Jesus’ View of the Holy Spirit
Issue No. 312
Our June issue was about our three conscious minds:
Brain: the mind of the body (flesh)
Carnal mind: the mind of the soul
Spiritual mind: the mind of the spirit
This current FFI will focus on the spiritual mind that is filled with the Holy Spirit. This study is taken primarily from Luke 11, where Jesus talks about the Holy Spirit. However, to understand the context, we have to see that chapter in the general flow of Luke’s narrative.
In Luke 6:20-23, we are given a shortened list of the Beatitudes, where Jesus tells His disciples that they are “blessed.” He was not bestowing a blessing upon them, but telling them that they were already blessed. The evidence for this is that they had ears to hear and eyes to see.
This contrasted with the rest of the nation, which had not been so blessed (Deut. 29:4). Instead, Isaiah 6:10 says, they were given “insensitive” hearts, “dull” ears, and “dim” eyesight. Essentially, as Paul tells us in Rom. 11:7, the nation of Israel did not obtain what it had sought, “but those who were chosen obtained it, and the rest were hardened.”
Paul identified the chosen ones (or “elect”) as the remnant of grace in verse 5.
In Luke 11:2-5 Jesus taught His disciples to pray. It is The Lord’s Prayer. From there He taught the power of persistent prayer, giving a parable about a man who had unexpected guests arriving at midnight. Having nothing to feed them, he pounded on the door of his friend’s house. Though it was very inconvenient, “because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs” (Luke 11:8). The lesson is then given in verse 10,
10 For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it shall be opened.
Is this an open-ended permission? Will God give us everything we ask? I do not think so. This is the conclusion of the previous parable, where the need was real, the friendship was strong, and the faith of the petitioner in his friend was absolute. In such situations, even if the request seems outrageous, one can expect to receive the answer. In fact, the expectation is so solid that a person will persist until the provision is received.
Praying to Receive the Holy Spirit
In Luke 11:11-13 Jesus continues His teaching on prayer, saying,
11 Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? 12 Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? 13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?
Once again, Jesus shows that God is our Abba who treats us as His beloved children. If earthly fathers are willing to give their children good gifts, how much more will our heavenly Father do so? Perhaps most interesting is that our heavenly Father is more than willing to “give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.”
Evidence of the Holy Spirit
Many have been burdened, having prayed to receive the Holy Spirit, but yet they feel no change and see no outward manifestation. Some people certainly are able to see gifts of the Spirit manifesting as outward proof that they have received the Holy Spirit, but others see and feel nothing and must observe evidence over a longer period of time. In such cases Jesus’ words in Luke 11:13 must be their source of faith. They must believe the word, rather than their feelings. They must walk by faith, not by sight.
In the New Testament, the gift of tongues was the primary evidence of the Holy Spirit, and this was presumed to be the same a century ago when Pentecost was renewed in the Church. But there are many gifts of the Spirit, some more visible than others. A deeper study of Pentecost, including the patterns set forth in the law and witnessed by the prophets, shows that the central feature of Pentecost is not tongues but the ability to hear and obey God’s voice.
The bottom line is that God gives the Holy Spirit freely to those who ask, but if our expectations demand immediate evidence that He has done so, we may end up asking over and over again, not realizing that He has already given us our request. In such cases many people never develop their spiritual consciousness nor do they exercise their spiritual gifts, because they doubt Jesus’ promise.
The Paralysis of Unbelief
If you have asked God to give you the Holy Spirit, then proceed as if you have already received Him. Learn to hear His voice, knowing that you already have ears to hear. It may take time to see the proof that you have indeed heard, but if you never make the attempt, you will never see the evidence later. If you are stuck at the starting blocks, you will never finish the race.
You may need help from a more experienced friend who can bear witness to the word that you receive. Write down all revelation that you believe you have received. There may be a space of time between the word and the proof, but this is normal.
I received a word in 1985 that was not fulfilled until 1996. Until then, I had no proof or evidence that it was truly a word from God. I could only go by faith, which, in practical terms, means assuming that the word is true—and if not, then I will learn later from my mistake.
The Gifts of the Spirit
True Pentecostals are known, not by their gift of tongues or even by prophecy, but by their obedience to the leading of the Spirit. There are many non-pentecostal Pentecostals in the world today. I have observed them in every denomination. Most of them do not even know that they are Pentecostal, because they were told that they must speak in tongues or join a Pentecostal or Charismatic denomination in order to be a biblical Pentecostal.
And yet many of them are fully aware that the Holy Spirit works within their hearts, guiding them by His voice throughout their lives. They live their lives according to Jesus’ promise that their heavenly Father will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask, and they know that the Spirit of God is indeed within them.
