Tuesday, June 10, 2014

SINSANITY (Acts Chapter 26)

Acts 26:24, “And as he was saying these things in his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, ‘Paul, you are out of your mind; your great learning is driving you out of your mind.’  But Paul said, ‘I am not out of my mind,’ most excellent Festus, ‘but I am speaking true and rational words’.”

The DSM-IV manual, the U.S. standard reference for psychiatry, cites over 300 different manifestations of mental illness.  Generally speaking a person is deemed mentally ill if their thinking or behavior lies distinctively outside the “norm.”  And especially if there is concern that they might cause harm to self or others.

Festus had no DSM-IV manual to consult, but when he heard Paul’s testimony, and his message regarding the death and resurrection of Christ, he deemed Paul to be crazy.  But Paul was not crazy, his spoke “true and rational words” to Festus, words having the power to save and restore a person to a right way of thinking.

Sin is an insanity (“sinsanity”).  That we, God’s created, should live in a state of rebellion against our Creator God is insane.  That we, despite all the evidence to the contrary, should deny His existence is sheer madness (Cf. Psalm 14:1).  That we would enslave ourselves to damning and harmful vices that work to inflict harm on ourselves and others is nuts (Cf. Romans 6:21; 1 Peter 1:18).  That we would “give approval to those who practice” such damning behaviors speaks to the depth of our sin-rooted folly (Cf. Romans 1:32).  The world is a mental ward, and every sinner is condemned to it lest God intervene to affect one’s release.

Paul defended himself before King Agrippa, his wife Bernice, and Festus.  They were all lost in sin, needy souls with depraved minds, blinded to the truth of the gospel (Cf. Ephesians 2:1-3, 4:17-18; 2 Corinthians 4:4).  Before them he shared his own remarkable testimony of how Christ saved and transformed him, from his sin-maddening former manner of life, to make him to be that loving and faithful ambassador for the truth (Cf. Acts 26:10-18).  He spoke of the commission he had been given to go to the Gentiles, “to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God” (Acts 26:18).  Paul himself had been saved from “sinsanity” and was then commissioned by Christ to minister the gospel message to the “sinsane.”

Festus heard Paul’s defense and said in a loud voice, “Paul, you are out of your mind!  Your great learning is driving you mad” (Acts 26:24).  To this day they say such things against those who speak the truth.  The gospel message of salvation by faith in the risen Christ is good news indeed.  There is no comparable message and no other means of salvation.  People may ignore it, laugh at it, mock it, and consider it folly (Cf. 1 Corinthians 1:23), but there is no good news apart from THE GOOD NEWS.  It radically transformed Paul (Cf. Acts 26:9-20).  It works to deliver sinners from darkness to light (Cf. Acts 26:18a).  It rescues them from the dominion of Satan to God (Acts 26:18b).  It provides, for those who believe, forgiveness and an inheritance (Cf. Acts 26:18c).  The glorious gospel of grace is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe (Cf. 1 Timothy 1:11; Acts 20:24; Romans 1:16).  It alone is able, through the working of the Spirit, to restore a person to a spiritually sane way of thinking and living.

God calls us, as believers, like Paul, to share the gospel with others.  Some might deem you crazy for what you believe, but the gospel alone has the power to save--and make sane—“sin crazy” people.  It did that for Paul.  It did that for you, believer.  It can do the same for others.

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