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Standing Strong

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INTRODUCTION:

AG: A barber in a small town was busy cutting hair one day when the local cop walked in to get a haircut. And the barber was feeling a bit generous that day, so he said to the cop... "Since you do such a good job protecting us, and watching over us... today’s haircut is free." The cop said he appreciated that, and the next day when the barber showed up at his shop, there were a dozen donuts waiting for him.
In walks a local florist. The barber tells him how much he appreciates all the work that he has done around town, planting bushes and flowers and making the town look real nice, so he gives him a free haircut. The next day, the barber shows up at his shop and there are a dozen flowers waiting for him.
In walks the local preacher, the barber tells him how he is feeling generous that day, and how much he appreciates all his hard work with the children and taking care of the needs of the people, so the preacher gets a free haircut.
The next the barber shows up at his shop, and there are a dozen preachers waiting there for him.
https://www.sermoncentral.com/illustrations/sermon-illustration-damien-spikereit-humor-poverty-74?ref=TextIllustrationSerps
TS: This morning as we look at and following, we find Paul still in protective custody of the Romans. He is no longer chained and apparently faces no more charges from that angle.
He appears before the Sanhedrin to deal with matters of Jewish law.
Sanhedrin background-
This was the Jewish ruling body and consisted of 71 members which included the High Priest. They were the final authority on Jewish Law and practice.
Sects:
Pharisees

The Pharisees were a small (about 6,000), legalistic sect of the Jews who were known for their rigid adherence to the ceremonial fine points of the law. Their name means “separated ones.”

Sadducees
Sadducees

The Sadducees were known for their denial of things supernatural. They denied the resurrection of the dead (22:23) and the existence of angels (Ac 23:8). Unlike the Pharisees, they rejected human tradition and scorned legalism. They accepted only the Pentateuch as authoritative. They tended to be wealthy, aristocratic members of the priestly tribe

Pharisees and Sadducees had little in common. Pharisees were ritualists; Sadducees were rationalists. Pharisees were legalists; Sadducees were liberals. Pharisees were separatists; Sadducees were compromisers and political opportunists.

Paul again focuses on Jesus as his only defense. In this case, he hones in on the resurrection.
Paul again focuses on Jesus as his only defense. In this case, he hones in on the resurrection.
RS: The resurrection of Jesus remains a subject of vital importance. I don’t plan to re-preach my Easter message, so let me summarize it this way. The resurrection is God’s down payment and ultimate proof that we can have eternal life. Our risen Savior, Jesus, lives and intercedes on our behalf even now. Our hope in the resurrection is a central tenet of the faith we have received.
US:

Paul’s Lifestyle

Acts 23:1 ESV
1 And looking intently at the council, Paul said, “Brothers, I have lived my life before God in all good conscience up to this day.”
EX: Paul lived to keep a clear conscience
EX: Paul lived to keep a clear conscience
He begins by stating he has done all he can to live before God with a clear conscience.
Conscience has been called the soul’s warning system.
It allows us to contemplate our motives and actions.
It enables us to make moral evaluations of what is right and wrong.
When our conscience is informed by God’s word and Spirit, it can function as God intended.
This comes only through submitting to the Holy Spirit through God’s Word
Romans 12:1–2 ESV
1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
1 Timothy 1:19 ESV
19 holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith,
2 Timothy 2:15 ESV
15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
1 Timothy 2:15 ESV
15 Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.
Hebrews 9:14 ESV
14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.
Heb
Hebrews 10:22 ESV
22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
God can shape our conscience and convict us.
This is how Paul lived.
Kept a clean conscience by following God
he strived to please the Father
AP: Keep a clear conscience.
a. Inform your conscience from God’s word
take His view on issues
follow His promptings.
b. Don’t ignore it.
When ignored or informed by other sources, its judgement gets off track and we can grow deaf to it.
When ignored we can grow deaf to it.
God can be screaming conviction at us, but we get used to ignoring it.
Our moral compass essentially shuts down
c. Don’t misinform it.
Be cautious where you get your morals.
The unregenerate heart can feel fine with sin which has been embraced.
We can justify our actions in numerous ways, usually selfish.
It is possible to misinform the conscience and we end up embracing sin rather than shunning it.

