Are You Resisting the Holy Spirit?

While leading one of our Doorway to Discovery retreats this past weekend, God surprised me with a general warning that I think we all need to be aware of.  It isn’t that we have already, necessarily, been guilty of this violation, its just that we are all susceptible to it because it often operates in our blind spots.  The concern I have in mind is “resisting the Holy Spirit,” an activity that is relatively easy to do and that has serious consequences for us as Jesus’ followers.

In Acts chapter 6, we have the historical account of the early church growing beyond the twelve’s ability to keep up with everything God is doing.  Led by the Holy Spirit, they choose and commission 7 men to oversee the distribution of food to those in need.  One of those men is Stephen, who we are told was “full of grace and power, and was performing great wonders and signs among the people” (Acts 6:8).  The religious leaders (men from the synagogue of the Freedmen) don’t like it and they raise up false witnesses against him, while they bring him before the High Council for speaking against the law.   In his defense before the Council in chapter 7, Stephen recounts the history of Israel, primarily using Abraham and Moses and then accuses the leaders of “resisting the Holy Spirit…just as your fathers did” (Acts 7:51).  The religious leaders are filled with rage, drive Stephen out of the city and stone him to death. 

I had, of course, read this account many times before but this time the Holy Spirit showed me something I had not seen before.  It is curious is it not, that the leaders who would go on to stone Stephen were so violently opposed to the message of Jesus, and Him crucified.  They were experts in the law, the word of the Lord, and were waiting for the promised Messiah but when He showed up, they missed it.  Why they missed it is speculation on my part but it seems to me that Jesus just didn’t match their expectations.  They had their traditions based on their understanding of the law and they had a clearly defined vision of how and when God was going to fulfill His promises.  Add to it all an unteachable attitude driven by their knowledge and pride of being the chosen people of God, and they were conditioned to miss the promised Messiah when He actually did show up.

The takeaway God left with me was really a question about my own ability, and willingness, to align myself with what God is actually doing in the present.  Or has my history with God, my knowledge or my preconceived understandings about what He is going to do blocked my ability to see what God is actually doing.  The Holy Spirit, through the words of Stephen, equates this with resisting the Holy Spirit.

The obvious point of application is to ask ourselves am I currently missing what the Holy Spirit is doing in my life because of what I believe I know to be true?  Have I allowed my past successes to so condition my current understanding that I am blind to what the Holy Spirit is doing right now?  Finally, have we nailed down God’s future plans so tightly that we are blinded to the shifts in how and what He is doing today?  Our ability to stay in alignment with God requires we stay teachable, always listening and always adapting to the new moves of the Spirit.

God’s truth never changes but His methods are constantly changing to meet people where they are. God would have us do the same.

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