Confidence in Criticism
Confidence is like faith…it depends upon its object. If you put your faith in the wrong thing, it won’t work out. The same is true if you put your confidence in yourself, rather than in God. To some, confidence is just pride, and independence…self-confidence. But when you place your confidence in the right object, you cannot go wrong, for He has never gone wrong.
23:1 “earnestly” = He’s looking them straight in the eyes, not ashamed, not afraid, and not about to back down. Paul used to be a member of their number…and now they consider him to be a turncoat…a traitor. There’s nothing this group would like more than to execute him. Yet he stands before them cool, calm, and collected.
To escape criticism: say nothing, do nothing, be nothing!
There is no way to live the Christian life in our modern society today and not be criticized. But we can have confidence in criticism and peace in persecution. How?
I. We have to be morally clean
v. 1 “good conscience”
Conscience is that inner voice which accuses us when we do wrong. It’s an alarm that sounds within warning us ahead of time, too. But be careful, as we said last time, because…
1. It can be defiled
2. It can be seared
3. It can be evil
We cannot avoid persecution and criticism, but we don’t have to be affected by it.
Ill.--Sailors have noted that winds can be blowing in one direction, and iceburgs moving in the opposite direction. How does this happen? 9/10th’s of the iceburg is below the surface, so the ocean currents are in control…the little bit above the surface is not affected by the winds.
Our convictions…our roots need to run so deep in our lives that we are steered by the current of absolute truth, God’s Word. That’s being grounded. That’s deeply placed confidence in the right object.
We’ll never amount to much if we allow ourselves to worry so much about what others think.
Ill.—the first steamboat trip from NYC to Albany was a very short trip, but took 32 hours. Most of the people laughed and criticized, but the inventor did not give up or back down, because he knew in his heart he was up to something good.
Automobiles: when they first came out they were usually passed on the streets by horses and buggies.
First electric light bulb: when first demonstrated, they had to have an oil lamp on to see it because it was so dim.
First airplane flight: only stayed in the air for 59 seconds.
That’s what Paul was like. When he got saved, he got forgiven, and got a new outlook…that led to a clean conscience, and he operated on principle, not acc’d to the winds of public opinion. He didn’t take a poll or go w/ the majority…he went w/ the good conscience of being morally clean!
So, make sure you’re right, first…then, don’t be moved by the winds of criticism.
ill.--A man was making a journey with his grandson, by donkey. They had to go through five villages to get home.
He put the boy on the donkey and walked along beside them.
The FIRST village criticized, saying, “Look at that healthy young boy, making that old man walk.”
He couldn’t take the criticism, so he switched places with the boy.
The SECOND village criticized, “Look at that…a healthy, grown man makin’ a little boy walk.”
He couldn’t take it, so they both got on the donkey.
The THIRD village said, “That’s animal abuse…two people on that one little donkey.”
So, they both started walking.
The FOURTH village said, “Can you believe it, two people walking when they have a perfectly good donkey…you’d think one of them would have sense enough to get on and ride!”
He had enough.
They came to the FIFTH village, and what did the people see? The boy was walking, the man was walking, and they were carrying the donkey!
Moral: you’re gonna be criticized, so make sure you’re right, and then take your stand!
II. We have to be theologically clear
v. 6 Paul knew w/out doubt that Jesus Christ had risen from the dead. You can’t argue w/ that…you can’t convince me Christianity is wrong after that fact!
If a man has walked out of a grave, then He had power over death, and you have to deal w/ that! That cannot be lightly glossed over…and no one can be neutral about it!
If Christ is still in the grave, then Christianity doesn’t really matter, but if He came out of the grave, then nothing else matters!
Only 4 opinions you can have about Christ:
A. Christianity disturbs plenty
B. Christianity divides many
The world calls out for peace, and the ecumenical movement says let’s not divide, let’s be at peace. But Jesus said,
Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.  For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.  And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.  He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.  And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
This isn’t saying believers would reject their families…it’s usually the other way around. Anyone know of any instances of this? Share…
Jesus did not come to blend everything together, but to separate right from wrong, truth from error, and light from darkness.
The cry of the day is peace, harmony, unity. And who doesn’t like these qualities? When possible, we should try not to have division with others. We shouldn’t be going out of our way looking for fights.
But should we be surprised when our values aren’t compatible with the world’s? “We ought to obey God, rather than men.” If we don’t stand for something we will fall for anything.
This sinful world will back us into a corner quite often, and then we have to choose whether to stand up or back down.
Our majority [good people] is shrinking. And the minority grows louder and louder, making it seem like they are even more than they truly are. However, their numbers are growing exponentially. It’s the hip thing right now to be perverse.
We’re in a culture war, and God is behind the division among us…as He awaits to find out who will choose to do what is right.
This week a man told me his son is at a state college which requires him to take LGBTQ appreciation class for an entire semester. And in order to pass and get credit and move on, you have to affirm some things that a believer simply cannot agree with. His son asked, “Do others have to take “Straight white male appreciation” class? They said, that’s toxic! His dad is getting him out of that school.
If you are male and want to pretend that you are female, you have that right. It’s been done for a very long time. But if you want ME to pretend along with you, well, you’ve got another thing coming. Christ came to bring division about matters of sin and righteousness.
Should we love people? Even sinners? Of course! Does that mean we have to approve and affirm and pretend it’s right? Absolutely not!
You don’t have to get far into the Bible before you find that God made them male and female. If Satan can get us to doubt that, he can certainly get us to doubt anything else the Word says.
Back up to the first verse about creation. If you can’t get past that, you aren’t going to do well when God says to repent and turn from sin and believe in the death, burial, and resurrection of a man who was actually God, but was conceived on earth by a virgin!
We’re rolling over on issues and God is watching carefully who among us will take a stand and admit that there’s a division between people and it’s a matter of right and wrong.
Is evil real or not? Is abortion a sin or not?
You see, a staggering majority of professing Christians today say that rape and incest are exceptions in God’s eyes, as if the circumstances of a human’s conception determine whether they deserve their life or not.
Schools are teaching our kids to hate themselves, and their race, and to feel guilt about who they are. They do this in the name of combating racism…and yet it’s one of the most racist things you can do.
We’re supposed to lay science aside and believe that the planet is about to be destroyed because we eat meat or drive cars. And we hear this from people who claim to be of science. Well, it’s about to be destroyed alright, like it was in the day of Noah, and for the same reason. Sin!
The Bible teaches morality, and obeying laws that are based in morality. But our woke culture says criminals should be allowed to run rampant and we shouldn’t worry about it. Our job is to pay off their student loans and out of control government spending, and we should say thank you for the privilege!
Well, enough is enough. If I stand alone, it will be on the Word of God, the B I B L E!
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
We need to decide if we believe that or not. If it’s wrong, we should run from Jesus, and if right, we should run to Jesus!
Let’s be theologically clear!
Disturbs plenty, divides many…
C. Christianity delivers any
Paul knew that the very thing that caused his persecution is the thing that gave him peace! And God gets great glory when we choose Him, and cling to the truth, no matter what anyone else may say!
To have peace in persecution, and confidence in criticism:
We have to be morally clean, theologically clear…
III. We will be personally comforted
v. 11 God didn’t dispatch an angel when His man was under attack, He showed up personally to stand by him. He put His arms around him and encouraged him. God is never closer to us than when we suffer.
Everyone in the room has had some great personal tragedy, and, if you let Him, God will personally comfort you, and you’ll know more than ever He’s real, and it’s all true, and no one can convince you otherwise.
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