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Resisting the Holy Spirit

In Acts 7, we read of Stephen, who concluded his great speech before the Jewish council of the Sanhedrin by saying, "You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers didĒ (v. 51).  What had their fathers done?  Stephen explained in verses 52 and 53:

"Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute?  They killed those who had previously announced the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become; you who received the law as ordained by angels, and yet did not keep it.Ē

Stephen had rehearsed the history of Israel, and then he accused the members of the Sanhedrin of being on the wrong side of that history.  They claimed to be the children of faithful men like Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, Jacob, Moses, and David, but Stephen said that they were the children of these menís persecutors.  He summarized their sins by saying they were "always resisting the Holy Spirit.Ē  They answered Stephenís accusation by putting him to death, thus proving his point, for he was filled with the Holy Spirit when he spoke (Acts 6:5, 8, 10; 7:55).

Can we be guilty of resisting the Holy Spirit today?  The answer is an unequivocal yes.  Even though men are not speaking today by direct operation of the Holy Spirit in the likeness of Stephen, we can still resist Him by resisting the work He does through the word of God.  Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would teach all things, bring to remembrance things Jesus said, testify about Jesus, convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment, guide us into all truth, disclose what is to come, glorify Christ, and disclose to us the things of Christ (John 14:26; 15:26-27; 16:8-15).  Today, the Holy Spirit does this work through the word of God that was given by inspiration to Godís holy apostles and prophets (1Cor. 2:6-13; Eph. 3:2-5; 2Tim. 3:16-17; 2Pet. 1:20-21).  Therefore, those who reject the word of God and refuse to believe it and obey it today are guilty of resisting the Holy Spirit.

As Stephen indicated, man has a long history of resisting the Holy Spirit.  Almost from the beginning of time, man has resisted Godís Sprit by resisting His word.  It began with Adam and Eve and continued with their son Cain and many others who followed their path of rebellion against God.  Godís own chosen people, the nation of Israel, were characterized by a stubborn resistance to the Spirit just as Stephen explained.  Jeremiah described the rebellious people of Judah, saying, "The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule on their own authority; and My people love it so!  But what will you do at the end of it?Ē  We know what they did at the end of it, for Judah was finally carried off into captivity when there was at last no remedy for them (2Chron. 36:15-21).  Concerning the northern kingdom of Israel, God said in Hosea 4:6:

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.  Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being My priest.  Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.

Israelís lack of knowledge was self-inflicted, for they had rejected the prophets who brought them knowledge by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  The Gentiles were also guilty of resisting the Spirit, for they had known of God, but "they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longerĒ (Rom. 1:28).

Today, this history of resistance to Godís Spirit continues.  The apostle Paul warned Timothy that even within the church men would oppose the truth of Godís word given by the Holy Spirit.  After charging Timothy to preach the word without ceasing, Paul wrote, "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to mythsĒ (2Tim. 4:3-4).  History shows that Paulís words were true, and they continue to be true today.  Many men turn away their ears from the truth of Godís word and thus resist the Holy Spirit.

With these examples and warnings in mind, it is time to look inwardly and examine yourself (2Cor. 13:5).  Ask yourself whether you are resisting the Holy Spirit.  Is there any part of Godís word that you refuse to know?  Are you willful ignorant of anything revealed within Godís truth?  Are you in any way like Stephenís persecutors, coving your ears to prevent them from hearing the truth (Acts 7:57)?  Do you seek teachings to suit your own desires or to justify your own refusal to accept the true teachings of the Holy Spirit?  If there is anything in Godís word that you donít want to study because you donít want to change, then that is the first thing you need to study.  Be warned; throughout history, it has not ended well for those who resisted the Holy Spirit, and it will not end well for you either if you resist Him.  Therefore, submit to the Spirit by accepting His word in the Bible for everything you do, say, and believe.

Stacey E. Durham




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