By Carter Conlon
In Acts chapter 14, we read of the miraculous healing of a crippled man. Just prior to this event, Paul and Barnabas had been preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ in a certain region when suddenly the people turned to violence and attempted to stone them. As a result, they ended up fleeing to Lystra where they also began preaching the gospel.
"And in Lystra a certain man without strength in his feet was sitting, a cripple from his mother's womb, who had never walked. This man heard Paul speaking. Paul, observing him intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed, said with a loud voice, 'Stand up straight on your feet!' And he leaped and walked" (Acts 14:8–10).
Here was a man who had never been able to walk in his entire life. However, he was listening intently to the Word of God, hearing that God was able to give him the ability to do something he had never done before. We see in the Scriptures that Paul observed him intently and saw that he had faith to be healed. The Bible does not describe what this faith looked like exactly. Perhaps it was the look on the man's face. Nevertheless, Paul was able to see something that signaled to him that this man was engaged. In other words, the man had come to the point of simply saying, "I believe."
I remember arriving at that point in my own life. I had gone to church as a young believer in Christ with a horrid self-image and a lousy view of my future. But one day, I heard an evangelist speak about the simple fact that in Christ, all things are possible. Because of Christ, we become a new creation, and a new pathway is laid out for our lives. I remember sitting on the edge of my seat, thinking, "Could this really be true?" Week after week, I listened to this evangelist preach a similar message. I do not know what day it was, but there was a moment in my heart when I said, "I believe! I truly believe this!" And so I got up and began to walk toward this promise of a new life.
What Was Paul's Message?
I often wonder what Paul was preaching that suddenly gave this crippled man the faith to walk. Remember, he had been lame from his mother's womb, meaning there was no muscle tone in his legs. There was nothing he could do physically to lift himself up. In fact, his legs had probably atrophied by this point, rendering them completely unusable. So, what could have caused him to even contemplate the possibility of walking?
Was he hearing 2 Corinthians 5:17 where Paul says, "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new"? Is that the point when the man decided, "God, if this is true, I want it"?
Or perhaps it was Romans 8:11 where Paul says, "If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies." In other words, God will bring your mortal body to life and give you the ability to do things that you were never able to do before. The Lord will make you into more than you could ever hope to be, give you what you could never possess in your own natural strength, and take you further than you could ever go by your own initiative or effort. I wonder how many people in the Church of Jesus Christ today truly believe that—that you can be raised out of areas where relationships, hope, dreams, or ability died.
You can be raised from places where you do not see any chance of changing or going forward, for the Spirit of God lives within you! He is the same Spirit who raised Christ from the dead. In fact, that is what the gospel is all about—dead people living! It is not only about being forgiven but being raised from the dead—raised out of darkness, raised out of weakness, raised out of places you could never get out of in your own strength—all by the Spirit of Almighty God within you.
Or perhaps Paul was preaching from Romans chapter 8: "What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?
"Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
"As it is written: 'For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.' Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:31–39).
Personally, I think Paul's message was the same as it had always been—God loves you with a love and a compassion that you cannot fully comprehend. It can never be taken away. You can never be separated from the love of God and His passion to redeem you and make you into the person He has destined you to be. That means that no voice under heaven has the right to tell you that this is for everyone else but you—that you will never be free, you will never change, you will never be healed. When Jesus died on the cross for you, in His final breath He uttered the words, "It is finished." The right of hell, sin or death to govern your life was broken on the cross of Jesus Christ! And the fact that the Spirit of God raised Him from the dead on the third day is all the proof you need that the same Spirit will also quicken your mortal body.
So as Paul preached, suddenly he noticed this man's faith. Paul then said with a loud voice, "Stand up straight on your feet," and the man leaped up and walked! Notice that he did not just stand up—he literally jumped up by the power of God.
What was the response of the people when they saw it? "They raised their voices, saying in the Lycaonian language, 'The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!'" (Acts 14:11). The people knew that only God could have done this. And it was all because this man had heard something and finally decided, "I believe! I believe!"
It is Only a Paper Wall
Getting to the point of faith that this man finally arrived at makes me think of a football team right before a big game. Picture for a moment this team in their locker room. They put on all their gear, just as we are called to put on the full armor of God. Then they rouse each other up and excitedly start heading down the tunnel toward the field. But just before they actually get onto the field to start the game, they must break through a paper wall.
Have you realized that the devil spends all his time writing things on your paper wall? He draws fake bricks to make you believe that you cannot go through—that somehow the wall is too tough for you.
He writes, "Loser, you will never amount to anything!" along with a multitude of other lies to try to discourage you. However, it is important to remember that it is only a paper wall! You see, once you have the courage to get up and go through the paper wall, you finally get to be in the game.
Everybody is a star in the game of God. When you get on that field of being raised from the dead by the Spirit of Christ, you bring glory to God. In other words, everyone gets in the end zone; everyone gets to spike the ball and shout with all their might!
Of course, this means that there is a point in each one of our lives when we finally decide, "I believe," and we stand up and start walking. Perhaps you are in a situation where you cannot see a future. Perhaps you are addicted, afflicted, or oppressed in some area of your life. Yet I encourage you today, as an act of faith, to get up. Stand up in the power of God, knowing that His Word cannot fail.
Think about what it would have been like to watch the man who had been crippled from birth as he suddenly began to leap and walk. He was probably crying, "I'm walking, I'm walking! Jesus made me walk!" I imagine he would not have been able to stop confessing who God is and what God had done.
I can picture the very same thing happening in your life. Once you truly stand up in faith and the Spirit of God comes and does the impossible in your life, you will not be able to stop singing and testifying of God's goodness. And just like those who witnessed a crippled man suddenly begin to walk, people around you will have to acknowledge that only God could have done this! Hallelujah!
This newsletter is an edited version of "I BELIEVE", a sermon given on October 7, 2021. Other sermons are available by visiting our website at tsc.nyc. You are welcome to make additional copies of this sermon for free distribution to friends. However, for all other forms of reproduction or electronic transmission existing copyright laws apply. This sermon cannot be posted on any website or webpage without permission from Times Square Church. Scripture taken from the New Kings James Version ©. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Scripture taken from other versions are noted.