Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Fighting For Hearts

The 13th chapter of Acts is an interesting chapter. One of the most fascinating aspects of the chapter is the account of Paul and Barnabas with the Roman Governor, Sergius Paulus. Apparently Sergius Paulus had an adviser who is described as a Jewish sorcerer, Bar-Jesus. The fact that he is a Jewish sorcerer should tell us something about him. While he is a physical descendant of Abraham, he is not a spiritual descendant. Bar-Jesus had placed his faith in supernatural powers rather than on God.

Sergius Paulus had an interest in the Truth that Paul and Barnabas brought to him, but this false prophet and sorcerer Bar-Jesus urged the governor to pay no attention to God’s true messengers. It took a confrontation by Paul to demonstrate who had the real power:
9 But Saul, also known as Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked him straight in the eye 10 and said, “You are full of every form of deception and trickery, you son of the devil, you enemy of all that is right! You will never stop perverting the straight ways of the Lord, will you? 11 The hand of the Lord is against you now, and you will be blind and not see the sun for a while!” At that moment a dark mist came over him, and he went around looking for someone to lead him by the hand. 12 When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed, for he was astonished at the Lord's teaching. (Acts 13:9-12; ISV).

Paul and Barnabas stood against the evil forces so that this man, Sergius Paulus, who showed interest in the Gospel, could believe. They were not discouraged by the opposition but called on God’s power to help them combat it.

One of the reaction I had from this story is how quickly I give up fighting for the hearts of people and allow them to slip back into darkness. This historical account from the Book of Acts should remind us that we are living in a world at war. Not just the physical wars that are taking place around the world or even the so called “culture war” that so many Christians seem to insist on fighting, but a spiritual war for the hearts and minds of people.

As a man called to be a minister of God’s Word I have a responsibility to enter into this spiritual combat by praying for the people and asking for God’s assistance, by proclaiming the truth of God as discovered on the pages of the Bible, and loving everyone I come into contact with. I have a part to play in this great spiritual conflict.

If we are going to advance the cause of God’s Kingdom throughout this world then we must treat life as a war. The apostle Paul later wrote:
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty strength. 11 Put on the whole armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the devil's strategies. 12 For our struggle is not against a human opponent, but against rulers, against authorities, against cosmic powers in the darkness around us, against evil spiritual forces in the heavenly realm. 13 For this reason, take up the whole armor of God so that you may be able to take a stand in that evil day. And when you have done everything you could, you will be able to stand firm. (Ephesians 6:10-13; ISV)

Following Jesus will not be easy. We will be opposed for God’s great enemy doesn’t what any part of God’s creation to live within God’s will. Satan will attack us and will hurt, wound, and deceive the very people we want to help. When this happens will we be strong and trust in the victory our Lord and Savior has already won? Will we stand firm against Satan’s attacks and continue to do what is right no matter the cost? There are hearts of people at stake. It is time to rise up and fight for the hearts of people. It is what we are called to do.

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