The Folly of Pride Acts 12
What do you think of when you think Pride?
There has been a big controversy lately in the news having to do with athletic ware. Now I am not going to dig into this silly controversy but what I do want to mention is something important about it. The real issue that is at the surface of all this is arrogance. It is a persons over inflated sense of importance. To me nothing else in this controversy really matters except the fact the guy at the center of it is actually getting what he wants, which is look at me, lift me up, treat me well. This kind of arrogance is not only in sports and entertainment but it is everywhere. People have a very high view of themselves and their own sense of importance. This is bad when it is in the world and it is ego against ego. It is worse when it is against the church, ego against the humble servants of God. Here is the thing when it comes to pride and the world's over-inflated arrogance, it is a folly that ends in destruction. The sin of pride is dangerous and destructive. Why is pride and arrogance so destructive well we will find out about pride and arrogance this morning and we will see why it is destructive and we will also learn that when it comes to the arrogance of the world, rest assured no one is getting away with any of their foolishness.
Do you have a high view of self, or as I like to call it an over-inflated sense of importance?
We have looked for the last two weeks at having a humble response to an arrogant world, this morning we are going to examine the arrogance of the world and see how justice is served without man having to lift a finger against the arrogant.
We will see this in Acts 12:18-15
The Folly of Arrogance is Blinding, Self-Seeking and Destructive.
The Folly of Arrogance is Blinding, Self-Seeking and Destructive.
If your have your Bibles let's turn to Acts 12:18-25
18 Now when day came, there was no small disturbance among the soldiers as to what could have become of Peter. 19 When Herod had searched for him and had not found him, he examined the guards and ordered that they be led away to execution. Then he went down from Judea to Caesarea and was spending time there. 20 Now he was very angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon; and with one accord they came to him, and having won over Blastus the king’s chamberlain, they were asking for peace, because their country was fed by the king’s country. 21 On an appointed day Herod, having put on his royal apparel, took his seat on the rostrum and began delivering an address to them. 22 The people kept crying out, “The voice of a god and not of a man!” 23 And immediately an angel of the Lord struck him because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and died. 24 But the word of the Lord continued to grow and to be multiplied. 25 And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their mission, taking along with them John, who was also called Mark.
Remember in the beginning of this chapter we have found Herod is now king and he is out to kill the Christians. He has already murdered James, and arrested Peter. Herod's ego has been stroked by the Jewish people being pleased with Herod's attack against the sect that is effecting the Jewish religious system. So he thinks he is doing an incredible job and he is working to appease the people. Herod when he arrests Peter, has heard of the ease Peter has of getting out of prison. So, to make sure Peter stays put this time Herod sets four squads of guards and locks Peter behind three gates and chains him to a soldier on each side of him. There is no way Peter could escape, in fact the only way Peter could escape would be one of two ways, fight his way out against eight guards and open all these gates or to bribe everyone of these guards to let him go free. Neither of these ways were how he escaped, Peter escape by the sheer grace, majesty and power of God. God through one of His angels, rescued Peter. Now we come to the very next morning. Herod wakes up, probably with a smile on his face thinking this is the day. The Jews are loving me and they are going to love me even more this morning. He stands in front of his mirror, "Ah, your a wonderful man, Herod, so powerful, so great and so loved by the people. Let's go make some Jews happy." Then comes the news, "Peter has escaped?" So begins the rationalization of what could have happened.
Look with me at verse 18, "Now when day came, there was no small disturbance among the soldiers as to what could have become of Peter." Notice the soldier are shocked. They have no idea where Peter could have gone. They are frantic looking around the prison and try to think through which one of them could have set him free and how could he have been set free. Look even if one of them fell asleep, still the others would have seen him leave. Do you know why else they are frantic, because they know what is in story for them. They know the penalty for losing a prisoner. The penalty for them would be death. This is not something they can hide and they know it.
Word of the escape reaches the king. Of course it reached the king, he has been waiting for this for days. The Jewish people are gathering around his court as the guards are pondering what is going on. They are all there for one reason and one reason only to see this Christ follower hung. Herod knows why they are there and Herods is basking in the glow of his victory in the eyes of the people. He is looking back at the accolades he recieved from James' execution and looking forward to even more from the people as they watch Peter die. Herods' ego is getting stroked more and more and then word comes that Peter has escaped. Think about this now, you are all pumped and ready to hear more accolades from the people, standing in front of the mirror, you the man, no one like you in the whole nation of Israel. That's right. And the bombshell happens, "Sir, the prisoner has escaped." Your ego has just hit rock bottom and now it is no longer just pride now you are seething because your pride has been hurt, you have been made a laughing stock in front of the people who you have just been imagining are chanting your name, and what do you do.
