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Sabbath School Lessons on Holy Spirit
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About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 41 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 12: The Sin Against the Holy Spirit *
Introduction: You are constantly making decisions. When you make
those decisions you are not just saying "yes" or "no," you sometimes
say, "Absolutely," "this will make me popular," "this will make me
rich," or "this could really be a disaster." This week we discuss
the worst disaster imaginable in a decision. We are discussing how we
can choose to commit the "unpardonable sin." Is such a thing
possible? Let's jump into the Bible and find out!
- Can a Sin Be Unpardonable?
- Read 1 Timothy 1:15. If the worst of sinners can be
forgiven, that precludes an "unforgivable sin," right? If
there was a "worse" sin, one that was unforgivable," then
Paul (the writer) would not be the worst sinner, right?
- Or, is Paul just teasing us about being the worst
- Read Matthew 12:31-32. What sin does Jesus say cannot be
forgiven? (Speaking against the Holy Spirit.)
- This text tells us that we can speak against Jesus
and be forgiven, but we cannot speak against the Holy
Spirit and be forgiven. Since they are both God,
since they are both part of the Trinity, how can this
make any sense? (Logically, the problem cannot be
with the nature or status of Jesus or the Holy
Spirit. They are the same in importance. This
suggests that we are not in trouble for speaking
against the Holy Spirit because He is God. Instead,
it must be some other quality of the Holy Spirit that
creates the problem.)
- The Unpardonable Sin
- Let's look at the context of Jesus' statement to figure
out this "other quality" of the Holy Spirit which creates
the problem. Read Matthew 12:22-23. What are the people
suggesting when they say, "Could this be the Son of
David?" (They are suggesting that Jesus could be the long-awaited Messiah.)
- Read Matthew 12:24. What answer did the Pharisees have to
this question about whether Jesus could be the Messiah?
(He could not be the Messiah because he uses the power of
Satan and his demons.)
- Read Matthew 12:25-28. What logical argument is Jesus
making? What is the point of His argument? (How can Satan
get ahead by harming his own work? This is unlikely and
illogical. Thus, the logical answer is that I am the
- Read Matthew 12:29. Who is the "strong man?" Who is the
"robber?" (Satan is the strong man and Jesus is the
- What is Jesus "robbing?" (He is stealing souls from
Satan. You probably never thought of it that way.
Notice that in order to defeat Satan, you have to
bind him ("tie [him] up"). Have you ever asked God to
bind the power of Satan?)
- Read Matthew 12:30-32. The only words that I read were
against Jesus. Did you read any attack on the Holy Spirit?
What is Jesus talking about?
- Read Mark 3:28-30. How does Mark's account make clear the
attack upon the Holy Spirit? (Mark explains to us that
Jesus' discussion about the unpardonable sin of blasphemy
against the Holy Spirit was caused by the Jewish leaders
attributing the power of the Holy Spirit to Satan.)
- Do you think that the Jewish leaders in this story
had committed the unpardonable sin? Was Jesus
announcing their eternal damnation?
- The Logic of the Unpardonable Sin
- If you decided that the Jewish leaders had committed the
unpardonable sin by saying ( Matthew 12:24)or even thinking
( Matthew 12:25)"It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of
demons, that this fellow drives out demons" - then you
need to carefully guard your words and your thoughts. Is
that the way it is? You slip into the wrong thought and,
boom, you have committed a thought sin which cannot be
forgiven? One wrong word and you are toast?
- Let's take this out of the context of the story in Matthew
12. I'm reading a Christian book about "Boundaries." One
of the interesting suggestions in this book is that we can
have a conscience that is "mis-formed" in such a way that
our conscience causes us to think things are sins that are
not really sins. Is this possible? Or, is our conscience
the Holy Spirit speaking to us? If it is the Holy Spirit,
then it could hardly be "mis-formed."
- Read Romans 14:22-23. The entire chapter of Romans
14 is devoted to a discussion of what we should do if
our conscience does not bother us about something
that bothers the conscience of someone else.
Remarkably, Paul calls the one whose conscience
bothers him "weak" in faith and the one whose
conscience does not bother him strong in faith. Who
or what do you think is troubling the conscience of
the "weak" in faith Christian? The Holy Spirit or
- Read Romans 14:1. What kind of matters is Paul
speaking about in Romans 14? (This is a point that is
not to be missed: Paul is writing about "disputable
matters." I think the "Boundaries" book has it right
- we can have a conscience which is something other
than the Holy Spirit speaking to us.)
- If the Holy Spirit is not speaking to us, then
logically this lends support to the conclusion that
some demon is whispering in our ear to tell us not to
do something that God allows. Read Romans 14:5-7.
Does it seem to you that the "weak faith" ( Romans 14:1) Christian is being led by a demon? (It hardly
seems that if demons were leading the weak in faith,
Paul would write that the weak faith person "does so
to the Lord and gives thanks to God." This gets back
to Jesus' Matthew 12 argument that Satan will not
undercut his own work.)
- Consider the discussion you have just had. Consider
your thoughts. Have you not just been treading on the
same ground as the Jewish leaders in Matthew 12? Have
you not just been debating in your mind if the
actions of the Holy Spirit could be the actions of
Satan and his demons?
- Have you "tripped the wire" into thinking the
- Read John 16:7-8. This is a review of what we have studied
in earlier lessons in this series. What is one of the
primary works of the Holy Spirit? (To convict the world of
sin, righteousness and judgment.)
- Read Jude 1:17-19. If a person cannot distinguish between
their "natural instincts" and the conviction of the Holy
Spirit, what kind of spiritual future do they have?
- What does this suggest about the nature of the
unpardonable sin: is it a single act? Or, is it a gradual
process of refusing to listen to the Holy Spirit until you
cannot distinguish between natural instincts and the
prompting of the Holy Spirit?
- Is it possible that at some point the Holy Spirit
will simply stop working with a person?
- Read Genesis 6:3 because I know these words are going
to pop into your mind as an answer to the previous
question. This text seems to say that the Holy Spirit
will not "contend forever" with a person. What is the
length of the time of this contention? (The person's
entire life! This text seems to say that the Holy
Spirit leaves the field of battle for an individual
when that person dies. On close examination, the text
does not seem to say what you thought it said,
- Read Hebrews 10:26-29. Recall last week our discussion of
Romans 7:14-24? How do you reconcile these two Bible
passages? (Paul says that he finds himself doing the
things he does not want to do. Hebrews says that if you
keep on sinning you are toast - no sacrifice for sins is
left. The key to this apparent conflict is found in
Hebrews 10:26 "if we deliberately keep on sinning." Paul
clearly did not want to keep on sinning. It is hard to
describe his sin as "deliberate.")
- Do you have any deliberate sins?
- Notice in Hebrews 10:29 the phrase "who has insulted
the Spirit of grace?" What does this mean? (The
picture in Hebrews is of a person who has refused to
listen to the Holy Spirit to the degree that it is
insulting. This person deliberately keeps on sinning
after knowing the truth. The conclusion is that the
unpardonable sin is a gradual, deliberate matter. The
person comes to the point where they no longer listen
or want to listen to the Holy Spirit. At that point,
they have made the decision to cross over into
- Friend, will you pray to be open to the Holy Spirit? Will
you determine to have a "soft heart" which seeks God's
will and desires to do His will?
- Next week: The Holy Spirit in the Last Days.
* Copr. 2006, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.