Paul’s Freedom from Limiting Beliefs
Acts – Chapter 28
- Acts 28:1-2 – The shipwrecks are received and helped by the people of the island of Malta
- Acts 28:2-6 – Paul is bitten by a viper as he puts a bundle of sticks on the fire and those present believe he is a murderer being punished but when he is unharmed they believe that he is a god
- Acts 28:7-10 – They are welcomed in the house of Publius and Paul heals Publius’ father who had dysentery and many others came to Paul and were healed
- Acts 28:11-16 – After three months they continued their voyage and finally reached Rome. In Rome, Paul was allowed to dwell by himself with the soldiers
- Acts 28:17-22 – Paul called the leaders of the Jews in Rome and explained how he was accused by the Jews in Jerusalem and was compelled to appeal to Caesar. The Jews had not heard about Paul before and set a time to hear his report
- Acts 28:23-28 – Many came to hear Paul who explained and testified about the kingdom of God, Jesus and the Law of Moses. Some were persuaded but others rejected his message, then Paul informed them that salvation now was sent to the Gentiles
- Acts 28:29-31 – Paul dwelt there for two years preaching and teaching
The Power of Faith
There is much confusion about faith. Often people ask, “Do I have faith?” But that is a question that shows that they do not understand what faith is. It shows that they have the wrong idea about faith that is the result of 2,000 years of men’s doctrines. That question only adds confusion to their spiritual condition. Your faith is what you believe,
The right question to ask should be, “What do I really believe?”
Now, it is not easy to answer this question. Generally, what people answer is a list of things they have logically agreed with, but that is not what they believe. This answer is superficial and reflects only what is in our conscious mind. Our beliefs are deeper than that.
Our conscious thinking is orders of magnitude smaller than our subconscious. Our beliefs reside in our heart and we are not really conscious of them. They are not logical. They are powerful and determine much of our behavior and the results we have in our life.
How to Determine What We Believe
But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat, and fastened on his hand.
So when the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, “No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he has escaped the sea, yet justice does not allow to live.”
But he shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm. (Acts 28:3-5)
Observe yourself going about your daily business. By your actions you can tell what you really believe. As you learn to do that, you will discover your beliefs.
There is also another way that is even easier. Become conscious of the things you say to yourself. That awareness puts you in a position of advantage. If you know what the Word of God says and you find out that what you say to yourself does not agree with the Word, you can start correcting your beliefs. To obtain results may take some time, but, if you persist, it will work.
Paul’s Beliefs and His Behavior
Observing Paul’s behavior in this chapter is very useful (Acts 28:3-6). He was bitten by a viper. In that country, vipers are highly poisonous. It takes about 15 minutes to die from their bite. The reaction of the people seeing the event was quick. It was based on their experience and their beliefs, but they were wrong. Paul was not a murderer nor did he die.
What would have been your reaction if you were in Paul’s place? Probably panic.
What was Paul’s reaction? Did he beg or even pray to God to save his life and to heal him? Did he realize what had happened? Absolutely! Was he shaken or afraid? Absolutely not! Why? He knew in his heart that he could count on what Jesus had achieved on the cross and God’s healing promise.
This was not the first time that Paul came out unharmed from a deadly situation. He knew that, “they will pick up snakes with their hands, and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all…” (Mark 16:18)
Even if Paul did not yet have the Gospel of Mark, he believed also in the second part of that verse, “they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” The results he obtained with Publius’ father and the other sick in Malta (Acts 28:8-9) are a demonstration of his beliefs and of God’s power working in him (1 Corinthians 2:4).
Who Can Receive from the Prayer of Faith
The people Paul prayed for, were not Jews or believers. They were Gentiles-pagans. In fact, they believed that Paul was a god. Yet, they were healed! Probably, just because they had not been indoctrinated otherwise, they did not question or oppose Paul’s witness of power.
Being a Witness and Sharing the Gospel
Even if the chapter does not mention it, I am sure that Paul took the opportunity to share the Gospel with them for the three months he remained in Malta.
This is an exciting account, but it is God’s will for us all to have the same type of experience today. When we dare to believe God’s Word, we can produce similar results. “As you believe in your heart so are you.” (Proverbs 23:7)
Changing You Limiting Beliefs
The Word of God instructs us to pull down every thought contrary to God’s thoughts (2 Corinthyians 10:3-5). As we decide to believe God’s Word it will change our thought patterns and habits. This happens through awareness and meditation. The strongholds of fear, worry, bitterness, anger, shame, control are the results of your limiting beliefs and will be transformed and replaced with the fruit of the Spirit. With God’s promises He has given us all we need. (2 Peter 1:3-4).
Being Open to the Truth
Again Paul shared his message with the Jews in Rome (Acts 29::17-24) and that resulted in great disputes (Acts 28:29). The conflicts started by Paul sharing the Gospel with the Jews everywhere he went, show how difficult it is to discern the truth once we have been indoctrinated.
This applies also to us today. Once we have embraced some doctrines, believing they are from God, it becomes very difficult to change these beliefs. Our heart is close to different beliefs even if they are true. We should keep an open mind and heart like the Berean church (Acts 17:10-12) to grow with the guidance of Holy Spirit.
Questions to Consider
- Can you identify some of your limiting beliefs?
- Do you believe that you can change them?
- What steps can you take to produce this change in your life?