KEY TEXT: Acts 7:55-56, 60 But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God." ... And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
KEY THOT: Two things happen when we are "full of the Holy Spirit": we see Jesus in his glory at the right hand of God, not with our physical eyes but our spiritual vision. Secondly, we have the power to forgive our enemies. Stephen was not only filled but "full of the Spirit." It suggests a life fully yielded to God to the point of willing to lay down our life. If we are not willing to take up the cross and die to self, we will be full of self, not Spirit.
If we want to be "full of the Spirit," we need to be emptied of self--self-interests, self-centredness, self-pride, and self-glory. Self (also called flesh) and Spirit are incompatible. We either walk by the Spirit or walk by the flesh and these two are opposed to one another: "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do" (Galatians 5:16-17).
Not all of us will get to see vision of God's glory like Stephen (except perhaps at our dying moments). Nevertheless, we must no longer "see" Jesus only in his weakness as a human, but rather "see" Him now in his divine glory as the Son of God standing and sitting at the right hand of the Father. The largeness of our view of Jesus determines our power to do what He did--viz., forgiving our persecutors. Stephen in his dying breath echoed the prayer of our Lord at the Cross when he saw the vision: "Lord, do not hold this sin against them" (v.60).
Such grace is only possible to those who are full of the Holy Spirit. Grace does not excuse us from bearing grudges against our enemies. Instead, true grace empowers us through the Holy Spirit to release forgiveness for our worst persecutors.
Father, we yield ourselves wholly to You today that You might fill us with Your Spirit to overflowing, so that our enemies will experience Your grace and mercy through our words and deeds. In Jesus' name. Amen.