Who Is Your Leader?

Bill Brinkworth

“And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Barjesus: … 10 And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?” Acts 13:6-10

Much of the opposition early Christians faced was from “religious”, but unrighteous people. However, in Acts the early church started facing conflict from those that clearly opposed biblical teaching of any kind.

One such enemy was Barjesus. His name meant “son of Jesus” or “son of Joshua”.  However, he used the name Elymas, which meant “wizard.” Being that this sorcerer was a Jew (vs. 6), he probably had some type of biblical training in his past.  If he did, he knew that sorcery was sinful (I Sam. 15:23, II Chron. 33:6); yet he pursued that wickedness even though he knew God hated it.  To make matters worse, this male witch tried diligently to keep someone from being saved (Acts 13:6-7).

Many have been exposed to what God says is right or wrong. They have learned His ways from good preaching, Christian education, Bible reading, or a godly upbringing; yet somewhere in their lives they have made the decision to ignore everything they have heard and live the way they wanted.  They have chosen to live their lives contrary to God’s command, as did Barjesus.

I have asked myself again and again, “How can these people, that definitely have learned God’s way, live the way they are living now?”  In this account, the sorcerer was not a child of God, as he was called “… thou child of the devil, thou enemy of righteousness…” (Acts 13:10).  For some that live ungodly lives, that may be the explanation; they were not saved to begin with.

For others, they may have been saved, but sin has a powerful hold on them.  Sin’s control can completely change how a person thinks and behaves.  Romans Chapter 1 describes people like this.  The people described in that chapter “knew God” (Romans 1:21) but they “… became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”  The rest of the chapter details that sad list of sins they had gotten involved with.

Why do people act ungodly?  Some are unsaved. Others live a lifestyle contrary to God’s commandments because they may not even know what His commands are or may not even consider obeying anything other than their own desires.  For others that should know better, it may because they have purposely decided to ignore what they have learned, and live their own way.  Rebellion of this type is usually rooted in a controlling sin. For whatever reason, one’s lifestyle usually revolves around one’s own decision. The decision God desires for each one of us should be similar to the choice Joshua made, “… as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” Joshua 24:15.  Whom have you chosen to obey?

“You cannot run away from a weakness; you must some time fight it out or perish; and if that be so, why not now, and where you stand.”
— Robert Louis Stevenson

This article was featured in The Bible View #303.

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