Chapter Fifteen — Part Three: The Book of ActsBy: Pastors Rodney & Adonica Howard-Browne
Publish date: 04/03/2022Foundation Scriptures:
1. God’s Eternal Plan.
a. James is addressing the assembly concerning the Gentiles and what was to be required of them.
b. He is directing them away from human opinions and toward the eternal Word of God.
c. Acts 15:18 NKJV — “Known to God from eternity are all His works…
d. The Bible is the revelation of God’s plan, which was known to Him from the beginning of the ages.
e. Psalm 135:5-6a AMPC — For I know that the Lord is great and that our Lord is above all gods. 6 Whatever the Lord pleases, that has He done in the heavens and on earth…
f. God does what He wills and purposes—and His Word is the final arbiter of all questions or disagreements.
2. Four Commands.
a. Acts 15:19-20 NKJV — Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, 20 but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood.
b. It was decided that the Gentile Christians would not be required to fulfill the requirements of the Law to be saved, since God Himself, through Jesus Christ, had made it unnecessary.
c. Instead, they were given these four directives on how to conduct themselves:
d. Abstain from things polluted by idols.
e. Abstain from sexual immorality.
f. Abstain from things strangled.
g. Abstain from blood.
h. Abstain (Greek apechomai) — to hold one’s self off; refrain; abstain.
i. Each of these requirements were not merely rules to be followed, but they would be highly beneficial to their health—spiritual, mental, and physical!
3. Abstain from Pollution of Idols.
a. It literally means to stand aloof from idols and have nothing to do with them.
b. They were also expected to abstain from all the immoral acts committed during festivals that celebrated the idols (Acts 15:20, 29; 1 Cor. 8:7-13; 10:18-22).
c. 1 Corinthians 10:19-21 NKJV — What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything? 20 Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons.
d. Idol worship is demon worship.
4. Abstain from Sexual Immorality.
a. Abstain from fornication—sexual immorality.
b. They were instructed to abstain from all forms of sexual perversion and uncleanness.
c. Prostitution, homosexuality, and other perversions were common at idol temples (Num. 25:1-15).
d. Hebrews 13:4 NKJV — Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.
e. According to the Word of God, the bed—sex within marriage—is undefiled.
f. It is holy (sacred) and instituted by God Himself in the Garden of Eden.
g. However, any sexual contact or activity, outside of the marriage covenant, is unclean, unholy, and detrimental to your own body and soul.
h. 1 Corinthians 6:9a-10 AMPC — Do not be deceived (misled): neither the impure and immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor those who participate in homosexuality, 10 Nor cheats (swindlers and thieves), nor greedy graspers, nor drunkards, nor foulmouthed revilers and slanderers, nor extortioners and robbers will inherit or have any share in the kingdom of God.
i. 1 Corinthians 6:18 AMPC — Shun immorality and all sexual looseness [flee from impurity in thought, word, or deed]. Any other sin which a man commits is one outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.
j. Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who lives inside you—you are not your own, but you were bought with a price—so honor God and bring Him glory in your body (1 Cor. 6:19-20).
5. Abstain from Things Strangled.
a. When animals were strangled, their blood remained in their body, which was contrary to God’s commands that they should not eat blood.
b. This command was given to Noah—before the Law.
c. Genesis 9:4 AMPC — But you shall not eat flesh with the life of it, which is its blood.
6. Abstain from Blood.
a. The life of the flesh is in the blood.
b. Whenever an animal was killed, as an offering or to eat, the blood was to be drained from the animal.
c. Leviticus 17:10-12 NKJV — ‘And whatever man of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell among you, who eats any blood, I will set My face against that person who eats blood, and will cut him off from among his people. 11 For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.’ 12 Therefore I said to the children of Israel, ‘No one among you shall eat blood, nor shall any stranger who dwells among you eat blood.’
a. Acts 15:21 AMPC — For from ancient generations Moses has had his preachers in every town, for he is read [aloud] every Sabbath in the synagogues.
b. The commandments, given through Moses, are still our guide and our instructions on how to live and conduct ourselves in a manner that is pleasing to the Lord.
c. The Ten Commandments still apply to us, but they are fulfilled by the royal law—the Law of Love.
d. James 2:8 NKJV — If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well.
e. Matthew 22:37-40 NKJV — Jesus said to him, “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”