Friday, August 10, 2012

PROCRASTINATION – THE THIEF OF TIME AND ETERNITY



Acts 24:22-27

INTRODUCTION

What is more convenient than postponing a tough decision that you have to make now? People know how to buy time, don’t they? Many people are indecisive, not because they do not know which way to go but because they live in fear of the consequences of their decisions. Many others are afraid of tomorrow. Yet wisdom teaches us to never put off till tomorrow what we can do today. This is why we organize and plan our lives. Many of you have daily diaries so that you do what has to be done today, today and not tomorrow. But sadly, when it comes to spiritual things like repentance and trusting in Christ, to salvation, to the gospel, personal holiness and putting off sin, to personal devotion such as studying of the Scriptures and prayer, worship, witnessing, discipleship, heaven and hell etc. so many of you put these off for a long time.
Many of you are in no hurry to move to a spiritual direction that will lead to a change of lifestyle. This explains why you are now used to coming late for the worship services, you would not come for the Bible Study, or evening service, you no longer attend prayer meetings, you have no personal devotion, you have no devotion with your family, your prayer life is none-existent. You neglect these means of grace to the detriment of your soul.
This is the reason why some of you have been coming to this church for a long time they have heard the gospel proclaimed to them, yet they do not believe and be saved. It could be the reason why some of you have been coming to this church for a long time and though they are believers, they don’t seem to be in a hurry to pursue membership and be joined with God’s household, God’s family - the church of the living God. Could it be that you do not want to be held accountable? Could it be that you have some sin that you would not want others to know? Why is it that you have not been baptized? Why do you keep on putting off these things?
This is not a new phenomenon, the Word of God which is sufficient for faith and practice, tells us of many people like that: there is the rich young ruler who came to Jesus, there is the rich fool, there were the five foolish virgins who did not have their lives well ordered and so they missed the groom. Here we’re particularly introduced to one governor called Felix. Did Felix have good reasons to postpone salvation, having heard it from the Apostle himself? He thought he did, just like you think. What are some of the reasons that could have made Felix to postpone salvation? From the passage we can identify five reasons or areas that hindered Felix’s repentance, and that is true for many of you today.
Some of the reasons why people Procrastinate:
  1. The sinful condition of man
  2. Presuming that you have ‘accurate’ knowledge
  3. Supposing you have influence and affluence
  4. Assuming that you are a good man
  5. Thinking that there is time

First, Ignorance of the sinful condition of man
As with all men, Felix was a sinner. Bound by sin in his heart and will. So he loved his condition oblivious of the danger he was in. He was a shrewd man more concerned about keeping his job than the Jews or Paul. All he wanted was to please the Jews to gain his own political mileage at the expense of Paul although he had actually acquitted him. All he cared about was to enrich himself by soliciting a bribe from Paul. All he wanted was to exploit the situation to the maximum as long as there was something to gain from it regardless of what expenses others could bear for it.
Felix was a sinner. This was why when Paul spoke to him about faith in Christ Jesus. Although he listened, he was not moved. A sinner will not be changed by the gospel unless God gives him the gift of faith(Eph. 2:8). Sin makes a sinner totally unable to respond to the gospel until when God himself opens the heart so that the person can listen and heed the gospel being spoken. We know that the gospel is God’s power for salvation – it is the means that God uses for the conversion of sinners. But the gospel in and of itself cannot change anyone. This is why a sinner has to call for mercy and God’s transforming power in order to believe and heed the gospel… remember Lydia in Philippi?
For this reason when Paul preached about righteousness, self-control and judgment, this Felix was so alarmed that he could not bear to listen more. Felix and Drusilla were living in immorality. Drusilla was the youngest daughter of Herod Agrippa I and at this time was not even 20years! She had been betrothed to crown prince of Commagene that did not take place. She was then married to the king of Emesa. But when she was sixteen, Felix persuaded her to leave her husband promising her untold ‘felicity’. So she joined him as the 3rd wife!
Therefore the three subjects that Paul took on, made them to be very alarmed and trembled, and rightly so, every sinner should be alarmed by sin. Paul presented both the law and the gospel. He explained to them that they need faith in Christ to be saved and then the content of the life of faith – it has to be characterized by righteousness. The righteousness that comes from Christ by trusting in Him.
Paul covered the whole field. He spoke of Jesus, of His death for sinners, of the resurrection, of justification by grace through faith, of the claims of Christ upon our lives and of judgment and eternity, as Gordon Keddie observes in his commentary. He told them, as it is true of everyone who is not in Christ, that they were deficient of righteousness just as you are. He went on to explain the kind of lives that their Maker and your Maker expects of His creation – self-control.
Very specific questions for you now:
·         Have acknowledged your sins? Remember that he who says that he has no sin he deceives himself and the truth is not in him. Even worse, he calls God a liar! (See. 1John 1:8,10)
·         What have done with your sins? I remind you that Jesus calls all sinners to come to Him and He will forgive them and give them mercy abundantly.

