Matthew 12 is full of challenging sayings of Jesus. The religious leaders saw their position and prestige among the people being undermined and they “conspired against him how to destroy him” (verse 14). They tried to slander him, to undermine his reputation, saying, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons” (verse 24).

There is scarcely any mention of ‘demons’ in the Old Testament; it was only when God’s people mixed with idol worshipping nations (instead of destroying them) that they are mentioned (see Psalm 106:34-37). But in the years before Christ was born, the Greeks had overrun the nation and their culture and language had permeated Jewish thought. There is one reference to “Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron” in the Old Testament – 2 Kings 1:4; what a slander it was against the power of the Holy Spirit for the religious leaders to say what they did.

Jesus then challenges them, “every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven” (verses 31,32). Food for thought in these words. The second verse in Genesis tells us of God’s spirit moving as His creative work commenced. To say the world was not created by the power of God is a blasphemy that will not be forgiven.

Jesus completes his challenges by saying, “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (verses 36,27). What is a “careless” word? The Greek means, ‘idle, useless’ and its last occurrence in the Bible is in 2 Peter 1. After listing all the qualities we should aim to add to our faith, he writes, “For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (verse 8). Here the translators use the word “ineffective” instead of “careless”! Are your words “ineffective”? If they are that means they are wasted, without any real meaning, words that produce no fruit!

Finally, remember how Jesus told his disciples, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (John 15:7). The more we sense that we “abide in” Christ, the more our desire will be to think and live and speak those things which please him and his Father.