When the Apostle Paul arrived on the island of Seleucia, he met a sorcerer named “Son of Salvation” (Bar-Jesus) who was an attendant of the proconsul, Sergius Paulus. Sergius was an intelligent man and sent for Saul Paul and Barnabas because he wanted to hear the word of God.
These days there are an endless number of videos featuring preaching and teaching of God’s words: some of it truthful.
Today, as then, a great many false prophets spread false teachings. By taking God’s words and adding some false beliefs, or removing some of God’s truth, they gain fame for themselves, sometimes fortunes. Today we might call this the spirit of “Elymas the Sorcerer.”
As soon as sorcerer heard that his boss wanted to meet with Paul he opposed them and tried to turn Sergius from the faith.
But Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at sorcerer and said, “You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. You pervert the right ways of the Lord.”
Deceit, trickery, perversion are but three test to verify if someone is speaking the Truth of God—a false prophet or “magician of darkness.” See if you can detect the trickery in this comment.
The speaker highlights the slight shift from calling sinners to repent to simply calling sinners. The speaker seems glad, almost giddy, that Christ leaves sinners broken, addicted to sin, tormented by dark thoughts. Were a physician to invite the sick, give them a kind word, and send them on their way without treating the disease and asking the patient to follow prescribed instructions would be grounds for malpractice. And yet many false physicians peddle such medicine and claim it has the seal of Christ.
Jesus’ began his ministry with these words: “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news (Mark 1:15)!”
Jesus began to preach by saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Matthew 4:17).”
The Apostle Paul said, “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30).”
In calling sinners, Christ is first calling, inviting, asking that they come as they are. Bring all your baggage, all your wounds, all your ways of filthy living. Christ healed the sick, drove out demons, opened eyes, ears, mouths. He came to restore us, not leave us to rust where we are.
So what warning can we take from Elymas the Sorcerer. Consider this: after Paul witnessed the false teachings of the sorcerer he said, “Now the hand of the Lord is against you. You are going to be blind for a time, not even able to see the light of the sun.”
This curse coincided with the sorcerer’s spiritual blindness. Every time and all the time our sin blinds us.
Immediately mist and darkness came over the sorcerer, and he groped about, seeking someone to lead him by the hand. This is the state of all who fall under the influence of false prophets and sorcerers promoting dark teaching. Their victims grope about confused, stumbling, falling deeper into distress.
When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed, for he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord.
When we hear all the words of Christ, all the words of his Father, not simply those we find comforting, we too will be amazed and believed. This is the good news of Jesus.
If you are a young person and wish to talk about your faith, begin with reading the words of Jesus. Study his actions. Accept his words—all his words—without shedding some because they make you uncomfortable. Healing should make us uncomfortable.
If we are in the presence of Jesus and do not feel pain, some discomfort, there is a good chance we’re not really in his presence at all.