An anti-God spirit runs deep throughout the world. It is true that each human being made in the image of God has what some have termed “a God-shaped hole” in his heart, and the one who fills it with the love of Christ will receive abundantly over and above what he expects. However, there is another side to the equation. We know the road to destruction is broad, and many travel on it. When someone fills that void with something other than all which Jesus offers, he will often become extremely hostile to God.
Consider the case of Stephen and the kind of man he was as reported in Acts 6:8:
And Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people.
Filled with grace and power! A man doing good works helping others and making their lives better.
But look at what the response was among some, shown in Acts 6:10:
But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking.
Stephen had the wisdom and Spirit of God. It struck some to the core of their being, and they simply hated the conviction of the Holy Spirit that pierced their hearts. And so, they riled up many against him, brought false witnesses to lie about what he said and did, and intended to destroy him for who he was in Christ, i.e. a true representative of the living God. In his extensive recitation of Israel’s history, Stephen pointed out several instances of the hardness of the hearts of those who were designated as God’s Chosen People. They repeatedly turned from the Lord through their disobedience by worshiping idols representing the gods of other nations, placing their trust in their own selves by desiring to return to bondage in Egypt, and by killing the prophets of God who continually warned them against such rebellion. When Stephen accused them of murdering the Son of God, that was too much. Acts 6:54 shows their reaction:
Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him.
The intense rage within them that was demonically fueled rose up. They couldn’t stand the truth spoken about them. In fact, Acts 7:57 tells us what they did:
But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him.
They couldn’t even bear to listen to Stephen’s words because they cut these men to the quick, and the pain in their souls was so great. Did that cause them to repent? Not at all! They lashed out and killed the messenger.
There have been many over the years like these men in Jerusalem, rejecting God’s correction in their lives and turning ferociously against Him. One of the most infamous of these was Karl Marx. From all accounts, Marx in his early life was brought up in a Christian household and had some affection for God. A prolific writer throughout his life, Marx wrote early on as a teenager one such passage (The Union of the Faithful with Christ):
Through love of Christ we turn our hearts at the same time toward our brethren who are inwardly bound to us and for whom He gave Himself as a sacrifice.
But something changed in his life. Subsequent to the above words, Marx wrote in a poem:
I wish to avenge myself against the One who rules above.”
This wasn’t an isolated instance. He wrote another poem called Oulanem, the name of which is an abbreviated anagram for Emmanuel. In this work, Marx declared that he sold his soul to the devil. In another piece titled The Pale Maiden, he confirmed this:
Thus heaven I’ve forfeited.
I know it full well.
My soul, once true to God,
Is chosen for hell.
There is a mistaken notion that those who are considered atheists simply don’t believe there is a God. Given the example of Marx, the truth is more likely for them as it was for him that they are simply, profoundly anti-God. As the saying goes: They don’t believe in God, and they hate Him.
This is the spirit of those who came against Stephen and ground their teeth at him, i.e. they gnashed their teeth. The Greek word for this is ebrychon (Strong’s #1031 – bruchó), which gives the sense of pain along with rage. What the persecutors of Stephen experienced was very likely what Marx did also. Marx had such pain and rage in his soul that he wanted to destroy God and all of humanity. That he would go to hell for his actions was inconsequential to him. It was the getting at God and bringing down His creation that was of most importance.
It can probably be stated without error that Marx was demonically possessed. Those who embrace his ideology must likewise hate God so much that they open themselves to this same phenomenon. Scripture tells us that in the latter days God will bring a great deception. In other words, those who chose to live in rebellion to Him will turn so fully away that Satan will have every opportunity to inhabit and direct their lives. We see this in the rise of gender confusion and racist rhetoric. These philosophies have nothing to do with the God of the Bible; rather are purely the work of Satan.
In these last days, we who love the Lord need to stand firm for Him, showing mercy and grace on others, even our enemies. Perhaps, as the Word says, that by offering this drink of living water to those who hate God and us, this will have the effect of pouring burning coals on their heads. If the result of this is holy pain whereby these are cut to the quick and repent, let us rejoice. In any event, as those who belong to the One true God, we must be – even as Job is described in Job 1:1:
… blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.