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Imposters, Opposers and Transformers

Leah DiPascal

Day: 21 | Plan: Acts

Today's Reading: Acts 19

Acts 19:11-12 (NIV) “God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.”

Paul’s third missionary tour included a visit to Ephesus. He would end up spending more than two years in this cosmopolitan city, sharing the gospel with both Jews and Gentiles of Asia.

Ephesus was known for its sophisticated luxury, excessive occult practices and extravagant worship of pagan gods. This large city might have intimidated most visitors, but not Paul. He spent three months in the synagogue boldly preaching and teaching in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. (Acts 19:9)

God confirmed Paul’s ministry by demonstrating great signs and wonders. Extraordinary miracles were performed through simple objects like handkerchiefs and aprons that Paul touched. These basic household items were suddenly significant when taken to the sick and demon possessed, because they were completely cured. (Acts 19:11-12)

But don’t misunderstand. There was nothing magical about the handkerchiefs or aprons. God was manifesting His great power through these objects and revealing His glory to the Ephesians who gave all their allegiance to Artemis, the goddess of fertility.

As we dig deeper into Acts 19, we’ll discover three groups of people who responded differently to what God was doing in their midst. Let’s call them the imposters, the opposers and the transformers.

Imposters : Seven Jewish men who were sons of Sceva (the chief priest) tried to emulate Paul by attempting to cast out demons from a possessed man, using the name of Jesus. However, they were not believers and once the fake exorcism began, the evil spirit called their bluff and gave those sons a beating they would never forget. (Acts 19:13-16)

Opposers : The local merchants were making a substantial living selling silver shrines and relics of the goddess Artemis. As people were coming to faith in Christ, they stopped purchasing these items. Trouble began to brew by one silversmith whose name was Demetrius. Heated opposition quickly turned into a public riot of thousands, which could have easily ended in massive bloodshed. (Acts 19:23-41)

Transformers : As news got out about the sons of Sceva, fear fell upon the local residents and the name of Jesus was exalted. People who practiced magic arts and sorcery took their incantation books and began burning them. There was a great bonfire in Ephesus that day and the combined net worth of those books (in today’s currency) would value approximately $6 million!

That historical bonfire represented the burning of old ways and the rebirthing of new lives in Christ. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, many were transformed as their sorcery scrolls disintegrated in the fire. Jesus would now take center stage in their hearts and minds. He would become their all consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:28-29)

We live in a world filled with imposters and opposers who try to distract us and discredit the name of Jesus. The best way to spot an imposter is to be well acquainted with the Original One.

Is there anything in your life that calls for a spiritual bonfire? What needs to be tossed out so you can make more room and have more time to spend with Jesus?

Prayer: Lord, open my spiritual eyes to see if there is anything in my life that’s pulled my focus away from You. Is someone or something else on the throne of my heart, taking Your rightful place? Help me to spot the imposters and pray for the opposers, because they need You as much as I do. Refine me through Your love. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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