Fighting With God
Robert Wurtz II
“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” (Acts 7:51-53 ESV).
I have chosen this text because of its timeless application and relevance to modern times. We are living in an age where we are fastly reaching what some might call a “point of no return” where it is nearly impossible to preach the truth without giving your life or freedom to do it. With this in mind, our text reveals the great problem that all of humanity is either involved in (or has been involved in) throughout their lives. That problem is a pattern of continually resisting the manifold working of the Holy Spirit. Whether it be the “one on one” dealings of Holy Spirit conviction, the hearing of the Holy Spirit inspired infallible Word of God, or the Holy Spirit energized and directed voice of the Prophets, people do always resist the Holy Spirit.
Understand that if anyone in the crowd that day had been truly interested in being right with God they would have considered Stephen’s words, wept, and replied, “You are right Stephen, I didn’t see it until this very moment, but I have been resisting the Holy Spirit my whole life. I do it so much that I don’t even realize what I’m doing… and I’m so grateful you pointed that out. I could have been lost for all eternity had I not heard this message.” But that was not their response or reaction. God was bringing to bear the voice of a Prophet (Stephen), His infallible word, and the conviction of the Holy Spirit all at once… and yet they obstinately refused to hear. They snuffed out the moment by snuffing out the man. What a dreadful and sobering picture of men and women in rebellion against God and the extent He is willing to go to save them.
The Majority of Pharisees
The Pharisees made a pretense (most of them) that they wanted to honor and obey God. A brief study of the rise of the Pharisees will demonstrate this fact. This was all fine and good (very noble-sounding) except for the fact that they knew from their studies that the Levite’s (priesthood) had the God-ordained responsibility of teaching God’s people His will and His word—a task they arrogated to themselves in the name of getting things back on track. They should have pressed the Levites to do the task with the same fervor that they resisted the Prophets. Instead, what were they doing? They were resisting the Holy Spirit. They were resisting God’s infallible word. They were offering a substitute or alternative option for God’s word. This is and will always be sin.
When the greatest Prophet of all (John the Baptist) called them a “brood of vipers,” it only infuriated them so they accused him of having a demon—though he lived holier than all of them. Why didn’t they ask, “Why did he say that to me? Could it really be true?” Why didn’t they deeply search their hearts? Rather, what were they doing? They were resisting the Holy Spirit. They were resisting God’s dealings. But really, the English word “resist” doesn’t come close to translating the underlying Greek text in this regard.
The Greek word translated “resist” is antipipto and it means “to fall or rush against (or upon) in a hostile manner, assault, resist by force and violence, fall or strive against.” This is what the Pharisees and their fathers did. They assaulted the Prophets and killed them. Why? They were spokespersons for God telling them that they were doing wrong. The time would fail to simply list out the examples of this happening in the Old Testament. Yet they projected themselves as being the spiritual leaders of the people.
Rebellious or Repentant Leaders?
No person can rightly be called a “leader” of God’s people who resists the Holy Spirit. This is common sense. In fact, no person can consider themselves a Christian who resists the Holy Spirit. But this does not stop people, just as it did not stop the Pharisees, from doing it. They will “fall upon” or “assault” the very people who are challenging them, too. Maybe not physically, but with their words and their actions. They resist the clear instruction of God’s word, the prophetic voices that declare that Word, and the Spirit Himself Who convinces and convicts of the truth of that Word to the hearts of people.
All repentance must begin with stopping this resistance. The fighting with God must end. This is simple enough. No person can enter the kingdom of God who is hostile to His Word. This means all of His Word, and especially what He was spoken concerning sin. No amount of fussing and redressing old sins can change them either.
Can you imagine telling God, “I came up with some new names for all these sins!” That’s tantamount to making God a liar. It’s the 21st Century method of getting people to deny Christ by redefining right and wrong. Multitudes are being tested and falling for it just as the Tradators (a word meaning to “turn over”) of the early church. As the old saying goes, “You can’t give an old dog a new name” … but again, this doesn’t stop the rebellious intellects of our times and the wordsmiths from giving it a go. Sin is sin and it will always be sin. The new terminologies (names for sin) and laws have not moved God even .00000001 of an inch on the matter. It only displays the rebellion of our times and the vast host of the lost who are fitted for total destruction.
This is the type of talk that the Prophets used to employ. They did everything (including some really radical and gross stuff like eating cow dung mixed with bread) to get people to come to their senses. How far out would people have to be that God would have to employ such insane measures? But God was faithful and unwilling to just let them perish. The Prophets were constantly telling the people that they needed to change and turn back to God. These are the people that the “Pharisee types” murdered.
In modern times, nearly anyone who stands for God’s Word is labeled a Pharisee by somebody. But this is a misnomer. The people resisting the Holy Spirit fit that definition, not those who seek to honor God and His Spirit inspired truth. Let that sink in.
The First Step of Agreement With God
Amos 3:3 asked if two can walk together except they are agreed. Any relationship with God must begin with coming into agreement with Him. This means coming into agreement with what He has said about all manner of sin, and possessing a willingness to welcome God in rather than holding Him at arm’s length. It means welcoming the light of truth rather than loving darkness. It means gladly receiving the word of God and with a readiness to honor, defend and support it.