exploring self-realization, sacred personhood, and full humanity
After a dramatic healing, Jesus was accused
by Big Religion of using Satan's power.
His stern answer becomes warning to all
who readily hurl the shallow indictment,
"It's Satan! Satan did it!"
return to the main-page article on "Satan"
Preview and Summary: There are many in the world today who exhibit and demonstrate the power of God - "gifts of the spirit" - with healings, a "word of knowledge," and even facilitating the so-called dead to appear - just as Jesus said would be the case among his true followers. Orthodox religion and its adherents typically charge, "It's Satan, Satan did it," at these displays of God's power. Jesus himself, after a dramatic healing, was indicted with "It's Satan, Satan did it." His response, commonly referred to as the teaching of the "unpardonable sin," serves as warning to all who would dishonor God by attributing to Satan such display of spiritual power.
"The Joker is wild" principle features a proclivity, on the part of some, to believe anything, and say anything, in order to maintain a world-paradigm.
We find this phenomenon alive and well in all facets of life, but never so rabidly enforced as in religion; and, therein, never more egregiously so than with the charge, "It's Satan, Satan did it."
Jesus himself was accused of "Satan did it," and his answer becomes warning to all who so-easily hurl this false and shallow indictment.
A section in Matthew 12 causes many to worry:
All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come...
Jesus speaks of a sin - commonly referred to as "unpardonable" - which will not be forgiven in this world nor in the next.
the Greek word for sin
The word "sin" in the New Testament derives primarily from a Greek word meaning to "miss the mark." In classical Greek the word was used of archers who failed to hit the bulls-eye of a target.
Modern concepts of "sin" are laden with notions of judgment, punishment, Divine displeasure, and the like - but none of this is part of the early-Church original sense of the term; the burdensome baggage, predictably, was added by Big Religion centuries later in their tireless effort to control and make merchandize of the people.
"Sin," properly construed, refers to mistake or human failing, as we might ascribe such to the immature who have not yet learned how to live.
This sort of "missing the mark" carries with it a concomitant suffering for offenses against natural law - people hurt themselves by doing stupid things, believing stupid things, and the resultant hurt is part of their education; but there is no condemnation from any external displeased authority. That part is just rubbish propaganda to keep you in line.
Is it true that some sins are "unpardonable"?
Some people interpret this verse as saying that the Holy Spirit, as a person, is intractable, without mercy, and therefore, one should not offend him. He's really touchy. Jesus, on the other hand, is merciful, and will absolve us of sins, but the Holy Spirit knows nothing of forgiveness.
This view is fraught with manifold error, many misperceptions concerning God and reality. It's pretty sick, really.
See discussions elsewhere on the fable of the Trinity and the personhood of the Spirit; also, the misconstrued understanding of Jesus' mission.
Let us begin our investigation with an expanded contextual view of the scripture in question. Two translations are provided:
excerpts from Matthew 12
Authorized Version (KJV)
Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David? But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils. And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand? And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house... All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come. Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit. O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.
The Message translation
Next a poor demon-afflicted wretch, both blind and deaf, was set down before him. Jesus healed him, gave him his sight and hearing. The people who saw it were impressed - “This has to be the Son of David!” But the Pharisees, when they heard the report, were cynical. “Black magic,” they said. “Some devil trick he’s pulled from his sleeve.” Jesus confronted their slander. “A judge who gives opposite verdicts on the same person cancels himself out; a family that’s in a constant squabble disintegrates; if Satan banishes Satan, is there any Satan left? If you’re slinging devil mud at me, calling me a devil kicking out devils, doesn’t the same mud stick to your own exorcists? “But if it’s by God’s power that I am sending the evil spirits packing, then God’s kingdom is here for sure. How in the world do you think it’s possible in broad daylight to enter the house of an awake, able-bodied man and walk off with his possessions unless you tie him up first? Tie him up, though, and you can clean him out. “This is war, and there is no neutral ground. If you’re not on my side, you’re the enemy; if you’re not helping, you’re making things worse. “There’s nothing done or said that can’t be forgiven. But if you deliberately persist in your slanders against God’s Spirit, you are repudiating the very One who forgives. If you reject the Son of Man out of some misunderstanding, the Holy Spirit can forgive you, but when you reject the Holy Spirit, you’re sawing off the branch on which you’re sitting, severing by your own perversity all connection with the One who forgives. “If you grow a healthy tree, you’ll pick healthy fruit. If you grow a diseased tree, you’ll pick worm-eaten fruit. The fruit tells you about the tree. “You have minds like a snake pit! How do you suppose what you say is worth anything when you are so foul-minded? It’s your heart, not the dictionary, that gives meaning to your words. A good person produces good deeds and words season after season. An evil person is a blight on the orchard. Let me tell you something: Every one of these careless words is going to come back to haunt you. There will be a time of Reckoning. Words are powerful; take them seriously. Words can be your salvation. Words can also be your damnation.”
