Righteousness, Self-Control and Judgment

The apostle Paul was in a Roman prison because the Jews were opposed to him preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.  There was an initial trial before Felix, the Roman governor, but he delayed making a decision.  Felix had been born a slave but had been freed by the emperor Claudius and had now become a Roman governor.  The historian Tacitus said that Felix “reveled in cruelty and lust and wielded the power of a king with the mind of a slave.”  He had seduced Drusilla to marry him even though she had been the wife of another man. Felix needed the gospel of Jesus Christ, so Paul reasoned with him about righteousness, self-control, and the judgement to come. Acts 24:24-26 “And after some days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, he sent for Paul and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, ‘Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you.’”  Let us briefly look at the subjects that Paul reasoned with Felix: righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come.

Righteousness, in basic terms, is the character or quality of being right or just.  Felix was far from being righteous.  From Tacitus’ description, Felix was cruel, full of lust, and abused his power.  Others have described him as a violent man.  Felix was a sinner.  But you and I are also sinners even though we have not done the things that Felix did.  We have all sinned and are guilty before God.  Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  Some people acknowledge that they are sinners, but they think that if they do enough good things (righteous acts) the good will over balance the bad and they can be considered righteous.  But it doesn’t work that way before God.  We are all guilty in His sight and have no means of our own to be declared righteous.  God is righteous.  He saw our sinful condition and He loved the world. So He sent His Son into the world to save us.  John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”  Romans 3:24-26 “Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”  We are not righteous on our own.  When we have faith in Jesus, God justifies us and makes us righteous because of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.  Felix needed to appreciate that he was not righteous and he needed the good news that Jesus had died for him.  When you speak to people in the world, you can explain to them about righteousness and the gospel of Jesus Christ, just like the apostle Paul reasoned with Felix.

Paul reasoned with Felix about self-control.  Apparently, Felix did not have self-control but did whatever pleased him.  Christians are to have self-control.  It is part of the fruit of the Spirit as listed in Galatians 5:22-23.  We must have faith, but we need to add to our faith as Peter describes in 2 Peter 1:5-9 “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.”  Part of what we add to our faith is self-control.  That means that we do not do everything that might please us or that comes into our head, but we control ourselves so that we do not say or do that which is inappropriate or sinful.  The apostle Paul understood the necessity for self-control.  1 Corinthians 9:24-27 “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.  And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.”  Paul disciplined his body and brought it into subjection.  This is self-control.  You and I need self-control.

Paul reasoned with Felix about the judgment to come.  Since God is our creator and we are subject to Him, there will be a judgment.  The apostle Paul spoke to the idol worshipping Athenians in Acts 17:30-31 “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” Everyone needs to appreciate the fact of a final judgment.  2 Corinthians 5:10-11a “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.  Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.” When you speak to people in the world, you can explain to them about the judgment that is to come, just like the apostle Paul reasoned with Felix.

The apostle Paul reasoned with Felix about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come.  I encourage you to understand these principles and discuss them with your friends that are in the world that they might come to believe, accept Jesus Christ as their Savior, and obey the gospel.

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