“When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they found a magician, a Jewish false prophet whose name was Bar-Jesus, who was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence. This man summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. But Elymas the magician (for so his name is translated) was opposing them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. But Saul, who was also known as Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, fixed his gaze on him, and said, “You who are full of all deceit and fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease to make crooked the straight ways of the Lord? ” Acts 13:6-10
Have you ever noticed how some non-Christians will go out of their way to prevent, discourage or oppose any form of evangelism? Here, Sergius Paulus was not only open to hearing, but desiring to hear God’s Word from Paul and Barnabas. Then another man, a magician, stood in the way to stop the conversation. Let us see how Paul, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, addressed this situation and dealt with this individual:
1) He “fixed his gaze on him” – Paul did not let the magician intimidate him. Neither did he pretend he was not there by talking over him and by looking away. In a similar situation, most of us would probably think: “let’s not give this heckler the attention he seeks” and “let’s stay focused on the person who wants to hear the gospel,” but Paul did the exact opposite and confronted the heckler head on.
2) He said, “You who are full of all deceit and fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease to make crooked the straight ways of the Lord? ” Paul did not gently ask him to move along. The Holy Spirit spoke very harsh words through the apostle. Paul was not “losing it,” he was not shouting at the magician out of frustration, but rather speaking with God’s authority and with righteous indignation. An important point was also made for Sergius Paulus to hear.
3) Last but not least, observe the apostle did not get into a debate with the magician, as to whether or not the gospel he preaches is the truth. Instead, Paul implied that the magician knew better, but chose to deceive others and pervert the truth. Everyone knows God exists (Romans 1:20), the question is “Do you love Him?”
There is a place and a time for confrontation. Let us imitate Paul, as he himself imitated Christ.
Pastor Will Hoc