Monday in the Twelfth Week of Ordinary Time

Acts 24:24-27

Reasoning about Righteousness, Self-Control, and Coming Judgment

Luke now pauses from his long narrative which began with Paul’s travels to Jerusalem, arrest, change of venue and trial in Caesarea to interviews between Paul and the governor and his wife.  We read yesterday that Felix had “a rather accurate knowledge of the Way” (Luke’s preferred term in Acts for the Christian life), but how he came by it we do not know.  It is surmised that his Jewish wife Drusilla had informed him, but even if that were the case, do not for that reason think her a “good girl,” as we know from the Jewish historian Josephus that she was wooed away from her rightful husband by Felix.  At any rate, the fact that Luke mentions that Felix “came with his wife” might indicate that it was for her sake that they spoke with Paul on at least one occasion together.

And what did Paul talk about: faith in Christ Jesus, righteousness, self-control, and coming judgment—nothing that these reprobates wanted to hear!  We read that “Felix was alarmed and said, ‘Go away for the present.  When I get an opportunity I will summon you.’”  Such is the man who hears the gospel but wants none of it.  Oh, he may indeed hear it and tremble for its condemnations of his wicked lifestyle, but he will not come to faith out of preference for his filthy pleasures.  “And let them pretend what they please, the true reason why any despise the new birth, is because they hate a new life” (John Owen, Pneumatologia, WJO 3:216).

But let us consider for a moment these topics of which Paul spoke.  Let us set aside for the moment faith in Christ, for that is the answer to our lost condition.  Let us consider righteousness.  I am of the opinion that Paul was not talking about the justifying righteousness of Christ which covers believers upon saving faith, for why should Felix then shudder?  No, I believe Paul spoke of the righteousness that we are required to maintain before God, that is, the righteousness of the law.  Paul spoke of self-control as that condemns increasing worldly goods, over-indulgence and slavish compulsions, living in luxury while others starve.  And finally, Paul mentioned coming judgment that must meet these sins, for that is what a righteous God must do.  It is the preaching of righteousness, self-control, and coming judgment that drives one to the cross (or in Felix’s case, away), and it is then faith in Christ which saves.  But upon saving faith in Christ, it is by righteousness and self-control that the believer lives as a free man in Christ Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit.  Paul preached the law to Felix, then the gospel.  Some will reject.  But we need to pick that biblical method up once again.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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