Religious People Are Often Stiff-Necked & Angry
Religion says, “I have to follow rules.” A relationship with Christ says, “I want to follow His plan for my life.”
Religion says, “I have to go to church.” A relationship with Christ says, “I want to position myself to learn more, worship Him, and benefit from fellowship.”
Religion offers a set of rituals; a relationship with Jesus offers a guiding light.
Religion is man’s attempt to find God; relationship assures us of His presence.
ACTS 7:44 – The tabernacle in the wilderness
48 “However, the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands, as the prophet says: 49 ‘Heaven is My throne, And earth is My footstool. What house will you build for Me? says the Lord, Or what is the place of My rest? 50 Has My hand not made all these things?’
WOW – LOOK AT THIS:
51 “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. 52 Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, 53 who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it.”
The neck reflects the heart [uncircumcised].
Bowing down and a lowered head is often a mark of humility.
We are stiff-necked when we reject His will.
54 When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth. 55 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, 56 and said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”
“Saw the glory of God.” (cf. Isaiah 6) – The closer we draw near to Him, the more we will reflect His glory (radiance, nature, light).
Biblical preaching cuts to the heart then points to Christ.
What do you do when you’re cut [badly wounded emotionally]?
KEY: Are you mad and defensive [stiff necked], or open and teachable? Cf. ACTS 2.
God allows us to be cut to reveal the heart.
~ A package comes in the mail – “What’s this?”
57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord; 58 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. 59 And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 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.
Being receptive is a good indicator of humility – would read:Then they cried out to God, opened their ears, and embraced him.
Stiff-necked people do not forgive.
Anger is a byproduct of being stiff necked.
A few facts on ANGER:
1. What you’re filled with eventually comes out – Stephen was filled with the Spirit, but these men were filled with rage even though they were religious.
2. Selfishness and pride are the fingers that pull the trigger of anger.
3. Consuming things that alter our mood.
4. Living in habitual sin
Ecclesiastes 7:9, “Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.”
Proverbs 15:18 A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel.
ACTS 8 Now Saul was consenting to his death. At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2 And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. 3 As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.
SAUL WAS STIFF NECKED – how dare you challenge how I was raised, or what I believe.
Religion vs. Relationship – they read the same Old Testament.
Religious people do not like Spirit filled Christians.
Religious people don’t like to compare their beliefs to the Bible.
4 Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word. 5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. 6 And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. 7 For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed. 8 And there was great joy in that city.
God uses persecution to spread the Word.
Miracles are God’s megaphone – The closer you walk with God – the more miracles you will see.
“Possessed” – demonized – mastery over; controlled by.
The Sorcerer’s Profession of Faith
8:9 But there was a certain man called Simon, who previously practiced sorcery in the city and astonished the people of Samaria, claiming that he was someone great, 10 to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the great power of God.” 11 And they heeded him because he had astonished them with his sorceries for a long time. 12 But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. 13 Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized he continued with Philip, and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done.
Sorcery – calling on the wrong spirit [they know the past].
Anger follows darkness – wrong anger is a demonic influence.
Darkness should not entertain – ouija boards, astrology, horoscopes, spells, wizards.
If you OPEN yourself up – you will CLOSE yourself off to the work of the Spirit.
KEY – Philip’s power was stronger.
13 Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized he continued with Philip, and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done.
Believe and Be Baptized is the norm. The reason many don’t want to get baptized is because they’re not ready to “get that serious.”
Sunday – March 5th
Points to ponder as we close:
1. Is anger dominating your life because you’re not filled with the Spirit?
Anger is also the by-product of frustration – “I keep falling.”
2. Saul was religious – he followed a lot of rules and knew the O.T.
BUT Saul was hell bound, because he did not have a relationship.
I’m good. I help people. I’ve read the Bible. I go to church sometimes – RELIGIOUS.