There is a lot going on in this chapter and a half and many things that caught my eye to comment on. First of all, let me clarify that one major issue going on in Ephesus was the presence of the occult. We read about the temple of Artemis, a Greek goddess, that was huge in Ephesus at this time in history. Paul was going toe-to-toe against a very well established and deeply occult religion. That is why chapter 19 tells us that Paul engaged in public ministry for a time before opposition made him retire to a more private venue. That is also why verses 18 & 19 tell us about confession of “practices” (meaning occult practices) and the burning of magic books.
The entirety of Paul’s experience in Ephesus was overshadowed by the presence of demonic activity and worship. These verses are important for us as believers today. We are in a period of time when the occult is gaining a fresh audience. It has become socially acceptable to discuss and be involved with witchcraft, fortune tellers and even spirit guides. Of course, all of these things are presented in language and ways that put people at ease and downplay the source of the powers involved. But these words from Luke in Acts remind us that there are only two sources of power in the world: power from God through is Spirit and power from Satan and his agents.
The sad fact is, there are many Christians who are involved with satanic powers and practices. Some don’t know what they’ve gotten themselves into and others seem to have justified it. But notice what happens in chapter 19 who were caught up in this stuff and then became believers: “many who had become believers came confessing and disclosing their practices.” They confessed their involvement in these things. To confess something means to admit that it is not right, to bring what is hiding in the shadows into the light. We must pay attention to these things! Spiritual forces are not something to be trifled with, dabbled in or approached lightly.
Demonic forces are real and they are not to be trifled with lightly. The Jewish exorcists in Acts 19 discovered that pretty quickly. We must be firmly rooted in our faith in Jesus if we are to stand against these forces. But we must also take these things seriously.
My friends, I often shy away from being too blunt or forceful in my writing or my preaching. I have an innate fear of people’s reactions. In this instance, people’s reactions pale in comparison to the dangers involved with being caught up in occult practices. RUN AWAY FROM THEM! Witchcraft, seances, crystals, ouiji boards, spirit guides, occult meditation, ritualistic rites, sacrifices to spirits, among many others, are all dangerous practices that follower of Christ should not be involved in.
Too many Christians take spiritual forces too lightly. I am not a Christian who sees demons under every rock and behind every bad thing that happens in life. BUT, I do think that we spend far too little time considering the spiritual forces involved in the world around us and not taking them seriously enough.
C.S. Lewis is rather famous for writing: “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors, and hail a materialist or magician with the same delight.”
Don’t fall into either camp my friends.
- What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
- What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
- Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
- How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
- What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?
Tomorrow’s Reading: 1 Corinthians 1-4