Corruption in High Places

EX: Ananias was one of Israel’s cruelest and most corrupt men to hold the office of High Priest.
Ananias was one of Israel’s cruelest and most corrupt men to hold the office of High Priest.
He was pro-Roman in policy and alienated many Jewish people. He would be among the first killed in the Jewish Revolt of AD 66.
Ananias ordered Paul struck for his statement.
an illegal an uncalled for act.
Paul responded to the violation of Jewish Law.
He called him a whitewashed wall (doesn’t sound too bad does it?)
Ezekiel 13:10–16 ESV
10 Precisely because they have misled my people, saying, ‘Peace,’ when there is no peace, and because, when the people build a wall, these prophets smear it with whitewash, 11 say to those who smear it with whitewash that it shall fall! There will be a deluge of rain, and you, O great hailstones, will fall, and a stormy wind break out. 12 And when the wall falls, will it not be said to you, ‘Where is the coating with which you smeared it?’ 13 Therefore thus says the Lord God: I will make a stormy wind break out in my wrath, and there shall be a deluge of rain in my anger, and great hailstones in wrath to make a full end. 14 And I will break down the wall that you have smeared with whitewash, and bring it down to the ground, so that its foundation will be laid bare. When it falls, you shall perish in the midst of it, and you shall know that I am the Lord. 15 Thus will I spend my wrath upon the wall and upon those who have smeared it with whitewash, and I will say to you, The wall is no more, nor those who smeared it, 16 the prophets of Israel who prophesied concerning Jerusalem and saw visions of peace for her, when there was no peace, declares the Lord God.
Matthew 23:27 ESV
27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.
Paul was invoking high criticism when said that the hypocritical Ananias was inwardly corrupt with a thin layer of whitewash.
Even though Ananias was evil and dishonest, he still held a God-ordained office.
It was pointed out that he had violated that office.
Acts 3:4 ESV
4 And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.”
Acts 23:4 ESV
4 Those who stood by said, “Would you revile God’s high priest?”
Paul immediately corrected himself.
Acts 23:5 ESV
5 And Paul said, “I did not know, brothers, that he was the high priest, for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’ ”
Paul apologizes for disrespecting the office
AP: We see much corruption today.
I have seen a pattern repeated in many churches.
legitimate issues arise
AP: Respect the office
compromises of God’s word
Sin
Church properly carries out discipline
whether it is a member or minister matters litle
If there is no repentance, the Bible is followed and they are removed.
THEN- it becomes a pattern
criticism and condemnation become the normal mode.
It leads to corruption in the church
Stand for truth!

The Main Argument

Acts 23:6 ESV
6 Now when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. It is with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial.”
EX: Paul brought the spotlight on the main point, Resurrection.
Paul had seen the resurrected Savior!
Paul had experienced resurrection first hand
He knew the change it had brought to himself and countless others.
He saw that the fake trial was not going to be productive and that he would not get a fair hearing.
He cut to the chase of highlighting the division already there:
I am here because of the resurrection.
The divided body turned on each other.
Wisdom came from the unexpected allies:
Acts 23:9 ESV
9 Then a great clamor arose, and some of the scribes of the Pharisees’ party stood up and contended sharply, “We find nothing wrong in this man. What if a spirit or an angel spoke to him?”
They, for sake of argument, entertained the possibility that Paul might have had a heavenly visitor.
How tragic a lack of belief in the resurrection must be.
No hope for tomorrow
No promised reunion with friends and loved ones.
That is why Paul said what we examine on Easter:
1 Corinthians 15:17–19 ESV
17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
We serve a risen Savior!

Divine Reassurance

Acts 23:11 ESV
11 The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.”
God reassured Paul and let him in on the plan for the future.
God gave him the knowledge that he would make it to Rome and testify.
In the dark days ahead, Paul had this beacon of hope
God’s plan was not going to be altered by the work of men, storms, nor snakes!
EX: We can trust God’s plan
He sees the future and has perfect knowledge.
He will accomplish His plan
We must keep trusting!

Conclusion:

Keep a clear conscience
Stand for truth
Keep your focus
Trust God’s plan
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