Be careful little mouth what you say — Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit

Watch our tongue and never criticise others when they worship for you never know what is the work of the Holy Spirit within them.

I can hear the melody of the children’s hymn ringing in my head every time I remind myself to watch my speech. However, there was a time in my not-so-distant past when I find it extremely difficult not to criticise the practices of certain Christian sect(s) and their worship methods that I may not be familiar with.

Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come. – Matthew 12:31-32, ESV.

I’ve always had this indescribable sense of uneasiness whenever I hear a believer criticises the practices of other Christian sect(s). Some times, I go so far as to run through the possible reasons (in my head) behind religious practices that I may not be familiar with. I mean, who said cults are extremists? And if extremists are considered “cults”, how are you so sure they’re not from God?

And David danced before the LORD with all his might. And David was wearing a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouting and with the sound of the horn. As the ark of the LORD came into the city of David, Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD, and she despised him in her heart. – 2 Samuel 6:14-16, ESV.

When David, a man after God’s own heart [1], worshipped God with all his might that he uncovered himself before the entire country [2], he was actually worshipping God in the Spirit [3]. This very act of worship should be honoured rather than despised [4]. That’s why when Michal spoke harshly against David’s worship, God punished her with the inability to give birth [5].

Will the same fate happen to us when we blaspheme against the Holy Spirit? Will we accidentally denounce the work of the Holy Spirit and claim that it was the work of the devil?

The Holy Spirit is God and He does whatever that pleases Him [6]. That’s why when He accords spiritual gifts to His followers, it’s in accordance to His will for the common good [7].

We are in no position to think that we can get these gifts through any other means [8]. Whether or not it is by learning, by practicing, or by buying, we cannot acquire these gifts if it were not given to us by the Spirit.

Also, if we do not have them, we must also not say that those who have them are not from God. I mean, how are we to know what God is doing if He didn’t reveal it to us? Who are we to say that these gifts are not from God if we are not the Giver of Gifts? Who are we to demand others who have the gifts to explain what they were saying if God intended it to be a mystery [9]? Who are we criticise others for their worship if it was intended for God and not for men?

Indeed, all sins are forgivable, but the one sin of blaspheming against the Holy Spirit isn’t. By arguing that the work of the Holy Spirit is not from God, we are denying the work of God in its totality. When we deny the Holy Spirit and its work, we are denying God Himself.

Why blasphemy against Christ is okay while the Holy Spirit isn’t? Because the Holy Spirit will only indwell believers when they’ve accepted Christ. The Holy Spirit will not enter anyone who has not placed their faith in Christ. Hence, when non-believers or people of other monotheistic religions blaspheme against Christ, we know that they’re either doing that out of their hardened hearts [10] or out of ignorance [11]. But when it comes to believers who have tasted heavenly gifts and have shared in the Holy Spirit, there will be no excuse for them if they blaspheme against the Holy Spirit [12].

So, the end of the matter is that we must guard our tongue and keep ourselves out of trouble [13]. Just as how the children’s hymn go:

O be careful little mouth what you say
O be careful little mouth what you say
There’s a Father up above
And He’s looking down in love
So, be careful little mouth what you say

Footnotes:

[1] – And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.’ – Acts 13:22, ESV.

[2] – And David returned to bless his household. But Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David and said, “How the king of Israel honored himself today, uncovering himself today before the eyes of his servants’ female servants, as one of the vulgar fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!” – 2 Samuel 6:20, ESV.

[3] – David was one of the few people who were filled with the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament (ref: 1 Samuel 16:13). This dwelling of the Spirit within him enabled him to fight fearlessly and to worship in the Spirit. This includes doing things that normal people wouldn’t usually do unless he does it in the Spirit.

[4] – And David said to Michal, “It was before the LORD, who chose me above your father and above all his house, to appoint me as prince over Israel, the people of the LORD-and I will celebrate before the LORD. I will make myself yet more contemptible than this, and I will be abased in your eyes. But by the female servants of whom you have spoken, by them I shall be held in honor.” – 2 Samuel 6:21-22, ESV.

[5] – And Michal the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death. – 2 Samuel 6:23, ESV.

[6] – Whatever the LORD pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps. – Psalm 135:6, ESV.

[7] – To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. – 1 Corinthians 12:7, ESV.

All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. – 1 Corinthians 12:11, ESV.

[8] Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”

But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. – Acts 8:18-21, ESV.

[9] – For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit. – 1 Corinthians 14:2, ESV.

[10] – Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said, “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them.” – John 12:39-40, ESV

[11] – How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? – Romans 10:14, ESV.

[12] – For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. – Hebrews 6:4-6, ESV.

[13] – Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble. – Proverbs 21:23, ESV.

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