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Righteousness, Self-control, and the Judgment to Come (Acts 24:1-27)

Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

Righteousness, Self-control, and the Judgment to Come (Acts 24:1-27)

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Acts 24:1-27 (Pastor Heo)

The Trial Before Felix

1 Five days later the high priest Ananias went down to Caesarea with some of the elders and a lawyer named Tertullus, and they brought their charges against Paul before the governor. 2 When Paul was called in, Tertullus presented his case before Felix: “We have enjoyed a long period of peace under you, and your foresight has brought about reforms in this nation. 3 Everywhere and in every way, most excellent Felix, we acknowledge this with profound gratitude. 4 But in order not to weary you further, I would request that you be kind enough to hear us briefly.

5 “We have found this man to be a troublemaker, stirring up riots among the Jews all over the world. He is a ringleader of the Nazarene sect 6 and even tried to desecrate the temple; so we seized him. 8 By examining him yourself you will be able to learn the truth about all these charges we are bringing against him.”

9 The Jews joined in the accusation, asserting that these things were true.

10 When the governor motioned for him to speak, Paul replied: “I know that for a number of years you have been a judge over this nation; so I gladly make my defense. 11 You can easily verify that no more than twelve days ago I went up to Jerusalem to worship. 12 My accusers did not find me arguing with anyone at the temple, or stirring up a crowd in the synagogues or anywhere else in the city. 13 And they cannot prove to you the charges they are now making against me. 14 However, I admit that I worship the God of our fathers as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect. I believe everything that agrees with the Law and that is written in the Prophets, 15 and I have the same hope in God as these men, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. 16 So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.

17 “After an absence of several years, I came to Jerusalem to bring my people gifts for the poor and to present offerings. 18 I was ceremonially clean when they found me in the temple courts doing this. There was no crowd with me, nor was I involved in any disturbance. 19 But there are some Jews from the province of Asia, who ought to be here before you and bring charges if they have anything against me. 20 Or these who are here should state what crime they found in me when I stood before the Sanhedrin– 21 unless it was this one thing I shouted as I stood in their presence: ‘It is concerning the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial before you today.’ ”

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.” 26 At the same time he was hoping that Paul would offer him a bribe, so he sent for him frequently and talked with him.

27 When two years had passed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus, but because Felix wanted to grant a favor to the Jews, he left Paul in prison.


In Jerusalem, 40 men? took a vow to never eat nor drink until they had killed Paul. Paul’s nephew heard of this and told the commander. The commander sent him to his higher-up Felix, the governor, guided by 470 soldiers. Felix received Paul and said, “I will hear you when your accusers come here” and put him under guard. Five days later, the accusers (the high priest and some elders) arrived. This is the same high priest who ordered Paul to be stricken on the mouth in the Sanhedrin. They also employed a professional lawyer (Tertullus).

Three parts in today’s sermon:

  1. Paul’s accusers’ (false) accusations (v. 1-9)
  2. Paul’s (faithful) answers to his charges (v. 10-21)
  3. The governor Felix’s (foolish) response to this case (v. 22-27)

Tertullus begins (v. 2-3) with nauseating flattery.

v. 2-3

“2 When Paul was called in, Tertullus presented his case before Felix: “We have enjoyed a long period of peace under you, and your foresight has brought about reforms in this nation. 3 Everywhere and in every way, most excellent Felix, we acknowledge this with profound gratitude.”

This is untrue – blatant flattery.

v. 4-9 = Accusations

“4 But in order not to weary you further, I would request that you be kind enough to hear us briefly.

5 “We have found this man to be a troublemaker, stirring up riots among the Jews all over the world. He is a ringleader of the Nazarene sect 6 and even tried to desecrate the temple; so we seized him. 8 By examining him yourself you will be able to learn the truth about all these charges we are bringing against him.”