Secondly, Presuming that you have ‘accurate’ knowledge of the truth
This could have been a great asset to Felix. His wife being Jewish and because he had personally researched very well and heard the truths of the gospel being in the general area where there were Christians such as Cornelius etc. he had heard the gospel. Yet this did not help him to come to Christ in faith. Instead it became a great hindrance to his coming to faith. His knowledge convicted his conscience and he knew that the gospel was true, and so he put them off, instead of listening to his conscience, the innate judge of every man.
Without belaboring this point, may I point out to you that many of you here are like Felix in so many ways? You have heard the gospel presented to you so many times. You have been to this church for a long time. We have made efforts to bring to you the unwatered gospel. You have your Bible, you have read it and have been convicted so many times of what it means to be a Christian. You know what is required of you is to stop trusting in yourself and instead trust in Christ. Although you have failed so many times, you continue obstinate, you continue unmoved. There are times when you leave this place convicted that you need to change… but nothing comes out of it! There are many times when you have resolved not to remain as you are… but you have remained as you are.
Do you realize that to remain as you are is detrimental to your eternity? Do you realize that your knowledge can only be an asset when you act according to it? Remember this, we will all stand before the judgment seat and when Christ will sit in the judgment seat, he will convict you according to what you know in accordance to your works. You have heard so much truth. Yes, much truth has been entrusted upon you, how has it really profited you. Imagine those Christians who have been converted from Moslem, with very little knowledge of Christ and of the gospel, they are willing to die for Him. How about you who know so much, would you be willing to shed the blood for Christ?

Thirdly, is supposing you have influence and affluence
Felix, being the governor, did not feel that he needed anything from Paul or the Christ that he talked about or even from God! He was a man of servile birth, who owed his unprecedented advancement to a post of honour usually reserved for the equestrian order to the influence which his brother Pallas exercised at the imperial court under Claudius (FF Bruce). Tacitus sums his character and career as one who exercised the power of a king with the mind of a slave! He had really succeeded in so many ways; of all his three wives were of royal birth!

Clearly wealth and honor are a great hindrance to the gospel taking its full effect in the life of a person. This is why the Lord said that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for rich person to enter the kingdom of God (Mark 10:25). This is the reason why the rich young ruler went away from Christ very dejected when he was told to go and sell his wealth and distribute to the poor. This is the reason why when that farmer expanded his stores and filled them up to show that he had become rich, he had no use for God anymore. This is why when Paul wrote to Timothy to charge the rich in this present age, not to be haughty (proud or arrogant), nor set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. (1Tim. 5:17-18)
You need to examine yourself and ask, how your reputation or possession may have hindered your spiritual condition. Would it be possible that your spiritual growth has been stagnated by your wealth or fame? For Felix, this was a hindrance to him because, he thought that because he could order the centurion that Paul be put in remand, that he could call Paul at will, that he could ask for a bribe, that he had absolute power. This was one of the reasons why he procrastinated, could it be possible that you think that you can be saved when you want because you can come to church when you want, you can listen to sermons from the internet, TV etc.?

Fourthly, Assuming that you are a good man
It is interesting to note that Felix could have easily thought that he was a fair and good man. Did he not have a rather accurate knowledge of the Way? Did not allow Paul to have some liberty, and that none of his friends should be prevented from attending to his needs? Why, he was good man, wasn’t he? Many of you do not drink and are not in open or public sin. Many commend you because you go to church. Many think that you are the best person around and so you think that you do not need anymore changes in your life. Paul knew of Felix’s life and the supposed ‘piety’ but he pointed out to him his sins and demanded him to repent.
May it be very clear to you that your righteousness is nothing but filthy rugs before the Lord. You should only seek the white linen obtained from Christ. Stop relying on your piety and goodness. Stop trusting in your merit because according to the Lord you have none. Instead, trust in Christ. Believe in the Lord and I will assure you that there is mercy and pardon abundantly. Do not let your goodness be your own peril. Instead go to Christ and ask for the genuine and acceptable righteousness that He is willing to offer those who will request for it.
For those of you are saved, you are called to a life of holiness and righteousness. Has Christ not given you His robe of righteousness? Has not given you His Holy Spirit to make you holy? But never be tempted to lay your hope in your merit or in your goodness. Depend on Christ. Trust in Him, hold and cleave on Him. Look up to Him and do not let go of His hand.

Finally, Thinking that there is time
The greatest assumption that sinners have is that there is time to accomplish everything that they want. They also assume that God will leniently deal with them because they had the intention of getting saved. They think that the decision to be saved is with them.
Ask anyone who is not saved, why he has not trusted in the Saviour, you will sadly discover that they think that it is their prerogative – they will do it when they want. First of all sinners have no power to make the decision. The decision to save belongs to the Saviour– sinners are only under His mercy. He has said that He will have mercy on whom He will have mercy  (Rom. 9:15). Secondly, sinners assume that they have all the time to make the decision when they want. May it be very clear that you do not have the control of the next minute or tomorrow – God has it. Listen to James 4;14. Finally intention does not save, faith is what is required to be saved.
Behold, now is the favourable time; behold, now is the day of salvation (2Cor. 6:2). Waste no more time. Do not ignore this message as you go. Instead, act accordingly by trusting in Christ; by crying to Him to be merciful to you and to forgive you all your sins.

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