Summary: According to Acts 24:24-25, Felix sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ in terms of righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come.
According to Acts 24:24-25, Felix sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ in terms of righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come. During Paul’s sermon, Felix became frightened and sent Paul away. Paul preached a sermon that made the Roman governor of Palestine tremble. I wonder what Paul said that had such an effect?
I. PAUL DISCUSSED SELF-CONTROL
A. This was a bold stroke. Felix had climbed his way to this high position, having the favor of the Emperor Claudius. Tacitus, a Roman historian, said of Felix that he "maintained the royal law with a servile disposition by means of all sorts of cruelty and greed.” Here was Felix, Roman governor, politician, powerful official, man of the world, and Paul talked to him about self-control!
1. Paul mentions self-control a few times in his writings, which we will come to. But also Paul writes frequently about sanctification or holiness and blamelessness. These are related to self-control. Saved people have the responsibility to be holy people. Self-control and discipline are to be channeled to this end.
2. The natural and required outcome of righteousness through grace by faith in Christ, is to live a life in harmony with righteousness: "I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called" (Eph. 4:1). Righteous people are to have lives characterized by righteousness, and this takes self-control.
B. God deals with us as responsible people, so he requires us to be in control of ourselves. We must conduct ourselves uprightly in the way God has instructed us to walk: "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that you should walk in them" (Eph. 2:10).
1. Talk the talk BUT walk the walk!
2. Paul used an analogy from athletics to make this point: (I paraphrase) "And everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I buffet my body and make it my slave, lest possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified" (1 Cor. 9:24-27).
3. In particular, Paul calls for self-discipline in matters of godliness: ". . . discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. . . . For it is for this we labor and strive" (1 Tim. 4:8-10).
C. There is a certain life-style Christians are to live, a certain conduct we are to maintain that is defined in Scripture which is "inspired of God and profitable for . . . training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work" (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
1. Most of us have the discipline to get to work every day and to get there on time. We have enough self-control to get the job done, to churn out the work, to meet the deadlines.
2. But what should concern and disturb us, even cause us to tremble, is that we don’t use the self-discipline we practice in other areas and apply it to spiritual matters. We let other things get in the way of praying regularly. We can’t seem to get to the services for worship on a consist basis and get there on time. We don’t practice self-control to the extent that we train ourselves to take advantage of opportunities for spiritual growth, encouragement, and evangelism. To put it in short terms, some of us are flabby and lazy when it comes to spiritual matters. And with most of us it is not a matter of opportunity or ability, but a matter of self control. Discipline has been defined as: “Doing what we ought to do every time we ought to do it”, and this should be applied to our spiritual lives and service.
3. In our day of permissiveness and promiscuity (out-of-control) in which a premium is placed on leisure and pleasure, and all the forms it may take, not unlike Felix’s day in the Roman Empire, we must be especially concerned with self-control. It is permissible in our world to use alcohol, drugs, and sex recreationally. Most people in the world have little concern for the way they dress, what they watch, where they go, and what they do. But as Christians--because we are Christians, we must learn how to perfect holiness in the fear of God (2 Cor. 7:1), and that means we cannot be lazy or indifferent about these matters.