The commandment against lying protects a society’s integrity, provides confidence in the marketplace and steadiness for the economy. The destructive consequences of lying reach into every corner of our nation and our personal lives.
Let’s understand the necessity of allowing the Holy Spirit to lead us into the truth by looking at Mark 3:20-35.
We will look at sanity, loneliness, the lord of dung, shallow thinking, small mindedness, missing the real deal, Jesus’ family values, blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, carelessness with the truth and the opposite of lying.
Is Sanity Overrated?
When Olympic athletes spend every waking hour training for gold, do people call them insane? When modern citizens spend an average twenty hours a week in front of a television, do people call them crazy? When people study obsessively and receive degrees with honors, are they nuts? If we go to church, read our Bibles and talk about God, why do some people say that we are out of our minds? Is zeal okay, unless it is for an unpopular cause like Christianity? In Mark 3:21 why did Jesus’ own family or friends describe him as mad? If God does exist and if He wants to get to know His creation would that not be the most important activity on the planet for everyone? If that is insanity, then should more of us engage in this glorious madness? Is sanity overrated?
Loneliness of Faith
A seminary professor once said that if your family thinks that you are either out of touch or crazy you might just be a pastor. Do Christians who are sincere about their faith occasionally suffer the loneliness of faith that Jesus also experienced (Mark 3:21)? Depending on the translation, either his friends or his family thought that he had lost his senses at one point in time. The Greek phrase literally means those belonging to him, which is probably family, but could also include friends. Do Christians sometimes feel totally alone, even in their own families, as they are ostracized, belittled or otherwise shown contempt? In a faithless world, why should it be a surprise that the faithful are sometimes looked down upon? While we wait for natural family to come to God, do we have a church family?
Lord of Dung
The Jews mocked Beelzebub (lord of the flies) with the name Beelzeboul (lord of dung), which is the original word used in Mark 3:22. Some Bibles mistranslate this as Beelzebub. Some experts also define Beelzeboul as lord of the temple. The author then explained how the Jews were using this term to mean the prince of demons and later Jesus made it quite clear that they meant Satan. Some scribes accused Jesus of casting out demons by satanic rather than divine power. Jesus argued as to how unlikely Satan would be to cast out one of his own. He further argued that if he can enter a house belonging to a strong man to plunder it then he is stronger than the owner (Satan) and able to bind him. The unstated conclusion is that Jesus’ strength was from heaven.
Were religious leaders who accused Jesus of having a demon just an ancient example of small-mindedness. Are there small-minded Christians? In theology we call it exclusivity. Only those who have certain narrow opinions are included and everyone else is excluded. What are some reasons for exclusion? Do clothing, tongues, alcohol, baptisms, worship days, music, authority and thousands of other nuances of doctrine excuses to doubt the work of the Holy Spirit among others? Was that the accusation leveled against Jesus in Mark 3:23? He did not fit the narrow criteria of mere human beings and his work was falsely accused of being of Satan. Yet, a third of humanity believes the teachings of Jesus. We may disagree on many things, but dare we exclude any whom God has included? In so doing are we also dangerously close to the unpardonable sin?
Is political campaigning almost entirely about the failures of candidates on the other side? Are Christians who know the truth also tempted to take sides, painting one candidate as good and the other one as evil, when the truth is that all people are fatally flawed? Is this Satan’s game? Does it also enter church politics? Is it that the church is sometimes the Great Whore of Babylon and sometimes the Bride of Christ? Do we easily fall prey to Satan’s tactics? Is his game to expose the weaknesses of human beings, pretending that doing so will protect God’s glory? Is this the root of the accusation in Mark 3:22? Was there a hasty conclusion that because Jesus taught different than accepted traditions, his actions must be evil? Does such shallow thinking cause us to miss what Jesus is doing in the world?
