Acts 23-24, Psalm 130
For many, "the ends justify the means". Do or say anything necessary to accomplish what you want. In 2013 Texas teen Ethan Couch accused of killing 4 teens in a drunk driving case received probation with his defense being that he suffered from "affluenza", a disease of growing up spoiled in an affluent home. This ridiculous argument worked. We have seen the high profile cases of OJ Simpson, Scott Peterson, Casey Anthony, and Oscar Pistorius(Olympic athlete with disability) pulling out the most convoluted lies with the hope of attaining freedom. In politics, that both sides lie to gain advantage over their opponents is accepted seemingly not troubling the populace. It makes one wonder if anyone cares about truth, if anyone even cares about a clear conscience.
The ninth commandment in Exodus 20:16 reads, "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor", or in essence, do not lie. Knowing this Tertullus the orator with Ananias the High Priest begin their accusation with flattery, which is lying(Proverbs 26:28, "A lying tongue hates those who are crushed by it, And a flattering mouth works ruin"), then proceed in Acts 24:2-8, of misrepresenting all the facts. In their minds lying justified the end result. In the previous chapter they were willing to murder him and lie to the commander in charge to accomplish this (Acts 23:12-15). Paul simply spoke the truth and allowed God's will to prevail. To him the ends would not justify the means. He says in Acts 24:16, "This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men." In Paul's defense before Felix he explained in 24:17 that he collected alms and offerings for the believers in Jerusalem. Picking up on this, We read of Felix in 24:26, "Meanwhile, he also hoped that money would be given him by Paul, that he might release him...". Paul could have easily raised the money to bribe Felix but chose not to.
So in today's reading we read of contrasting ways to face life's challenges. We must all ask ourselves whether the ends justify the means or whether we hold firm to God's Word and the truth contained in it and allow God's will to reign in our lives. In 1 Timothy 4:2, Paul described the state of many in the end times, "speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron,". He also spoke of the futility of this other mindset in Ephesians 4:18-19, "having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness." The Christian walk is not once and done. It is a life with continuous decisions to be made. May we hold each and every decision in the light of God's Word and glorify Him continually.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: