We hide our rights
Acts 16:37 But Paul said to the officers: “They beat us publicly without a trial, even though we are Roman citizens, and threw us into prison. And now do they want to get rid of us quietly? No! Let them come themselves and escort us out.”
Paul had become a Roman citizen by birth. Although he was born into a Jewish family because this was in the city of Tarsus, a province of Cilicia, it granted him true citizenship because of its status by Rome. There were only 2 other ways you could gain citizenship: by giving a huge amount of money or by military service.
As a citizen Paul had the right to vote, the right to make legal contracts, have property and be immune from some tax duties. He also had the right to insist on a legal trial if he ever needed it and he could even appeal to Caesar himself.
Paul was protected because he could never be tortured or flogged and never receive the death penalty unless it could be proven he was guilty of treason. As a citizen he would probably carry around with him a birth certificate or a certificate of citizenship. Later on chapter 22 we will read how Paul would use his citizenship to prevent him being flogged in Jerusalem.
So why am I reminding you of this?
It is because Paul did not declare his citizenship until after they had been severely flogged and thrown into the prison! He kept it hidden until now, until he was going to be released.
He kept silent and surrendered his Roman right. By doing so he shared in the sufferings of Christ, he was beaten like his Lord and Saviour, he was carrying his own cross.
We have a citizenship in heaven. We have been born again, a new birth, new creations in Christ Jesus. We have been given power, rights and authority.
There are times when we will choose to move in those elements and we will know the protection and the power of God against circumstances that are unbearable.
But there are days when we need to surrender our rights. There are times when we know it is the right thing to do, when our immunity from suffering is waived, when we become dust again and we know the pain of living.
Living, He loved me
Dying, He saved me
Buried, He carried my sins far away
Rising, He justified freely forever
One day He’s coming
Oh glorious day, oh glorious day
It is then as a citizen of heaven coming under the attack of the enemy that we truly know the fellowship of sharing in the sufferings of Christ, we know Him, we are on purpose, in destiny for something perhaps we do not yet know, but it is well with our soul because we know Him in a way we have never known.