Summary: Regarding sin, the Ephesians went through a significant turning point. Just like the Ephesians, it is important to break the sin cycle by changing your mind and turning around.
Emptying the closets
Ephesus - Year 2
Sin will stifle your growth and hold you back as a Christian. It will stunt your faith. Regarding sin, the Ephesians went through a significant turning point.
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.
Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon possessed. They would say, “In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.
When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor. Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds. A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas. In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.
Acts 19:11 20 (NIV)
God was doing great things in Ephesus
• He began a church through competent and willing people
• He established the gospel among the Jews
• He brought them from the repentance of John to salvation in Christ
• He is doing incredible miracles
People are touching items touched by Paul and being healed. This is quite extraordinary. As far as I can tell, Paul and Jesus are the only two people in the Bible who did something like this. Elisha tried it, but it didn’t work for him.
People are also being delivered from demons. As happened at other times in the book of Acts, the power that caused this to happen was misunderstood. Paul, through the power of the Holy Spirit cast out demons, and someone thought it was a matter of incantations and spells - simply saying the right word ... magic.
It is a natural mistake. The religion of Diana (Artemis) that was so important in Ephesus was full of magical practices. Some of the magic was associated with the Zodiac and astrology. Some of it was earth or nature based magic. Some of it was fertility magic. The large image of Artemis housed at the temple in Ephesus had 7 powerful magical spells inscribed on it. Magic was prominent in Ephesus, so the misconception that a person could speak some words and a demon would leave was not surprising, even if it was wrong.
Are demons real?
The question must be asked. Should we believe in demons, demonic possession and exorcism? Most public conceptions of these subjects comes from horror movies out of Hollywood, a bad source for understanding anything.
The Bible says demons are very real. They are unclean spirits, angels who decided at a critical moment to follow Satan instead of God. As we see here, they are also dangerous. They cannot be controlled with words or spells, and they must only be confronted in the power of Christ.
Both angels and unclean spirits are accepted by many religions, not just Christianity. I believe that when people steeped in pagan religions in tribal Africa, South America, and tribal North America - when people in Asian pagan religions talk about unclean spirits, they are demonstrating an awareness of the spiritual realm that the Bible talks about when it speaks of demons. People’s experience throughout history convince them that these things are real.
In our scientific age, we are tempted to relegate demons to the realm of superstition. We would like to explain possession in terms of psychology rather than spirituality. This has a certain appeal. If we admit that a person or a place is dominated by demons we are saying that they are in bondage to Satan. We are thought to be saying that a person or place is ...
perish the thought:
That is soooooo judgmental. It is so much nicer to say they are sick. It is not their fault and with the proper "non-judgmental" treatment they may be cured.
This is a misunderstanding of demonism. Of course the person is bad ... so is everyone else in the world.
The Bible makes it clear that all have sinned. I am bad, you are bad, and apart from Jesus, no good thing can be found in us. We are created to be like God and sin has marred that likeness. Until the righteousness of Jesus is reflected in us, we are utterly bad, and that determines what God sees in us.