Am I Stiff Necked?

You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you (Acts 7:51, ESV).

Am I a stiff-necked person?

I’m very careful of accusing you of being stiff-necked. In Acts 7, Stephen accused the Jewish leaders of being stiff-necked in resisting God. He said, “You always resist the Holy Spirit.”

We know Stephen became the first Christian martyr soon after he described the High Priest and his associates as being stiff-necked. So, I’m being cautious in accusing you or anybody else!!!! 

Nobody likes to be called hard-hearted or stubborn. 

The phrase “stiff-necked” was a description used in the Old Testament of an ox that refused to be led. Oxen needed for plowing were guided by a farmer using a pointed stick to poke the side of the neck of the ox toward a desired direction.

An ox that resisted guidance was called “stiff-necked.”

I don’t want to be a stiff-necked person. How about you?

The phrase was used only once in the New Testament during the trial of Stephen in Acts 7. But it was an especially poignant accusation in the Old Testament and used to describe Israel.

Yet the Lord warned Israel and Judah through all His prophets and every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways and keep My commandments and My statutes according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you through My servants the prophets.” However, they did not listen but stiffened their neck like their fathers, who did not believe in the Lord their God (2 Kings 17:13-14).

When the Jewish leaders were accused by Stephen, understanding the phrase “stiff-necked,” they were incensed. They then committed one of the most stiff-necked deeds in the entire Bible.  

Claiming not to be stiff-necked, they stoned Stephen to death.


Again, am I stiff-necked? Are you stiff-necked? The most stiff-necked are the ones who say that they are not stiff-necked. I admit that I am stiff-necked, and you are too!

Duck, weave, hide, fall, and crawl under my desk (that’s me avoiding tossed stones!).

Paul wrote toward the end of his ministry, “I am the foremost of all sinners!” (1 Timothy 1:15)

Paul threw stones at himself. He was probably the greatest saint ever, and yet he considered himself the worst of all sinners. He admitted that he was stiff-necked.

Our walk with Jesus, our relationships with others, and our emotional stability will be better and more enjoyable if we admit our flesh, our resistance to the Spirit, and our being stiff-necked when we approach difficult situations, when we are in relational turmoil, and when we have trials.

Let’s ask, “Am I being stiff-necked in this situation?” Let’s assume the answer is “yes,” either partially or totally.

The solution for overcoming our stiff-necked condition is confession.

And never tossing stones at others.

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