My Thoughts. . .
In rereading the New Testament, you will find some gold nugget of truth which you missed previously. Luke authored the book of Acts and he was a traveling companion of Paul when he used the expression “we.” For example, in Acts 21:3 Luke writes, “We sailed to the country of Syria. We stopped at the city of Tyre (v. 4). Paul, Luke, and company stayed in that city seven days with the disciples” (v. 4). Those believers warned Paul to not go to Jerusalem because the Holy Spirit told them to warn Paul. Sometimes in reading scripture we miss a tidbit given by the Holy Spirit.
Paul and company traveled to Caesarea and they stayed many days with the evangelist Philip. He had four virgin daughters who possessed the miraculous gift of prophesy. Luke quickly introduces us to a male prophet named Agabus. Perhaps the Holy Spirit had revealed Paul’s location to him? The prophet’s message is the same as the warning given by the brethren in Tyre. Perhaps this tidbit is overlooked by the reader, but twice the Holy Spirit warns Paul to avoid Jerusalem. Once Agabus delivered the Holy Spirit’s warning, everyone present attempted to persuade Paul to stay away from that Jewish city. Paul rejected the Holy Spirit’s warnings and ignored the brethren’s tears. He justified his rejection with “I am ready to die for the name of the Lord Jesus.” The Holy Spirit did not want Paul to go to the city, but Paul thought his desires topped God’s warnings. When we read this passage, do we recognize how much we are like Paul? Paul was a great apostle, but Luke shows his human and inconsistent side.
Yes, Paul was “ready to die for the name of the Lord Jesus.” However, when God gives a warning TWICE, is it wise to trash God’s will because your thinking is superior? If one does what he wants to do and justifies it with words that sound commendable, does that make it right? Are God’s instructions inadequate and secondhand suggestions that one may ignore in order to chart his own “better” course in life? I am not picking on Paul, just pointing out a human weakness and inconsistency which we share with him. Most would never think about being a serial killer, but think nothing of assassinating another’s character with suggestive words? Justification is gained by convincing oneself that such actions are either necessary or just “nice sins.”
We are all sinners (Romans 3:10). We need to recognize that truth. We fail miserably in our attempts to be perfect. Our shortcomings should cause us to realize how much we need God’s forgiveness and cleansing. God did not fellowship nor cleanse you because you deserve it. Corinth needed to correct their error and practices and yet God did not withdraw from them. Was that because God was in debt to them? Hardly. The woman caught in the adulterous act deserved death, but Jesus admonished “Go and sin no more.” Peter denied Jesus but the Lord did not remind him of that failure, but desired that he “feed my sheep.” We all fall short and need to recognize that Jesus is the only solution to our sin problems. He was Paul’s answer, and he is the answer to ours. Becoming a Christian does not make us immune to temptation. We live in an imperfect world and are part of the problem. Each day we need to recognize that the blood of Jesus continues to cleanse up and we have received his righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). Like the sinner Paul, we can say, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death” (Romans 7:24-8:2). Are you free?