“You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you.”
Stephen, a man of faith, proclaimed to the Jews that God no longer dwelt in a temple made with hands. He dwelt in the lives of people who professed faith in Him because of the atoning work of Christ on Calvary. Through Christ’s work on the cross, everyone was free to come into the temple’s inner sanctuary. Did they all come? No! The majority resisted. Stephen called them “stiff-necked and uncircumcised.” This was an insult to their race. They were God’s chosen people but they were acting more like barbarians and Gentiles who did not know God. It is hard to fathom why they would resist entering when the door stood wide open for them to come in.
We may criticize them, the Jews, for not seeing what Christ did for them but are we not guilty of the same thing? Do we as believers in Jesus always, in our minds and hearts, remain in the dwelling place of the Most High? The sad truth is that many believers resist the Holy of Holies experience. Christians are content with hanging out on Solomon’s Porch or in one of the preferred courts. Like Zacchaeus, we want to be in proximity of Jesus but not up close and personal with Him. Like the Jews, we want to hang out at God’s house but we do not want to meet with Him personally. Why do we resist the Holy of Holies? Let me suggest several reasons why.
First, we resist the Holy of Holies experience because we believe the restrictions are still in force. Many continue to impose restrictions on themselves that Christ removed. Believers are convinced they cannot fellowship with God because of their past. Their past actions are too severe for God to give them permission to come in completely. They are content with hanging out in the Court of Condemnation because they exhibit a “Woe is me” complex. Second, we resist because we are unwilling to deal with our present sins. It was easy for Jesus to forgive our sin of unbelief but it is too difficult or impossible for Jesus to forgive our secret, shameful sins. We resist the Holy of Holies because we do not think Jesus can or will atone for our secret, shameful sins after we have been born again. Third, we resist the Holy of Holies experience out of fear for what God may command us to do for Him. “If I get close to Jesus, He will send me to Africa!“ “If I get close to Jesus, He will command me to teach seventh grade boys!” “If I get close to Jesus, He will command me to move outside my comfort zone!” Fear of commitment causes us to resist. Fourth, we resist the Holy of Holies experience because we are unwilling to obey. We have become stiff-necked! We have resisted for so long that our hearts are extremely hardened to God’s commands. We cannot feel His conviction; therefore, it is easy to resist. This is a dangerous, spiritual condition because the one who cannot feel God’s conviction has been deceived into believing that God is okay with their current condition. Nothing could be farther from the truth. God wants every believer to come boldly and confidently into the inner sanctuary without resistance.
Are you resisting the Holy of Holies? Have you imposed restrictions on yourself that prohibit you from entering? Are you unwilling to deal with the secret, shameful sins? Have you convinced yourself that Jesus cannot forgive you and cleanse you of all unrighteousness? (1 John 1:9) Do you live in fear of what Jesus may command you to do for Him if you did enter into the Holy of Holies? Have you become gullible to the devil’s lie that you will be all alone if you obey? Jesus said He would never leave you nor forsake you. Has your heart become so hardened to God’s voice that you find it easy to disobey Him? Would you repent of any or all of the above and experience the forgiving and cleansing power of Jesus? Friend, do not resist. There remains no restrictions, so enter! You will not regret it!