When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”
Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord; and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
There is nothing worse than a carnal religious person. When a believer succumbs to sinful thinking, she or he leaves themselves vulnerable to much worse things if confession and repentance do not follow. We all have stories of friends or loved ones who have “lost their mind” or “gone off the deep end.” For a believer, this is not an instant thing. The danger of gradually resisting and quenching the Holy Spirit is way more toxic than people want to admit.
The council Stephen faced was filled with some of the most religious people of the day. With Stephen’s testimony, they turned crazy as they resisted the Holy Spirit. These highly educated, self-proclaimed religious leaders take Stephen out and stone him while he focuses on his view on the glory of God and Jesus on His right hand. (I wonder if the Lord does this for every martyr, because there is no way a person in their own strength can have this kind of countenance in the midst of martyrdom.) They hear his last words, “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.” Imagine how this haunted them for the rest of their lives.
In the midst of all this, we are introduced to Saul, a young religious leader who approved the torturing of Stephen. Scholars say that they laid their “outer garments” at Saul’s feet to do his bidding. They rolled up their sleeves and got to their work of stoning. How ruthless Saul was!
Do not quench the Spirit. When the Lord convicts us, we have to make a choice. A friend of ours is always asking young people, “Are you making good choices?” I would like to change that to, “Are you making godly choices?” Do you seek God’s approval in every choice? Or are you resisting the Spirit in order to feed your flesh? There is nothing worse than a carnal Christian.
Written by Kaye Dee Richards. Kaye Dee lives with her husband Colin in Morrison, CO. They have 4 children, Joshua, Amelia, Victoria, and Julia.