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Acts 24:1-9 Moral Confusion

16/10/2021

Moral Confusion

Text: Acts 24:1-9

Five days after Paul’s night time flit, we find the fanatical Jews at Caesarea, and they are in the court of Felix, and they’ve even engaged the services of a barrister!  let’s see how he presents his case.

Moral Confusion

The Case Against PaulAnd after five days Ananias the high priest descended with the elders.

It’s five days after the arrival of Paul. The priests and elders must have dropped every other pressing issue that occupied discussion in the Sanhedrin to get there as quickly as that!  

The accusers. Look who appear now to accuse Paul; the very people who had acted as his ‘impartial’ judges, back in Jerusalem!   

  • The High Priest.  The High priest of Israel was the worldwide leader of the Jews. He had much business to be doing, in the legitimate pursuit of his daily tasks in the Temple.  Malachi 2:7-9  There was nothing impartial about Ananias!  
  • The Elders.  The leaders of Israel attended too. This was a high ranking delegation – presumably to lend some weight to their case.  Sometimes I’m surprised at the lengths wicked men will go to in the pursuit of their wickedness!  
  • The Attorney. and with a certain orator named Tertullus, who informed the governor against Paul. Now this is interesting.  Tertullus is a Roman name.  An orator, – a man learned in speech and rhetoric, whom they no doubt hoped could and would sway the mind of his fellow countryman!   Standing before Felix, in his Roman gown and with his skilled Latin arguments, – he was a man who would hope to gain favour with the governor.   

So the court is assembled and Paul is called to the bar to face his accusers before Felix, and the prosecution case begins.   2And when he was called forth,

2 The Case for the Prosecution.

What Will Tertullus say? Probably exactly what he was being paid to say! The Temple treasury at Jerusalem was brimming with funds, and I’m sure that he he was very well rewarded for his work, evil though it was. I wonder too, did Felix audibly groan when the lawyer began his speech?  These Roman orators in the law, were well known throughout the ancient world for their long windedness!  They could ramble on for hours about some minor pint of law, hoping to weary the judge and jurors so that they would agree to anything to get it all over with.  But not Tertullus; he sees the look of dread on the face of the judge and he states, 4Notwithstanding, that I be not further tedious unto thee, – let me have a few words!Let’s see how Tertullus proceeded in his brief speech for the prosecution:-

  • By speaking good of an evil man!  Look at the flattery that the lawyer heaps upon Felix…
  • Claiming that Felix was a peacemaker!Seeing that by thee we enjoy great quietness.  But Felix was a ruthless murderer! Felix was completely unscrupulous, – he even hired professional thugs to murder some of his closest friends!
  • Claiming that Felix  had initiated beneficial societal reforms!   and that very worthy deeds are done unto this nation by thy providence,– because of his love for the people over which he ruled. What?  Felix loved the Jews?  
  • Claiming that the Jews appreciated Felix and were thankful for him!  3We accept it always, and in all places, most noble Felix, with all thankfulness. But the Jews hated Felix and his rule over them. There was NOTHING to be thankful for!
  • Appealing to his kindness! I pray thee that thou wouldest hear us of thy clemency a few words.  Felix didn’t know what ‘clemency’ meant! He was self-serving, uncaring, uncouth, ruthless, a man who would have your throat slit, and think nothing of it. Felix was only interested in one person, – himself.

So all of this great legal pleading is the direct opposite of the actual truth! It was blatant flattery; nothing more than a pack of lies. 

  • By speaking evil of good men! Let’s see how the lawyer now contrasts the character of Paul.  Paul, according to this accounts is:-
    • Disturbing the peace.  For we have found this man a pestilent fellow, This is the man who has been preaching the message of true peace – who told the Romans that as far as lies within them they are to live peacefully with all men.  
  • A troublemaker, starting riots among the Jews, worldwide.  and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world,  Is this true?  As we have walked in the steps of Paul all the way through the Book of Acts, – haven’t we seen the plots of the Jews against Paul, right from the very first missionary journey.  
  • The ringleader of a seditious cult.  a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes,  One of the ways to disparage a movement is to call it names.  ‘Nazarenes’ was a pejorative term, – it’s putting people into a box to stigmatise them.
  • He came to the temple to defile it.  6Who also hath gone about to profane the temple:  NO HE DID NOT!   

So the great lawyer has put out his case – and its complete fiction, he’s lying.  For this man, good is evil and evil is good. 

3 The Case Applied.

In this day and age, when postmodernism has destroyed any concepts of truth and objectivity, good is evil and evil is good.  The world is in a state of moral confusion, because objective truth has been abandoned.  It is a sign of God’s wrath being poured out upon mankind. Isaiah 5:20    It’s as if God has abandoned the wicked to their own devices, to allow their sin to multiply and their judgement and condemnation to be be all the greater. READ Romans 1:28-32  Is there an answer to this lack of truth in this present world?  Yes there is, and it’s in the Bible, where we learn what truth is: It is God’s Word! Psalm 119:160,   God’s Law!  Psalm 119:142,    All truth comes from God, who IS TRUTH.  God CANNOT lie.   Deuteronomy 32:4 , Come to Christ, and be saved!  The way to deal with the moral confusion of this world, is to preach the Gospel and point the people to Christ.  John 14:6,  In Christ we have a new life, and our moral confusion is lifted and we have the indwelling Holy Spirit, the ‘Spirit of truth’ John 16:13, who leads us into all truth.  And we will bear fruit, and one of the fruits of the spirit, is TRUTH!   

There is moral confusion, and we protest against it, and write against it and pray about it – but the real answer is that the practitioners of this confusion are sinners, who need the gospel – who need CHRIST.

© Bob McEvoy October 2021

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