Year 2 Day 136
Read - Acts 25v1-12
Message - Scott Woodburn
It’s a well known phrase within the church that the Christian is “in the world but not of the world”. In other words we live on earth, we work here, we love here and one day we will die here. However with that said, the Christian is not to be shaped by the world or its agenda. In these devotions we’ve previously mentioned “two kingdoms” theology. As Christians we live in both the kingdom of God and the kingdom of man. The kingdom of man is not our home and it is certainly passing away but we are to serve God here faithfully until He calls us to glory.
In today’s passage we see a little bit of this dynamic. Paul’s enemies continued to lay their case against him to the new Roman in town, Festus (v1-2). They wanted Paul moved to Jerusalem so they could kill him on the way (v3). Thankfully Festus planned to deal with Paul in Caesarea and so for the time being, Paul was safe (v4-5).
When Paul finally stood before Festus he was clear that he had done nothing wrong stating “Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I committed any offense.” (v8) Unfortunately Festus wanted to win favour with the Jews and suggested that Paul be moved to Jerusalem (v9).
It’s at this point that we see Paul’s dual citizenship. He is a child of God by faith in Christ and he is also a Roman citizen. Paul had been in captivity for over two years and so now he decides enough is enough. He is not seeking to avoid justice (v11) but he no longer wishes to be the subject of foolish political games and so Paul tells Festus… “I appeal to Caesar” (v11b).
Paul understood his new identity in Christ, but that identity didn’t mean he could escape from the realities of this sinful world. Therefore as a Christian he appealed to the law of the land, expecting fair and equal treatment by the State. This incident might seem quite boring and irrelevant but it is far from it.
We wake each day as citizens of heaven who live as citizens of whatever state we call home. How should we live in such a situation? In multiple ways. Firstly, we keep our eyes on Jesus always remembering that our true citizenship is in heaven and from there we await our Saviour (Philippians 3v20). Secondly, we live as good citizens of this land, obeying (when possible) the laws of this country. The Lord has placed the rulers over us and we honour Him as we honour them (Romans 13v1-7). Thirdly, we pray for the authorities as the Lord commands (1 Timothy 2v1-3). Fourthly, we never use legal means against fellow Christians. Paul appealed to Caesar against the attacks of the enemy but a Christian should never follow this path against another Christian (1 Corinthians 6v1-8). Finally, sometimes it is necessary to call upon “Caesar” to apply the laws of the land justly as we have seen in this passage. The Word says that righteousness exalts a nation (Proverbs 14v34) and so we should pray that our State is a place of justice, righteousness and peace.
The world is seductive, it is passing away and it is a place where sin abounds…but…it is also where we must live and work and serve. Therefore in our day to day interactions, in good days and bad, in front of our neighbours and in front of Caesar, we always seek to extol and honour the name of Christ. Paul would later put it this way…
“Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5v6-10)
Q26 How doth Christ execute the office of a king? Christ executeth the office of a king, in subduing us to himself, in ruling and defending us, and in restraining and conquering all his and our enemies.