Herod investigates the escape, this doesn't necessarily mean he does this on his own but he wants to know what is going on. The investigation involved examining the guards. It was an interrogation. I can just picture it now, one by one these guards are questioned in respect to what they did. Possibly looking for one to turn on another. Did Maximus fall asleep, and Peter over take you. Did he pay Ceryal to turn the other cheek? They were looking for who it was that let Peter out and how the others turned their backs to allow this to happen. These guards didn't budge, we never moved from our posts. We didn't see him leave. We have no idea how this happened. It must have been an act of God. See the last one is what it was but Herod's Pride didn't let him think this way at all. Herod didn't want to hear anything like this. The crowds are here and the have come to see an execution and they are going to see one.
Have you ever been blinded to something God is doing because you just couldn’t accept His Sovereign? Explain your answer.
Pride usually blinds people to the reality that there is something greater at work then what is obvious. Here is a man who believes himself to be the king of the Jews, in title only, yet has no idea who the true King is and doesn't even honor the King in any way. This is what pride does, this is what arrogance is, it is irrational. Do you know why arrogance and pride are irrational because arrogance and pride don't want to acknowledge that there is Someone greater then you out there who has total control. Arrogance and pride place you on the throne of the Almighty and causes you to look at what He is doing and saying no it was this instead, God had nothing to do with it. Pride and arrogance are deceptive.
It is man's pride and man's arrogance that cause such difficulties for the church and for Christian's. Oh and I just want to be clear on one thing we are looking at those who are completely controlled by their pride and arrogance but don't think you are immune to it. Don't think, "oh I'm a Christian I'm not proud" Think about that one for a little while. We are looking at the way the world is and why it is this way but let's not take a look at the world and say "oh yeah that is the world and I'm better then that" Ha, Ha ha. If you have ever said or thought that you are a proud person. Pride is destructive.
I want to take a good look at pride and arrogance and how it is irrational. You don't get very far through the proverbs without running in to the irrationality of pride.
In fact the key verse for the theme of all of Proverbs is Proverbs 1:7;
7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.
"Fear the Lord" this truly is the key to life. If you don't "fear the Lord" you will never be transformed. "Fear of the Lord," means fear, this means you understand He is the One who has created you, and He is the One who keeps you alive. Jesus told His disciples, don't fear those who can kill the body, but fear the One who not only has the authority to kill the body but also has the authority to send the body to hell. People don't want to believe this. People want to think this is irrational. Some would say God doesn't exist, some would say this isn't the God I worship, some will take from all kinds of religions to create a god they can listen to, one who bends to their will not them bending to God's will. Fearing the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, do you know what that means, that means without fearing God you have no knowledge. Look, the second half of the verse becomes clearer, "fools despise wisdom and instruction." A fool will not listen to what God says, a fool will not trust God is in control, a fool will look at God's obvious work in the world and turn against God, actually what the fool does is instead of fearing God they make themselves God.
Do you Fear the Lord? How does this fear motivate you? If you don’t fear the Lord, why not?
This is exactly what happened in the Garden. Do you know the true downfall of man is pride, it is an irrational perspective on God and what He says and what He does. When the serpent came to Eve and coned her into eating the fruit he went after her pride, he knew she didn't have the fear of the Lord that would lead to true knowledge. So, he used that, against her. Let's look at the event in Genesis.
1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” 2 The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; 3 but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’ ” 4 The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! 5 “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.
