‘Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols’. (Acts 12:16 (ESV)
It is not unusual to have a personal reaction to a spiritual situation.
In the case of Paul his spirit was provoked by the number of idols that he came across in Athens and the great influence of paganism and different philosophies upon the city. There was no getting away from them and the number of people enthralled and enslaved by such practices, and he is affronted.
Jesus is also ‘deeply moved and troubled in his spirit’ at the distress of Mary, Martha, and their friends at the death of Lazarus (Jn. 11:33, 38). He sees and understands the degree of anguish that sin and death can cause.
Paul does not waste time going from temple to temple to argue against every idol, practice, and philosophy. As with those who deal with the counterfeit in any walk of life – it is the study of, and familiarity with – the original that is of primary importance and foundation of any discussion or investigation. Paul did not bother with the details of their paganism but told the people of the one true God that he knew.
By knowing the ‘original’ we are better able to confront the counterfeit and make informed decisions for ourselves and help others do the same.
The Spirit leads us into all truth and teaches us what is right and true. If we stay true to the teaching and leading of God we are better able discern what is wrong and provoking us.
God did not give us human faculties for us not to use them.
‘The Spirit himself bears witness to our spirit that we are children of God’ Romans 8:16. ESV
Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, “What does this babbler wish to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection.’ Acts 17:18 ESV
“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32 ESV
This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Saviour, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man] Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. 1 Timothy 2:3-6 ESV