THE PROGRESSION OF REJECTION
“But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus.” Acts 19:9
Paul had revisited Ephesus and spent more than two years there. As was his custom, Paul initially went into the synagogue and preached the Word of God. All did not enthusiastically receive his message. As our text declares, he met considerable resistance from some. As we read this Scripture, we can see how the rejection of truth develops.
You will notice that those who heard Paul’s words “believed not.” They did not accept the Gospel message as truth. When a person refuses to believe the truth, the only thing left for him to believe is a lie. Then we see that they “were hardened.” Their hearts were hardened as they resisted the Word of God. The next thing we see is that they “spake evil of that way before the multitude.” Because they refused to believe the Bible, their hearts became more calloused to the truth. They began to slander the way of Christianity. We can see an obvious progression in this passage of Scripture.
There are severe consequences associated with the rejection of truth. Some of the hardest people are those who have heard the Word of God and have rejected it. We have been dismayed by the vicious words and critical attitudes of people who at one time listened to the preaching of truth. How does a person go from an apparent listener to a contentious opponent of truth? Sometimes it occurs as our text discloses. They close their minds to some matter of Biblical principle, refusing to submit to the authority of the Scripture. As they continue to resist the truth, they become more adamant. The harder they are, the easier it is for them to contradict and criticize. After all, if one is not going to obey the truth, it is only natural to try to save face and make the message or the messenger look wrong.
It is absolutely essential that we make a conscious and consistent decision to respect and follow the Word of God. The way we respond to truth will greatly influence our continued Christian growth. Sometimes the Bible requires us to adjust our way of thinking or surrender our opinions. When we hear the truth, we can either believe and accept it, or resist it with lasting and harmful repercussions.