The Sin of Procrastination: Acts Series #39
Do you have trouble with procrastination? I know I do and, starting tomorrow, I’m going do something about it. I believe everyone is plagued with some form of procrastination, but some people have a form of procrastination that is actually harming them.
Here are five questions to find out whether or not we are procrastinators. First, do you always hand in work at the deadline, or later, but never early? Second, do you postpone starting a diet until some set time in the future, a time that keeps changing? Third, do you use fatigue or a headache for a reason for not getting things done? Fourth, do you clutter up your daily schedule with little things so that you don’t have time to do the big important thing that you’re trying to avoid? Last, do you delay in seeing a doctor about symptoms because you hope they’ll go away?
Procrastination is more than the thief of time. It is the grave of opportunity, and it may be the road to Hell. It is God’s will for everyone to be saved and to know Jesus Christ. We want them to be saved, but even those who are unsaved, many of them will not be saved. First, some will not be saved because they’re just out and out sinners. They don’t believe what I preach, and they don’t want to believe it. They hate God, they hate Christ, they hate the Bible, and they hate the church. They don’t intend to be saved.
Second, there is a second category of persons who will hear the Gospel, and not be saved, because these are self-righteous people. They think the gospel is for the thief, the murderer, the prostitute, the pervert, the down and out, but not them because they’re nice, cultured people. They live good lives, they do good deeds, they’re even religious. Therefore, they don’t see their need of being saved.
However, I believe largest category of people who are lost, and who will not be saved, are what I would call procrastinators. They do not intend to go to Hell. They sincerely intend that one day they will be saved, but not today. They put it off and refuse to receive Christ now, thinking that they will receive Him later on. I believe that the sin of procrastination has blasted more dreams, and blighted more lives, and wrecked more careers, and damned more souls than perhaps any other sin.
In Acts 24, we learn about a man you procrastinated, putting off giving his heart to Jesus Christ, and in all likelihood is in Hell today. In Acts 24:24-27, we read: “And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. And as he”— that is Paul—“And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee”—And, there’s the procrastination—“Go thy way for this time. When I have a convenient season I will call for thee. He hoped also that money should have been given him of Paul, that he might loose him: wherefore he sent for him the oftener, and communed with him. But after two years Porcius Festus came into Felix’ room: and Felix, willing to shew the Jews a pleasure, left Paul bound.”
Paul is a prisoner of Caesarea and the Roman judge is a man named Felix. Felix has some religious proclivities and some inclinations. He wants to understand the faith concerning Jesus Christ. Felix actually called for Paul. And, he said, “Paul, I want you to tell me about Jesus Christ.” And Paul did. Paul preached a Christ-centered, pertinent message to this man. The conviction of the Holy Spirit was so strong that Felix trembled like a leaf in a storm. He was right at the threshold of salvation, but then he did something that so many people do. He said, “Now, Paul, go your way for a time. When I have a convenient season, then I’m going to call for you.” That is, “Paul, I know you’re right, I’m under conviction, but I’m not going to do it now. I’m going to wait for a better time.” What Felix called “…convenient season…” (Acts 24:25). The devil trapped Felix, and he is in Hell.
I. The Preaching That Convicts Us
When Felix called for Paul, he said, “Paul, you tell me about Jesus.” I want you to see the sermon that Paul preached and it was the sermon that convicted him. Look in verse 25: “And as he reasoned of righteousness”—that was the first point—“temperance”— that was the second point—“and judgment to come…” (Acts 24:25). Felix trembled. This was the sermon that convicted him.
The Bible says, “Paul reasoned with him about these things.” That is, Paul took each one of these points, and Paul expanded them, and reasoned with this judge about those things.
Now, I suppose had we had been there that day we would’ve said, “Now, Paul, you’re before Felix, he can set you free, and you’re in danger if you’re not set free of losing your life. So, Paul, tone it down, flatter him a little bit, stroke him a little bit, don’t point your finger in his face, use all kind of courtesy, talk to him about your world travels, Paul.” However, Paul preached a rip-roaring message to this man, so much that he trembled. You would’ve thought that it was Felix before Paul rather than Paul before Felix. You would’ve thought Paul was a prosecutor and a judge and Felix was the prisoner.
I thank God for the Apostle Paul, who did not trim his message. First, I want you to see the righteousness that he revealed. He said to Felix, “Now, Judge, I know perhaps you think that you’re a good man, but the standard that God has set is absolute righteousness. You may think that you’re righteous because you’ve done a few good things.” I figured Paul quoted, Isaiah chapter 64, verse 6: “…all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags…”
No doubt, Paul said, “Judge Felix, you’re sitting there, wrapped in your royal robes, sitting in all of your opulence. Yet, I want you to know that God sees you dressed in filthy rags.” And, the word filthy rags literally means “the bandages that a leper might wear and then discards.”
