Whatcha Gonna Do When They Gnash on You?
When they heard these things,…. How that Abraham, the father of them, was called before he was circumcised, or
the law was given to Moses, or the temple was built, which they were so bigoted to, and charged with speaking
blasphemously of; and how that Joseph and Moses were very poorly treated by the Jewish fathers, which seemed to
resemble the same usage Christ and his apostles met with from them; and how their ancestors behaved in the
wilderness when they had received the law, and what idolatry they fell into there, and in after times; and how that
though there was a temple built by Solomon, yet the Lord was not confined to it, nor would he dwell in it always; and
especially when they heard him calling them a stiffnecked people, and uncircumcised in heart and ears; saying, that
they persecuted and slew the prophets, and were the betrayers and murderers of an innocent person; and
notwithstanding all their zeal for the law, and even though it was ministered to them by angels, yet they did not
observe it themselves:
they were cut to the heart; as if they had been sawn asunder; they were filled with anguish, with great pain and
uneasiness; they were full of wrath and madness, and could neither bear themselves nor Stephen:
and they gnashed on him with their teeth: being enraged at him, and full of fury and indignation against him.
They were cut to the heart.—Literally, were sawn through and through. The word describes a keener pang than the “pricked” of Acts 2:37, producing, not repentance, but the frenzy of furious anger.
They gnashed on him with their teeth.—Here it clearly expresses brute passion rather than despair. At this point rage and fury—the fury caused by the consciousness that the stern words are true—had become altogether beyond control. They had passed beyond articulate speech into the inarticulate utterances of animal ferocity.
There are a few other Scriptures in reference to the gnashing of teeth against the righteous:
Psalm 37:12 “The wicked plots against the righteous and gnashes at him with his teeth”
Curiously, the others references in NT scripture to “gnashing of teeth” are found in
Luke 13:28 “There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you shall see Abraham, and Isaac and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom, and you yourselves thrust out”
Matthew 8:12, 13:42, 22:13, 24:51, 25:30 and these are a reference to hell.
Some of erroneously thought that the “gnashing of teeth” in hell will be because those will be bitten in torment- but
this is not the case. Gnashing of teeth refers to understanding the truth, but not wanting to repent and thus become
so furious with disappointment or rage that you cannot speak.
We should read Scripture with a sober mind. Take the things of God with utmost seriousness. God is not playing a game with us.
These men were cut to the heart- literally the words Stephen spoke, sawed them in half. They knew it was true, they
knew the words he spoke were good and right, but they refused to repent and instead chose to become angry, the
Scripture says “they stopped their ears”, they refused to listen and they were filled with a hatred so strong that they stoned Stephen to his death.
- What will you do when presented with a truth you do not want to hear?
You always have a choice- you can react or respond
The carnal mind thinks fleshly, carnal thoughts and carnal ways.
the carnal mind focuses on how we used to react to things before the Lord came in.
Think about how you handled things before the Lord-
we would react inside of respond- we have knee jerk reactions
We reacted with fear, doubt, anger (lashing out), guilt- this is how these men reacted, they lashed out
A reaction is instant. It’s driven by beliefs, biases and the prejudices of the carnal mind.
When you do or say something “without thinking” that’s the carnal mind running the show.
A carnal reaction is based in the moment and doesn’t consider long term effects of what you do or say.
A reaction (the carnal mind) is survival-oriented and is on some level a defense mechanism.
This is exactly what the Word of God tells us- the carnal mind with its way of thinking is in direct contrast to the Spirit
The carnal mind is all about, “how does this affect me?” what about me.
The answer to the carnal minded voice is to be renewed on a daily basis in accordance with God’s Word.
Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may
prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
A Christ-like response will be from a renewed mind in Christ.
A Christ-like response come from being cut to the heart with the truth and wanting to CHANGE.
Acts 2:37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles,
“Men and brethren, what shall we do?”
Notice the difference?
A Christ response comes from a life of prayer- it’ll come from what you know about the LORD and His Word
It’s a heart that is seeking the truth.
A Christ response will take into consideration what will happen if you do/say something.
It weighs the long term effects and stays in line with Christian morals and values.
A renewed mind thinks of others more than self.
How do you react when you hear the truth that you do not like??
