Be People of Integrity
Acts 20:17-21 ESV
“Now from Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called the elders of the church to come to him. And when they came to him, he said to them:
“’You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews; how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.’”
Paul was under extreme persecution, being charged with crimes he did not commit, being falsely accused of things he did not do. He was hated, hounded, and opposed just like Jesus was. Some people who were against him were fighting against him continuously. And now he was headed to Jerusalem fully knowing that imprisonment and afflictions would likely be what he was going to be faced with there.
Often when he was in such situations, he felt led to give a defense of himself and of his ministry, largely because he carried the true gospel to the world, and so when he was accused of wrongdoing, the gospel was also being brought into disrepute. So, in defending himself and his honor, he was also defending the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. For, if the messenger could be discredited, so could the message.
And Satan is still working the same way today. He sends out his lies continuously to try to discredit those who are bringing forth the message of the true gospel of Jesus Christ in hopes that he can also destroy the message of the gospel. So, he calls us self-righteous, bigoted, hateful, prejudicial, hypocrites, intolerant, and teachers of works-based salvation. And he sends out his messengers to attack us publicly, too.
For, if Satan convince the people to not listen to us, then they will not listen to us, and therefore they will not listen to the truth of the gospel, either. It works kind of like this: If you want people to not believe the truth, you begin to plant inside of people’s minds the idea that if they hear certain trigger words that they are to automatically disregard anything that is said after that. It is mind control, conditioning people to reject without listening.
It is the same out in the world of politics. The people who are running things globally created something called “conspiracy theory” and they planted it in people’s minds that if they hear someone say anything contrary to the official narrative that they are to automatically reject it as “conspiracy theory,” and it is working. People are being programmed to not think, to not test anything, and to stop using logic, and to just reject anything that does not agree with the official narrative. Works the same as “fake news.”
And this all comes from the same people, the people who are the ones who are ruling the world and who work for Satan and who are controlling people’s minds and are leading them to stop using their brains but to use “fact checkers,” instead, many of whom are being financed by the people who are telling the lies. And many, many people are just believing whatever they are being programmed to believe and their eyes are blinded to the truth.
So, we who are called of God must not only be those who are teaching the truth, but we have to teach the truth in contrast to the lies. We have to defend the truth of the gospel and combat the lies, and we have to defend our own testimonies for the truth of the gospel. And this is why it is so imperative that those who are sharing the gospel are living it, because if you are not, you can bring the gospel into disrepute by your own lifestyles.
We who are teaching the truth of the gospel must be living pure lives. We must be people of integrity. I am not saying we must be absolutely perfect, but that we should never use lack of perfection as an excuse to live however we want or to continue in sin. But we should be living holy lives, pleasing to God, daily dying with Christ to sin and to self, and daily walking in obedience to our Lord’s commands, so no one will have a legitimate charge against us.
Imprisonment and Afflictions
Acts 20:22-27 ESV
“And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again. Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.”
The Holy Spirit has warned us of the same, has he not? Don’t we read in the Scriptures that we should expect to be hated and persecuted and some of us put in prison and falsely accused of things we did not do? Don’t we read in the Scriptures that some of us will be brought to trial and have to stand before government officials, and that we will have to give an account for what we are doing by sharing the gospel of Christ?
Certainly we have been warned all throughout the New Testament regarding persecution and suffering unjustly for the sake of righteousness, and we are taught what our response should be, not just in words, but by the examples of the saints who went before us. And some of them spoke some pretty strong and direct words to their persecutors with regard to their actions towards them. So, there are times when this is called for, too.
And so we need to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading, for the Scriptures teach that we should not worry ahead of time what we will say, for the Spirit will give us the words to say. And then we have to share the words he gives us, even if it means we will be hated and rejected in return. For, we can’t be out there handing out “nicey-nice” messages that make people feel good and that won’t offend them and still be speaking the truth in love.
We live in very troubled times. We are living in the last days before our Lord’s return, and evil abounds. Sin abounds, even within the gatherings of the church, and even among those who are supposed to be our pastors and who are supposed to be bringing us the word of truth. So many of them have compromised with the flesh and with the world and they are living like the world so they are not leading their people to holiness and righteousness.
And so God is calling whoever will go with his messages, whether they be children or women or men, and this is because so many men who claim Jesus as Lord and Savior have compromised with the world and with the flesh and they are not living for the Lord and so they are not out there teaching what is truth with full conviction and with lifestyles that support what they are teaching.
So, those of us who have answered the call of God with, “Here am I, send me,” are being persecuted, and we are being falsely accused of things we did not do, and people are being programmed to reject us and what we teach, and so few are listening, at least here in America. But we must count our lives as nothing compared to the task of taking the gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth.
And considering the times in which we now live, with the truth of the gospel being under fire, we should anticipate that we may also be called upon to give our lives in death for the sake of the gospel, but we also must not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. But we must persevere in proclaiming the truth (the whole counsel of God) despite all persecution and rejection and possible injury to ourselves. Glory to God!
There’s a Stirring
By Annie Herring
There’s a stirring deep within me
Could it be my time has come
When I’ll see my gracious savior
face to face when all is done
Is that his voice I am hearing?
‘Come away, my precious one’
Is he calling me?
Is he calling me?
I will rise up, rise up
And bow down
And lay my crown
At his wounded feet
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