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One of the unique things about Christianity is that at its core it is about a relationship with God. It’s not serving an impersonal God who is not involved in our lives. It is not about us being better people. It is about a God who saves his people and draws them to himself to relate with and honor. The Bible tells us who God is, what he has done for us, and what we are supposed to do, but it also gives us examples of what that looks like. The book of Acts is one of those pictures. And we continue to learn what it is to have a relationship with God ….
Paul is in a mess. He is in Jerusalem and the Jewish people he once belonged to want to do away with him because he is telling others about Jesus. They are committed to killing him, but God delivers him. And He is committed to living in the presence of God and for his approval alone.
There is strength and power in living only for the approval of the sovereign God. We must mute the voices of all others and turn off other judges and live for him.
The next day, since he wanted to find out exactly why Paul was being accused by the Jews, he released him and instructed the chief priests and all the Sanhedrin to convene. Then he brought Paul down and placed him before them. Paul looked intently at the Sanhedrin and said, “Brothers, I have lived my life before God in all good conscience until this day.” 2 But the high priest Ananias ordered those who were standing next to him to strike him on the mouth. 3 Then Paul said to him, “God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! You are sitting there judging me according to the law, and in violation of the law are you ordering me to be struck?” 4 And those standing nearby said, “Do you dare revile God’s high priest?” 5 “I did not know, brothers,” Paul said, “that it was the high priest. For it is written, You must not speak evil of a ruler of your people.” 6 When Paul realized that one part of them were Sadducees and the other part were Pharisees, he cried out in the Sanhedrin, “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees! I am being judged because of the hope of the resurrection of the dead!” 7 When he said this, a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. 8 For the Sadducees say there is no resurrection, and no angel or spirit, but the Pharisees affirm them all. 9 The shouting grew loud, and some of the scribes of the Pharisees’ party got up and argued vehemently: “We find nothing evil in this man. What if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?” 10 When the dispute became violent, the commander feared that Paul might be torn apart by them and ordered the troops to go down, rescue him from them, and bring him into the barracks. 11 The following night, the Lord stood by him and said, “Have courage! For as you have testified about Me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.” 12 When it was day, the Jews formed a conspiracy and bound themselves under a curse: neither to eat nor to drink until they had killed Paul. 13 There were more than 40 who had formed this plot. 14 These men went to the chief priests and elders and said, “We have bound ourselves under a solemn curse that we won’t eat anything until we have killed Paul. 15 So now you, along with the Sanhedrin, make a request to the commander that he bring him down to you as if you were going to investigate his case more thoroughly. However, before he gets near, we are ready to kill him.” 16 But the son of Paul’s sister, hearing about their ambush, came and entered the barracks and reported it to Paul. 17 Then Paul called one of the centurions and said, “Take this young man to the commander, because he has something to report to him.” 18 So he took him, brought him to the commander, and said, “The prisoner Paul called me and asked me to bring this young man to you, because he has something to tell you.” 19 Then the commander took him by the hand, led him aside, and inquired privately, “What is it you have to report to me?” 20 “The Jews,” he said, “have agreed to ask you to bring Paul down to the Sanhedrin tomorrow, as though they are going to hold a somewhat more careful inquiry about him. 21 Don’t let them persuade you, because there are more than 40 of them arranging to ambush him, men who have bound themselves under a curse not to eat or drink until they kill him. Now they are ready, waiting for a commitment from you.” 22 So the commander dismissed the young man and instructed him, “Don’t tell anyone that you have informed me about this.” (Acts 23:1-22 CSB)
- Live Life Coram Deo
Coram Deo is a latin phrase that means in the presence of God. Deo=God. Coram = presence. Meeting.
“Brothers, I have lived my life before God in all good conscience until this day.“
My conscience is good. I have lived as a citizen of God. politeuw. From work politik, a citizen of a country, to live as such. He is a citizen of Rome but even more so he is a child of God. That is where he belongs: heart, soul, mind. He wants to follow his king. He wants to obey his heavenly father.
