The Deadly Put-off

“‘We have found this man a plague, one who stirs up riots among all the Jews throughout the world and is a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. He even tried to profane the temple, but we seized him. By examining him yourself you will be able to find out from him about everything of which we accuse him’… When the governor [Felix] had nodded to him to speak, Paul replied: ‘I cheerfully make my defense. You can verify that… I went up to worship in Jerusalem, and they did not find me disputing with anyone or stirring up a crowd… But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets, having a hope in God,.. that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust.’

Felix put them off, saying, ‘When Lysias the tribune comes down, I will decide your case.’ Then he gave orders.. that he should be kept in custody… After some days Felix came with his wife Drusilla, and he sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. And as he reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment, Felix was alarmed and said, ‘Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity I will summon you.’ At the same time he hoped that money would be given him by Paul. So he sent for him often and conversed with him. When two years had elapsed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus. And desiring to do the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul in prison.” Acts 24:5-6,8,10-12,14-15,20-27

Felix the governor, endowed by his authority to decide cases, liked his position and the power it held. Sadly, it held fast his heart from warming to truth that would have set him free. Paul, in stating his legal defense, also presented the gospel, and Felix heard it repeatedly with mixed reactions. He was drawn, knowing enough to be curious, attracted enough to include his wife; but he was also disturbed by the clear reasoning of Paul’s faith and being confronted with righteousness, acts of the will, and judgment. Conviction chafed, so he resisted, and procrastinated. He allowed truth to tease, but not penetrate. His heart, stiffened by the ulterior motive of greed, his mind, tainted by the swagger of his pride, and his will, preferring control over surrender, all contributed to his ultimate, deadly put-off of Jesus. (John 8:31-32; Hebrews 9:27)

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Where do I dismiss the Spirit’s voice in my conscience, His presence in my preferences and habits, His commands in my plans and activities? Are there areas where I deign to seek His guidance, but dawdle when it involves sacrifice, or changing my thinking, or adjusting my lifestyle? Do I sing “I surrender all” but actually let go of very little? What evidence is there in my day-to-day that Jesus is my true hope in life and judgment?

Holy Father, reveal to me where I give You only lip-service and am half-hearted in my choices. Purify my confession, match my actions to it, and keep me all-in, for the magnification of Your life-giving truth.

 

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