Do You Ever Try To Talk Jesus Out Of Being Obedient To Him?


"When I had returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, I fell into a trance and saw him saying to me, 'Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about me.' And I said, 'Lord, they themselves know that in one synagogue after another I imprisoned and beat those who believed in you. And when the blood of Stephen your witness was being shed, I myself was standing by and approving and watching over the garments of those who killed him.' And he said to me, 'Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.'" — Acts 22:17-21

So let's back up for a second and remember our context. An uproar in Jerusalem instigated this moment during a large feast gathering. And someone claimed that Paul had brought a Gentile into an off-limits area of the temple, which wasn't true. But word spread, and a large crowd of Jews within the temple grounds are in an uproar. Paul is arrested by Roman authorities but is given a chance to speak. He is speaking to the crowd, and he is sharing his testimony. But his testimony is all about Jesus and the resurrection. At this moment in his talk, he is telling the crowd of Jews about a moment he was in the temple post the encounter with Jesus. He claims he was praying and fell into a "trance." He is told in this trance by Jesus to leave Jerusalem because the Jews (who are surrounding him at this moment) will no longer accept him. But he tries to rationalize in this trance with Jesus about why the Jews would accept him. And he reasons that he was an ardent persecutor of Christians, inferring to Jesus that there is no way they would not accept him.

So let me pause here.

Do you think Jesus doesn't know that Paul persecuted Christians? Of course, he knows this. This was the whole point of the confrontation on the road of Damascus. But note what Paul does in this trance. In his talk with Jesus, Paul is using his past to dismiss what Jesus wanted him to do in the present. He is trying to tell Jesus, "Don't worry, bro, I got this."

I think we all do this sometimes. I think we are prone to do this at any point in our walk with Jesus, but I did this a lot more when I was younger in my faith. I call it rationalizing disobedience. We use natural reasoning to convince ourselves to do something that Jesus does not want us to do. We overestimate our resources and wisdom and underestimate Jesus's resources and wisdom. We put too much credibility in our past rather than listening and obeying what Jesus wants us to do and realizing the future he has for us. I hope you see that in Paul's testimony, he explains that he put too much stock in this moment in who he was and therefore was missing out on who God wanted him to be. Paul was focused on surviving with the Jews, but God is saying you are going to thrive with the Gentiles.

For those of you out there today looking for a calling from Jesus. Consider this question. Could you be missing the calling of God because you have been rationalizing disobedience, embracing your past, putting too much stock in your wisdom rather than acting in obedience to Jesus? Stop doing that. And listen and act in obedience to Jesus a little more quickly today. Because sometimes, delayed obedience is disobedience to the one who has a great plan and calling for our life.

ASK THIS: Are you listening and obeying the wisdom of Jesus or the wisdom of your past?

DO THIS: Obey more quickly today.

PRAY THIS: God, speak to me. And today, I will listen and obey.

PLAY THIS: Teach Me To Obey.


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10 thoughts on “Do You Ever Try To Talk Jesus Out Of Being Obedient To Him?

  1. Cliff Black says:

    Great message today for me! We are in the process of calling a new pastor. Maybe we are stuck in the past. Thank you for todays message!

  2. Thom says:

    At times it is so easy to rationalize sinful behavior, believing it’s “not that bad”, or “I can handle it”. I need to more often, always, turn to Jesus and obey.

  3. Tom says:

    Thanks Vince. Your discernment into the Scriptures is amazing! I SO appreciate your interpretive words this morning. Paul’s eventual and ongoing obedience led him to the place where he counted everything he had done as “dung” for the privilege of knowing Christ Jesus intimately. There IS hope for me! 🙏

  4. Trent says:

    I so very much want to obey but I cannot find any specific instruction! Lord God lay it out plainly for me to see my duty so I can get started.

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