Summary: Many desire spiritual power, so they fall into the occult. This passage is about the conflict of spiritual powers. Includes discussion of neo-pagans which many church members having unknowingly dabbled.
What if you came upon something that was so powerful, it could alter your own personal destiny or alter the destiny of others at your will?
Would you desire that power?
What if this power could make you the most important person in the state, perhaps the nation?
How much would something like that be worth?
With this power you could be a person known instantly by name, held in high esteem, given great honor, in fact, people would seek you out above many others. This power could give you exactly what you most desire…
Would this power be something worth discovering?
What if this power could make you unbelievably wealthy, absolutely popular, and provide you with more than you could ever imagine?
What would you be willing to do for a power such as this?
Historically, there have been plenty of people willing to give almost anything, anything, and they have been willing to do almost anything to obtain this kind of power, for this power is without a doubt very, very real, and very, very strong.
Our passage this morning from start to finish is all about power, incredible power, ultimate power - uber power - if we want to be hip. This passage is not only about who or what is powerful, but more importantly, this passage is about access to power. The people we see in this passage don’t just want to know about power, they want access to the power.
Look, the people in this passage are not concerned, with political power, military power or physical power. They have all found something much greater, and in some cases they are obsessed with finding and keeping this power they have discovered.
The people we read here in this passage, have discovered a power beyond their imagination. What these people have discovered is, spiritual power. It has captured them, and they have devoted their life to seeking it.
Paul enters the city of Ephesus to spread the Gospel, but Ephesus is unlike any other city Paul has entered, for Ephesus is a city whose life revolves around the occult. It was a city full of occultists. Ephesus was a city that was well known for its magical texts, spell books, and magical amulets. They specialized in creating these small scrolls on which was written a spell. These scrolls with the spells would then be placed in a small cylinder and were known as Ephesia grammata. They were very common throughout the Roman world.
These little scrolls were not good luck charms, of luck had nothing to do with it. These scrolls deal with spirits, these scrolls deal with the occult. This passage is about the engagement of spiritual powers - but only one of the powers is of God.
Look at verse 1-3. T there are twelve men that Paul runs into in the city of Ephesus who are believers, but the lack….something. Note that these men are believers. What Paul says in the Greek is literally "having believed, did you receive?"
Paul sees that these men are believers, but the power of the Holy Spirit is not evident in the men, so Paul asks, (from the Greek text) "having believed, did you receive the Holy Spirit?” and the men are unaware of what Paul is speaking of.
Let me be clear, biblically, we see that when a person becomes a Christian they obtain the Holy Spirit; When you or I gave our live over to Jesus Christ - at that very instant, the very moment we believed, the Holy Spirit came upon us. So, we see that these men have the Holy Spirit, because you cannot be a believer without the Holy Spirit, for the definition of real, true belief is possession of the Holy Spirit, and these men are believers, but the Holy Spirit is not evident in their lives.
Now you can term this interaction between Paul and the twelve men any number of things, but whatever you call it, whatever you categorize it, whatever name you place it under, as a practical matter, these men have evidence of the Holy Spirit after they pray with Paul. The power of the Holy Spirit is evident in their lives.
These first seven verses set up the context for the rest of the passage: Whatever is associated with the name of Jesus is powerful.
Now, all spiritual power is not the same, and understand, the way to access spiritual power is not all the same either, depending on what spiritual power one is attempting to access.
We see that Paul certainly has power doesn’t he? In verses 10-11, we see that God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, the power of the Holy Spirit was with him. We also see that pieces of clothing from Paul have power as well.