Summary: God’s providence can take us down winding paths, paths that involve dealing with insidious people, yet still accomplishing His will.
The Insidious and the Godly
1. Have you ever gotten a call from someone claiming to be from windows? Or how about a call saying it was the IRS and you faced going to jail if you didn’t make a payment? These scams, along with Ponzi schemes and other cons, can be described as insidious.
2. When I looked up synonyms for “insidious,” I found an unusually long list. Here are just some of my favorites: “treacherous… beguiling, deceitful, … deluding…fallacious, false, misleading, specious, artful, crafty, cunning, devious, foxy, guileful, shady, shifty, slick, sly, … sneaky… subtle…tricky, … underhanded, wily…crooked, defrauding, dishonest…, double-dealing, duplicitous, faithless, fast, fraudulent… bogus, counterfeit, fake, feigned,…backhanded… two-faced.”
Main idea: God’s providence can take us down winding paths, paths that involve dealing with insidious people, yet still accomplishing His will.
I. Paul Appears Before Governor FESTUS and King Agrippa (Chapters 25-26).
Show coin of Governor Felix, # 1
Show funny photo of Festus, #2
Show bust of Agrippa, #3
A Festus was SHREWD enough not to transport Paul to Jerusalem (25:1-5).
1. Felix was all about himself, narcistic, corrupt....
2. Festus was all about the Roman Empire.... loyal to the company....
3. Neither was concerned about doing the right thing morally...
4. Felix was about himself, Festus was about others and felt a sense of responsibility to the Roman leaders, but not about others who were not Roman.
5. Paul was about God first and foremost. After that, he was about others.
6. He knew it was the truth of the atoning work of the incarnate Son of God that set people free, and that’s where his heart was.
B. Paul convinced Festus of his INNOCENCE (25:6-8).
C. To SCHMOOZE the Jews, Festus requested Paul to stand trial in Jerusalem, where he would never arrive alive (25:9).
1. Paul was a Roman problem, one of the rare Jews who had Roman citizenship; Festus was concerned more with the Romans back home, the ones without these Jewish exemptions.
2. He could do the Jews a favor and thus improve relations he and the Jews to accomplish Roman ends. The Jewish leaders were at odds with King Agrippa, so it would really help Roman influence if he and the Jewish leaders were buddies.
D. To avoid certain death, Paul, as a Roman citizen, appealed to CEASAR (25:10-12).
E. Paul appears before King AGRIPPA and Bernice (25:13-26).
F. Paul shares his TESTIMONY (26:1-23).
Vs. 20 is particularly interesting and the key to understanding the complex relationship between works and repentance, including ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
G. Note the important DIALOG between Paul and Agrippa (26:24-29).
H. Agrippa wrongly concludes that Paul did not NEED to appeal (26:30-32).
1. Agrippa was ignorant of the PLOT of the Jewish leaders to kill Paul in transport.
2. Agrippa was ignorant that it was God’s will that Paul journey to ROME.
II. Let Us PONDER the Implications of these Insidious Examples.
A. We should not be SURPRISED when we discover some people are particularly insidious.
Ecclesiastes 5:8 (NASB), “If you see oppression of the poor and denial of justice and righteousness in the province, do not be shocked at the sight; for one official watches over another official, and there are higher officials over them.”
A few weeks ago, we highlighted how important it is for believers to be shrewd yet innocent. If you live with your head in the sand or in denial of the realities of human nature, you certainly will fail at being shrewd.
What is surprising is how God can turn around the evil plans of the insidious and accomplish His purposes.
1. The example of Haman in the Book of Esther.
2. The example of Hitler and the Holocaust.
B. We need to remind ourselves that even the most powerful people are still LOST human beings in need of a Savior.
1. Insidious people are not necessarily unreachable people.
2. Cicero Bible Church and their “Fishermen’s Club” and former gangsters...
3. Most of us know the story of John Newton (Amazing Grace) slave trader...
4. Perhaps some of you were insidious before you came to know Christ...
5. Even if people do not respond to Christ, God is glorified when we share Christ.
2 Corinthians 2:15-16, “For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, 16 to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?”
C. Rank can be worked around, which is why good leaders develop RELATIONSHIPS.
D. We need to face the INSIDIOUSNESS within ourselves: we all have it.
Jeremiah 17:9, ““The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked;
Who can know it?” (NKJV).