Summary: Paul is on trial for his life, and his accusers are playing hardball. How does he stand up against these scurilous attacks? How can we?
Passage: Acts 24:1-27
Intro: Can you imagine being on trial for your life, with a group of accusers who had researched your life and were putting it on display?
1. that kind of idea gives us the creeps.
2. and some people more than others would avoid that kind of scene at all costs.
3. but here is a man who calmly walks into this exact situation.
4. his accusers are there, armed with a lawyer.
5. they have their story straight, and the witnesses are top drawer.
Il) being on trial with the Pope as the main witness against you.
6. and yet Paul is calm, serene, does not even butter up the judge like his accusers do.
7. the key to his calm demeanor is simple: found in v16
8. he had a clear conscience; there was nothing for the prosecution to “discover” or “uncover” under testimony.
Il) Perry Mason shows, always a witness that Perry breaks down on the stand, usually admits to the crime.
9. would you like a clear conscience?
10. not talking here about salvation, but about living a sanctified life that glorifies God and does not give Satan an accusatory foothold.
11. expect a list of don’ts. But look at Paul’s life, find a very positive walk of faith.
12. how does a believer gain a clear conscience?
I. Live Above Reproach.
1. the prosecution team was formidable, with a flowery opening statement meant to butter up Felix.
2. but then things go downhill into unsubstantiated innuendo and hearsay.
3. why no eyewitnesses? Because they would have had to lie under oath, just like at Jesus’ trial.
4. case so sparse Tertullus requested that Felix ask Paul to bear witness against himself! In v8
5. Paul’s defense starts in v10
6. all he had to do was repeat the facts
7. he had nothing to hide, the facts of his life were verifiable
8. accused of being troublemaker, ringleader, desecrater of temple
9. but v12 clear, no one found me doing this, because I was not doing any of these things!
10. v17-18, timeline, purpose, ceremonially clean in the temple.
11. Paul walked in the light, and so had nothing to hide.
12. focus on the positive, what we do being a clear reflection of who we are, and conscience will be clear
II. Tell the Truth
1. Paul knew why he was on trial.
2. he believed that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah, the Risen Savior of both Jew and Gentile.
3. that truth had gotten him in trouble more than once in his ministry.
4. but he kept on telling the truth, because to do otherwise would have been a conscience-polluting action.
5. the truth got him in trouble, but his conscience was clear before God.
6. and that is exactly what he says in v16
7. lies have a way of bubbling back up to the surface, to be replaced with another one.
8. if we just tell the truth, we won’t have to keep track of all those lies.
III. Live As a Servant of God
1. Paul’s life would have been much easier if he had just kept his mouth shut.
2. certainly much easier if he had just stayed at home and left the Gentiles to their fate.
3. but he had been called by God to take the gospel to the Gentiles.
PP Acts 22:21
4. see, it was not Paul’s fault that he was irritating the Jews by taking the gospel to the Gentiles, ( and that was the real problem)
5. instead, he could just say, “God told me to do this, so take your complaint up with Him.”
6. a servant lives to please his master
7. there is a great lifting of responsibility when we understand this.
8. God has called us to proclaim, we proclaim
9. God has called us to live a particular way, we do it.
10. God has called us to sing, we sing.
11. and the results, the product, is then up to God.
Il) how can a missionary who labors for years without a convert live with himself?? He is a servant.
12. a servant lives in perfect freedom and clear conscience if he can say, “I am doing the will of my master.”
IV. Have the Interests of Others at Heart
1. you can’t read the book of Acts without realizing that Paul focused on others.
2. his ministry cost him a great deal, ultimately his life, but he did it gladly.
3. he did so because he was focused on the needs of others
4. v17, came bearing gifts to the very people who had chased him all over Asia Minor.
5. was in keeping with the Law to minister to those under the Law.