civil disobedience and the spirit
"We gave you strict orders not to teach about that name, yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching." —Acts 5:28
Peter and the apostles proclaimed that the Holy Spirit was given to those who obey God (Acts 5:32). Jesus promised an unrationed outpouring of the Holy Spirit to those who believed in and obeyed Him (Jn 3:34, 36). Receiving the Holy Spirit is intimately connected with obedience.
Peter and the apostles replied to the Sanhedrin: "Better for us to obey God than men!" (Acts 5:29) When the apostles mentioned obedience to God, they contrasted this with civil disobedience, that is, disobedience to man. In effect, the apostles were saying that the Holy Spirit is given to those who obey God by disobeying the Sanhedrin's prohibition of witnessing for Jesus. The Sanhedrin did not miss the point. Upon hearing the apostles' comment, they "were stung to fury and wanted to kill them" (Acts 5:33).
To receive the Spirit, we must obey God rather than men. For example, we must stand up for life even when the government demands taxes to finance abortion. We must not laugh at "dirty jokes" or participate in gossip, even when the unwritten laws of the office pressure us into compliance. We must witness for Jesus, even if it is considered out of place by our classmates or co-workers. We must disobey the written and unwritten laws of men which contradict the will of God. Then we will receive an unrationed outpouring of the Spirit (see Jn 3:34).
Prayer: Father, may I consider it a privilege to suffer for love of You (see Acts 5:41). Come, Holy Spirit!
Promise: "Whoever believes in the Son has life eternal. Whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but must endure the wrath of God." —Jn 3:36
Praise: Obeying the Church, Linda spoke to a fellow parishioner who was perpetuating a faulty liturgical practice.
Reference: (For a related teaching, order our tape on Spiritual Adultery on audio AV 53-1 or video V-53.)
Rescript: †Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, October 23, 2007
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