Coram Deo we are always in God’s presence. He is always there and he sees everything. Prov 5:21.
means we are always at God’s disposal. He is never at ours. Calvin “That in every dimension of life we have business with God”.
Martin Luther the great reformation leader of the 1500’s who challenged the church to return to a biblical stance on a number of issues was charged with heresy and called to defend himself. At the Diet (Assembly) of Worms (1521) he was commanded to repudiate his writings. He stood alone with his conscience against an array of powerful clergy and statesmen. His life was at stake. He asked for time to study the scriptures and reflect. That was granted and when he came back he said the following words:
“Unless I am convinced by Scripture or by clear reasoning that I am in error – for popes and councils have often erred and contradicted themselves – I cannot recant, for I am subject to the Scriptures I have quoted; my conscience is captive to the Word of God. It is unsafe and dangerous to do anything against one’s conscience. Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise. So help me God. Amen.”
For Luther God’s word was what he was captive to. He was not distracted by anything else. Not what his peers thought, not what his boss thought, not what the authorities thought. It was “unsafe and dangerous” to go against. They were making it dangerous to go against what they said, but he saw past it.
You will never find approval in others. I mean you will. You will have friends, but even they will disagree with you at times. Rest in what God has called you to do. Do others think you are a failure. Probably. Are they unimpressed? Do they think you are not as godly as you should be. Probably. But then again they might not even notice you because they are so worried about themselves! I can’t please others. You can’t either. So what matters is having a clear conscience with God. Know his word! Know what he calls you to do. And go do it!
That is the essence of what it means to follow Jesus. You are living for him, his approval, his honor. Not just trying to look the part, be a good person, carry your Bible when people see you. You are doing it from the heart.
He is struck on the mouth for this comment. Ater that Paul calls down a curse to the high priest.
A. C. Hervey described this high priest as “a violent, haughty, gluttonous, and rapacious man, and yet looked up to by the Jews”
Whitewashed. Tombs were whitewashed. They were made to look good on the outside, but we all know what is on the inside of a tomb. Paul attacks the character of the high priest. He is accusing him of the exact opposite of what he has sought to do. Paul lived with a clear conscience. He is accusing the high priest of neglecting that.
A lot of whitewashed tombs today. We cannot judge human hearts. We don’t know exactly what and why people do things.
Paul recognized his need to speak well of a ruler. It was wrong to v4,5 you shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.
He was not who he appeared to be. Are you the same person at home as you are at church or at work? Does your language change.
I have heard people say of others, spiritual leaders. The more I got to know him the less I felt like I knew him.
There is an authenticity that comes from knowing God. You don’t need to impress people. You live for him. You care about him. When you don’t have that you are a slave to your every audience, constantly trying to please and impress.
Guys, it is really hard in our country and world right now. Whatever you do there is a portion of the population that doesn’t like what you are doing. I think most of those people are reasonable, but there are extremist on all sides that you have to tune out. I don’t always know the right response. At times we need to push back. At times it is not clear what the right action is. And most of the time you will not satisfy anyone. The only way you are going to find peace is to live faithfully before God. If you do that you need to rest. And you need to leave other people’s conscience up to them. Give people space. Never in the history of mankind has there been so many people who disavow absolute truth and yet so adamant that they conform to a standard.
- Find Strength in Jesus
Several times now in the book of Acts Jesus appears to people in their darkest hour. He does not change their circumstances, but lets them know he is with them. When Stephen is martyred he sees Jesus with arms opened receiving him. Now Paul sees Jesus and is strengthened.
We believe in the living God. Paul and his calling was unique. Jesus appeared several times to tell him what to do. That should encourage us. Paul did not speak on his own or do his own thing. Jesus called him, sustained him, and strengthened him. This is all that mattered for Paul. When God approves of you, what more do you need? We are made right through faith in Jesus. We could never save ourselves from our sin. We are washed in that.
And even more we live that way. Jesus doesn’t just give us hope for when we die. He is with us every day. We read his word. We know him. And he leads us.