“Felix that’s not what God thinks of the bad things you do. That’s what God thinks of the good things you do apart from Christ. Your righteousness is as filthy rags in His sight and you’re never going to be saved by doing good deeds.” And, then Paul says, “Now, Judge, I want to tell you where righteousness is. In 2 Corinthians chapter 5:21: “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin”—“that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Paul told Felix that self-righteousness is non-existent in God’s sight. It does not prevail in God’s sight. Jesus Christ took our sins, carried them to the cross, and purchased forgiveness for us.
Next, Paul shared, “Judge, the only way that that righteousness can become yours is by faith.” He probably quoted to Felix, Romans 4:5, “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Romans 4:5). I can hear Paul, “Felix, your righteousness is no good. God has provided righteousness in the Lord Jesus Christ who took your sins to the cross, died for you, and, You’re not going to get it by working for it.” “…to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Romans 4:5).
On the heels of of the standard that Paul revealed, is sin that Paul revealed. Not only did Paul reason with Felix about righteousness, but about temperance. The word temperance here literally means “self-control.” Felix was a sensual man. For example, the Bible says he was with his wife Drusilla. Do you know who Drusilla was? Drusilla was one of the most beautiful women who ever lived. She was said to be the most beautiful woman of her day. She was one of the daughters of King Herod Agrippa, that murderous old king. You remember what happened to him in Acts chapter 12, “…he was eaten of worms…” (Acts 12:23). Drusilla was the daughter of Herod Agrippa. She got married the first time when she was fourteen or fifteen. However, Felix had set his eyes upon her and took her away from her husband.
Additionally, Felix was a politician. If you will read this story all the way through one more time you will learn that one of the reasons that he talked with Paul— along with wanting to know about salvation—was that he was hoping to get a bribe. He was hoping that Paul would give him some money that he might release him. And, as you study the entire character of this man, later on, you see him pandering to the Jews, I mean he crucifies his conscience for public opinion. The Bible says he was “…willing to content the people…” (Mark 15:15). Not that he did it according to principle. What I’m trying to say is, as you read this story, you see here was a man who did not understand temperance.
What was Paul saying to him? “Here is God’s standard, it is absolute righteousness. The only righteousness that you can have therefore is by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Secondly, here’s your conduct. You are out of control. You are a sinner by nature, by birth, by practice, and by choice.” Then the third truth that he said, not only was there the standard that Paul revealed and the sin that Paul revealed, but the summons that Paul revealed. He said, “…righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come…” You’re going to face God.
What Paul is saying to Felix? “Now, Felix, don’t judge by appearance, don’t judge by what happens now, judge by what is going to happen.” You see, judgment is not now, it is coming. Don’t ever get the idea that God judges an unsaved man now. He doesn’t. Well, you say, “Don’t the unsaved get in trouble because of their sin?” Anybody gets in trouble because of their sin. But, that is not primarily the judgment of God, that’s just a built-in judgment. I mean, every kick has a kickback. That’s just a built-in judgment, but the true judgment is coming.
One of the most terrifying verses I believe in all the Bible is Romans 2:5: We read, “But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath…” and of perdition of ungodly men (Romans 2:5). What does that mean? There’s a day of wrath coming. There’s a day of judgment coming, and people with hard hearts just simply store it up, they treasure up wrath against the day of wrath, and the righteous judgment of God that is coming.
Paul brought a stern sermon. He reveals a standard, he reveals a sin, he reveals a summons that the judgment is coming. So Felix, whose hands were filthy with the sins of the flesh, whose heart was in need of a Savior, Paul does not back down or let down.
When Paul finishes this sermon, look what happens in verse 25: “…Felix trembled…” (Acts 24:25). Now, why did he tremble? He wasn’t afraid of Paul, Paul probably was there in chains. He wasn’t afraid of Paul, but he was under Holy Spirit conviction. Thank God that the Holy Spirit of God brings conviction.
I would to God we had more trembling today because of our sin and because of the judgment that is to come, because of the righteousness that God demands. “…Felix trembled…” (Acts 24:25). What a wonderful time that would’ve been for him to have been saved! Wouldn’t that have been wonderful if he had said, “Well, now, Paul, right now I want Christ as my personal Savior.”
Nevertheless, Felix comes right to the threshold of salvation, but he says, “Paul, wait a minute, ‘Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee’” (Acts 24:25).
