Tuesday, January 31, 2017
Resisting the Holy Spirit
Today’s Life Journal Reading: Exodus 28-29; Acts 7
Topic: Hearing and Obeying
SCRIPTURE: Acts 7:51
"You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit!” (Acts 7:51 NIV)
In the seventh chapter of Acts we read of the martyrdom of Stephen the Deacon. Previous to verse 51, we see Stephen, “a man full of God’s grace and power,” who was doing “great wonders and miraculous signs among the people” (v. 8), being seized by Jewish leaders (members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen) who “could not stand up against his wisdom or the Spirit by whom he spoke” (v. 10). With false witnesses and charges, Stephen was dragged before the ruling body, the Sanhedrin, where he proceeded to outline the story of the Jewish people. A more lucid and concise history of the Hebrew people you will not find in the Bible.
It was the conclusion of Stephen’s address that enraged the Jewish rulers. He truthfully and evidentially identified them as “stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears” (v. 51). The ultimate conclusion of that systemic “resisting of the Holy Spirit”—the Truth-Giver—was the murdering of the “Righteous One,” Jesus Christ.
A key point of reflection from this passage is: What is the basis of our beliefs and actions? The Freedmen’s name seems to be a misnomer. They were anything but free. They were bound by their tradition and their pride. They could not and would not accept anything new or different from how they had been taught—how they interpreted things should be. They were locked in a theological box of their own making from which they refused to escape. The same thing is true in the Church today to a large degree. Why are we so hell-bent on doing things the same way as always? Why does anything new or different upset us? Why do we so resist change? Or, on the other hand, why do we pursue change just to be trendy?
The Holy Spirit was bringing fresh revelation to the world of Stephen’s day, not to do away with the Law and the prophets but, to bring enlightenment as to their fulfillment.
What fresh revelation does the Holy Spirit want to give us now? The reflective question is this: How often are we (am I) guilty of resisting the Holy Spirit? Are we (am I) open and listening and obedient to God’s voice?
This is a topic that can certainly spark impassioned debate and give rise to even more theological questions, but Stephen’s Holy Spirit inspired words should give us pause for honest reflection.
Lord, may I and the people I lead never be guilty of resisting Your Holy Spirit.
For our own best and for Your glory, in Christ’s name. Amen. -AP