Summary: Dying to self, dying to the flesh, are not particularly popular concepts today, even in the church. But the apostle Paul is a great example of doing just that, and his accomplishments are legendary. How did he die to self?
Intro: I’m beginning to understand why it is easier just to avoid the book of Acts.
1. not all the geography or history.
2. but the example of the Apostle Paul that scares the living daylights out of us.
3. here we find Paul on his last journey, sailing and walking steadfastly to imprisonment and death.
4. free to avoid going to Jerusalem, in fact urged to by all his Christian friends.
5. and yet on he marches, compelled by the call of God and his love for his Jewish brothers.
6. what we are watching here is a battle that we all face.
7. it is a battle between our flesh with it’s desire for comfort and safety, and our regenerated spirit with it’s desire to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ and those like Paul who have followed Him.
8. and frankly, the battle seems very foreign to the American Christian mind.
Il) I know, because it seems foreign to mine!
9. God does not call every believer to die!
10. but God does call every believer to die to the siren song of the flesh.
11. how did Paul do this?
I. He Chose the Right Model
1. Richard Longnecker makes a strong case for Paul’s situation at this point paralleling the life of Jesus.
2. both plotted against by the Jews
3. both ultimately handed over to the Gentiles
4. triple prediction of coming suffering.
5. steadfast resolution to continue into danger
6. holy resignation to the will of God
7. Jesus told his disciples to “follow me”, and then left them and us an unequivocal example of complete death to self-preservation
8. so here is Paul, sailing toward Jerusalem and then walking the last 65 miles to what God told him would certainly be imprisonment.
9. my friends, perhaps we have chosen in our culture the wrong models.
Il) televangelists who fly around the world to do “ministry” in corporate jets, making sure that their every move is filmed for later fundraising broadcast, who live on $3million Malibu estates.
10. we have to chose who we are going to follow.
11. Paul chose the suffering servant of God, Jesus Christ.
12. and Jesus exemplified trusting obedience to God no matter the personal cost.
II. He Put God’s Call Above the Call of Others
1. virtually everyone was telling Paul to avoid Jerusalem
2. v4 especially troublesome, because it sounds like Spirit using people to tell Paul not to go.
3. “through the spirit” means, in my estimation, means “on the basis of” the warning from the spirit, and not “through the direct agency of the Spirit”, which is a different Greek word.
4. but things really get tough in vv8ff
5. arrive at Caesarea, Roman port in the north of Judea, where Philip live with his wife and 4 unmarried prophetess daughters.
6. here, a well-known prophet of God came and gave the definitive word of Paul’s future.
7. much like OT prophets, using an object lesson, in this case, Paul’s belt.
8. gave his prophecy, but listen to the response of those watching.
9. “we” in v12 means Luke, the writer of 2 Bible books and Paul’s faithful companion.
11. so powerful and heartfelt, Paul refers to it as “breaking my heart” in v13=”wearing me down”
12. his answer in v13 says it all. I have received the call of God in my life, and following that call is my absolutely highest priority, even about life itself.
13. and at that point, the group all together submitted to God, like Paul did.
III. He Kept Moving Forward
1. so many distractions in the world, so many ways to get off track.
2. and in our world, we are inundated with offers, activities, opportunities, events, it is easy to be detoured
3. v15, we left for Jerusalem.
4. it is very physical, but in our world, if you don’t actually do it, it doesn’t happen.
5. James put it very well in 2:18
PP James 2:18
6. when God calls us, our response has two parts.
7. one part is to say in our heart, “Yes, Lord.”
8. but another part is to take actual steps to obey that call.
9. talk is cheap.
10. if you are called to teach, talk to the CE superintendent.
11. if you are called to be part of Awana, talk to the commander.
12. obedience is always active.
Conc. Its starts on the inside, the heart of obedience
1. but it always flows outside to real action.
2. and that often has to fight through not only our own fleshly resistance, but that of others.
3. move forward with prayer and the assurance that you are walking in the very footprints of the One whose obedience to death brought us life.