Look at this, here is the birth of pride and foolishness. It was the proudest being on this planet, Satan. Genesis says he "was more crafty than any beast of the field." He has no regard for the power of God, he has no fear of God. If he did fear God he wouldn't be craftier than all the other beasts of the field. He goes to the woman and he preys on her innocents. He twists what God has said and also notice he goes to the woman. God had given the command to Adam not Eve and Adam relayed it to her. He gets her to question God's Word. Satan wants her to think, "Do you think God would keep you from this." She acknowledges yes God has said this and then the serpent tries to make it easier on her. Verse 4, "you surely will not die." God isn't going to do this to you. Then he provides the seed that sparks the folly of all mankind. Verse 5 "For God know that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." "You will be like God,"
that was the enticing part, that was the hook. Once he said this, she bit down on the trap that ensnare all mankind, wanting to be like God. In fact, it is not being like God it is the desire to be God. Pride or foolishness is forfeiting what God says and does to do things your own way. When you disobey God you are a fool. When you don't see His obvious hand at work you are a fool. When all else makes no sense and you still don't acknowledge God you are a fool.
Herod knew who he was up against, he was up against, he was up against God. The thing is his eyes were closed to the reality that God has greater power then he and that God has more control then he does. With this instead of coming to the conclusion God has done something great, he decide everyone who was guarding Peter must be killed because they conspired to let him go. All their lives for the sake of one.
After Herods embarrassment Luke tells us that he went down to Caesarea and was spending time there. This doesn't necessarily mean he left right away. Luke is not know for his chronological account of history more his logical account of history. There is recorded that the next year after this debacle Herod was in Caesarea. What is clear by this is one thing, there is no mention of Herod trying this again. This says two things, first, he was embarrassed beyond compare. Second, somewhere deep down he knew there was something more going on then he cared to admit. A man doesn't just disappear from a prison cell, not with Roman Guards watching.
This brings us to the next issue with Arrogance, it is self-seeking.
Why would God want to send people to hell, right. God is a loving God. This God that the Old Testament tells me to Fear, this is the wrathful vengeful God, but the God I believe in is a God of grace and mercy and love. Ok, I'll give you He is a God of grace and mercy and love, but here is the thing even in His grace mercy and love do you realize He had to pour out His wrath. God
Arrogance is Self-Seeking
Arrogance is Self-Seeking
Luke, takes us to an issue that was going on in the nation, this gives us a look at both Herods' control and his pettiness. There is no reason here why Herod is angry with Tyre and Sidon. What is obvious about this is he was cruel and power hungry and controlling. So Tyre and Sidon send representatives to go and win over Herod. They does this by using a mediator, Herods' chamberlain, Blastus. We don't know much about Blastus, what is important about this is he is his chamberlain. This means he was someone who would help him to get ready for bed. Lynn used to watch Downton Abbey and the wealthy men and women had servants who would help them get dressed, this would be in the morning when they woke up, get them into their pj's at night and get them ready for their extravagant gatherings. These people were very well trusted and they were usually very, very close to those they cared for. Well that tradition goes all the way back to even the book of Genesis to the Egyptians. Pharaoh had a chamberlain and in the book of Exodus when Pharaoh's daughter was bathing in the Nile and heard baby Moses crying. The women that attended to her were chamberlains. The point of Blastus is, he was trusted by Herod and the people of Tyre and Sidon knew this so they went to Blastus.
Blastus being Herods chamberlain knew just how to stroke Herods ego and he won him over to the people of Tyre and Sidon. This goes to show two things here, Herods cruelty and how easily he can be turned by someone who knows how to speak to him. This is the thing about self-seekers, it is easy to convince them how doing something would benefit them. There was this one guy at Wal-Mart who talked to everyone in such a way as to stroke their pride. He would come up with this big smile on his face, pump you full of compliments and then ask you to do something. It was so easy to see through and every time he came up to me with a smile and some weird compliment I always knew what he was doing. It is easy to trick an arrogant person who only seeks to satisfy himself. This is what Blastus does.
