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Acts Reading Plan | Week 16 | Day 2
Allow some silence for your soul to catch up with your body.
Romans 3:23-24 says “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
Bible Reading: Acts 22:22-23:5
Read these verses three times slowly.
The crowd listened to Paul until he said this. Then they raised their voices and shouted, “Rid the earth of him! He’s not fit to live!”
As they were shouting and throwing off their cloaks and flinging dust into the air, the commander ordered that Paul be taken into the barracks. He directed that he be flogged and interrogated in order to find out why the people were shouting at him like this. As they stretched him out to flog him, Paul said to the centurion standing there, “Is it legal for you to flog a Roman citizen who hasn’t even been found guilty?”
When the centurion heard this, he went to the commander and reported it. “What are you going to do?” he asked. “This man is a Roman citizen.”
The commander went to Paul and asked, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?”
“Yes, I am,” he answered.
Then the commander said, “I had to pay a lot of money for my citizenship.”
“But I was born a citizen,” Paul replied.
Those who were about to interrogate him withdrew immediately. The commander himself was alarmed when he realized that he had put Paul, a Roman citizen, in chains.
The commander wanted to find out exactly why Paul was being accused by the Jews. So the next day he released him and ordered the chief priests and all the members of the Sanhedrin to assemble. Then he brought Paul and had him stand before them.
Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin and said, “My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day.” At this the high priest Ananias ordered those standing near Paul to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck!”
Those who were standing near Paul said, “How dare you insult God’s high priest!”
Paul replied, “Brothers, I did not realize that he was the high priest; for it is written: ‘Do not speak evil about the ruler of your people.’”
Reflection & Questions
In yesterday’s reading, Paul shared his powerful testimony to the crowd. Today we find out how they responded. “Rid the earth of him,” is what they said. They weren’t subtle in their response.
As the story plays out, Paul isn’t subtle in his response either. He tells the high priest (albeit unknowingly it was the high priest): “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck!”
“You whitewashed wall!” That’s a new insult! Even if Paul is remorseful of speaking in such a way when he finds out it was to the high priest, the words are no less true. Why call him a ‘whitewashed wall’? He looks good on the outside, but his heart is hard and he will not let anything penetrate his pride. There is a wall up in his heart, deflecting the gospel, the truth, and the conviction of the Holy Spirit.
This can be the problem of a religious way of life, versus a relationship with God. When we reduce following God to follow rules instead of having a relationship with Him, we move away from a soft sensitivity to His Spirit’s voice, and in pride, we erect a wall in our hearts. We lose the ability to hear. Jesus told his disciples, “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees.” He tells us the same. “Watch out that you don’t harden your hearts to my voice.”
- Is there any way that you are hardening your heart against the Spirit’s voice? What do you need to do about that?
Talk to God in response to today’s reading. You may need to confess to a hardness of heart and then go and do differently
You might use this song today to worship Jesus today:
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