And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. Then there arose some from what is called the Synagogue of the Freedmen (Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and those from Cilicia and Asia), disputing with Stephen. And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke. Then they secretly induced men to say, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” And they stirred up the people, the elders, and the scribes; and they came upon him, seized him, and brought him to the council. They also set up false witnesses who said, “This man does not cease to speak blasphemous words against this holy place and the law; for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs which Moses delivered to us.” (Acts 6:8-14)
Denying Truth With Lies
Truth is older than error. Satan has lied from the beginning and is the father of lies. Truth has never changed under the tyranny of lies because truth is everlasting. Believing the world is flat does not change truth but only highlights the ignorance that lies seek to distort the truth. Truth is absolute. One plus one equals two in any language, culture, or historical reference. The devil never denies truth. He only seeks to manipulate truth sufficiently to cause a man to believe a lie to be truth. The snake told Eve she would not die. She did but not as she thought. Jesus quoted scripture to attack Satan, so the devil also quoted scripture but not in a divine context.
In the early days of the church, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit was charged with blasphemy by a sect called the Synagogue of the Freedmen. The Jerusalem church had chosen Stephen to serve as a minister to the Hellenist widows along with six other men. Luke writes that Stephen performed amazing miracles and signs among the people. He caught the attention of the Libertines, who began to debate Stephen concerning the risen Christ. It did not go well. Stephen was powerful in his defense of the gospel and the Freedmen could not withstand his wisdom. The Libertines were met with a powerful argument against them at every turn of their defense. They could not dissuade Stephen or properly defend against his divine truth.
When wicked men face the truth, they cannot defend against the purity of divine law. Stephen rebutted every argument given to him by his challengers. As a last and final resort, the Freedmen, unable to stand against the wisdom and Spirit of Stephen, persuaded some men to lie about Stephen. They charged Stephen with blaspheming Moses and the Law. This accusation brought serious consequences if proven to be true. The second defense of wicked men is to rouse the people against the accused into a mob state of mind. Accusing Stephen of blasphemy was an easy charge of sedition, not requiring any validation because the anger of the crowd was the fuel feeding the fire. Stephen was brought before the Jewish council, which included a young man named Saul of Tarsus. The lying witnesses claimed Stephen was always speaking against the Temple and the Law of Moses. They also suggested that Jesus of Nazareth (who had been killed by a mob some months earlier) would destroy the Temple and change the customs Moses gave the people. The crowd was electrified with hatred and anger. Stephen remained calm. He was given a short time to defend himself before the people rushed upon him, dragging him out of the city where they murdered him. And Saul of Tarsus was party to the whole sordid ordeal of lies attacking truth.
Wicked men attack truth with lies because that is all they have to fight with. Truth remains the same because it is eternal. The accusations against Stephen were words mixed together to present a truth that was nothing but lies. Jesus would destroy the temple, but He was speaking of His body. The Law of Moses was taken away and the covenant of grace would be found in Jesus Christ. Truth is easily identified when examined for its simplicity, but men full of hatred cannot see the truth. They seek to destroy truth with lies. The sermon Stephen preached before he was killed was truth. Saul of Tarsus would find himself in the same place as Stephen many years later when he became a soldier of the cross of Christ. Falsely accused, Paul appeals to Caesar.
Truth never suffers under the barrage of error or lies. Men will die because of truth, but the character of God’s word remains the same. Jesus died at the hand of false accusers. Stephen died at the hands of false accusers. Truth never changed. The purpose of truth is to establish God’s word in this life so that eternal life can be found in death. Lies will destroy life here and in the life to come. Truth is eternal – both here and in the life to come. Never fear lies when you have the truth.