An obedient Baptist is more Spirit-filled than a lawless Charismatic, regardless of their beliefs. Certainly, Jesus was unimpressed with miracle-workers who remained lawless (Matt. 7:22, 23). In the end, it is not about the gifts of the Spirit, but the fruit that is borne in their lives. The gifts are tools to produce fruit, and God rewards people for the fruit that they bear, not by the number of gifts that they have.
A tractor is a very useful tool on a farm. But if the farmers use their tractors only at the tractor races to see who has the greatest tractor, how can they produce fruit?
The Church is yet in the wilderness, and each believer is in a different encampment learning different lessons. Wherever you are, know that if you have asked for the Holy Spirit, then He has given you your request. Tongues? This gift is already in you. Know also that there is more than one level of the Holy Spirit that is available to you.
So let us press on into greater depths of experience with the Holy Spirit, learning to be led by His pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night, until we arrive at the Promised Land.
The Dumb (Mute) Demon Cast Out
In Luke 11:14 (NASB) we read,
14 And He was casting out a demon, and it was mute; when the demon had gone out, the mute man spoke; and the crowds were amazed.
Panin’s Numeric New Testament reads better:
14 And He was casting out a dumb demon. And it came to pass, when the demon was gone out, the dumb spoke; and the crowds marveled.
In this case, Jesus cast out a demon of dumbness, which was the spiritual cause of the man’s physical inability to speak. In any illness or disability, one must first diagnose the root cause, whether it is physical, mental, or spiritual. In this particular case, the man had no physical or mental reason to be dumb. Casting out this “dumb demon” resolved the problem and restored the man to health.
There are some cases where the spiritual roots cause damage to the mind and also even the body. In such cases, one may be required to seek secondary healings in those areas as well. In this case in Luke 11:14, we are not told any further details, but I have personally witnessed how a woman was healed almost instantly of color blindness and deafness in one ear after I cast out an evil spirit from her. Though she had been afflicted for 27 years, she was healed when the root cause was eliminated by the same method that Jesus used.
Luke 11:15, 16 continues,
15 But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons.” 16 And others, to test Him, were demanding of Him a sign from heaven.
In every crowd that witnessed the works and teachings of Jesus, there were detractors looking for ways to discredit Him. Such people had no interest in truth but only had a contrary agenda to pursue. This is common today as well. We read that some of Jesus’ detractors explained His miracle by claiming that He used the power of “Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons” to cast out this dumb demon.
Beelzebul was a rabbinic parody on the proper name, Beelzebub, the god of Ekron (2 Kings 1:2). By Jesus’ time, the Philistine city of Ekron had long been destroyed, but the Greek colony (city) of Cyrene had adopted Beelzebub as its god, translating his name as “Lord of the flies.” This name meant that he had the power to drive away pesky flies.
It appears that Jesus’ answer to His detractors was meant to compare the belief of the Ekronites to that of his detractors. The Ekronites thought that the Lord of the Flies would cast out flies, and Jesus’ detractors thought that “the ruler of the demons” would cast out demons. That idea, Jesus said, was absurd.
The rabbis altered the final letter to show their disdain for Beelzebub, calling him Beelzebul, “Lord of the dunghill.” The Hebrew word zebul means dunghill or filth, and the word was applied to idolatrous worship and sacrificing to false gods. (Flies gather around dunghills.)
The KJV reads Beelzebub consistently throughout the New Testament, but the text actually reads Beelzebul. (This is confirmed also by Panin’s Numeric New Testament.)
Luke 11:15, 16 records two objections to Jesus’ works. The first, as I said, was to attribute His power to Beelzebul. The second was to ask for a sign to prove that He was of God. Luke then provides answers to these objections, the first in Luke 11:17-26; the second in Luke 11:27-36.
A Kingdom Divided
Jesus’ first answer begins in Luke 11:17-19,
17 But He knew their thoughts, and said to them, “Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and a house divided against itself falls. 18 And if Satan also is divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebul. 19 And if I by Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? Consequently they shall be your judges.”
The accusation itself implied that no one could cast out demons except by the power of Satan, or Beelzebul. But in the past, others men had been successful in casting out demons. So by whose power did they cast out demons? Those past successes, which had been accepted by the rabbis as being of God, had already proven that it did not require power from Beelzebul to cast out demons. In fact, such an idea was absurd, because “a kingdom divided against itself is laid waste.”
Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit
Matt. 12:22-33 records the same story, giving further details about Jesus’ answer to His detractors. Matthew 12:25-27 is a virtual repeat of Luke 11:17-19. But in Matt. 12:31, 32 Jesus says,
31 Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven men, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. 32 And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever shall speak against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age, or in the age to come.
Jesus concludes His remarks on this topic in Matthew 12:36, 37, saying,
36 And I say to you, that every careless word that men shall speak, they shall render account for it in the day of judgment. 37 For by your words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned.
