Thursday, July 7, 2022

18 Months in “Sin City”

“Do not be afraid. Keep on speaking. Do not be silent. For God is with you.”
– Acts 18:9-10

According to recent figures from USA Today, the top five vacation spots in the U.S. are New York City, Florida, Hawaii, San Francisco ... and Number Five: Las Vegas, Nevada. Tourists spend a whopping $35 billion in Las Vegas every year. People love the guilty pleasures Vegas has to offer: the decadent food, the sensual shows and, most of all, the gambling. And they LOVE that advertising slogan: “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” No wonder they call it “Sin City.”

Las Vegas in our day has a lot in common with the city of Corinth in the Apostle Paul’s day. Corinth was the “Sin City” of the Roman world. And the Corinthian leaders would have adopted Las Vegas’ motto if they had only thought of it first: “What happens in Corinth stays in Corinth.”

After Paul wrapped up his ministry in Athens, Corinth was the next city where he chose to continue his ministry in southern Greece. Why did he choose it? Well, for one thing, it was a strategic city. Because of the way the land was laid out, most major trade routes had to pass through Corinth. For another thing, Corinth was a big city—one of the largest in the Roman world, with an estimated 200,000 residents. But most of all, Corinth was a wicked city. There were bars on every corner, so drunken orgies were common. And high above the city was a plateau with a temple to Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and sex. Rituals to worship Aphrodite involved very little love and a whole lot of sex. The temple to Aphrodite employed hundreds of male and female temple prostitutes.

So, why did Paul take the good news of Jesus Christ to Corinth? Theologian John Stott put it this way: ““Paul must have seen its strategic importance. If trade could radiate from Corinth in all directions, so could the gospel.”

When Paul first arrived in Corinth, before his ministry partners Silas and Timothy joined him, he stayed with a couple named Aquila and Priscilla. Like him, they had been trained as tentmakers, so he lived and worked with them. During the workweek he made tents, and on weekends, he preached the gospel. According to verse 4, “Every Sabbath [Paul] reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.” Then, once Silas and Timothy arrived, we read that he “devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ” (v. 5).

Unfortunately, some of the Jewish leaders opposed Paul fiercely. So, according to verse 6, Paul “shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, ‘Your blood be on your own heads! I am clear of my responsibility. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.’” He had told the Jews the plain truth about Jesus Christ and their need to believe in Him, repent of their sins and follow Him as Savior and Lord. Now the ball was in their court. And from this point forward, Paul was going to focus primarily on witnessing to Gentiles.

Paul must have been feeling discouraged, wondering if it was time to move on to the next town, because in verse 9 and 10, Jesus gave Paul a vision. He spoke these words to him: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.” That vision was just what the doctor ordered. It filled Paul’s tank. It gave him just what he needed to persevere and keep preaching the gospel in Corinth. According to verse 11, Paul stayed in Corinth for a year and half—much longer than he stayed in the other towns where he had planted churches.

Here are three quick lessons we can take from Paul’s time in Corinth:

Lesson #1: There is no excuse for being lazy. Every Christian needs to work. In Paul’s day, Jewish rabbis didn’t accept money from their students. They earned their way by practicing a trade. So, at a young age Paul had learned a trade—tent making. And whenever possible, he paid his own way by making tents. We should follow his example. If you can’t work outside the home, work at home. If you can’t work at home, work at church. If you can’t work with your feet and legs, work with your arms and hands. Use what God has given you to do something productive for the good of those around you.

Lesson #2: God has called you to warn those around you of the coming judgment. In His grace, God has taken the blinders off your spiritual eyes and allowed you to see what your family and friends can’t see. You can see that millions of “good,” “religious,” “moral” people will miss out on heaven. Because those who the world calls “good,” “religious” and “moral” have rejected Jesus Christ. Therefore, you and I have a God-given responsibility to warn the people we care about: They are sinners in need of a Savior. They need to repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near. Tell them.

Lesson #3: Do not be afraid. Keep on speaking. Do not be silent. For God is with you. Like Paul, you may be a little scared to share Jesus with those around you because they are a hostile crowd. Jesus tells you today, “Do not be afraid.” You may wonder if it’s time to shut up about Jesus and just keep the peace. Jesus responds, “Keep on speaking. Do not be silent.” You may wonder where God is as you’re out on a limb for Him. And Jesus answers back, “God … is … with you.”

Dane Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church in Victorville. Join us at Impact for Sunday services: in person at 9 a.m., or online at 10 a.m. on YouTube or Facebook Live. For more information, visit 

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