Divide and Conquer (Part 1)Submitted by Pastor Chad Wagner on Wednesday, May 8, 2013.
Divide and Conquer (Act 23:6-10) I. This study should teach us: 1. to be wise unto the way this world works, but not to be of it. 2. how to use strategy when dealing with enemies. 3. how to use our opponents weakness against them. 4. how to use the mechanisms of this world to save us from the wicked intentions of the men of this world. II. As Christians we should be wise unto that which is good, but simple concerning evil (Rom 16:19). 1. This doesn't mean that we should be ignorant of how the world works and should not use wisdom and strategy to get through this world. A. Jesus teaches us to be "wise as serpents, and harmless as doves" (Mat 10:16). B. Paul teaches us to use the world, but not abuse it (1Co 7:31). C. Paul teaches us to walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise men (Eph 5:15). a. Circumspectly - In a circumspect manner, with circumspection; cautiously, warily, carefully. b. We should therefore be paying attention to our surroundings (literally and figuratively) so that we are not taken by surprise. c. "A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished." (Pro 22:3) 2. Jesus commended an unjust steward for is craftiness (Luk 16:1-12). A. To their credit, Jesus said that the children of this world are wiser than the children of light (Luk 16:8). B. Jesus instructed His disciples to make friends of the "mammon of unrighteousness", in other words saying to learn how to use this world, but not abuse it (Luk 16:9 c/w 1Co 7:31). III. An overview. 1. In Acts 23:1-10, the apostle Paul had found himself in front of a Jewish counsel consisting of the high priest and Pharisees and Sadducees. A. In this account, Paul demonstrated for us how to use wit and wisdom to use his persecutors' weakness against them and so to deliver himself from them. B. This is a pattern we should follow (1Co 11:1). 2. Let's first look at the events that led up to Paul being brought before the council in Acts 23 and how Paul employed different methods to deliver himself from his persecutors. IV. Strategy #1: Using diplomacy to reason with your enemies. 1. The Jews had taken Paul captive when they found him in the temple (Act 21:26-30). 2. Paul was providentially saved from being killed by the Jews by the Roman army (Act 21:31-36). 3. Paul first attempted to reason with the Jews and give his defense (Act 21:37-22:21). A. This should always be our first recourse, to settle with our enemies quickly, before the situation escalates (Mat 5:25-26). B. If possible, we should live peaceably with all men (Rom 12:18). 4. Having listened up to the point of God telling Paul to go the Gentiles, the Jews then demanded his death (Act 22:22-23). 5. The chief captain then commanded that he should be bound and scourged so that they could find out why the Jews cried against him (Act 22:24). A. That was quite the jurisprudence! B. This was not the first time a righteous man was guilty until proven innocent (Joh 18:29-30). C. This is about like Jay Carney, President Obama's press secretary, defending the president's kill list. D. It was apparently customary to scourge an innocent man under Roman rule (Joh 18:38 c/w Joh 19:1). V. Strategy #2: Appealing to the law to escape from your enemies. 1. At this point, Paul used his wild card and asked them if it is lawful to scourge a Roman who is uncondemned (Act 22:25). A. Paul was appealing to the law of the land which protected him as a Roman citizen (Act 21:39; Act 22:3). B. This was not the first time Paul had appealed to his status as a Roman citizen (Act 16:37-38). C. Paul had apparently learned his lesson from when he was beaten and put in jail in Philippi (Act 16:22-24), and this time used his citizen trump card before being beaten and bound. D. This is lesson for us, that at times it may be wise to appeal to our rights as US citizens if we are being prosecuted wrongly. 2. When the centurion found out that Paul was a Roman citizen he stopped binding him and told the chief captain (Act 22:26-29). A. The chief captain was afraid when he found out Paul was a citizen because he had bound him (Act 22:29). B. It is a good government that fears the law and respects its citizens. C. One of the law's functions is to protect citizens from their government, which is the purpose of the Bill of Rights of the US Constitution. D. "Let no more be said about the confidence of men, but bind them down from mischief with the chains of the Constitution". - Thomas Jefferson E. This wasn't the first time that the Roman magistrates feared when they had trampled on the rights of a citizen (Act 16:35-39). a. Paul asserted his rights that time, being so confident that he demanded that the magistrates come and personally release him from prison (Act 16:37). b. The magistrates changed their tune slightly when they found our Paul's status (Act 16:39). 3. Being humbled, having found out Paul's civil status, the chief captain adopts a new method of investigation, rather than the "beat first, ask questions later" approach (Act 22:30 c/w Act 22:24). A. He removed the handcuffs and gave Paul his day in court to face his accusers. B. This was the way Roman law was supposed to be administered (Act 25:16). C. This is called the writ of Habeas Corpus. D. Paul's appeal to the civil law had spared him a beating. E. Paul could thank God for delivering him out of all of his persecutions (2Ti 3:11). F. The Lord helps those who help themselves. 34 verses
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