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Ask the Pastor

† Theological musings and answers to selected questions by a confessional Lutheran pastor.






08 January 2007

Soul Selling, Satan, and Sin Against the Spirit


Q: I have a few theological questions for you. First, is it possible for people to sell their souls to the devil? If so, would this be an example of an unforgivable sin? Or even if it was forgiven would it not matter since the devil would now own your soul so you wouldn’t be able to be judged by God? If someone promised their soul to the devil it seems as though they no longer can be one of God’s children. Neither I nor anyone I know ever did this. Rather, it entered into a conversation I had with a friend and we were wondering about the answer. Second, what power do demons have over humans? Can a believer in Jesus be demonically possessed? Finally, I know there is an unforgivable sin, which is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. How does one commit this sin today?

CrossroadsA: Selling one’s soul is part and parcel of literature and the performing arts. We see the theme of soul-selling in Benet's folksy American tale of The Devil and Daniel Webster, the various stories of Faust, the Broadway play Damn Yankees and its later movie version, bluesman Robert Johnson at the Crossroads, and elsewhere. However, I really don’t think that cash commerce or barter are among the ways that Satan operates.

Under certain circumstances, some people may be moved to attempt bargaining with Satan. Of course, others try to make “help me and I’ll worship You” deals with God. Of course, God doesn’t negotiate. He instead confronts our sinfulness, forgives us, and grants us faith in Christ that we may be saved. And why should the Devil be interested in buying what people let him have so willingly for free?

Let’s try looking at it from a couple different angles. If someone is considering selling his soul, doesn’t the Devil, in fact, probably already have in his possession? Or else, might we say that while God can “own” the believer, body and soul, while we yet live on earth, the sinner “owns” his own soul — at least until death? Satan cannot keep a soul if God forgives the sinner, since His forgiveness frees the sinner from Satan’s oppression.

HellSecondly, while the devils have tremendous power compared to humanity, their control over man widely varies. It depends, I think, both upon the might of the fallen angel involved and, even more so, on the relationship the person being assailed by the demon has with God. While we don’t often see direct satanic activity expressed through the demonic possession of a person, I’m sure that it still happens.

However, I’ve never heard of a strong Christian even being possessed to the extent that Satan has absolute reign within his life. When the demons assail a faithful Christian, they cannot fully penetrate the defenses that God raises. Therefore, I think of Satanic assaults on believers more in line with the story of Job than of one of the demon-possessed people cured by Jesus. Since God makes the Christian mighty in faith, the Devil attempts to erode the believer’s defenses by getting him to focus on his problems since the Lord won’t allow direct destruction of a believing heart.

DoveFinally, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (see Ephesians 4:30) means total, intentional rejection of the salvation He brings in Word and Baptism. As I wrote last February, “It denies the forgiveness He delivers in divine Absolution. It scorns the faith He creates in your heart and His gifts of church fellowship, Holy Communion, and the like. Such hardness of heart denies and refuses God’s love.” A friend said that part of our problem is that we usually think of an “unforgivable” sin while Jesus actually said that “blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. (Matthew 12:31)”

It’s not that “merely” speaking harshly against the Spirit is a greater sin than any other. Rather, the sin remains unforgiven because the sinner intentionally and maliciously forces himself to deny the Spirit’s gifts of faith in Christ and forgiveness of sins. Instead of desiring God’s grace in Christ Jesus, the blasphemer rejects that which already freely belongs to him and remains unforgiven until he finally enters eternal condemnation and hell’s punishment.

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version™, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles.

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Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.

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1 Comments:

Blogger Christopher Sadoun said...

There was the First Aion Age when Jesus was walking the Earth and arguing with the Pharisees, which corresponds to when Jesus said “This age” (Bible, New Testament, Matthew 12:31-32)

There was the Second Aion Age when Jesus was dead in the tomb, which corresponds to when Jesus said “the age to come” (Bible, New Testament, Matthew 12:31-32)

There is a the Third Aion Age when Jesus was resurrected alive again and also is the Age when Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit is forgiven and is also the age that we are in now. This age goes on for eternity.

Thus ALL GO TO HEAVEN and nothing changed about grace.
Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is the term word for unbelief.
ALL GO TO HEAVEN BECAUSE unbelief is forgiven.

A Time in the Life of Jesus is an Age because Jesus is God and is that important.

“Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come. ” (Bible, New Testament, Matthew 12:32)

Matthew 12:32 is when Jesus canceled the Old Code of the law found in Matthew 12:31.

“And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.” (Bible, New Testament, Matthew 12:31)

“Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come. ” (Bible, New Testament, Matthew 12:32)

In the Third age blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is forgiven along with all sins.

Jesus died for You You will go to heaven.

There was the First Aion Age when Jesus was walking the Earth and arguing with the Pharisees, which corresponds to when Jesus said “This age” (Bible, New Testament, Matthew 12:31-32)
There was the Second Aion Age when Jesus was dead in the tomb, which corresponds to when Jesus said “the age to come” (Bible, New Testament, Matthew 12:31-32)
There is a the Third Aion Age when Jesus was resurrected alive again and also is the Age when Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit is forgiven and is also the age that we are in now. This age goes on for eternity.

15 January, 2015 18:40  

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