Now after this event with Blastus we find Herods ego gets stroked all the more. The people of Tyre and Sidon are happy they were able to get what they wanted and Herod now is able to go out and make an announcement. Verse 21 says, "On an appointed day Herod, having pur on his royal apparel, took his seat on the rostrum and began delivering an address to them." So here we have an appointed day which it is believed this was a festival to honor Caesar and it was apparently the day that ended the fight between Herod and the people of Tyre and Sidon. Herod is all decked out for this and in fact Josephus the historian writes this in his Antiquities:
(343) Now, when Agrippa had reigned three years over all Judea, he came to the city Cesarea, which was formerly called Strato’s Tower; and there he exhibited shows in honor of Caesar, upon his being informed that there was a certain festival celebrated to make vows for his safety. At which festival, a great multitude was gotten together of the principal persons, and such as were of dignity through his province. (344) On the second day of which shows he put on a garment made wholly of silver, and of a contexture truly wonderful, and came into the theatre early in the morning; at which time the silver of his garment being illuminated by the fresh reflection of the sun’s rays upon it, shone out after a surprising manner, and was so resplendent as to spread a horror over those that looked intently upon him; (345) and presently his flatterers cried out, one from one place, and another from another (though not for his good), that he was a god; and they added, “Be thou merciful to us; for although we have hitherto reverenced thee only as a man, yet shall we henceforth own thee as superior to mortal nature.” (346) Upon this the king did neither rebuke them, nor reject their impious flattery
Flavius Josephus and William Whiston, The Works of Josephus: Complete and Unabridged (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1987), 523.
Herod didn't stop the people from praising him, he saw himself as a god. He didn't give honor to God for what God does, he only wanted to receive the accolades for himself. All he did was for him and not for God. All the praise was for himself and not for the one who has provided him with the authority over these people. He is a self-seeker, he is only looking out for what makes him look good in the eyes of man, but he could care less how he looks in the eyes of God.
This is what self-seeking does, it looks for exaltation and what is worse it excepts exaltation. This self-seeking is the outcome of pride, pride is turning from God and making yourself a god. This is obviously what Herod was looking for and when he recieved it he didn't even have time to bask in it. He couldn't even truly enjoy what he had longed for, which was to be exalted as one who was superior to all. Look at verse 23, "And Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him." This is what pride does, pride causes destruction. Pride causes man to think he is better then he is and it lessens God. It exalts us to His level and what is worse it puts God below man. Man has this crazy notion they are in control of their destiny. The sad thing is, Christians are the same way. Don't think you're better then anyone else, you're not. And if you do think your better then anyone else and you think you have the right to think that cause well I'm a Christian, really. If that is what you think, repent of your pride.
Are you all about you? Do you care more about how people see you and treat you then how God sees you and treats you? (Be Honest)
We need to have a high view of God and a low view of man. Pride, arrogance, self-centeredness, self-exaltation, self-serving all of that is man focused and me centered. That is giving yourself a high view of you and a low view of God. We focus to much on what we deserve and how we want others to see us and how we should be treated. This is all about having a high view of self. This is all about exalting self.
Here I will even give you a simple example. You leave your house to go to a meeting, or to go to work or even to come to church. You leave with plenty of time to spear. As you are driving all of a sudden, a person pulls out of Wawa about a hundred feet in front of you, you have to hit your brakes in order not to rear end the person. And then the person instead of speeding up to go the speed limit takes it slow and easy and is barley creeping up to 35 miles an hour in a 45 mile in hour zone. So you wave oh so kindly to the person and smile and just go slow looking at the clock and thinking the Lord is God and He is in control and I am so happy I was slowed down this way. Thank you Lord. Right. That is exactly what goes through your mind. We all know what we are thinking and we all know how we handle these situations, it is very self-centered and very much with a high view of me, me, me. I can't believe this person did this and cut me off, and now their going so slow and I am going to be late, how dare they. It's all about how important you are but it has never occured to you maybe its mot about how important you are but how important God is. That person in the car in front of you, more then likely doesn't know your waving at them. They can't hear what you are saying, they don't know what your thinking. They don't realize how important you are because they are to busy being the center of their own world. But guess who does see what your doing, guess who does know how you are reacting, guess who does know what your thinking. His eyes are everywhere and He sees all things. He knows who you are exalting. And then you get to church and you walk in the door and smile, and you sing beautiful songs to an all powerful all knowing God, with the contempt in your heart toward that person who doesn't even know you exist. Swallow that pride, because you are no better then that person, because when you pulled out of your driveway you did the same thing and didn't know it. When we start thinking we are better then what we deserve is when we exalt self and lower God. We might not always hear from people these words and if you do I hope you rebuke them. But we don't necessarily need to hear them in order to think them. This is what arrogance does, it takes God off the throne and places ourselves on it.
Christian have this kind of attitude but the world has it worse. There are times the arrogance of the world is dangerous to Christians but let me tell you something when it comes to the arrogance of the world or even the arrogance of Christians, it is not overlooked.