'Black magic,' they said! 'Some devil trick he's pulled from his sleeve'!
The Pharisees accused Jesus of being in league with Satan - "Satan did it!" was their cry, just as people hurl this invective today.
Editor's note: The author of the book of Matthew, employing the term "devils" or "demons," reflects a private, superstitious theology of the writer. There are no "demons," no fallen angels of Revelation. There do exist, however, untold millions of disturbed and angry spirits who have not gone to the Light. Read Dr. Carl Wickland's book, Thirty Years Among The Dead, his hundreds of encounters with "attached spirits," the expulsion of which resulted in "miraculous" healings - just as Jesus did it.
Jesus healed "a poor demon-afflicted wretch, both blind and deaf." The religious establishment of Jesus' day did not take kindly to this stealing of their limelight. In order to minimize the damage to their own prestige, they resorted to character-assassination: "Black magic," they said! "Some devil trick he's pulled from his sleeve"!
Imagine the heartlessness of the moment. Some poor fellow has been stumbling along in life, not being able to see or hear, but suddenly he's granted access to all five senses. How absolutely wonderful! But what is the reaction of the religious clergy? Is it joy and happiness for a fellow human being now set free, and thankfulness to God? No, they're thinking about how they might lose credibility, "lose votes," if Jesus isn't stopped rather quickly, if the people adopt him as a hero.
Jesus responds to their outrageous calumny
Consider Jesus' thoughtful answer:
Does Satan work against himself? Is the kingdom of darkness divided? Does he engage in activities which cancel out his other efforts? If Satan is the enemy of God, would he go about doing good works which cause people to praise God? That would be a strange devil, indeed, who furthers the interests of Most High Divinity! God could use more enemies like that!
But what Jesus said next introduces a most serious subject.
"When you reject the holy spirit, you're sawing off the branch you're sitting on!"
What is this "branch" that we're sitting on?
We must wade through some of this error methodically, allowing us to arrive at Jesus' meaning.
The "Holy Spirit" is not a person. This concept derives from the party-platform invented by the Nicene Councils.
There is no Divine Person who will judge us or withhold forgiveness - see the discussion here.
The translators of the Matthew document capitalized the term "Holy Spirit" or "Holy Ghost," fostering the illusion that we're dealing with a person. A better rendering would have allowed for lower-case letters - "holy spirit," which suggests something else. The translation that would become the Authorized Version in 1611 was conducted by teams of scholars; one team opted for "Holy Spirit" while another team, in their assigned section of Greek manuscripts, produced "Holy Ghost" - they just couldn't get their translation-act together. But, they were both wrong, in that, lower-case letters should have been used.
Eckhart Tolle in The Power Of Now writes:
"If a fish is born in your aquarium and you call him John, write out a birth certificate, tell him about his family history, and in two minutes he gets eaten by another fish - that's tragic. But it's only tragic because you projected a separate self where there was none... and made a separate entity out of it!"
Likewise, if you take a metaphoric term, dress it up in proper-noun capital letters, invest it with personhood, and even pray to it, then, when someone comes along and impolitely mentions that it's all a mistake, you will fight to prevent the tragedy of the "Holy Spirit's" death! But it's tragic only because you unwarrantedly projected a separate self where there was none, made a separate entity out of it.
"Holy Spirit" or "holy spirit" refers to an enlightened state of mind. "Holy" takes us back to the Old Testament where the word in Hebrew means "separate" or "consecrated" or "set apart." And "spirit," a term with very many meanings in the Hebrew scriptures, here, in context, demands the sense of "mind" or "level of consciousness" or "degree of awareness."
A much better translation of "holy spirit" would have been "purified consciousness." And when we allow for that, we will find many references in both the Old and New Testaments which say exactly what Jesus is telling us here.
One of my favorites, since I was a young man just becoming acquainted with the book of Proverbs, is this:
"Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life" (Prov. 4:23).
We will "saw off the branch we're sitting on" if we do anything to promote internal darkness, that is, if we diminish our own purified consciousness. There is no way to win at that.
