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Confidently Facing Lies

Acts 6:12-15
So they stirred up the people and the elders and the teachers of the law. They seized Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin. They produced false witnesses, who testified, 'This fellow never stops speaking against this holy place and against the law. For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us.' All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel. (NIVUK)

Stephen, a Greek-speaking believer, had upset Greek-speaking Jews by preaching about Jesus and doing miracles in His Name. They were furious, and arranged for some people to lie about what Stephen said in order for him to be charged with blasphemy. It was just the same for Jesus, even using the same lies that false witnesses used to slander Him (Mark 14:58; 15:29).

Stephen was arrested by the religious police, on the instruction of the religious leaders, supported by a mob of people. He was then brought before the same Council, which had sentenced Jesus to death and had failed to silence Peter and John. As the false evidence was given against Stephen, it seemed that the court had little interest in justice or any desire to cross-question the witnesses. Instead, they looked at Stephen, doubtless watching for the slightest facial response that would confirm his guilt.

Stephen did not seem at all worried: neither pale with fear nor flushed with anger at the injustice. His face looked like the face of an angel. Of course, not many people had seen angels, but there was something about Stephen which marked him out as being a representative of God's powerful Saviour. It was a remarkable witness to Christ's indwelling Spirit in the man. He was confident and not at all shaken.

The world is full of lies; they are Satan's trademark (John 8:44). And yet God's Spirit gives serenity to godly people who live by the truth, even when they are slandered. It is part of the ministry of persecuted believers to show unforgettable confidence in the Lord, so that those who mistreat them know that the power of Christ to save is greater than their power to ruin. If you are being slandered, falsely accused or ill treated because you belong to Jesus, rejoice (Matthew 5:11-12). Your clear conscience and confidence will lead some of your opponents to be ashamed and repent (1 Peter 3:13-16). If You are not being persecuted, pray that those believers who are suffering today will know His presence with them and trust in His mercy and grace … and that some of Christ's enemies will be saved.

God of peace. Thank You for the peace You give to me, testifying to the confidence I have in You. Please forgive me when I am afraid or want to fight to achieve my own vindication. Please help me to trust that You will honour the truth to which I hold and will use my response to injustice to validate the saving power and grace of Christ, so that those who are Your enemies might also seek Your mercy. Please also sustain my brothers and sisters around the world who are suffering today because they love Jesus. In His Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams