Summary: The greatest apostle in the New Testament was mobbed, arrested, jailed, and eventually executed. A person might ask, “Why would God do this to Paul?” Isn’t it sad that we look to blame God? People must understand that choices always have consequences. The

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Overcoming the Tendency to Blame God (for Our Choices) – Part 2

Acts 21


1. Have you ever noticed how we love to blame others when things fall apart? Did you know that this human characteristic goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden?

• When God confronted Adam about his sinful choices, Adam basically blamed Eve, and even God! – “…the woman thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree…”

• Eve blamed the serpent – “…the serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.”

2. Do you think God ever gets blamed for bad things today? It happens all of the time. When problems and bad circumstances enter people’s lives, they will turn and look toward the heavens to lay blame at God’s feet.

3. God is not the author of sin, death, confusion, and evil. God is a good and gracious God. Problems enter our lives for many reasons, one of which is choices that we make.

• As Adam worked the fields with sweat pouring off of his head, he could think back to the perfect environment of Eden, and the fact that it was his own choice that led to this. It wasn’t, “God, why are you doing this to me?” It was Adam’s choices, not God’s.

• As Eve would also work and toil alongside her husband, and experience pain in child-bearing, she could think back to her own choices that she had made.

4. Here in our text, the apostle Paul is bound with two chains by the chief captain in Jerusalem (vs. 33). This would end Paul’s public ministry as a free man.

• No longer would Paul have the liberty to decide where he would go and preach the gospel. He was now in the hands of the Roman government.

5. Paul had entered the temple, and the Jews from Asia (who hated Paul) tried the same method as they did in Ephesus (vs. 27-29). A mob scene commenced (vs. 30-31) and the Roman officials came to Paul’s rescue, but they arrested him in the process

(vs. 32-36).

6. How could this happen? The greatest apostle in the New Testament was mobbed, arrested, jailed, and eventually executed. A person might ask, “Why would God do this to Paul?”

7. Isn’t it sad that we look to blame God? God did not do anything to Paul! Paul brought all of this on himself. Paul made a series of choices that led to all of these problems.

8. People must understand that choices always have consequences. There are several lessons we can learn from Paul’s mistakes. How can you make godly choices in your life?

First, by determining to follow God’s instructions and warnings

Second, by refusing to give heed to bad counsel

1. Have you ever had a person give you advice or counsel, and when you acted upon it everything blew up in your face? That is exactly what happened to Paul here in our text.

2. Paul arrived at Jerusalem and initially met with some of his fellow believers.

vs. 17

3. The next day Paul met with James (the leader of the church at Jerusalem) and all the elders from the church. Paul gave them a detailed report of his missionary work among the Gentiles. vs. 18-19

4. The elders outwardly appeared happy with Paul’s report, but they immediately changed the subject and approached Paul with a perceived problem.

• They said, “There are lots of Jews in Jerusalem who believe, and they are also zealous of the Old Testament. They’ve heard rumors about you and how that you teach people to forsake the Mosaic Law. When they hear you are in town, they will be real angry.” vs. 20-22

5. Based on this perceived problem, the elders gave Paul some very unwise counsel.

• Four men in the congregation were taking a Nazarite, Old Testament vow. vs. 23

• They counseled Paul to participate with them in the vow and pay for their expenses (vs. 24). This would require at least three animals per person (15 animals – very expensive).

• Of course, instead of inducing Paul into this, they should have been defending Paul, his doctrine, and conduct.

6. This whole thing had a foul smell to it. They seemed to be ready for Paul and had this whole thing planned prior to his arrival.

7. But here in our text, it is decision time for Paul. Is Paul going to follow the counsel of these elders in an attempt to pacify some of these Jews?

8. Remember, this is the same Paul who had taught the sufficiency of Christ’s work and our liberation from the Old Testament law system. Acts 13:39; Galatians 2:19, 3:25; Romans 4:9-11, 7:6

9. Now, the elders at Jerusalem were urging Paul to finance and offer bloody animal sacrifices to prove that he was a faithful observer of the law system. What was the right thing for Paul to do? I think we all know the answer to that, don’t we?

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