Acts 13:6-12 NIV “They traveled through the whole island until they came to Paphos. 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. Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said, “You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord? Now the hand of the Lord is against you. You are going to be blind for a time, not even able to see the light of the sun.” Immediately mist and darkness came over him, and he groped about, seeking someone to lead him by the hand. When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed, for he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord.”
Can you imagine if something like this happened today?
Wouldn’t the News media have a field day?
Wouldn’t there even be some Christians who would condemn this supposedly nefarious unchristian hostile act?
But there is one particular verse in the above scripture that I want to draw your attention to, namely: “Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said,…”
And this isn’t the only case where men of God, filled with the Holy Spirit, lashed out with brutal truth. As an example take a good hard look at what Stephen said to the Sanhedrin just before they stoned him to death (Acts 7). Once again, pay particular attention to verse 10 in Acts 6 NIV which states: “But they could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke.”
The key observation is that both Stephen and the Apostle Paul where empowered and moved out of compulsion by the indwelling Holy Spirit. This is a sanctioned act of God where the Spirit of Jesus for lack of better words, takes over. He provides the words, they just flow as natural as water, effortless.
How do I know this you ask? Because I have seen it happen, through others and also to me.
In the case where Paul admonishes Elymas, we have a stern temporary reprimand, I have not witnessed one of these but … well let me tell you a short story.
A number of years ago a Christian brother of mine (Dave) asked me to attend a Christian Youth Group gathering. Dave addressed the group of about 25 young people and as I listened to what he was saying, I became aware that what he was saying was correct but he seemed to be saying it all backwards. It just wasn’t coming out right. I found it very difficult to remain silent, I literally found it hard to stay seated. Midway through his presentation, when the urge to speak almost became intolerable, I quietly raised my hand and asked Dave that when he was finished, might I say a few words.
Dave said no.
Dave said that God had just told him to sit down and to let me speak.
I thanked Dave and began to speak the words that felt like they were in a pressure cooker, they just had to come out. They flowed, effortless, the theme of the talk was about God being a Spirit and about Jesus being in heaven now, sitting at the right hand of God the Father. Sentence after sentence came to my mind and I spoke them. I looked around the room and many were in tears, it was beautiful, you’d have to have been there. And then it was done. The words stopped and I sat down. A number of the young people gave there hearts to the Lord that night.
There have been a number of these instances throughout my life where the Holy Spirit has directed me to do something, or say something. It doesn’t happen that often in this striking way but it is beautiful when it does. And it’s all about faith and obedience. You don’t have to do what the Holy Spirit tells you to do, you don’t have to speak the words that He gives you. But you learn to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.
So when I read these words of scripture where Stephen or the Apostle Paul, being filled by the Holy Spirit, speak words, I can understand what has happened. It happens today.
Would I ever dream of silencing an opposing heckler by uttering words that would make them temporarily blind? Nope, not even close, not from within myself. But …. when you are empowered by the Holy Spirit, when it does not originate from within your natural self, and the words being given to you do not disagree with the written word, then you would.
If you have been following my posts you will recall that I felt that God wanted me to go from the Old Testament that I was rereading again, and go back to the New Testament. You will recall that I ignored that leading because I wanted to finish reading through the OT again via the Amplified Bible I was using. The leading was persistent and because I continued to ignore it (my desire over God’s desire for me), the inspiration that I normally get when reading the scriptures basically stopped. I stopped getting anything from it. That never happens. So finally, being hard headed as I am, I placed a bookmark in where I was in the OT (Amplified Bible version) and started reading the New Testament again. Bingo …. inspiration is back.
I don’t have to understand why, I just need to learn to be obedient.
I just need to trust that His will for me is what is best and always has been. There is a freedom in obedience. There is joy in obedience. Listen to that still small voice within you, in order to be obedient in big things you need to learn to be obedient in small things. And please remember, test all things, whether what is being asked of you agrees with the Word of God.
There are times when my natural abilities don’t give the Lord much to work with, but fortunately my shortfalls do not limit Him in any way. All He needs from me, when you get right down to it, is an obedient vessel through which He can implement His grace and will, be it via a kind word, or an unquestioned expression of love or compassion. Lord, help me to hear your Spirit’s leading and without hesitation, do your will.
Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!