9 The Jews joined in the accusation, asserting that these things were true. “

Tertullus declared Paul a man of evil character, guilty of three things:

  1. Troublemaker (sedition)
  2. Ringleader of the Nazarene sect (heresy)
  3. Desecrate the temple

v. 10-21 Paul’s answer

“10 When the governor motioned for him to speak, Paul replied: “I know that for a number of years you have been a judge over this nation; so I gladly make my defense. 11 You can easily verify that *no more than twelve days ago* [Paul had been in Jerusalem less than 7 days] I went up to Jerusalem to worship. 12 My accusers did not find me arguing with anyone at the temple, or stirring up a crowd in the synagogues or anywhere else in the city. 13 And they cannot prove to you the charges they are now making against me. 14 However, I admit that I worship the God of our fathers as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect. I believe everything that agrees with the Law and that is written in the Prophets, 15 and I have the same hope in God as these men, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. 16 So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.

17 “After an absence of several years, I came to Jerusalem to bring my people gifts for the poor and to present offerings. 18 I was ceremonially clean when they found me in the temple courts doing this. There was no crowd with me, nor was I involved in any disturbance. 19 But there are some Jews from the province of Asia, who ought to be here before you and bring charges if they have anything against me. 20 Or these who are here should state what crime they found in me when I stood before the Sanhedrin– 21 unless it was this one thing I shouted as I stood in their presence: ‘It is concerning the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial before you today.’ ” “

In his speech, Paul did not flattery Felix, he merely recognized his experience and knowledge. Then he began his defense in the order in which the charges had been made.

  1. Troublemaker (sedition)
    • “I had been there less than 7 days. I gathered no assembly nor crowd.”
  2. Ringleader of a cult (heresy)
    • “I believe in the same God they do. I’m a Christian, but accept the whole Old Testament. Just because I’m a Christian doesn’t mean I worship a different God. I worship the same God in a new, living, acceptable way (through Christ).”
  3. Desecrator / defiler of the temple
    • “I came to Jerusalem with 2 purposes: to bring alms to the poor; to offer sacrifices in the temple (to honor my Nazarite vow).”

In the temple, he was performing this Nazarite offering to God, but he was falsely arrested and accused by the crowd. But no one from that crowd is present now. So those who are there now had no right / privilege to accuse Paul now. None of them were there at that moment.

After listening to Paul’s answer, his accusers could not refute Paul anymore, so court was adjourned.

v. 22-23

“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. “

Felix said he would wait for the commander who sent him to come. But the commander never came – so Paul remained in prison for 2 years.

v. 24

“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.”

  • Druscilla was Felix’s 3rd wife.
  • She was Herod’s daughter
  • Her grandfather tried to kill Jesus in Bethlehem);
  • her great uncle killed John the Baptist;
  • her father Herod Agrippa I killed the apostle James.

Now we can see the foolish attitude of this couple.

v. 25-27

“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.” 26 At the same time he was hoping that Paul would offer him a bribe, so he sent for him frequently and talked with him. 27 When two years had passed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus, but because Felix wanted to grant a favor to the Jews, he left Paul in prison. “

In the next chapter, 25, Paul will stand before Festus.

Felix put Paul in prison for at least 2 years until he finished his governorship, then handed Paul over to his successor.

There are two reasons for this:

(Felix knew Paul was not guilty – he should have been set free)

  1. To get a bribe from Paul (wait, he’s rich enough – but he still wants dirty money from the poor prisoner)
  2. To gain popularity from the Jews

He was a judge, but his concern was not justice, it was fame and popularity and money. So, Paul preached the gospel to this couple in three points – and it made them uncomfortable:

  1. Righteousness
  2. Self-control
  3. Judgment to come

These three points are so relevant to this couple. Not only to them, but also to us today in this church building – these three topics are so important and necessary.

Today’s sermon topic:

Righteousness, Self-control, the Judgment to Come

Let us ponder these things again under the guidance and illumination of the HS.

Righteousness

  • We must do something about yesterday’s sin.

God is righteous and holy. Because he is, he demands righteousness / holiness from us.

“Be holy; be righteous” – the Bible commands this. But it is impossible. But the good news: the same God who demands this provides his own righteousness for those who put their trust in Jesus Christ.

