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There they met a Jewish sorcerer and false prophet named Bar-Jesus, who was an attendant of the proconsul, Sergius Paulus. The proconsul, an intelligent man, sent for Barnabas and Saul because he wanted to hear the word of God. But Elymas the sorcerer (for that is what his name means) opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul from the faith.
Saul and Barnabas were traveling around the island of Cyprus preaching and teaching about Jesus when the proconsul sent for them because he wanted to hear more about the Word of God. In the Roman system a proconsul was responsible for military and administrative matters within a province, in this case Cyprus (similar to a state governor). I love Luke's description of the proconsul, "an intelligent man," who "sent for Barnabas and Saul because he wanted to hear the word of God." The way Hollywood describes Christians as backward and fanatical, no intelligent person could possibly have any interest in Jesus. But God piques the intellect of even the most talented of braniacs, because nothing else answers the questions of who we are, where we came from, and where we are going better than the Bible. Clearly the proconsul was searching which is why he was susceptible to deception and the reason he kept the sorcerer Bar-Jesus (which literally means "son of Jesus") as one of his attendants. Have you ever noticed the difference between someone who has sincere interest and real questions versus someone who is just being argumentative? That is the picture I have of the proconsul and of Bar-Jesus: one is seeking enlightenment, the other says he is the personification of enlightenment (Elymas literally means "enlightened one").
Not long ago I was speaking to a young man and woman about Jesus. The man had some really good questions, not easy ones to answer, but ones that clearly showed me the Spirit was tugging at his heart. The woman on the other hand, gave me the impression that she was only superficially interested and seemed a little antagonistic. I started to ask some questions about how they met, and about their relationship. I found out through asking these questions that the young man had an addiction problem and his girlfriend was able to control him and their relationship through his guilt. In other words, she had a vested interest in keeping him away from Jesus and healing, she was afraid that if he got better he wouldn't need or want her anymore. Such is the case with the proconsul and Elymas. Verse 8, "Elymas the sorcerer (for that is what his name means) opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul from the faith." Why? Because he didn't want to lose control.
When you share the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ do you have difficulty? Are you getting resistance despite the knowledge that someone is earnestly seeking? Look for the control. Who or what stands to lose control if someone becomes a new creation in Christ? Sometimes, when no other person is involved, the source of opposition (fight for control) comes from an addiction or habit that is hard to give up. Recognize that each time we share the gospel a spiritual battle is going on. Let me encourage you to remember this phrase: "evangelism is simply sharing the good news in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaving the results to God."
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Pocket Devotions are written by Mike Brooks. A retired businessman, he is Moderator of South Shores church, leads the Deacon Board, serves on the finance committee, and he teaches a Men's Bible study and the Men's Ministry. Mike has a passion for evangelical missions. He is the husband of Sherry; the father of Ryan, Natalie, Krissy, Rebecca, and Amanda; the father-in-law of Ariel; and the grandfather of Conner and Christian.