Acts 21:11 “And when he was come unto us, he took Paul’s girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.”
Many have a level of commitment to the things that matter most.
Our marriage, our family, our work, and our future, or a cause in which we believe. Many do not want to be seen as a ‘fanatic’ for Jesus for fear of the label and the persecution that may come with it. We fear the accusations, the prejudice, the separation. We play out in our minds what could happen and think we could never stand against such pressure.
Paul, the apostle, reveals his heart to those who upon hearing of what he was to face in Jerusalem, by telling them:
Acts 21:13-14 “Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done.”
The level of commitment that Paul displayed challenged my own.
In many countries around the world, professing Christians are dying every day for their faith. It has not yet come to America, but with the lack of spiritual and moral guidance, we will be there soon enough.
The end-time prophecies predict it will be a worldwide departure from God, an open rebellion against Him. The antichrist will rise to lead this rebellion and will end at the battle of Armageddon.
So, how does one come to the place of commitment like the apostle Paul displayed here?
I believe it comes first with the realization of who we are in Christ.
When we trust Jesus Christ as Savior, we are redeemed; we become a purchased possession of the Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
The particular issue with this purchase is we are given a free will to choose to yield to the owner who bought us at such a price. He is not a slave-driver or a cruel taskmaster that beats us into submission. It is the giving over of our will to His.
Romans 6:16 “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?”
Each of us who are saved, have a perfect plan that has been created specifically for our life.
Ephesians 2:10 “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”
When you and I do the works for which we were created, we can do far more than we ever imagined. It is because we no longer do it in our strength but in the strength and power of the One who saved us.
Galatians 2:20 “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
Paul reveals the truth in his letter to the church in Galatia. It is dying to self and allowing Christ to live through me. This death becomes the fulcrum on which we measure the success or failure of the Christian life. He reveals later to what end.
Galatians 4:19 “My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,”
Showing me to the world is putting a sinner, saved by the grace of God in the forefront. A transformed child of God who yields to the Spirit of God shines as a shining example of what God can do when we are dead to self.
Romans 12:1-2 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
It is reasonable for every child of God to yield their bodies to become the same sacrifice that our Savior was for us.
For most of us, we may never come to the place of being martyred for our faith. What struck me today is Paul’s willingness at any moment to be offered up. It is a decision we come to when we struggle with temptation. Do we give in, or yield to what would please God?
Paul shared his heart and helped us in this decision-making process.
1 Corinthians 15:31 “I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.”
The yielding of our life to the One who bought us is a daily, and sometimes hourly practice. The flesh will always rise to state its desires. Knowing how to confront those desires will reveal how successful we will become.
All die. There is no escaping it. Dying to self is a matter of our will that is key to living for God.