forgiven all other sins including blasphemy against God the Father and God the Son. We are not forgiven blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. See, if we live our lives as if we have control and authority over ourselves, then we are in fact trying to do work that belongs to the Holy Spirit. We must remember that God gave man dominion over all of creation, that is, excluding mankind. If we go our entire lives without accepting the work of the Holy Spirit, which begins at salvation when the Holy Spirit actually indwells us, the we complete a life of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit because try to accomplish the Holy Spirit’s work in our own lives: purging us from all evil and all darkness. As I described earlier, a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand.
So, my cynicism toward God ended and I began a relationship with Him when I was fifteen years of age. My skepticism toward many beliefs still remains but, as I have discovered, there is such thing as a healthy degree of skepticism. It causes us to look for answers, and when we look for answers, real answers, they are revealed to us as we search. So, do not be guilty of blaspheming the Holy Spirit. Remember that no matter what evil you have done, it is already forgiven because of Christ’s sacrifice. Ask forgiveness because it allows us to grow in our relationships with Christ. Lastly, forgive others just as Christ forgave you.