Arrogance is Destruction
Arrogance is Destruction
Look at what happened to Herod, verse 23, "And immediately an angel of the Lord struck him because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and died." Make no mistake God will guard his church and make no mistake God's wrath will come on the proud. Herod didn't escape the judgment due him for what he had done to the church. God took vengeance on him. This happened immediately after he was exalted. There is no escape from the wrath of God. Herods' death was brutal, eaten by worms and died. According to Josephus this it took him about five days to die, and it was from something painful and internal. God poured out his wrath on him for his pride, his arrogance in thinking he was in control of his life and these people. God is a holy and righteous God. He is a holy and righteous judge. When He distributes His judgment on mankind it is not pretty. The early church saw this as God protecting His church and God does do this. Two things when arrogant people come after you for your faith in Christ, do ever think that what they do is overlooked by God. In fact the best thing you can do for those people is to pray for them. Pray for their souls because those pour people if they don't repent will have to face the wrath of God. Let me tell this also, this was probably a painful way to day, being eaten alive by worms, but I can guarantee you this one thing. This was the least of his pain and his worry because his fate was to suffer much worse pain then this.
Do you ever think there is no justice in the world?
Jesus talked about this place a few times, actually Jesus taught on hell more then He taught on heaven.
12 but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
41 “The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, 42 and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
49 “So it will be at the end of the age; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous, 50 and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
13 “Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
Jesus even says this in Mark's Gospel
47 “If your eye causes you to stumble, throw it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into hell, 48 where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.
Hell is where the ungodly will spend eternity in constant torture and torment. This is where they will receive what they deserve, God's wrath. Herod dying by being eaten by worms was less painful and less excruciating then what he will have to go through for the rest of his existence. This kind of an existence is not something I would ever wish on someone, that is why we should pray even for all mankind to escape this wrath.
And yes there is an escape from this wrath. Because of sin man deserves God's wrath. We deserve hell for all eternity. God knew there was nothing we could do to escape this wrath. There is no amount of money you can give God to get you out of hell. There are no works or deeds you can do to get you our of hell. No matter how many times you help your neighbor, or pay for someone else's gas or groceries or help an old lady across the street. Those are all nice things to do but they won't get you our of hell they won't satisfy God's wrath. There is absolutely nothing you can do to satisfy God's wrath, nothing you can do to take His wrath off of you. Sounds hopeless doesn't it. Well there may be nothing you can do but that is ok because you don't want to do it. God has done this for us.
God has provided the means of taking His wrath off of us. He has provided this through His Son. See His wrath must be poured out on us but Jesus became our substitute, Jesus went to the cross, being perfect, because He is God in the flesh. He hung on the cross and as He hung there all of God's wrath was poured out on to Jesus Christ. All the wrath you and I deserve every drop of it, poured out on Jesus Christ.
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; 26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
Do you know what propitiation means? It means God's wrath is satisfied in Jesus Christ's sacrifice.
Look Paul further explains what God did at the cross with Jesus Christ;
6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.
God's wrath must be poured out. He is just and He is righteous, so He will either pour His wrath out on you or you can trust in the truth that God has poured His wrath out on Jesus Christ in your place so that you will not have to face His wrath in the life to come.
Will you face the wrath of God? Explain your answer.
Herod didn't escape God's wrath, he died a gruesome death but his eternal punishment will be even more gruesome. This didn't scare people away from trusting in God. No it did the opposite. See if fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge then the greatest way to fear the Lord is to point to the reality of God's wrath not mask it or hide it. Many today want to hide behind God loves you, and He does but no one wants to follow it up by, in His love you wants you to not face His wrath. Do you see what happened after Herods death. Verse 24, "But the word of the Lord continued to grow and to be multiplied." That is how the word of the Lord grows. Look at the last verse, "And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their mission, taking along with them John, who was also called Mark." Not only was God's word growing and multiplying but God's word kept on spreading, the truth of who God is what He has done and is doing moves through out the known world. The truth that His wrath is real and His Love is pure is spreading. The arrogance of the world is no match for the God of the universe. God has dealt with the arrogance of the world. He has done this through the humility of His Son and His sacrifice on the cross is the only way for us to escape His wrath. We can either be like the arrogant of the world, blinded to God's work, seeking our own exaltation and take His wrath upon ourselves, or we can look at the cross, exalt God, and trust Jesus His taken our wrath.