Devotional

Cutting Off Our Sinful Past (13 November)

God was performing unusual miracles through Paul. Even handkerchiefs and aprons he had used were taken to the sick, and their diseases were driven away, and the evil spirits would go out of them. Some Jews who traveled around and drove out evil spirits also tried to use the name of the Lord Jesus to do this. They said to the evil spirits, "I command you in the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches." Seven brothers, who were the sons of a Jewish High Priest named Sceva, were doing this. But the evil spirit said to them, "I know Jesus, and I know about Paul; but you-who are you?". . . All the Jews and Gentiles who lived in Ephesus heard about this; they were all filled with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was given greater honor. Many of the believers came, publicly admitting and revealing what they had done. Many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in public. They added up the price of the books, and the total came to fifty thousand silver coins. In this powerful way the word of the Lord kept spreading and growing stronger.
Acts 19:11-20

The miracles recounted in this story happened because of the power of the name of Jesus. Many of those who believed because of Jesus' powerful name were the very people who had practiced sorcery and magic and exorcism. Not only did they proclaim the name of Jesus and abandon their cults and ceremonies, they even brought all of their books of magic and potions and poison formulas, piled them up in the center of town, and burned them. In today's currency, the books they burned were worth about twenty million dollars.

The believers in Ephesus burned their books in order to break the spiritual power of their sinful past, that they might begin a new life in Jesus the Messiah. Here we find an important scriptural principle: we must separate ourselves from our sinful past as we start our new lives. In (Matthew 6:24) Jesus says, "You cannot be a slave of two masters; you will hate one and love the other; you will be loyal to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money."

We are faced with two important questions. As a disciple who follows the Messiah Jesus, do you need to do some book burning in your life? This is not a place for negotiation. If we try to make a compromise with our sinful past, we will only slow down our spiritual progress. So be straight and completely honest with yourself.

After you have answered the first question, the second is this: Do you love Jesus enough that you are ready to do all you have to? Are you ready to scrape off the barnacle and be rid of it? Only you can answer these questions.

It is such people that God seeks, and he wants you to be one of them.

- 13 NOVEMBER -

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