The Holy Spirit’s Hard Truth
Day: 8 | Plan: Acts
Today's Reading: Acts 7
Acts 7:51 (NIV) "You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit!"
In Acts 6, the Jewish religious leaders seized Stephen and brought false charges against him. They were desperate enough to prove him guilty, they even persuaded people to lie about Stephen’s teachings.
Now, in Acts 7, Stephen stands before the court, where they expect him to defend himself. In the longest speech recorded in Acts, Stephen actually does very little to address the charges against him. Instead, filled with the Holy Spirit, Stephen uses this opportunity to bring charges against his accusers, highlighting their hardness of heart.
In a systematic summary, Stephen describes how the Jews had habitually ignored or rejected God’s messengers and messages. But Stephen’s most personal indictment was that they were:
1. stiff-necked people,
2. with uncircumcised hearts and ears,
3. who resist the Holy Spirit. And that resistance led them to murder the Messiah.
The Israelites had a long history of being “stiff-necked,” dating back to Exodus 32 when God’s anger burned after they made a golden calf to worship. Stephen calls them an unfaithful and idolatrous people who refuse to worship God rightly.
To have uncircumcised hearts and ears means that these religious leaders kept up external appearances of holiness, but were not internally changed by God’s words.
Finally, Stephen says they resist the Holy Spirit. To resist the Holy Spirit is to hear truth, but to reject and fight against it.
Although Stephen spoke words of truth, his words so anger the self-righteous members of the Sanhedrin that they interrupt his speech and pass immediate judgment. Their pride kept them from hearing the life-changing message of the gospel, and they take up stones and kill Stephen!
How do you and I react when we are confronted with truth? Maybe we don’t pick up stones, but how we deal with a challenging truth reveals the condition of our hearts. When hard hearts hear hard truth, harsh reactions result. Our response to truth reveals the condition of our hearts.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I know that Your Holy Spirit speaks truth to me through Your Word and sometimes through other people in my life. Soften my heart to Your truth. Help me not fight You when I need to confess sin or change my behavior. I want to hear hard truth well. In Jesus’ name, amen.
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Bible scholars have differing opinions as to why Stephen didn’t try to defend himself.... Read More
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