Afraid Of What!
Read Acts Chapter 24
Ac 24:22 Then Felix, who was well acquainted with the Way, adjourned the proceedings. “When Lysias the commander comes,” he said, “I will decide your case.” 23 He ordered the centurion to keep Paul under guard but to give him some freedom and permit his friends to take care of his needs. 24 Several days later Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was a Jewess. He sent for Paul and listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus. 25 As Paul discoursed on righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, “That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.”
There are numerous reasons why men do not believe in God and Christ. Today’s scripture passage provides us with one of the main reasons. Felix, according to verse 22, was familiar with the Way – the gospel message of Jesus Christ as Savior. We don’t know how familiar he was with the teachings of Christianity, but he knew enough to make him interested in hearing more. He had just heard some of Paul’s testimony, and seemingly wanted some time to consider what Paul had said.
When Felix reconvened the hearings, Paul spoke more deeply about Christ. He talked about faith in Jesus, but he added some things that very likely turned Felix away from following Jesus. Many men today reject Christianity because of those additions. As Paul continued his discourse, he stated that faith in Christ was just the beginning. Beyond that first step, followers were asked to pursue righteousness and self-control.
Those are not attributes and qualities that are common among most of mankind. “Righteousness? Who wants to pursue that? Doesn’t that mean that I can’t decide for myself what is right and what is wrong? Self-control? That’s really hard to do, and that would mean that I would not be allowed to do whatever I want to do, whenever I want to do it! I want to be autonomous, doing my own thing. I have to be myself, go with the flow.” By the time Paul spoke of the coming judgment that was all Felix could take. It scared him, so he didn’t want to hear anything else.
That is a great example of what is happening today. Men are somewhat okay with faith in Christ, as long as it doesn’t mean any changes in their lifestyle. Many gay men and women today would willingly come to Christ if they did not have to accept biblical teachings about homosexuality. Others disregard that particular teaching, dismissing it as not relevant to being a “followers” of Christ. As long as self-control is not a requirement, they are on board. As long as being a Christian doesn’t require any lifestyle changes, they are in.
Believe me, my most difficult challenge in life has been the discipline of applying righteousness and self-control to my same-sex desires. I didn’t want to do it and didn’t believe I could do it. But that “judgment to come” prevented me from turning away from Christ. I had no choice but to continue to believe in Jesus, and part of that belief was also believing what He said about sinfulness. It hasn’t been easy. There have been many failures along the way. I have to constantly be on guard against additional failures. Our heart’s desire must be to follow Christ and obey Him. Fortunately, we have Christ’s righteousness as out guarantee of salvation, so that our failures do not doom us.
Let us continually remind ourselves of what Paul was trying to teach Felix. Sadly, he rejected Paul’s message, and is likely spending eternity wishing he had heeded Paul’s warning. He was more afraid of “giving up his life” than he was in “losing his life.” No matter how difficult our lives are, they are not as difficult as spending eternity without God.
Prayer: Father, we submit ourselves anew to You and Your word. We are weak, and we make mistakes, but our hearts are turned toward You. We want to follow You and live for You. Continue to strengthen us, sanctify us, justify us, and forgive us. Thank You for the righteousness of Christ, which overcomes all our weaknesses.