Evil Traps

Recognise when you're being attacked.

Acts 25:23-27 (ESV)

So on the next day Agrippa and Bernice came with great pomp, and they entered the audience hall with the military tribunes and the prominent men of the city. Then, at the command of Festus, Paul was brought in. And Festus said, “King Agrippa and all who are present with us, you see this man about whom the whole Jewish people petitioned me, both in Jerusalem and here, shouting that he ought not to live any longer. But I found that he had done nothing deserving death. And as he himself appealed to the emperor, I decided to go ahead and send him. But I have nothing definite to write to my lord about him. Therefore I have brought him before you all, and especially before you, King Agrippa, so that, after we have examined him, I may have something to write. For it seems to me unreasonable, in sending a prisoner, not to indicate the charges against him.”

Festus has a problem. He was in the middle of trying Paul for a crime that isn’t a crime when Paul appealed to Caesar. Now he has to figure out how to explain this to Rome without sounding like an idiot. He can’t send him for trail without a charge but the accusations against Paul have nothing to do with Roman law. He needs a way to spin this.

Actually, his explanation to Agrippa in yesterday’s passage sounded pretty good. “There is a man left prisoner by Felix [who, don’t forget, was fired for incompetence] and when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews laid out their case against him, asking for a sentence of condemnation against him. … When the accusers stood up, they brought no charge in his case of such evils as I supposed. … But when Paul had appealed to be kept in custody for the decision of the emperor, I ordered him to be held until I could send him to Caesar.”

But Festus knows that Caesar doesn’t want to be bothered with silly stuff like this, which is expected to be handled at the local level. Just telling the truth isn’t an option.

Maybe Agrippa can figure something out.

This is starting to look like spiritual warfare. Festus is under pressure to lie.

Christians need to have a special radar for things like this. Any time you find yourself in a situation where the easy way out is to do something you know is wrong, a red flag should pop up. There’s probably more to the situation than meets the eye.

The number one reaction you should have is resentment. When evil attacks, you need to get in a fighting mood. You are much less likely to be tricked by the evil one if you recognize the situation for what it is. Getting angry about it will help you stay focused. Don’t let your guard down.

The second key is to remember that they’re smarter than you are. The worst thing you can do when fighting evil is to try to be clever. You win if you do the right thing regardless of the consequences. This is the lesson taught in “The Silver Chair” by CS Lewis.

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Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.