Friday, October 26, 2012
Acts 24:25 And as he discussed justice, self-control, and the coming judgment, Felix became frightened and said, “Go away for the present; when I have an opportunity, I will send for you.”
Paul had been taken to Caesarea where he was to stand trial. The governor of the area was Felix, a rather corrupt man. He made his money by taking bribes from those within his power. Bribes were not the only thing that he had taken, he had also taken another man's wife. Drusilla had been married to another man, a king from another region. She had married him at a young age but by 16 had engaged in a relationship with Felix. She was a Jewish woman who would have been raised in accordance with the laws of Moses and an expectation of righteous and upright living. Now, she is around twenty years of age, divorced and married to her second husband, Felix. It is this couple that invites Paul to argue the faith before them. More than likely they were hoping to be entertained by his theological arguments regarding his faith. Instead, he begins discussing the lifestyle that God's people are to follow. They are to treat people justly, they are to maintain self-control and be aware of the coming judgment. Obviously this message gets to Felix. He becomes frightened. Isn't this a turn of events! Shouldn't it have been Paul that was frightened to have to argue his case before the governor. Instead, through the subtly of Paul's message, it is the governor who is in the "hot seat." Not knowing how to rightly respond, Felix sends Paul away. Better to have him out of sight than to fill him with conviction. More than likely Felix thought that eventually Paul would offer a bribe to be set free. He never does and remains there for two years. And what about Drusilla? She appears to be unmoved.
Paul could have argued his own defense in front of Felix and Drusilla but instead, what might be easy to miss is that he actually brings a message which he knows will bring convictions to their own lives. Why? Is it because he wants them to feel bad? No, because even in this situation, where Paul is the prisoner, he is trying to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to those who are lost and desperately need salvation. Felix and Drusilla were lost! They had made decision after decision that was leading them to a path of destruction. Paul did not relish in this. Instead he pointed out that God demands justice and self-control. Why? Because these were the points of temptation in Felix and Drusilla's lives. Felix did not act as a just governor. In fact, he was a very corrupt governor and that corruption would eventually lead to his demise. Paul wanted to save the man. The prisoner wanted to save those who had imprisoned him. And Drusilla, she struggled with self-control. She had been willing to throw away a marriage to a king so that she could be with Felix. She was the daughter of Agrippa I, she was Jewish, she was from a royal household and yet she seemed to be the daughter of scandal. She had shown no self-control but had simply followed the passions of her heart which had brought her to the place where she was that day. And Paul preaches out of a heart of compassion, that God's people are to be a people of self-control.
Finally Paul leads into this discussion of coming judgment. Why? To scare them into repentance? I'm not sure that it was about fear, but about realistically placing before them the fact that there would be a day of judgment where they would be held accountable for their actions. Sometimes we need to experience some healthy fear and respect for God. I know that in today's day we shy away from some of the negative discussions, but should we? Paul was simply being forthright and honest with Felix and Drusilla. They were not living as people of God, and as a result a day of judgment would come!
Conviction gripped Felix. He knew he was in the wrong. But his response is the one that we so often encounter. Instead of responding to the call of God, instead of repenting, he put it off. He didn't want to be confronted and maybe it would be easier to go on with life if conviction weren't staring him in the face. However, we all know that simply putting it off is not a solution, and it wasn't a solution for Felix. If we are sensing God's leading or conviction on our lives we need to respond -- now! It is not something that ought to be put off. God places his truths before us so that we can ask for his help and leading so that we can live our lives as people of God. Transformation is possible. Paul was confronted on the Damascus road and that very day he said "yes" to Jesus and his life was never the same.
What happened to Drusilla? We know that she lived life, had two children and died in the explosion of Mount Vesuvius which destroyed the city of Pompeii, along with her son. Her day of judgment certainly came!
Lord, may I be obedient on a daily basis to the truths which you place before me. Amen.