Summary: God wants His people to burn their bridges and kill their spiders. This is how we deal with sin in our lives.
Burn Your Bridges and Kill Your Spiders!
August 27, 2017
TEXT: Please turn in your Bibles to Acts 19.
I’m going to start off my message with what I’ll end it with, which is this statement: When you come to God’s truth, God wants you to do two things: Burn bridges and kill spiders. I know you’re thinking, “Okay, Pastor, that’s weird, even for you.” Well, stick with me, okay; it’ll make sense by the end of the message.
Acts 19:8-20 is actually a pretty cool passage—a little scary even. When you parse out all the characters and events in it, it all boils down in the final analysis to how people responded to truth.
God’s truth is a powerful weapon—believers’ most effective weapon against the forces of evil.
But truth is just truth. It has no inherent power, except as we respond to it and apply it and obey it. It’s like electricity—its power is not in its existence, but in its application. In the wires of your house, it’s just a latent, though potentially powerful, even dangerous presence. But it’s not until you plug something into a socket, and that latent electricity is harnessed for a particular application that its power can be used.
Now in Acts 19, we discover a scene in which the truth is simply let loose, resulting in an incredible transformation in the lives of people and a devastating assault upon the kingdom of darkness.
Our story takes place in the city of Ephesus, on the western coast of modern day Turkey—the most important city in the Roman province of Asia. Aside from its commercial importance as one of the great export cities, it was also one of the ancient world’s religious centers. Outside Ephesus was the great Temple of Diana, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The ruins of this temple were discovered and excavated in the late 1800s and it soon became apparent why it had been one of the seven wonders of the world. It was 239 feet wide by 418 feet long—four times the size of the Parthenon in Athens!
But Ephesus had another, more sinister, distinction. It was a city given over to the occult. It was totally mesmerized by magical spells and charms. It was a city where superstition and the dark arts were rampant. It was a stronghold of Satan. One author called Ephesus the “Dark Castle” of Asia Minor.
But, as we’ll see from our text, it would be the place where God’s truth would invade and disarm Satan’s Dark Castle, and the warrior who would lead this crusade is none other than the hero of the second half of the book of Acts, the Apostle Paul.
Let’s see what God would teach us in this passage about God’s truth.
I. FIRST, IN VERSE 8 WE SEE TRUTH PROCLAIMED – Verse 8 – “And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God.”
Paul entered the synagogue and did what he always did—he began proclaiming truth. Luke tells us that he spoke boldly in the synagogue for three months straight.
In the Greek, the phrase “he spake” is the IMPERFECT TENSE, which scholars say indicates something that went on CONTINUOUSLY in the past. So, Paul was continually speaking and continually teaching and continually persuading—giving out truth at every opportunity, in every forum, by every means of instruction and persuasion at his disposal.
Sometimes we’re kind of hardheaded, aren’t we?—and we have to hear truth many times before it finally takes root in our lives. That’s true with people we come into contact with too. They don’t always respond to God’s truth immediately.
What God wants us to do is to continually expose our friends and loved ones and co-workers to the truth. Of course, that’s not always appreciated, is it?, which leads me to my second point:
II. IN VERSE 9 WE SEE TRUTH REJECTED – Verse 9 – “But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spoke evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus.”
“Divers” means “different people.” Some people didn’t respond well to the truth. They heard it one time too many and got fed up and we see a progression here:
1. First, they were hardened.
When you hear God’s truth proclaimed, immediately God speaks in your conscience and bears witness with you that you are hearing truth. But just as quickly, the fallen, sinful part of you as well as the evil one, Satan, want you to reject it and continue in the way you’re going.
If you listen to that part of you instead of God, you’ll harden your heart. You’ll say to yourself—“No! I won’t listen. I don’t accept that. I won’t obey. I won’t respond. I’ll do what I want to do instead.”