Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit...
Acts 12:24-13:15 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
But the word of the Lord continued to grow and to be multiplied. 25 And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their mission, taking along with them John, who was also called Mark.
13 Now there were at Antioch, in the church that was there, prophets and teachers: Barnabas, and Simeon who was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2 While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.
4 So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia and from there they sailed to Cyprus. 5 When they reached Salamis, they began to proclaim the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews; and they also had John as their helper. 6 When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they found a magician, a Jewish false prophet whose name was Bar-Jesus, 7 who was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence. This man summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. 8 But Elymas the magician (for so his name is translated) was opposing them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. 9 But Saul, who was also known as Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, fixed his gaze on him, 10 and said, “You who are full of all deceit and fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease to make crooked the straight ways of the Lord? 11 Now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and not see the sun for a time.” And immediately a mist and a darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking those who would lead him by the hand. 12 Then the proconsul believed when he saw what had happened, being amazed at the teaching of the Lord.
13 Now Paul and his companions put out to sea from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia; but John left them and returned to Jerusalem. 14 But going on from Perga, they arrived at Pisidian Antioch, and on the Sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down. 15 After the reading of the Law and the Prophets the synagogue officials sent to them, saying, “Brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say it.”
In today’s text it says: The proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence. This man summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. But Elymas the magician (for so his name is translated) was opposing them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. But Saul, who was also known as Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, fixed his gaze on him, and said, “You who are full of all deceit and fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease to make crooked the straight ways of the Lord? Now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and not see the sun for a time.” And immediately a mist and a darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking those who would lead him by the hand. A proconsul was a governor of a Roman providence. I wonder what the reaction would be today if a governor summoned a pastor or pastors to hear the word of God. All of the separation of church and state proponents would be enraged. The media would shame the governor for even considering such a thing. He would not be called a man of intelligence, but rather would be considered stupid. What then would happen if the pastor openly rebuked someone who was opposing the gospel message, trying to turn the governor away from the faith? What would happen if according to the rebuke from the pastor, the one opposing him was stricken and lost his sight? Perhaps, like the proconsul, the governor would believe and be amazed by what he saw and the teaching of the Lord. More likely the pastor would be investigated, perhaps held in custody for what he had said and done. There would be stories and investigations. The governor would be ridiculed by the media. There would be outcry and protests would arise. If the governor was able to save his or her job, it would only be by apologizing and denouncing what was said and done. Even many in the church would be critical of such harsh words and actions. Is it possible that the oppressive Roman Empire offered more freedom of speech and freedom of religion than our own progressive society?
It is no longer acceptable in our society to speak against unrighteousness. It is those who share the word of God who are most often accused of deceit and lies. Paul’s words would not be accepted in our society, they would be deemed hate speech. But then so would Jesus words be considered hateful, intolerant and narrow minded. He Himself says: “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me.” (John 15:18-21) He says: “It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come, but woe to him through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he would cause one of these little ones to stumble.” Luke 17:1-2) Jesus certainly has little regard for those who would hinder the word of God and attempt to keep people from the kingdom. Although the proconsul was a grown man, in the kingdom of God he too would be considered a little one, a child of God who was seeking the truth of the kingdom.
Galatians 5:22-23 says: The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Certainly If we are filled with the Spirit, these will be both evident and even prominent in our lives. Yet, it was the Holy Spirit who called Paul to this mission and it was in the power of the Holy Spirit that Paul rebuked Elymas, the magician, calling him a son of the devil. There is another characteristic of the Holy Spirit which will also be evident in our lives if we are filled with and walking in the Spirit. In John 16:13 Jesus says: “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth. He cannot lie. Like God and Jesus, He: is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5) There is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, but there is no room for or tolerance of any darkness at all. Light by its very nature and by natural law cannot coexist with darkness. Light dispels darkness. In the same way, truth naturally rebukes and dispels a lies.
In today’s text, Paul and his companions suffered no punishment or persecution from this incident, though often they did. The text says: Now Paul and his companions put out to sea from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia; But going on from Perga, they arrived at Pisidian Antioch, and on the Sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down. After the reading of the Law and the Prophets the synagogue officials sent to them, saying, “Brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say it.” Their mission continued, they were responding to the commission of Jesus who said: "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” (Mark 16:15) “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19) “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:8) Jesus knew their words would not be received by everyone. But they were called to go for the sake of those who would believe. Our words today will not be received by everyone. But we too, filled with the power of the Holy Spirit are to continue on. Everywhere we go everywhere we are we are to be witnesses for Christ. Galatians 5:25 says: If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. That means that we will walk in: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. It also means that we will walk in and speak truth. We will be a light which dispels darkness. We will stand against the lies of those who would try to turn others from the faith. The love of God, the love we have, may not look like what the world expects. God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8) His patience is expressed in 2 Peter 3:9: The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. All of the fruit of the Spirit which will be evident in our lives is summed up in Christ and the cross
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ, precious Holy Spirit, thank You for calling, commissioning and empowering me to walk with You and for You. May my life and my words be filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. May I also walk in truth and light, rebuking lies and dispelling darkness, that others come to the faith; that they may see and hear and believe. Amen.