Ex: I preached a few years ago about “which voice are you listening to?” and I talked about how there are things that
Christian cannot a part with, mainly a gay marriage. This is completely unbiblical. We are to have nothing to do with
the world or its ways. The next day, someone wrote all over FB that what I said was unloving and intolerant.
They were presented with the truth, they refused it and gnashed on me with their teeth.
What if you are told that what you are doing is sinful? Will you stop your ears to the truth? Will you lash out with
rage? Or will you repent and ask, “what shall I do to make this right?”
When you come to the cross, you will be presented with your own sinfulness- how will you respond?
- how will you respond when you are gnashed on for speaking truth?
First, you need to recognize that Stephen spoke the truth in love, and he called them stiff-necked and uncircumcised
in heart (that’s a real low blow)
Ephesians 4:14-15 NKJV “that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—“
Can we all agree that Jesus spoke things that were hard to hear?
John 6:60-61 New King James Version (NKJV)
60 Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, “This is a [a]hard saying; who can understand it?” When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples [b]complained about this, He said to them, “Does this [c]offend you?
The truth cannot be sugar coated. It is not wishy-washy. It is direct and speaks directly to the heart of the matter.
Love has to do with the motives and intents of your heart. Is your heart to see others repent and turn to God? Is your
heart to see reconciliation and restoration in another life? Or Is your motive judgment and cruelty? Only you and
God know. We know that EVERYTHING Jesus said was out of a heart that loved the Father and loved man, even
when He told Peter, “Get thee behind me Satan!”
We all know Peter was one of His favorites.
You need to note that if you are going to respond like Stephen, “Lord do not lay this sin to their charge”, you must be
full of the Holy Spirit. vs.55
This means, he was continuously full- present participle. He was not just in church on Sunday and went about the
rest of the week doing his own thing. He was known, had a reputation as being a man who lived and operated on a
continual basis according to the Holy Spirit
Acts 6:3-5 New King James Version (NKJV)
3 Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom,
whom we may appoint over this business; 4 but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the
word.” And the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit,
and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch,
What’s your reputation? What are you known for? You are known for something……having a potty mouth (F’in
Adam), always drinking (FB friends) angry outbursts, rude and arrogant? Kindness and gentleness? Full of grace?
Full of strength? The ability to continue in the face of adversity?
WHAT ARE YOU KNOWN FOR??
You will never be able to withstand the stoning and gnashing of teeth, not just go through it, but to respond in a way
to forgive your false accusers without continually drawing from the Spirit of God. Continuing in prayer. Continuing
in the Word. Not forsaking the gathering of the brethren- “Why should I have to convince a Christian that they need
to be in the house of God?”
FULL OF THE SPIRIT- let’s explore this more
The phrase “full of the Holy Spirit” expresses as continuing quality of spiritual life in the believer that results from
experiencing the Spirit’s fullness and enables them to minister in the power of the Spirit and to speak under
inspiration of the Spirit.
It is used three ways in Scripture:
- to indicate the reception of the baptism of the Spirit
- to indicate the empowering of a believer upon a specific occasion to speak under the impulse of the HS
- to indicate a general prophetic ministry under the anointing of the HS without specifying the duration of that ministry.
After the initial reception of the baptism in the HS, individuals who faithfully walk in the Spirit, putting to death the
misdeeds of the body, may be described as being “full of the Holy Spirit”, maintaining the abiding fullness of the
John 15 New King James Version (NKJV)
15 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He [a]takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you[b] will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
It is one of the most glorious and wondrous things of the Lord that He will show us the true nature and character of someone and still require us to be kind and forgive.
You do not get a pass from forgiveness. It is a requirement of salvation.
Matthew 6:15 New King James Version (NKJV)
15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
I think it is worthy to note that Saul (later Paul) witnessed this whole event vs. 58
What kind of effect do you think it had on him? At that current time, he didn’t seem to mind it much, but somewhere
in his walk I guarantee he thought on it. Paul was not there on the day of the crucifixion of Christ, and to see Stephen
being blundgened to death by rocks and call out to God to forgive those killing him, must have had some kind of an
impact. (At least I think so)
Here’s the end of the matter: either you will spend your life gnashing on Christians or you will gnashed upon by the world.
You will either have Jesus stand for you, ready to receive you into heaven, or you will be cast out into darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.