And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: “Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.”
Just a reminder!
Whenever the Word of God is proclaimed, in simple conversation or across a pulpit, we can be assured of an audience, be it those interested or those who are determined to destroy any advance of the gospel. Such was the case when Paul and associates arrived in Salamis and began to preach the gospel in the synagogues of the Jews. (Acts 15:5-12)
Being a Jew and a Pharisee, and understanding the prophecies of the Old Testament as having been fulfilled in Christ, naturally he went where he had a springboard to leave from. However, the devil and his kinsmen had other plans, utilizing the magician, Jewish false prophet Barjesus, “who was with the “proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence”. (v7) For sure, the devil was not about to allow the efforts of Sergius Paulus to speak with Paul and Barnabas to “hear the word of God.”
As recalled, with the descent of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2, there was an accompanying promise from God for a display of His empowerment of the Holy Spirit in the Apostles. Here is one of those displays. Paul confronted this man, Barjesus, 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? Now, behold the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and not see the sun for a time. And immediately a mist and darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking those who would lead him by the hand.”
It is not always possible to distinguish between the world, the flesh or the devil when a “Barjesus” situation develops. I admit that such encounters need the mind of the Lord. I look back and admit to having been fooled.
What happened to Sergius Paulus? “He believed when he saw what happened, being amazed at the teaching of the Lord.” (v12) You and I may be fooled on occasion, but when one turns to the Lord, that is victory. It confirms God is at work and brings joy to the heart. The impostor is defeated!