II. The Pressures That Confront Us
The devil never gives up anyone or anything without a struggle. Now, when the Holy Spirit of God moved into Felix to convict him, the devil moved in to confront him. The devil did not want Felix to be saved and so he begins to unleash all of the artillery of Hell. There were three mighty forces that warred against this man’s soul. We think of them as the three enemies that all of us face—the world, the flesh, and the devil.
First, we are confronted with worldliness. The world warred on this man. Think of it. Felix, is down in Caesarea. He is in a place of prominence, a place of power, a place of position, a place of praise. Now, in order for him to get saved he has to humble himself, and admit that he’s wrong. He has to admit that he needs Christ. There are a lot of people who get under conviction in a worship service, but the devil says, “Don’t go down front and make a fool of yourself. Maintain your pride. I mean, you go down there, well that’s like saying you have a need.” The devil says similar things all the time. Pride sits in the seat with every sinner. We call that worldliness and the world worked on him.
Not only did the world work on him, the flesh worked on him. Remember, there is Drusilla. There are the treasures that he’s been getting (bribes) and there are the pleasures of the flesh that he might be asked to give up. By the way, the only thing God will ever ask you to give up are the things that’ll hurt you. If it’ll make you healthy, happy, wholesome, holy, God says, “Help yourself.” “For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11).
You can read between the lines here and you can see how Satan is whispering in his ear and saying to him, “Now, Felix, hey, buddy, cool it, you’re acting emotionally. Just tell Paul that you’ll think about it. Just tell him it’s not convenient right now to make that decision.”
There is an old imaginary story of a convocation of demons who met to find out the best way to damn the souls of men. They were having a strategy meeting, a planning meeting. One demon stood up and said, “Let’s tell people there is no God, and if there’s no God they won’t need to repent and get saved.” Some said, that’ll damn some, but that’s not the best plan because the evidence for God is overwhelming. The fool says there’s no God.” Why, it’s just obvious that God exists, so he didn’t get much applause.
Another demon stood up and said, “Well, let’s tell them that while God exists, the Bible is not true, it’s a bundle of blunders and a book of lies.” Some applauded, but others said, “Well, that’ll damn some souls, but you know, inspiration for the Bible is so self-evident. There’s the fulfilled prophecy, there’s the wonderful unity of the Bible, there’s the applicability of the Bible, there’s the everlasting qualities of the Bible and all of these things and that’s not the best plan. It’ll get some, but that’s not the best plan.”
Another demon stood up and said, “Well, let’s tell them that Christ is not the Savior. Let’s preach the Christ of good works. Let’s just humanize Jesus and make him, rather than a Savior, a model, a leader. Tell people if they’ll just be good and try to live a good life like Jesus lived and so forth, they’ll be saved.” Many of the demons applauded but others said, “Now wait a minute. Some will buy that, but the Holy Spirit of God convicts people that Christ is the Savior of the world, and people know that they’re sinners, and they know that they need a substitute to die for them. When they hear it, it just bears witness.”
And, so finally a chief demon stood up. There was silence, a silence of horror in that sulfurous cavern where they met and this chief demon said, “Let me tell you what to do. Admit that God exists, admit that the Bible is the Word of God, admit that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, even admit to people that they need to be saved. But, just tell them not to do it today.” There was Hellish applause. The demons said, “That is the best plan of all.”
Now, obviously that’s a fictitious story, none of us have sat in at a convocation of demons and listened to a business meeting, but as you study history and you study the Bible and the warnings of the Bible, you know indeed that souls by the bushels have been sent to Hell because they have simply postponed the day of salvation. Here was pressure, upon this man and so he simply says, “Paul, not now, later.”
III. The Postponement That Will Condemn Us
In Acts 24:27, we read,“…after two years Porcius Festus came into Felix’ room: and Felix, willing to show the Jews a pleasure, left Paul bound.” What does that tell us? It tells us he never did get saved. He says, “I’m looking for a convenient time. I’ll hear you again.” But, he never received Christ.
History tells us that Felix died by way of suicide. He was down in Italy, looking into a placid lake, and he saw his reflection in that lake. When he saw his reflection, he began to reflect on his life and the misery that was in his life, and he plunged into that lake and drowned a suicide. Do you know what the name Felix means? It means “happy,” happy, but he had no happiness, he had no joy. He continued day after day, week after week, month after month, it turned to years, he never received Christ. He had told Paul, “Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.”
Felix made three tragic miscalculations. First, he miscalculated, that convenience will come. He had the idea that now is not the best time that tomorrow is a better time. Tomorrow is not a better time, and now is the best time. Why? If you wait till tomorrow, you’re going to lose today. Now, think about it. “Get right with God, you may die. Get right with God, you may die. Get right with God, you may die.” Let me change that. “Get right with God, you may live, you may live, and live with Jesus.”
