The account of Stephen’s stoning gives us an incredibly clear and concise summary of our biblical history. Today, I’m only going to focus on Acts 7:51-53, but I’d highly recommend reading all 60 verses of this chapter slowly… and multiple times.
It’s important to notice how many verses out of the 60 are given to Abraham, Joseph, and Moses. These three leaders set everything in motion; they set the stage.
Before we narrow our focus on those 3 verses, it’s also important to see how frequently history repeats itself. Why don’t we learn from our mistakes? Sinful nature remains the same throughout history. The only thing that breaks the repetition is men and women hearing the voice of God and responding. God’s people are the difference makers throughout history.
“You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.”
Do you see that the Holy Spirit has always been present in the work of God?
- God the Father is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
- God the Son is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
- God the Holy Spirit is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
Just as Jesus existed before His incarnation, so the Holy Spirit existed before Pentecost. The Holy Spirit’s primary work went from with us in the Old Testament to in us and thru us in the New Testament.
When Jesus was with us, people resisted Him and ultimately crucified Him. People have always resisted the Holy Spirit. But now that Jesus is at the right hand of the Father and the Holy Spirit is the primary One with us and in us, people resist the Holy Spirit more than ever and ultimately want to crucify Him, too.
The Holy Spirit is the One who’s given to dwell within us and to be our Counselor and Comforter. The Holy Spirit is the One who guides us, grows us, and gifts us.
Nothing happens apart from the Holy Spirit.
- He reveals Christ to us.
- He forms Christ in us.
- He empowers Christ thru us.
We cannot be who God has made and called us to be without the Holy Spirit.
We cannot do what God has commissioned us to do without the Holy Spirit.
Why have people always been resistant to the Holy Spirit?
“You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you.”
- People are prideful.
- People like to be in authority.
- People want to be in control.
- People don’t trust the goodness of God, therefore they’re afraid of not being in control.
The Holy Spirit requires humility.
- God is opposed to the proud, but He gives grace to the humble.
The Holy Spirit is the authority.
- He illuminates the truth and gives us the ability to know and understand the truth.
- He convicts us of sin, judgement, and righteousness.
The Holy Spirit requires submission.
- We have to walk by the Spirit to bear the fruits of the Spirit.
The Holy Spirit requires trust.
- We have to trust the goodness of God in the midst of a fallen, sinful, and broken world.
- We have to trust the goodness of God when everything isn’t good.
- We have to trust the sovereignty of God since He’s both good and in control.
- We have to trust that He’ll bring good out of bad. Ultimately, we have to trust that God causes all things to work together for those who love Him.
Let’s talk about today for a minute. Why does a large percentage of Christianity de-emphasize the Holy Spirit?
- Why minimize a member of the Trinity?
- Why minimize the gift Jesus gave us when He ascended into Heaven?
- Why minimize the One who gives us His presence, peace, and power?
The only explanation is that we’ve believed the deceptive lies of the religious spirit, which is from the Father of Lies, the enemy.
The enemy is the one who always tries to counterfeit the work of the Holy Spirit. For example, when Moses went to Pharaoh, initially, the sorcerers could perform the same miracles as Moses.
In the same way that every sin is, ultimately, a perversion of purity or a manipulation of one of God’s good gifts, the enemy tries to distort the pure work of the Holy Spirit by manipulating people to use the gifts for selfish purposes or outside their designed context.
Since the enemy can’t defeat the Holy Spirit, he tries to discredit Him. He simply tells lies about the Holy Spirit.
How good of a liar is the Father of Lies?
- Look at what Scripture says about the Holy Spirit.
- Look at what a large percentage of Christians believe about the Holy Spirit.
- How offended would we be if that same percentage of Christians misrepresented Jesus that way?
- Why is it okay for some Christians to turn the Holy Spirit into weird cousin Eddie from Christmas Vacation?
It’s essential for all of us to understand that one of the enemy’s greatest strategies against Christianity is to discredit the Holy Spirit. It’s not a new strategy. Unfortunately, though, it’s an effective strategy.
What happens when this strategy works?
- The enemy disempowers believers.
- The enemy divides the church.
It’s time for us to replace all lies about the Holy Spirit with truth.
It’s time to quit trying to live this life with one arm tied behind our back.
It’s time to quit trying to fulfill His mission without His power.
I encourage you to make the following commitments:
- Learn what Scripture says about the Holy Spirit.
- Start praying for more of the Holy Spirit and earnestly desiring the gifts.
- Start following Spirit-led and Spirit-filled leaders and movements. Read, listen, and watch as much as possible. Find a healthy and biblically balanced church to be under, connect with, and serve with.
- Start paying greater attention to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and find ways to use your spiritual gifts.
- Normalize mistakes and keep believing. God knows there’s more than enough mistakes in non-Spirit-led churches and they keep believing!