As we opened the 26th chapter of Acts together we were once again reminded of the way God uses ordinary people to complete His divine purposes and plans. It is amazing to think of the creator of the universe using the frail and faulty human vessel to carry out His purposes. For all of time, the purposes of God have been carried out through human vessels – which is why Ephesians 3:10-11 says, “so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord.” God receives glory by fulfilling all His purposes through broken vessels.
The word used to describe us as His vessels in 2 Corinthians 4:7 is clay pots. 2 Tim 2:20 refers to the vessels of gold and silver for honorable use and the vessels of earthen ware and wood for dishonorable use. The reality is that clay pots in that day were the garbage containers. We can see that before salvation we are exactly that, full of the garbage of the world and the sin that entangles us. But when we begin our relationship with Jesus Christ by faith we are transformed and as 2 Cor 4:7 says we then have the treasure of Christ in our lives. As 2 Tim 2:21 tells us that by putting off the sin we are made a vessel for honorable use in the master’s house.
Until a person realizes their true and total condition before the holy God, they are unable to begin that relationship. Our hearts need to be burdened for those who have not yet realized their condition. We live in a society that is all about the pay off. People might do kind things, or help someone, but the tendency is to look for the pay back. They might put money into a cause, but they are looking for the pay off, maybe monetarily, maybe emotionally, or maybe egotistically.
We have to understand that even our righteousness is a filthy rag before the Lord – Isaiah 64:6. Even when we believe we have the purest intentions or motives, we are unable to be holy as God is holy. This is why we need grace. Grace covers us and allows the Spirit of God to work through our lives in spite of ourselves. Jeremiah 17:9 says the heart is deceitful and wicked above all else, who can know it. Our heart will always tell us we are something that in fact we are not – not as God sees us. We must learn to let God show us who we are in contrast to who He is so that we can gain more of Him through repentance and denial of self.
We see in Acts 26 that once again God is fulfilling His purpose through Paul’s life because Paul has been transformed by the Spirit of God and continues to live obediently in response to his circumstances. In speaking about Jesus Hebrews 7:25 says, “Consequently, He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”
Acts 26 shows us through Paul how Jesus is able to save because He:
- Chose to live in a clay vessel – Acts 26:15 – Hebrews 2:14-16, because Jesus lived a life as human He was able to partake in the same things and by living a sinless life was able to die as a spotless sacrifice for the sin of the world.
- Changed eternity with His obedience – Acts 26:16-17 – John 10:18 tells us how Jesus laid down His life in obedience and through love for His Father. Col 3:13-14 tell us the sin of the world was nailed to the cross – Jesus obedience was once for all. Hebrews 7:27 tells us His sacrifice was once for all – never could be repeated.
- Continues helping His own – Acts 26:22 – Hebrews 8:10, Hebrews 2:16, 18 we learn that Jesus is helping the offspring of Abraham and because He suffered when tempted we are helped who also are tempted.
- Chooses to dwell in us – the humble in heart James 4:6 – like Paul in Acts 26:1 who has a personal relationship with Christ.
- Changes our hearts to obey – places His Spirit within us (Hebrews 8:10) – Acts 26:4-19 describe a murderer in Saul who the Lord transformed to a saint
- Calls other to Himself – uses human vessels to preach the gospel and be and example of changed lives to bring others to salvation – Acts 26:20-32.
Whose agenda is more important in your life? Every time you shrug off conviction of sin in your life you tell Jesus your life and your desires are more important.
Your flesh always wants to feel better – your heart will convince you there is a way. You will give way to instinct and as Jude 10 tells us it will be to your own destruction.
How can we apply these changes in our own lives? We must confront our sin condition – not just admit it’s there, but actually confront it to do battle.
- Turn away from darkness – Ephesians 5 is a command to walk in the light and avoid all that will be darkness in our lives.
- We must confront our thoughts, motives, intentions, emotions, and reasons. Matthew 23:25.
- Travel in the light – our final destination is not here on earth, but is in heaven where we will spend eternity. We must live as people passing through this life with eternity in our hearts.
- Walking every day with Jesus.
- Tell people what Jesus has done – Acts 1:8 we are commanded to be witnesses in our town, our region and around the world.
- Just state the facts – the power is in the cross 1 Cor 1:17.
As we learn to live as disciples – we too like Paul will be used to spread the good news, even to kings and rulers. The beautiful thing about Christ living in clay pots like us is that He will transform our lives, and a person whose life is transformed will not be able to stop telling people about Jesus!