Incline my heart to your ways; mould me wholly into the image of Jesus, as a potter forms clay; may my lips be a well-tuned harp to sound your praise; let those around me see me living by your Spirit, trampling the world underfoot, unconformed to lying vanities, transformed by a renewed mind, clad in the entire armor of God, shining as a never-dimmed light, showing holiness in all my doings.
Let no evil this day soil my thoughts, words, hands. May I travel miry paths with a life pure from spot or stain.
In needful transactions let my affection be in heaven, and my love soar upwards in flames of fire, my gaze fixed on unseen things, my eyes open to the emptiness, fragility, mockery of earth and its vanities.
May I view all things in the mirror of eternity, waiting for the coming of my Lord, listening for the last trumpet call, hastening unto the new heaven and earth.
Order this day all my communications according to your wisdom, and to the gain of mutual good.
Forbid that I should not be profited or made profitable.
May I speak each word as if my last word, and walk each step as my final one.
If my life should end today, let this be my best day.
What is the “unforgivable sin” that Jesus talked about…and am I at risk of committing it?
What is “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit”…and how do I know if I’ve ever been a blasphemer?
What is the “sin that leads to death”…and how can I avoid that particular sin?
In Matthew 12:31-32 and 1 John 5:16 Jesus and the Apostle John talked about a particular sin that has some dire consequences against it. This sin–blasphemy against the Holy Spirit–is a deadly sin with no mercy attached to it. Jesus said that blasphemy against the Spirit was an unforgivable offense both in this present life and in the age to come.
What were they talking about? What is this blasphemous, unforgivable sin that takes its perpetrators straight to death?
First, it is helpful to know what this sin is not. In Matthew 12:31 Jesus said, “Every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven” except for blasphemy against the Spirit of God. Therefore we know that this sin is different from every other kind of sin–including both the little presumptuous ones we commit and the gigantic heinous ones too. Indeed, the Bible is replete with stories of murderers, adulterers, and idolaters who found forgiveness in the presence of God.
Jesus defined this sin for us when He called it “blasphemy.” Blasphemy refers to angry, injurious, defiant speech leveled against God and His ways. In Matthew 12 Jesus had just demonstrated undeniable evidence that He was indeed the Son of God, but rather than repenting and following Him, the religious leaders (those to whom Jesus directed the charge of blasphemy) dubbed Him a demon-possessed fool.
The reason that this level of sheer blasphemy is unforgivable is not because God is unwilling to forgive a blasphemer, but the because the blasphemer is not willing to seek forgiveness. In 1 Timothy 1:13 the Apostle Paul said he was formerly a “blasphemer” (same Greek word that Jesus used in Matthew 12 to describe blasphemy against the Holy Spirit). The difference is that Paul repented when He encountered Jesus Christ. He ran to the cross and obtained mercy before he died.
Blasphemy against the Spirit is a clenched fist, crossed arms, defiant state of heart and mind wherein the blasphemer is presented with irrefutable proof of the Lordship of Jesus Christ and yet still refuses to acknowledge Him.
We don’t have to fear this sin. We can’t accidentally commit it. Stated another way, the unforgivable sin is the sin that is never confessed. Let’s live at the cross, let’s pray for our loved ones and our world to encounter the Lord Jesus Christ, and we can live without fear of the unforgivable sin.
For the masterpiece of your life to truly unveil, it will require the disciplined striving of an athlete and the detailed touch of an artist.
In Acts 24:16 the Apostle Paul declared, “I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man.” The phrase “take pains” comes from a Greek origin that means 1) to adorn as an artist, and 2) to exercise or strive as an athlete.
The Christian life requires the merging of both definitions.
You’re not just an athlete—the Christian life requires more than the rigorous pursuit of a workout regimen. And you’re not just an artist—you need something more than the creative expressions of your gifts, talents, calling, and personality.
Athletic artists. Artistic athletes. Right foot; left foot. Athlete-artist. Artist-athlete.
Athletes without art are mere machines. Artists without athletic discipline are too unstructured. Our challenge is to hold these opposites in tension, while recognizing that they’re not really opposites—they are flipsides of the same coin.
In 1 Corinthians 9 Paul urges us to an Olympic caliber of effort and self-discipline, and in Ephesians 2 he said we are “God’s workmanship” literally translated, “the poem that God is writing.”
Whether you naturally gravitate toward athlete or artist, consider merging their distinctives into one unified life.
John Wooden famously said we should, “Make every day our masterpiece.” However, that doesn’t happen through competition alone. And nor does it happen by simply giving vent to our more artistic side.
The Christian life requires us to be both athlete and artist, artist and athlete, thus creating a life that strengthens others and glorifies God.