  • Romans 3 “Therefore, no one will become declared righteous through observing the Law. Rather, we will become aware of sin. But a new righteousness has been made known and comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe in him.” There is no different “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”
  • “God gave his one and only Son as a sacrifice of atonement to give his own blood as atonement.” (John) We are only made righteous through his righteousness.
  • “There is no more condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)

We are not sinless, but we are free from the power of sin when we trust Christ as personal Savior and Lord. This is good news!

Self-Control

  • We must do something about today’s temptation / challenge.

Mankind can control almost EVERYTHING in nature – except themselves.

Christian messages are not merely platitudes, but they contain hard-hitting behaviors. That’s why one of the fruit of the HS is self-control.

  • Others: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control – against these things there is no Law. (Gal 5)

The Christian life is not an easy life – it is a fighting life against temptation and against the sinful nature. You (me) are fighting against our old selves.

  • Gal 5:24-26 “Those who belong to Jesus Christ have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.”

Self-control is so important in the Christian life.

Judgment

  • We must do something about the future’s judgment.
  • 2 Cor 5:1 “We know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, not built by human hands.”

Our physical lives in this world are like tents – so our lives after this world are like buildings. While in our earthly lives, we are offered so many choices (jobs, careers, hobbies, countries); but eternity offers only two options (heaven, hell).

In this earth, so many countries, but in eternity, only two. Our relationship with God on earth will determine our relationship with him in eternity.

So we must live in light of eternity.

When we live like this, so many of our problems and worries will appear small and trivial; our values will change; our priorities will be rearranged. The more precious Jesus becomes to us, the less precious everything else becomes.

  • Paul “I consider everything LOSS compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Jesus Christ my Lord. I consider all things rubbish so that I may gain Christ and be found in him.”

“Hosanna” = “You are my Savior”

Is Jesus your Savior? Even kindergarteners can answer. But we must remember –

  • He MUST be our Savior,
    • otherwise he will be our Judge.
  • He must be Lord and King,
    • otherwise we will become slaves to something that will become nothing.
  • He must be our God,
    • otherwise we will worship something else as god = idolatry.

v. 25

“25 As Paul discoursed on righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, *Felix was afraid* [Holy Spirit conviction – but he rejected / delayed] and said, “That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient [delay], I will send for you.” 26 At the same time he was hoping that Paul would offer him a bribe, so he sent for him frequently [with wrong motives] and talked with him.

27 When two years had passed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus, but because Felix wanted to grant a favor to the Jews, he left Paul in prison. “

Yes, we know Paul was a champion in sharing the message of the gospel. Felix had 2 years opportunity to be saved through the message of Paul – but he missed it because he continuously delayed. “When I find it convenient…”

Procrastination = a thief of time / our souls

  • Proverbs 27:1 “Do not boast about tomorrow because you do not know what a day may bring forth…”

Past is past; present is present (gift); tomorrow is not ours – it belongs to God.

— Story —

One day in Hell, there was a meeting of Satan and his living demons. He commanded them to think up a good lie to bring more souls to Hell. (Satan is the Father of Lies). The demons gathered and tried to create lies to bring more souls to Hell.

  1. “People of earth! There’s no God!” Satan said, “It will never work – everyone will look around at Creation and know there is a God.”
  2. “There’s no heaven!” – Satan “No good. Everybody knows there is life after physical death. And they all want to go to heaven.”
  3. “There’s no Hell!” – Satan “No good. Their conscience knows their sins will be judged. Their spirits already know there is Hell, that’s why they are afraid of death.”
  4. “There’s no hurry!” – Satan “Good idea!”
  • Prov “Do not boast about tomorrow”
  • 2 Cor 2:6 “NOW (x5) is the time of God’s grace! Now is the day of salvation!”
  • The best time to believe in Christ is NOW!
  • The best time to trust him is NOW!
  • The best time to confess him as King and Savior and Lord is NOW!
  • The best time to tell others the gospel message is NOW!

NOW is the time of God’s favor / grace / mercy / salvation.

Let’s pray.

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