“6 They travelled through the whole island until they came to Paphos. There they met a Jewish sorcerer and false prophet named Bar-Jesus, 7 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. 8 But Elymas the sorcerer (for that is what his name means) opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul from the faith. 9 Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said, 10 ‘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? 11 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. 12 When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed, for he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord.” NIV
You don’t have to commit ‘intellectual suicide’ in order to become a Christian. ‘’The proconsul, an intelligent man, sent for Barnabas and Saul because he wanted to hear the word of God’’ (7b). His intelligence was not a barrier to seeking, or to belief (12). He was converted in the end. For the last two mornings, while I have been walking on the treadmill, I’ve also been watching a lecture given by Professor John Lennox at Harvard, about the rationality of belief in the supernatural. John Lennox is a Christian, and a professor of mathematics at Oxford. He has an exceptionally brilliant mind, and he is living proof that Christianity is not incompatible with intelligence.(See http://www.johnlennox.org). Of course, Satan will try to trip up those who want to know the truth about God (8), whether it is through an ‘’Elymas’’, or someone or something else. We must never forget that we are in a spiritual battle. Our enemy is resourceful and has many ‘spanners’ he can throw into the ‘works’. But he doesn’t have to win. I like this quote I saw recently: ‘A working knowledge of the devil can be very well had from resisting him.’ Flanerry O’Connor. When we engage in evangelism, at some level we will encounter the devil and his works. Nevertheless, the triumph of the gospel is assured. We will find ourselves coming up against a strong, but defeated foe.
PRAYER: Victorious Lord Jesus, whenever we see your enemy trying to interfere with our witness, help us to remember that you have beaten him at the cross. May we trust more firmly and fully in you.