In Acts 24 we clearly see the dangers of self-preservation which causes blindness to truth. Here we see the contrast between the deceived religious community and their supposed love for truth; the corrupt Roman government and their supposed love for truth; and the apostle Paul and his actual love for and stand for truth.
The deceived religious community and their supposed love for truth (24:1-9)
There is an appearance or form of godliness without the power of godliness. The real motive of the deceived religious community is self-preservation and not truth-promotion. Whatever is seen as a threat to the movement, expansion, and existence of the religious community is dealt with in some form or fashion by the religious community – even if that threat is pure truth!
What is amazing is that while being motivated by self-preservation, the religious community carries on its wicked, ungodly, and unrighteous activities (attempting to murder the apostle Paul) under the disguise of righteous motives and actions (5-6). The real reason though for the attempted murder of the apostle was not that he was guilty of any of the charges brought against him but that he was perceived as a definite threat to the deceived religious community - and he was! – He was considered a ringleader – one who stands in the front rank!
Those who take their stand on the truth no matter the consequences are not only considered a definite threat to the existence of the deceived religious community – they are! That is why some of the primary leaders of the deceived religious community today are saying that the greatest threat to the evangelical movement is fundamentalists – and what they mean by fundamentalists is people who take their stand on the truth no matter the consequences – we stand in the way of their ecumenical efforts and expose their heresy and hypocrisy and are therefore considered threats.
The deceived religious community isn’t interested in truth but in self-preservation and they are interested in self-preservation because in actuality they believe that they are the truth and know the truth.
The Roman government and their supposed love for truth (24:22-27)
Hypocrisy is not just a religious thing – there are hypocrites in every profession. Even governments and maybe I should say especially governments can be hypocritical too. The Roman government was very hypocritical by having an appearance of justice without actually having and doing justice. The real motive of the Roman government was self-preservation even at the expense of truth and justice.
The Roman government was able to carry on its wicked and unjust activities under the disguise of being concerned about justice. Whatever was seen as a threat to the Roman government, especially her precious Pax Romana (Roman peace) was dealt with in some form or fashion, even if truth and justice had to be overlooked.
While Felix was supposed to love truth and uphold justice, he didn’t even come close. He knew the truth about Christianity that it wasn’t a bunch of political revolutionaries (22), he lied about needing Lysias there as a witness to determine the case (22b), he held captive a man he knew to be innocent (23), he desired to receive bribes (26) and most telling of all – he avoided the conviction of the Holy Spirit about his sin and need to repent (24-25).
Felix was married to Drusilla, the youngest daughter of Herod Agrippa I. She was Felix’s third wife. While still in her teens, Drusilla had been given in marriage to the king of Emesa. Felix lured her away from her husband and married her. No wonder Felix became frightened when he heard Paul speak of righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come – he wasn’t interested in truth nor adjusting his life to truth through repentance of sin and faith in Christ Jesus. There is grave danger in self-preservation
The apostle Paul and his actual love for and stand for truth (24:10-21)
Paul was innocent of all charges and the charges could not be proved (13). Right behavior flows from right beliefs, doctrine determines duty, and truth is not to be compromised (14-16). Loving and serving God in truth is based on loving and obeying the Word of God (14).
Paul had the power of godliness although judging by appearances he appeared to be a lawbreaker and trouble-maker. Paul’s motive was not self-preservation but alignment with the truth (16). Paul took his stand for truth no matter the consequences (21). Later, in Acts 25 we read that Paul was even willing to die based on truth - "If then, I am a wrongdoer and have commited anything worthy of death, I do not refuse to die" (Acts 25:11).
Those who have been redeemed have received the love of the truth so as to be saved and they aren't interested in self-preservation but in truth promotion - they are interested in "is it right" and not in "will it work."