I had a few quick thoughts when reading Acts 24. Of course, a lot of things are remarkable about these verses, but what struck me this morning was the conversation between Paul and Felix.
Acts 24:22-27 (NLT)
22 At that point Felix, who was quite familiar with the Way, adjourned the hearing and said, “Wait until Lysias, the garrison commander, arrives. Then I will decide the case.” 23 He ordered an officer to keep Paul in custody but to give him some freedom and allow his friends to visit him and take care of his needs. 24 A few days later Felix came back with his wife, Drusilla, who was Jewish. Sending for Paul, they listened as he told them about faith in Christ Jesus. 25 As he reasoned with them about righteousness and self-control and the coming day of judgment, Felix became frightened. “Go away for now,” he replied. “When it is more convenient, I’ll call for you again.” 26 He also hoped that Paul would bribe him, so he sent for him quite often and talked with him. 27 After two years went by in this way, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus. And because Felix wanted to gain favor with the Jewish people, he left Paul in prison.
Felix was already familiar with the teachings about Christianity and entered into a discussion with Paul. Paul talked about three things: Righteousness, Self-Control, and the Coming Day of Judgement. It was powerful enough with the anointing of the Holy Spirit to cause Felix to become very frightened. The KJV says he trembled. After being frightened, he sent Paul away until he wanted to talk to him again. He kept talking to Paul hoping Paul would offer him a bribe so he could release him.
- Interesting that the power of God was so strong upon Felix, but he would not yield to the truth. Even today, there are many who know what we say is true and right but will not yield to the truth and try to deal with spiritual problems in temporal ways. Felix actually thought he would be doing the right thing if he received a bribe from Paul and let him go. The issue was not Paul’s release; it was the eternal destination of Felix.
- Three Simple Things
- Righteousness – Some equate this with Holiness, but I think most of the time it is just living like we know we should, just like the Bible tells us. This would be treating one another as we should and staying away from the things WE KNOW ARE NOT RIGHT FOR US.
- Self-Control – It’s interesting to be talking to a man who could have almost anything he wanted. He really did not have to exercise self-control. He was in control. But Self-Control is something that we each must struggle with and master in our own lives with God’s help so that we are not easily used by the evil one. When we have no self-control, we are easy targets of temptation and fall easily at the simplest trials of our faith. While is seems a simple thing, it is a very real struggle each one of us deals with daily.
- The Coming Judgment – It is also interesting that one of the things that affected Felix most was something we rarely talk about in our churches this day and age. Judgement is coming and it will begin in the house of God. All the things we have done to prove our religious dedication will be tried by fire, and then we will see how each will be judged.
1 Peter 4:16-18 (KJV)
16 Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. 17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? 18 And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?
Judgment day is coming, and we need to be making people aware of it. There will be a reckoning that each of us will face, and we must stop trying to take care of a spiritual issue with temporal means. — We can’t pay God off or bribe Him. We must obey and ask for and accept forgiveness and salvation through Jesus Christ and His shed Blood. We should also be proclaiming the Resurrection.
Remember the issue was not our release, it is about the eternal destination of those we minister to.