Many do not realize, understand or want to accept the power and authority of those who are called and appointed by God and filled with His Spirit have within the confines of the local Church. This authority and power is not their own. It is God’s and He releases it to His chosen leaders to exercise on His behalf, according to the parameters of Scripture’s provision. This means no one in Church leadership has the right to exercise any spiritual authority over the people of God until a thorough study of the Scriptures relating to Church Leaders is made.
This means that a spiritual leader may only operate and function according to what God says and one can only know what God says once a proper exegesis of the Scriptures relating to leadership are made and then applied under the umbrella of servant leadership … and for the glory of God.
No one may seek personal glory. All glory derived from leadership, be it positive or negative must be shaped by God’s Word which shall give Him glory whether the leadership’s authority is accepted or rejected.
Before we get to our passage today we need to understand this so that we do not fall to false leadership, twisted leadership or self-styled leadership, all of which has been present in the Church throughout all ages. Please read again:
Ac 13:9 filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said, 10 “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. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord? 11 Now the hand of the Lord is against you. You are going to be blind, and for a time you will be unable to see the light of the sun.” Immediately mist and darkness came over him, and he groped about, seeking someone to lead him by the hand. 12 When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed, for he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord.
1) Tackling the problem head on!
Ac 13:9 filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas.
The one hindering the Gospel’s progress was a demon possessed false prophet. He needed to be treated with contempt, distain and in total harshness. The glory of God was at stake. The authority of the Gospel was at stake. The salvation of the proconsul was at stake. The expansion of the Gospel on the Island of Cyprus was at stake. There is not time to waste and there is no time for discussion or negotiation. Paul looked straight at Elymas! The holy indignation that agitated Paul’s emotion was because Paul knew Jesus personally. He understood the Holiness of the Gospel, the wickedness of satan inspired opposition to the Gospel [remember he was there himself!) and the urgency of the need to see people saved from sin and translated into God’s Kingdom. Elymas was identified as the opposition. 2) Calling Elymas out for what he is!
Ac 13:10 “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. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord?”
(1) Always remember the difference between righteous anger and sinful anger. The former is because God and His holy Name, Word and Gospel are being mocked and blasphemed with the latter being all other anger, which seeks to please the human, sinful nature.
(2) Paul’s anger was righteous anger. His Lord was being mocked and ridiculed by an evil man who was acting as an agent of the devil.
(3) Paul labels Elymas as a child of the devil. We need to be cautious here. Every person born is born with a sinful nature and unknowingly follows the devil!
Eph 2:1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.
In a general way this is the fate of all humans. Before salvation we are followers of … the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. This does not mean everyone is in this condition permanently. Some are made alive with Christ … that is, some are born again … and as no one knows who the elect are, everyone has the potential of being saved because the Gospel is to … “Whoever”!
Jn 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Elymas on the other hand was possessed by the devil, serving him for his glory and personal self-gain. Allow me to try and repeat this is a different way … whilst all are born with a sinful nature and “follow” the devil by doing sin … some are children of the devil and shall not be saved. They are his servants and with him, they shall be damned. How do you identify such a person? Look at their character and behavior … an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery.
(i) What is right? Everything God is and stands for. His ways are scripted in the Bible for us. All opposition to Him is “against everything that is right”.
(ii) The deceit and trickery was using evil to gain peoples trust, stupefying their understanding and intellect to the point of them departing with their money for the deceiver’s benefit!
Jn 8:44 “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
Elymas was, without a doubt, a child of the devil.
O God, help us to identify false teachers and prophets for our sake. Amen.