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Acts Highlights serie2

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ACTS HIGHLIGHTS SERIES

Ephesian Fire

 

Acts 19:18-20

18         And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds.

19         Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.

20         So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.

            The above passage is the result of certain vagabond Jews who practiced exorcism being overcome by a demon possessed individual.   The event brought attention to the ineptitude of these seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish priest.  It also brought attention to the need of the people for the Jesus that Paul was preaching.  When these people turned to Jesus they exhibited true repentance. 

            They kept bringing their witchcraft books to be burned.  They showed their resolve that they would never return to the use of them again.  Thus, they put away any temptation to return to them again.  Had they kept the books, there was a danger that they would pick them up again when the heat of the moment was gone.  It should be noted that those that truly repent of sin will keep themselves as far as possible away from it. 

            The books were not inexpensive.  However, they represented the devil’s work so they burned them publicly, never again to have them in their lives.  This is the only way to handle sin.  Get rid of the source of temptation if possible.

Rom 13:14  But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

 

            This is the only answer to the problem of temptation and sin.  We do not overcome the rioting and drunkenness mentioned in Romans 13:13 by putting on sobriety, temperance and chastity.  We put on Christ.  Then we have the power to overcome the temptation.  Matthew Henry’s Commentary says, “Jesus Christ is the best clothing for Christians to adorn themselves with, to arm themselves with; it is decent, distinguishing, dignifying, and defending. Without Christ, we are naked, deformed; all other things are filthy rages, fig-leaves, a sorry shelter.”

            How shall we put on Christ?  The first step is baptism.  That is followed by a process of discipleship.5

Gal 3:27  For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

Eph 4:22-24

22         That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;

23         And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;

24         And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

 

            Peter describes the step-by-step process.  He then guarantees spiritual success if we will do these things.

2 Pet 1:5-10

5          For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge

6          and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness;

7          and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.

8          For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

9          But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.

10         Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, (NIV)

 

            The people of Ephesus determined that the lifestyle of witchcraft was totally incompatible with their new life in Jesus.  Just as it was then, so it is now.  Witchcraft may have been prevalent in Ephesus during Paul’s time, but it is also prevalent today.  A letter from the Church and School of Wicca said, “witchcraft is the oldest religion on earth.  We recognize the universal life force through which we gain serenity, health, and prosperity ...  We have no fear of the Christian hell…”  The religion of witchcraft is polytheistic.  In a book for witches called

The Craft, it is stated, “We worship everything: God, the devil, the earth, trees.”

            This is one specific area where Christians cannot overlook.  To worship anyone or anything other Jesus is unacceptable.  

John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

            Many things that witchcraft includes are strictly forbidden by the Scriptures such as: worshipping other deities, divination (fortune telling, psychics, tarot cards numerology), interpreting omens (astrology, horoscopes, mediumship (channeling spirits, contacting the dead), and witchcraft itself (spell-casting, shamanism).  This also describes the teachings of New Agers.

            Families need to be aware that much of this is being taught to our children through music, books, cartoons, video games (over 80% of computer games have occult themes) and movies.  The recent hysteria over the Harry Potter books is a good example of this.  This is nothing more than propaganda for occultism and nature worship.  Christian’s need to keep these things away from their homes.

Deut 18:10-12

10         Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft,

11         or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead.

12         Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD, and because of these detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you. (NIV)

            Paul doesn’t beat around the bush when he identified those practices that would keep us out of heaven.  One of them was witchcraft (Gal. 5:19-21).  Actually, witchcraft is a form of rebellion against the sovereignty of God.  It does not lead people to Christ.  It leads them to New Age occultism. 

            Paul identified a sorcerer named Elymas as a child of the devil for his opposition to the work of the gospel.

Acts 13:8-10

8          But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith.

9          Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him,

10         And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?

            The practice of sorcery will result in the judgement of hell.

Rev 21:8  But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

            The spirit behind witchcraft is demonic.  It one of the ways Satan uses to place people under the spell of sin.

1 Sam 15:23     For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.

Gal 3:1  O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?

1 Tim 4:1  Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

            The spirit of seduction appears in many forms.  It appeals to the carnal nature of man.  It works to bring man under the spell of sin and destroy him – body, mind and soul.  To Samson it was a Delilah.  To Achan it was gold, silver and a garment. To Eve it was forbidden fruit.  To Judas it was 30 pieces of silver.

            This is why we must follow the lead of the good Christian people of Ephesus.  Look at what happened to Israel when they did not completely destroy the enemy that God told them to.

Ps 106:34-37

34         They did not destroy the nations, concerning whom the LORD commanded them:

35         But were mingled among the heathen, and learned their works.

36         And they served their idols: which were a snare unto them.

37         Yea, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto devils,

 

            A loving God that only wants what is good for us gave the message of separation to us.

2 Cor 6:14-17

14         Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

15         And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?

16         And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

17         Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,

1 Cor 15:33-34

33         Do not be misled: "Bad company corrupts good character."

34         Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God-- I say this to your shame. (NIV)

 

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