Now, if there were no Heaven—there is—but if there were no Heaven, and if there were no Hell—there is—but if there were no Hell, I mean, if the Bible clearly said, “There is no Heaven to be gained, there is no Hell to be shunned,” I would still want to be a Christian. Don’t feel sorry for me because I’m a Christian. Being a Christian is not some penalty that you pay in order to get to Heaven. In this life there’s joy and peace in knowing the Lord Jesus Christ. You will lose today. I mean, do you think Felix gained so much when he went for the world, the flesh and the devil? It brought him no happiness, it brought him no joy, his life ended in misery.
We read in Proverbs chapter 27:1 “Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth” (Proverbs 27:1). People say, “Well, you know I’ve got plenty of time.” No you don’t!. “Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth” (Proverbs 27:1).
You don’t know when you’re going to die. Don’t have the idea that convenience is going to come. There’s always the problem of sudden death. Thousands and thousands of Americans die every day. Some by, die by disease, some die by disaster, some die by decay, they just get old, and some die by design, but they die. Death lays his icy hands on the old man and he dies, we know that, but sometimes the young mother will kiss her helpless babies goodbye and step into eternity. Sometime even a little child has to drop his toys and grapple with the iron strength of death.
People are dying. Watch your watch tick. Did you know every time your watch ticks an American dies? One person dies a second, sixty per minute, thirty-six hundred per hour, eighty-six thousand souls a day, thirty million souls a year. And, one of those ticks on that watch is yours and one of them is mine.
Felix was foolish to say, “I’ll wait for a convenient time.” Secondly, And, then not only, dear friend, is it foolish to say, “I’ll wait for a more convenient season,” Jesus may come at any moment, In Matthew 24:42: “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.”
Are you ready? I mean, if the trumpet should sound and Jesus should come right now? The Bible says, “Be ready.” “Well,” you say, “I don’t think he’s coming today.” That’s the best sign I know of that he might, for the Bible says, “…in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.” Jeus is coming like lightning, like a bolt out of the blue, not out of the cloudy sky, but out of the cloudless sky.
What was Felix’s first tragic mistake? That convenience will come. What was his second tragic mistake? That conviction will continue. Here was a man trembling, here was a man under Holy Spirit conviction. Now I want to remind you that conviction was of the Lord. But the Bible says, “…My spirit shall not always strive with man…” (Genesis 6:3). You can say, “No” to God and that conviction can pass away. In Hebrews 3:7: we read, “Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts…” Every time you say, “No” to Jesus Christ, your heart gets a little harder. And, there will come a time,when your heart will be so hard that the Holy Spirit of God cannot and will not speak to you.
Three times in Romans chapter 1 we read where “…God gave them up…” (Romans 1:26). “…God gave them up…” (Romans 1:26). “…God gave them up…” (Romans 1:26).
Listen to this Scripture in John chapter 12 verse 37: “But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him” (John 12:37). It’s as though John is amazed. He says, “All of these miracles are done, yet they believe not on him. And, then in verse 39 it says: “Therefore they could not believe…” (John 12:39). Do you get that? Verse 37 says, “They would not believe.” And, then verse 39 says, “They could not believe.”
Felix says, “Well, Paul, you go your way, when I have a convenient season I’ll send for you.” But, the Spirit of God had convicted him, he was trembling, and the Bible says, “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near” (Isaiah 55:6). Don’t get the idea that you can trifle with the Holy Spirit. Don’t get the idea that you can just whistle and God will come running. You can bandage your eyes and keep a bandage on so long that when you take that bandage off you will be blind.
Felix made three miscaluations. First, he made the mistake that convenience will come. Second, that conviction will continue. Third, He that conflicts would cease—that somehow it would be easier later than it is now. The devil never gives up anybody or anything without a fight.
It will never be easier for you to be saved than right now. There will never be a better time for you to be saved than now. You might be saved later, but there’ll never be a better time for you to be saved than now. Why? “Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts” (Hebrews 4:7). “Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth” (Proverbs 27:1). “…Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2).
When someone says, “I’m waiting on a convenient season,” I want him/her to remember this. Tomorrow you will have more sin to repent of. Tomorrow you will have less time to repent in. And, tomorrow you will have a harder heart to repent with. Wherefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts” (Hebrews 4:7).
What were the mistakes that Felix made? That convenience will come, that conviction will continue, that conflict will cease. “Tomorrow.” He just simply puts it off, he’s hoping that tomorrow is going to be the time to come to the Lord. It will not be so.
Have you made the same mistakes as Felix? Maybe, you are a Christian but you do not share Christ with your lost family members or friends. Maybe you are waiting for a convenient time or a less conflicting time. We must do all we can while we still can to share Christ with this lost and dying world.