Posted on Sep 18, 2014 | 0 comments

Very interesting…brings to light a very difficult passage!

 

Sin of a Lifetime

by Skip Moen, D. Phil.

“but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin” Mark 3:29 NASB

Never – What a lot of grief this verse has caused! Scary. Condemning. Hopelessness. Just some of the reactions to Yeshua’s warning. But maybe we are reading these words through our own cultural glasses. Maybe we need to think about the culture and context of his statement before we feel as though we are truly lost. Rabbi Sacks’ discussion of sanctifying the name of God implies an alternative to the usual fearful conclusion. He notes that desecrating the name of YHVH is not the act itself but rather the aspersion cast on God’s reputation. Quoting the Mishneh Torah Teshuvah: “There are transgressions that are forgiven immediately, and others pardoned only after a time . . . All this applies only if at the time of the transgression one did not desecrate God’s name. If he did, then even though he repents, and the Day of Atonement comes and he is still penitent, and he suffers afflictions, his atonement is not completely until he dies,” he concludes “‘Profaning God’s name’ is a wrong that cannot be righted in one’s lifetime, because what has been harmed is not just the victim, not the perpetrator, but the very standing of God in that eyes of the world.”[1]

This rabbinic comment was circulating during the time of Yeshua. Isn’t it possible that Yeshua’s remark is a reflection of this view? While the Mishneh Torah Teshuvah deals with the upholding the sanctity of the divine name, is that any different than a comment about the Rauch Hakodesh? Isn’t the Spirit of God (referred to as the Holy Spirit) just as sacred as the name of God? If this Torah commentary offers any insight into the meaning of Yeshua’s warning, perhaps it is that our behaviors are never truly private. They have public consequences and communal implications. What God sees, others feel. Therefore, if my actions do not uphold the holiness of God, if they diminish His public reputation by direct or indirect means, then the sin that I commit is not something that I can undo by confession. By the time repentance occurs, the poison to God’s name has already spread far and wide. It cannot be retrieved or erased. Atonement becomes impossible because God Himself has been slighted in the eyes of others.

The Mishneh Torah Teshuvah allows the possibility of atonement by the death of the perpetrator. Yeshua’s remark seems even more severe. Can such guilt truly be an eternal sin? The Greek text uses the word aion, often translated “eternal.” But the word actually means a long duration of time or the time of this world, i.e., the present “age.” It is translated “eternal” only because it is often associated with God’s existence, but in other uses it does not necessarily mean what we think of as eternal. It can mean precisely what Mishneh Torah Teshuvah suggests; that is, that this sin lasts until death. Of course, this does not make the warning any less severe. It only removes the mistaken idea that such a sin will never find atonement. It shifts the meaning to an essentially Hebraic view that this sin lasts a lifetime.

Topical Index: blasphemy, Holy Spirit, eternal, aion, Mark 3:29

[1] Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, To Heal a Fractured World, p. 64.

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