In other words: It is utterly self-defeating to blind oneself, to pervert one's own ability, and capacity, to judge wisely and to exercise reason. How does one recover if the very source of one's reasoning capacity is damaged? How dangerous such form of insanity would be! There's no way back to sightedness when one's spiritual eyes have been put out! or, to use another metaphor, it is "sawing off the branch we're sitting on."
"There is no forgiveness for the sin against the Purified Consciousness, not in this life, nor in the next!"
Allow me to offer an expanded paraphrase of what Jesus was talking about:
there were other blind and deaf wretches in the audience that day - but these could not be healed
"Listen to me carefully now - all of you self-satisfied bigoted religious! you, who fancy yourselves better than others and God's elect. You are standing on very dangerous ground. God just granted me the ability to heal this poor blind and deaf wretch. Our brother here is now free from the chains which have bound him for many years. But look at your pathetic and heartless response. Where is the milk of human kindness and sympathy? Where is the praise to God for what you were blessed to witness today? But, no, in your religious venom and egoism, all you see is threat to your power-plans. All you are concerned about is bringing me down so that you can remain on top. Let me tell you who are the real blind and deaf wretches here today. You cannot see past your own little self-serving, grasping neediness. Yes, you stand on very dangerous ground, not because God will not forgive you, but because, in your willful negligence to see the truth, you purposefully shut down your own spiritual fact-finding capacities! And when you do that, not even God will be able to help you. It's your choice! - as you are perverting the very process by which God might lead you into truth. God will not forcibly invade your mind to make you see straight. What is to become of you now? If you do not repent, and very soon, you will settle into a hardness of mind, a state of calloused spirit, that will dog you, not just in this life, but in the one to come, as well! You will take your darkness with you when you pass over, and you - not God! - will not be able to forgive yourself, and you will send yourself to a very unpleasant place. And you will stay there - some of you, for a very long time - until your sufferings become so excruciating that you will finally call out for any help available. Is that what you want? You, who are so smug and self-satisfied. You, who are so ready to cry 'Satan did it' whenever the power of God is displayed."
Jesus, in this case, did not say, as he said to others, "Forgiveness is yours, because you know not what you're doing." Instead, he said, "You will find yourself a stranger to all manner of forgiveness, most especially your own, because you do these things with eyes wide open"; meaning, you know better, given the wonders you witnessed today. You have sinned against your own divine nature, the image of God within. You have contravened your own sacred rational faculties, meant to lead you to the truth; that is, you are perverting your own purified consciousness. How will you rescue yourself from this kind of deeper insanity when you destroy your own mental infrastructure designed to lead you into what's real?"
This is a most serious subject. More could be said, but the gravity of the issue, I think, stands revealed before us.
"Satan did it, Satan did it"
There are some who mouth the empty words, "Satan did it, Satan did it," because they are victims of Big Religion, manipulated by many fears. To these hapless, Jesus would speak of less culpability, "Forgiveness is or will be yours, because you know not what you do - it's not really your fault, so much; well, yes, it was still your choice but not with full reasoning capacity; you didn't really jump, as such, you were pushed."
But there is another group to whom his words take on a dire cast - those with greater knowledge; often, the religious politicians, ones who have much to lose politically with the displacement of orthodoxy. If these more clear-eyed ones disingenuously attack the truth with "It's Satan, Satan did it," then the universe will lend its reluctant approval to their own choice of self-imposed darkness, "in this world and the next."
- Editor's note: Because the "unpardonable sin" speaks to lack of capacity, because there is no way back, because "they know not what they do," the first glimpse of awakening must be jump-started "by grace," via missionary spirit-helpers serving in the Dark Realms. See Father Benson on the missionary spirit-teams working in the lower worlds.
the synthetic but de facto "unpardonable sin"
What do I mean by this? The hard-hearted men who attacked Jesus and shouted “Satan did it” put themselves in a mental frame of mind from which, Jesus warned, it would be very difficult to recover oneself. But even if one is not purposefully engaging in outrageous polemic, it’s still possible to slide and stumble into this kind of self-incapacitation through "the back door" in a synthetic but de facto way.
Those who allow themselves the cheap luxury of victimhood by offering allegiance to any cultish organization, movement, or philosophy – be it of the religious, political, materialistic scientific, corporate, or academic sort -- virtually by definition, will surrender all or part of their reasoning faculties in favor of some Dear Leader promising safety and security.
And when this laying down of critical-thinking ability occurs, the gulled true-believer begins to “saw off the branch” he or she is sitting on.