Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Elymas spirit

Elymas the Sorcerer Struck With Blindness - Raphael
Elymas the Sorcerer Struck With Blindness - Raphael
TODAY'S SPECIAL: Acts 13:1-12

"But Elymas the sorcerer (for so his name is translated) withstood them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith." Acts 13:8

Elymas the sorcerer "withstood" Paul. Withstood - anthestemi means to oppose vigorously, bravely resist, stand face-to-face resisting. This word is where we get our word antihistamine—something that stands against and opposes the histamine in our bodies that cause allergic reactions. It is used in Ephesians 6:13 to describe how the Christian puts on the armour of God to be able "to withstand in the evil day and having done all to stand."

Here Elymas is offering such opposition to Paul—probably arguing against, making objections to, belittling, making fun of, mocking what Paul and Barnabas are attempting to explain of the gospel to Sergius Paulus.

Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, sees into this ploy of Satan himself. In a moment of intense spiritual confrontation Paul exposes what's going on when he says to Elymas, " 'O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord?' " And then he pronounces temporary physical blindness on the man.

This story reminds me of people in public life, but also some I know personally, who withstand the gospel in this way. A couple of things.

  • The intellectual questions that they bring up are not usually the real barriers to faith. Satisfy one and they'll pose another. That's because the root issue is moral and one of the will, one of not wanting to surrender to the Lordship of Jesus.
  • Openly naming the demonic root behind such withstanding—like Paul does with Elymas—I'm not sure that's always a good idea especially if the arguer is someone close to us. But we can certainly pray about this kind of spiritual resistance with insight and wait on the Holy Spirit to nudge us about when to say more and what and how to say it.

PRAYER: Dear God, help me to recognize the Elymas spirit, not only in others but in myself. Help me to resist and expose it with the help of Your Holy Spirit. Amen.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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