This was a warning to Jesus’ detractors, telling them to be careful what they say, since they will be held accountable for their words on the “day of judgment.” Their claim that Jesus was casting out demons by the power of Satan was, in essence, “blasphemy against the Spirit.” Such blasphemy will surely be judged on at the Great White Throne. Such sin “shall not be forgiven him, either in this age, or in the age to come.”
The KJV translates it, “neither in this world, neither in the world to come.” The Greek word in question is aion, which means “an eon, age,” that is, an indefinite, hidden, or unknown period of time. It is the equivalent of the Hebrew word olam, whose root means “to hide.” It refers to time, not to a location (“world”), and the length of time is not known because it may vary according to the circumstance.
Jesus’ detractors had deliberately blasphemed the Holy Spirit when they knowingly attributed the work of the Holy Spirit to Beelzebul. In their zeal to find fault with Jesus, rather than to seek the truth, they had deliberately twisted their explanation to suit their cause. Hence, they were without excuse.
Jesus said that they would not be forgiven “in this age”—that is, the present age in which they were living—nor again “in the age to come,” by which was meant the Messianic Age—or simply, “The Age,” as they often expressed it. By this term it was understood commonly that it was the Age when the Messiah would rule in His Kingdom on earth during the great Sabbath Millennium. Matthew does not dispute this meaning.
Jesus’ words applied specifically to the present age and the Messianic Age, which ends with the “day of judgment” at the Great White Throne. Revelation 20:4-6 speaks of the first resurrection, followed by a thousand-year reign of Christ and the overcomers in The Age. At the end of that Age, John “saw a great white throne” (Rev. 20:11) to which the rest of the dead were summoned at the day of judgment.
Those guilty of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will surely be judged by their words at this day of judgment, Jesus says. Jesus said nothing (at this time) about the condition of those judged in the next age. To understand the rest of the story, one must understand that they will be judged according to the “fiery law” (Deut. 33:2, KJV) at the Great White Throne. The law of God being administered to the people is pictured in Dan. 7:9, 10 as a “river of fire” flowing out from the throne itself.
The river then forms a “lake of fire” in Rev. 20:14, during the time of judgment in that final Age. This is not to be seen as a literal fire, nor does the divine law prescribe torture for all sinners as a matter of course. Even a beating, when administered according to the law in Deut. 25:3, is pictured as a “fire” (Luke 12:48, 49), because it is a judgment of the fiery law.
In the end, the law also mandates a Jubilee, by which all men are set free, all debt (sin) is cancelled, and every man returns to his original inheritance that God intended from the beginning of time. It is important to understand that even blasphemy against the Holy Spirit must give up its claim and bow before the law of Jubilee at the end of time. For this reason, Jesus did NOT declare that blasphemy was an “unpardonable sin,” as so many have taught. It was only “unpardonable” in this age and in The Age to come.
My friend, Mark Eaton, has shared with me many of his thoughts and studies which he has put together over the years from his own study and from conversing with others who understand Hebrew and Greek. This has deepened my understanding of blasphemy, and so I thought it would be helpful to share what I have learned from him.
The only way to avoid blasphemy in general is to know God, His works, His plan, and the way in which He intends to accomplish His will.
We get our English word blaspheme directly from the Greek word blasphemia. Perhaps its definition is best summed up as “to malign, slander, or vilify,” that is, to make God a villain, rather than to present Him as a God who rules by Power, Love and Wisdom. But if we look deeper at the word, we can see a more literal meaning.
Blasphemia comes from two Greek words, blapto and pheme. The word blapto means “to hinder” (by implication, to injure or hurt). Pheme comes from the same root as phos, “light,” and phaino, and means “to lighten, to shine.”
Blasphemia, then, is “a hindering of light that brings injury” (Jonathan Mitchell). More broadly, blasphemy is a misrepresented image that brings injury to you by hindering you from seeing the light that reveals God.
“With all these English words in mind, how are we to understand the root idea of ‘hinder the light?’ When a person’s reputation is ‘smeared,’ what he represents or says (what we might call the ‘out-raying’ of his particular light, his ‘glory’ or reputation, his message) is hindered.” (quotation from Mark Eaton’s letter)
We are the light of the world, Jesus tells us in Matt. 5:14. But if our light is placed under a basket (Matt. 5:15), that light is hindered and prevented from shining in the darkness. This is the word picture behind blasphemy. And so, when men vilified Jesus before men, they were attempting to hinder the light that shined from Him as He ministered and taught the people according to His revelation of the word.
In conclusion, Jesus says that those who are “blessed” are those who have received the Holy Spirit. The light of the word is in them and cannot be hidden. Yet there are some who “blaspheme” the Holy Spirit. These attempt to hinder the light of the word as the Holy Spirit is manifested in the remnant of grace. If they do not repent, such people will be held accountable at the Great White Throne judgment.
Jesus’ life is our example of being led by the Holy Spirit at all times. Such a life includes teaching the word (light of revelation), and using the other gifts of the Spirit as needed.