It’s a sin to manipulate…and to be manipulated.
SEPTEMBER 5, 2023
It’s a sin to manipulate…and to be manipulated. Let’s talk about it, on Key Life.
This is Key Life with our host, author, and seminary professor, Steve Brown. He’s nobody’s guru. He’s just one beggar telling other beggars where he found bread. If you’re hungry for God, the real God behind all the lies, you’ve come to the right place.
Thank you Matthew. If you have your Bible, open it to the 24th chapter of the Book of Acts. We kind of set it up yesterday talking about it. Tertullian had come, not Tertullian, his name was Tertullus. He was a hired lawyer speaking on behalf of the religious establishment who went before Felix and the governor and charged the apostle Paul. What the religious establishment wanted to happen was for Paul to be executed. And then, Felix allows Paul to speak, and Paul says this, and this is the tenth verse.
“Realizing that for many years you have been judge over this nation, I cheerfully make my defense. As you may ascertain, it is not more than twelve days since I went up to worship at Jerusalem and they did not find me disputing with anyone or stirring up a crowd, either in the temple or in the synagogues or in the city. Neither can they prove to you what they now bring against me. But this I admit to you, that according to the way which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers. Believing everything laid down by the law or written in the prophets having a hope in God, which these themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust. So, I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward God and toward men. Now, after some years, I came to bring to my nation alms and offerings. As I was doing this, they found me purified in the temple without any crowd or tumult. But some Jews from Asia, they ought to be here before you to make an accusation, if they have anything against me. Or else let these men themselves say they’re worshipping, that what wrongdoing they found in me when I stood before the council. Except this one thing, which I cried out while standing among them, with respect to the resurrection of the dead, I am on trial before you this day. But Felix, having a rather accurate knowledge of the way, put them off, saying, when Lysias the tribune comes to town, I will decide your case. Then he gave orders to the centurion that he should be kept in custody, that’s Paul, but should have some liberty, and that none of his friends should be prevented from attending to his needs. After some days, Felix came with his wife, Drusilla, who was Jewish, and he sent for Paul and heard him speak upon faith in Christ Jesus. And as he argued about justice and self control and future judgment, Felix was alarmed and said, go away for the present. When I have an opportunity, I will summon you. At the same time, he hoped that money would be given him by Paul, so that he sent for him often and conversed with him. But when two years had elapsed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius, Festus and desiring to do the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul in prison.”
Oh man. When you read about that, you see a side of the world that is pretty scary. Some of you, as I mentioned yesterday, were at the Cove, the Billy Graham Training Center in North Carolina, where I sometimes teach, and I taught a seminar there called Dealing with the Crazy World. And the first thing I said about the seminar is that you’ve got to recognize that this really is crazy. In fact, it’s insane. Things have been turned upside down, the culture is going south fast, there is a darkness and a pain and a reality that is taking place in our culture. And I’m talking about you too in Canada as well as the lower 48. Things have changed, and they have changed radically. In fact, it almost feels like the 24th chapter of the Book of Acts. Paul has done no wrong. Paul has been faithful. Paul has tried to be civil and to make things right. And all that happens is a riot because there is vested interest in the riot. Now, when you look at what’s going on in this particular chapter, notice that Tertullus, and he was the hired lawyer. who had been hired to speak for the Jewish establishment. First, notice that he started by flattering and manipulating Felix. And then secondly, he told lies about the apostle Paul. And thirdly, he had vested interest in what he was saying and winning that particular case. That’s still true. We live in a world where if you’re not careful, you’ll be manipulated, and to manipulate is a sin and to allow yourself to be manipulated is also a sin. Where lies are told. Every time I see a report of some kind of Christian gathering on the news, it is never accurate about what is going on in that place. And in fact, Christians are accused of things that are simply not true. Homophobic is one of them. Gloria Gaither set me straight one time. We had had a group of gay guys come to our church on a Wednesday night and they weren’t Christians. And I put chairs up on the platform and said, I want you to talk to us and we need to listen to what you have to say. And they began to talk about the church and how they had been hurt by the church. And shortly after that, I was on a radio program with Gloria Gaither, whom I love. And I was talking about what they had said and how awful it was. And she said to me, you know something? That has not been my experience. My experience has been that Christians love sinners. And by and large, in the church, that has been true for a very long time. And as soon as she said it, I thought about the meeting that we had at our church with those gay guys who talk to us and we listened and we love them. Christians are accused all the time of being and believing and doing things that we never did, things that we never said, feelings that we never have. And so, as you look at this lawyer standing before Felix, he represents what’s going on in the world, and I would suspect that it would be a good thing for us to look at how the apostle Paul dealt with it. And the first thing that you need to note when Paul is dealing with all of this nonsense, all of these lies, and all of this manipulation is that he, himself refused to manipulate. Look at Acts 24:10.
And when the governor had motioned him to speak, Paul replied: “Realizing that for many years you have been a judge over this nation, I cheerfully make my defense.”
That was simply a statement of facts. He didn’t say that you have been a wonderful and wise and compassionate and merciful judge. He said, you’ve been a judge. And I’m at the right place because I get to present my case before you. A simple statement of fact. Do you know, we used to do a skeptics forum in a church I once served. We did it every two or three months and we invited atheists and agnostics. to come to my study and spend Monday evenings with me for a few weeks, and I said I will answer the questions that you have as best I can because if this Christian faith is true, it’s the best news anybody ever had. And if it’s not true, you ought to find out. And so, we had 10 or 15 people meeting in those skeptics forum. And one of the best compliments I ever got was from a lady there, and you know what she said? Steve, everyone I talked to told me I was a good person. And I got the impression that they were trying to get me to like them. You told me I was a sinner, and you refused to manipulate me. If I become a Christian, I want you to know that that is the reason. We can never be manipulative as Christians because what we have is truth, and truth is enough. You think about that. Amen.
Thank you Steve. That was Steve Brown taking us back into Acts 24 and the high stakes legal drama we find there, more to discover here, hope you will join us again tomorrow.
The love of God has yet to meet its limit, boundary, or match. Thus far, though billions have tried, none have been able to stop the work of God. Satan couldn’t destroy the Son of God and what prevails in the end is the Church of God.
As Steve might say, that’ll preach. And where’s it from? It’s from an article from Alex Early called God Seriously Loves You. You’ll find it in the new digital edition of Key Life Magazine. It comes out every summer, and this latest issue also features articles from Steve, Davis Johnson, and me. Check that out for free at keylife.org/magazines and if you haven’t read our 2023 print edition yet, That’s a whole different lineup of articles. It’s not too late to claim your copy. Just call us at 1-800-KEY-LIFE that’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail [email protected] to ask for the magazine. To mail your request, go to keylife.org/contact to find our mailing addresses. Again, just ask for your free copy of Key Life Magazine. And finally, a question. Do you value the work of Key Life? If so, would you consider supporting that work through your giving? You can charge a gift on your credit card, or include a gift in your envelope. Or just pick up your phone and text Key Life to 28950 that’s Key Life, one word, two words. It doesn’t matter. Just text that to 28950. Key Life is a member of ECFA in the States and CCCC in Canada. And we are a listener supported production of Key Life Network.