Even the most intelligent people and the most highly educated on earth are tempted to self-deception due to emotional involvement. Science is hampered by tradition just as much as religion. Medicine is hampered by emotional attachment to established ideas just as much as politics. Ideas which challenge our founding institutions face their greatest obstacle, not in intelligence or education, but emotionally vested interests in earthly crowns. In Mark 3:22 Jesus faced this obstacle as well with the political-religious establishment around ancient Galilee. Their self-deception was not caused by lack of intelligence or education, but by the emotional investment in Jewish tradition. Is the truth often lost to Christianity because of our traditions? Are we more interested in protecting our interests than we are in learning from Jesus Christ? Will we lay down our crowns when confronted by the truth?
Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit
When comedians make fun of the phrase Father, Son and Holy Spirit I cringe. Why? Because blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is the one unforgivable sin (Mark 3:28-29). Let’s read about the unforgivable sin in its context. First why did Jesus say this? We can easily answer that question, because it states clearly why. They were saying that Jesus had an unclean spirit, attributing the power of the Holy Spirit to that of the devil. Who were those who said this? They were scribes, teachers of religious law, who should have known better. And so they did not falsely confuse the Holy Spirit with the spirit of evil out of ignorance, but out of malice. We need to note that Jesus did not directly say that they had committed the unpardonable sin, but they certainly were in danger.
The Deadliest Sin
The sin against the Holy Spirit (Mark 3:28-29) destroys life. How did Jesus describe this sin? The Pharisees said that the good Jesus was doing was evil, and that he cast out a demon by the power of the devil. Did they swap good intentions for evil and evil for good? Were they so spiritually sick that even Jesus could not cure them? Did they even want Jesus to heal them? Were they so bitter that they could no longer see goodness in the world? May we never become so bitter and twisted that we no longer see goodness in people! May we never become so filled with hate that we refuse to believe that the Holy Spirit can move in someone we hate! God forbid that we are so hard hearted that the Holy Spirit himself cannot enter!
Missing the Real Deal
How is it that trained religious leaders like the scribes could end up missing the real deal when they were confronted by Jesus (Mark 3:28-30)? How could Jewish religious training have missed such an important issue like the coming of Messiah? Could a Christian education also miss vital truths? Did Jesus summarize what he expected Christian education to cover in Matthew 28:19-20, teaching our disciples to obey all things that Jesus had commanded his original disciples? When religious education misses or minimizes that vital ingredient it is deficient and produces leaders of the church who are no better than the teachers of the law. Only when Jesus and the teachings of Jesus in the Gospels are made central to our preaching and teaching will we have healthy Christianity. Only then will we not be missing the real deal.
Careless with the Truth
When Jesus warned against blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, it was a warning to teachers of the law, who were careless with the truth (Mark 3:30). Is it also a warning to us? Do we always know all the facts, and are we too dogmatic about our opinions? How many of us have held onto an opinion perhaps even for decades, only to find out in later life that we were dead wrong? Do we wish we had been more careful about the truth? It takes guts and humility to admit that we don’t quite know all the facts. Is dogmatism often a symptom of ignorance not knowledge, because those who know more are more cautious about expressing their opinions? Are teachers of the law still rather hasty today and are teachers of grace more cautious with the truth?
Jesus Defines Family Values
What family values are Christian? The Bible defines family in a number of different ways. Every Christian is pictured as an adopted child into God’s family. Anciently, an adopted child had just as many rights to inheritance as a natural born child. Have we made family names and genetic lineage an idol to be worshiped? How can idolatry be defined as a conservative value? Have family names been used to oppress those It seems that Jesus’ own family were calling him crazy for his religious beliefs. Did Jesus go one step further and change family values? Does this make a conservatives or an extreme liberal on family values? Are not true family values those of Jesus and not the world? Jesus replied that those who do God’s will are his family (Mark 3:34-35). That's how Jesus defines family values!
Self-deception is rampant in our society. It affects science, politics, medicine and even the church. Self-deception is a mild form of insanity. It causes us to lie and miss out on the real deal. In its extreme it can even lead to blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Let us follow the way, and the truth, and the life, Jesus. Don’t miss out on the real deal.