I Can’t Resist

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Standing before the great and mighty Sanhedrin was a meek man of very bold stature. Called Stephen, this enthusiastic spokesman for the gospel set out in vivid detail the history of God’s gracious and patient interaction with the oft-obstinate people of Israel. Let us absorb together the concluding challenge of his message, as recorded in Acts 7:51: You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit.

Wow—this one man spoke plainly. In fact, so traumatized was the Sanhedrin by his indictment, they immediately dragged him away and stoned him to death. And this raises the question of my own response to such an accusation. Do I resist the Holy Spirit? Do you?

The Lord Jesus helps us understand the Holy Spirit’s role in our lives. John 16, in fact, gives a useful summary. Consider at least two things that are made clear:

First, the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin. “When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment” (v. 8). It is His job and He desires to convict you because of God’s love for you. God wants you to be free from shame and guilt and to live a life of joy and righteousness. The Holy Spirit’s task is to help us pursue that, thus He convicts of sin.

Second, the Holy Spirit counsels us with the wisdom of God. “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth” (v. 13). The writer of Proverbs tells us that “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge but fools despise wisdom and discipline” (Proverbs 1:7). Fearing the Lord is yielding to the ministry of God’s Spirit in our lives. This comes by spending time in the Scriptures, and believing that the Holy Spirit will help us understand and appropriate what we learn there. This brings the wisdom of God into our lives. The Holy Spirit desires to fill us with the true things of God, that we might live lives that are pleasing to God and fulfilling for us. Thus, He counsels us with the wisdom of God.

The Holy Spirit desires to convict us of sin and counsel us toward righteousness. About what things might the Holy Spirit be convicting you today? And what is that you are learning from the Holy Spirit about life? You and I are called to yield ourselves to Him. The Apostle Paul challenges us to “not quench the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:19). We are not to resist His loving and persistent pursuit of us. We must give in. Only in so doing do we enjoy the peace of God and find ourselves growing into maturity as God’s people.

‘Father . . . I do not wish to resist your Spirit. I do not want the hardened heart of some who have gone before me. Rather, may my heart be pliable in your hands. May it be that I will heed the Spirit’s gentle persuasion about my sin, and that I would humbly soak in all of the wisdom that you would give to me. May this be so that in the end I may truly be like your Son, Jesus. Amen.’

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