Take courage. God won’t give you more than you can handle. I don’t agree with that. God does not burden any soul with more than it can bear.
There have been times I have told God I can’t take much more and it got harder. I felt squeezed and pressed. I felt like sausage. Cut down, ground up, and shoved into a bag. When you are feeling like sausage, take heart. That does not mean God has left you. Cling to his promises. Cling to God’s purpose for you. Cling to knowing that as long as Jesus has you here he has a purpose for all that you do and all that you go through!
Take heart. V11 Courage. be of good cheer! don’t be afraid! take courage! to have confidence and firmness of purpose in the face of danger or testing – ‘to be courageous, to have courage, to be bold.’ ‘therefore always being full of courage’ .
We rest in the fact that God has a purpose for us and we will bear much fruit as we remain in him. Don’t go anywhere else. Spend time with him. Pray to him. Read his word. There is strength in him. Jesus appears to Paul. Paul experiences a strengthening.
You need to know Jesus is with you.
- It may be staying up late with a young baby who will not sleep and you are desperate.
- Deal with difficult hard hearted people.
- Opposition in the office.
Find strength in him. If you are weary “his word can restore your soul”. Psalm 19.
The instruction of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; (Psa 19:1 CSB)
- Rest in his Sovereignty of God.
Paul’s confrontation with Jewish leaders has been going on for days. Paul must have been fatigued. arguing, vying for your life.
But God is in control. He is not worn out, tired, or fatigued.
You may not have anything left, but God does.
You may have exhausted all your ideas, but God has not.
A Sovereign, is a supreme ruler. The one who has ultimate or supreme power. Controls everything else. King, monarch. God is in control. He is omnipotent, all powerful. He does what he wills.
God is in control. God’s sovereignty assures us that when it seems things are getting out of control they really are not.
The attack against Paul only increases. 40 people conspire not to eat or drink until Paul is dead. The plan is simple. The trial continues. We will ask to hear him again and when he comes we will attack and kill him.
*This is a sign your church has swayed from God’s word.*
This is what happens when people have the word of God but their hearts are hard and they are not following.
When things get out of control we lose control. Kids wrestling and things build intensity and someone always gets hurt. Speak rashly, make bad decisions. The situation seems to have gotten to Paul a bit as he spoke against the high priest.
These are grown men, leaders of the city, councils involved. Sanhedrin is a group of 70.
CS Lewis. Travesty of this will be done in board rooms.
Young man. used of a man in the prime of life, between twenty-four and forty years old (MT 19.20); (2) used of an older boy, young (unmarried) man
It is amazing. This is all we know of this person. Paul’s family seems to have disowned him (Phil 3:8).
The commander acts to preserve Paul’s life. Paul ends up riding out with an escort of 470 people. A man being escorted like that. He seems like a king! Ain’t that a change.
[“He summoned two of his centurions and said, “Get 200 soldiers ready with 70 cavalry and 200 spearmen to go to Caesarea at nine tonight”. (Act 23:23)
One distant relative, a young man, and the whole thing crumbles. LIke Daniel and the Lion’s den. Moses before Pharaoh.
Rest in God’s purpose. If your circumstance has not changed don’t act like God doesn’t know what he is doing. Don’t act like he has abandoned you. Assume he has a purpose there for you. Assume you have something to learn.
Faith is saying there is purpose and I won’t give up.
Enemy wants you to say this is pointless and I’m done.
You never know when he will take you from prisoner to king.
We have a responsibility! Paul sent his son to the commander. We rest in God’s power and protection.
Even before this Paul recognizes the theological differences in the room and brings up an issue of him being on trial for his hope in the resurrection. The Pharisees and Sadducees begin arguing. He sits down smiling that he is no longer noticed in the room. Brilliant!
When you are not quite sure what to do, seek the Lord and be patient. God will make it clear.
There may be 1000 people telling you what you need to do, but the only thing that matters is that you please the Lord. Honor him. Seek him for strength. Rest in his will.
Don’t judge the motives of others. They are going to have to stand before the Lord and give an account of what they have done. God can protect and deliver us.