While working on many of the exhortations God was giving, He gave notes to discuss regarding Paul’s walk, and specifically his imprisonment in Acts 16. While what God had given was worked on, openings were sought to fit it into several of the prior writings; Of The Earth, Earthy, or But The High Places, even back to the Sea Of Flesh, since it seemed to apply in places to each one. God then gave the beginnings of God Created The Heavens, but there was no release to include it in any of them. As God continued to open the scriptures more, and more notes accumulated, where to include it was sought. Eventually it went on like a light bulb, it belongs as a standalone topic; a glimpse of the results that are possible for a humble, obedient, yielded man full of grace and the Spirit of God.
When Paul was approached by Jesus at Damascus, he was shown … how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake. In several epistles Paul notes some of the many things he suffered, but most notably in II Corinthians 11:23 – 28. For this topic we only want to look at one occurrence, being jailed at Philippi;
Acts 16:22 – 24 And the multitude rose up against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailer to keep them safely: Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.
Please try to get a greater understanding of what happened to them by the words used; their clothes were rent off, they were beaten with many stripes, they were cast into prison, thrust into the inner prison, their feet fast in the stocks. How often do we complain or grumble because someone has said something to or about us? What was the response of Paul and Silas? They did not just rejoice, they went into ministry;
Acts 16:25 And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.
How could Paul and Silas do this? First, while their bodies were negatively effected by the physical treatment, they were positively affected by it spiritually;
II Corinthians 4:16 – 18 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Paul and Silas could rejoice because the persecution worked in them a … far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. Secondly, they had cast off the works of darkness, and put on Jesus;
Romans 13:12 – 14 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.
Once they had put on Jesus they were in the kingdom, and the kingdom was in them! The King of the kingdom must be in charge, and will lead to spiritual victory. While the physical war raged around them, the spiritual invasion had already begun in the prisoners, and was about to reach the jailer!
Acts 16:26 And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed.
Have you ever speculated what you would have done after the doors were opened and their bands loosed? An angel delivered Peter from prison, and the devil will always try to counterfeit what God does. In this case the devil wanted them out of there, to stop what they were doing! But Paul and Silas were hearing from God, and continued the spiritual battle;
Acts 16:27 – 30 And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved.
The jailer’s life was in Paul’s hands, both physically, and now spiritually; yet it was not Paul, but the Jesus that was in Paul! The King of kings worked through His servant to reach the jailer. By the total obedience of His servants the jailer and his family were conquered in the spiritual warfare!
How did Paul reach this place in his walk where he was not moved by the physical battle? He had already fought and won the war within, as he told the Corinthians;
II Corinthians 10:3 – 6 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.
Because Paul had fully put on Jesus he did not have thoughts of the physical pain, or of the individuals who did this to him. Since he had brought those thoughts into the obedience of Christ, he could respond in Jesus manner! We need to understand that when you are still fighting a spiritual war within, you will find it much more difficult to fight without. How can we “invade” another country when we have not taken our own?
While we probably will not face the physical suffering that Paul did, we do not have this depth of obedience to overcome the small things we do suffer. We must see our need to complete the battle within. We cannot achieve what God wants us to if we cannot defeat our self.
Do you now spiritually see the possibilities if you win this battle and find total obedience to Christ Jesus? After all that he did Paul did not believe he had attained perfection;
Philippians 3:12 – 14 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
It is easy to read this as a call to come up higher with God, but there is also a call to a continuing walk. Muscles atrophy if they are not trained regularly; joints stiffen if not used; our brain is less acute if not kept sharp by use. It is the same in the spiritual, if you do not use it you begin to lose it, and the flesh can again take over. That is why Paul says in another place, I die daily; he continued to keep the Spirit in charge, overcoming the flesh. Paul had such a respect and desire for the high calling in Christ Jesus, that he says I press toward the mark. Never leave your training, but, as Paul, keep your eyes and ears on the goal.
And yet God has even greater things for us if we continue to seek Him, and walk the walk of obedience;
Philippians 3:10, 11 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable to his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.
Paul uses the future tense here; I may, and I might. We have already seen that Paul said he had not yet attained, and so he strove for greater things in Christ; both here, and in the resurrection, which will be greater than anything we have known. He also speaks of the knowledge that we shall be given then;
I Corinthians 13:12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
Oh, the prizes that await if we are faithful and obedient! Incorruption, immortality, knowledge, to eat of the hidden manna; all are to be ours, but the greatest thing will be to be with Jesus. Check yourself into spiritual boot camp; build yourself up on your most holy faith; and then continue to prepare and battle as God directs.