Acts 19:11-20

And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.

Sermon Transcript:

It is Father’s Day, so I wanted to start off, um, this morning of just sharing a couple of dad jokes that I hear my dad share constantly and I hope they’re just as cringy to you as they are to me. What is red and bad for your teeth? A brick.

What is brown and sticky? A stick. There it is here. That, that one got zero lasts. That’s okay. It’s not, it’s not my joke. It’s not my joke, so. Oh, well thank you so much guys. My name is Jared. Um, one of the pastors here. If you don’t know me, um, I’m the youth pastor, um, and, uh, have the privilege of. Leading the high schoolers and getting ready for a super busy summer.

But a little bit, uh, about me in college, I used to collect Christmas trees and I know that sounds like super strange and I know what you’re probably thinking like in my dorm room. Um, like if I had all these Christmas trees, I know it wasn’t that, it was after Christmas break, we’d come back for the, um, January semester and I had, back then I had a Ford Ranger 1999 truck.

It was awesome. I loved it so much, but it was, it gave me a lot of problems. It was basically like I had a car payment on it every month. It was like hundreds of dollars every month, but it was great. But I had a Ford Ranger in 1999, and I would drive around the neighborhoods of Langhorn, Pennsylvania. And I would look for people throwing out their Christmas trees.

And I would grab ’em and I’d throw ’em in my truck. I’d go around with my buddies and the one semester I literally collected like, probably like 10 to 15 trees and I stored them like out, out by campus, like out by the woods. And do you wanna guess what I did with them? I burned them. Yes, I burned them. If anyone has seen a Christmas tree burn, there’s nothing like it.

It’s so exciting. It goes up so fast. It makes the craziest fires. So I’d go out in the woods, it’s probably not safe. Um, but, and I would burn these Christmas trees and I like, literally was known of like the Christmas tree guy. I caught a couple people stealing a couple of my Christmas trees. I’m like, guys, you just gotta ask.

All right. I just wanna see it light on fire. You can use it, but just let me watch it go up. Um, but that’s what, that’s what I used to do. I used to collect Christmas trees, um, around campus and around the neighborhood. Well, this morning we are going to be learning. And viewing a bonfire like that Christmas tree, a bonfire that set a city ablaze.

And if you have your Bibles with you this morning, we’re gonna be reading from Acts chapter nine, uh, excuse me, 19 verses 11 through 20. It will be on the slide as well take, give you a second to turn there. This is act chapter 19, verses 11 through 20 says this And God was do, doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul.

So that even the handkerchiefs or aprons that touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. Then some of the Deterrant Jews, Jewish exorcists, undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits saying, I adjure you by the name of Jesus, whom Paul proclaims, seven sons of a Jewish high priest named S Skiva were doing this.

But the evil spirit said to them, Jesus, I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you and in? And the man in whom there was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them, and overpowered them so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks, and fear fell upon them all.

And the name of the Lord Jesus was extol. Also, many of those who are now believers came confessing and divulging their practices. And a number of those who practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all, and they counted the value of them and found that it came to 50,000 pieces of silver.

So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily. Would you pray with me this morning? Lord, thank you so much for who you are. God, I thank you so much, God, that you are a God who still does mighty works. God, I know that the, the very breath in my lungs right now is a miracle, Lord. So we just come to you this morning, God.

And we’re not in our sanctuary. We’re, we’re in the jam, Lord. We’re, we’re in a space that is unfamiliar to some of us, that is new to some of us that might feel nostalgic to some of us Lord, but we know that your spirit cannot be contained. By break or mortar. God, we know that your spirit is with us today, Lord, and I pray God fervently that your spirit and the, and your words would move and impact hearts.

God. Lord, if your spirit is not with us today, our, my words will completely fall flat. So, Lord, I, I trust that you would, uh, speak through me, Lord, that you’d open up our hearts, Lord and I do. I pray against every distraction in Jesus’ name, Lord, that if there’s anyone here that just stumbled in or doesn’t even know why they’re here, Lord, that you’d open up their heart, their hearts, that you’d open up their eyes, Lord, and open up their ears to what your spirit has to tell them and what your word will speak into them.

We pray all this in Jesus’s name. Amen. I love this passage so much. When I, I saw that I got assigned to this passage, I was literally so excited. I remember reading through the book of Acts and coming up upon this passage and then seeing that I was assigned. I mean, it is nine verses and there’s so much going on here.

Like it is the most action packed nine verses you could possibly ever preach on. So I’m very excited, um, to be preaching on this this morning. And I think Pastor Mark did an awesome job of just setting the stage of what the city of Ephesus, uh, was looked like. So this is kind of like a, a pop quiz for you and for me if we were listening last week.

But if you weren’t, I’ll go over some of the things because we have to understand that Paul is in Ephesus. He spent a couple years here, and if we understand the context of the city, I think the passage becomes that much more richer. So if we remember from last week, um, pastor Mark touched on that Ephesus was a thriving city for business, for art, for sports.

At that amphitheaters. I had education, a prominent, uh, place for education. It was second city only to Rome and its prominence. It was a wealthy and, and, uh, educated city. It was home to the temple of Artemis or Diana. It was this incredible temple, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world at that point.

That the whole city kind of worshiped. Um, the, uh, the God of Artemis, this, this foreign idol. Um, it surrounded this, it was beauty. It was like their pride and joy. It was a pagan city filled with darkness and idle worship. Uh, pastor Mark mentioned the prevalence of brothels at every corner. This was legalized, it was common, it was practice even in the temple of Artemis, that he had a thousand prostitutes working in the temple, a part of their worship each and every day.

This was a evil and corrupt city. And Paul decided to minister right in this city. And he spent more time here in Ephesus on a missionary journey longer than he did in any other city. And a few verses we hear, um, about the work that Paul was doing, and we’re gonna just flash back to Acts chapter 19, verses eight through 10.

It says this, and he entered this synagogue for three months, spoke boldly, reasoning, and persuading them about the kingdom of God. But when some became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil of the way before the congregation, he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him reasoning daily in the hall of, of Tyrannous.

This continued for two years so that all the residents of Asia heard the words of the Lord and something, something I can’t read on that one. Both trees and creeks. Sorry. Um, if you turn around the, the, the clock’s, the clock was, Blocking the rest of the verse. Um, but Paul was ministering. I mean, he was putting in work in the city of Ephesus.

Like he, he was going and he was preaching to the, he, what he commonly did is he’d go to the synagogue. He talked to the Jewish, uh, leaders and, and residents there that settled in this city, that knew of him that they, that, you know, they knew of one God. They knew that a Messiah was coming. They, what? They didn’t know.

The Messiah had already come. So Paul would go and he’d reason with them. And for three months they kind of got tired of him. And they’re like, some believe some didn’t. Some rejected the way and said they spoke evil of him. And he said, you know what? I finished my work here. I’m gonna go to a lecture hall now.

I’m gonna preach for two years. I’m gonna bring the disciples. I’m gonna bring those who believed with me, and now I’m gonna go to the Greeks and to the Romans and to the Gentiles of this city. And I’m going to preach and teach and lecture for two years. Paul was putting in work in the city. It was actually best, mark, I believe mentioned this as well, but he was actually doing this probably most likely during the time of rest that they’d have in the, the middle of their workday when it was the hottest.

So he was doing his own work morning and night and when he, people were supposed to have off and rest, he was teaching and proclaiming the word of God. Paul went up against this evil and corrupt city, this pagan, uh, city filled with superstition. And he didn’t let that scare him or intimidate him, but he presented the word of God faithfully.

So then we get to the start of our passage and we see God doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul. Right? It’s not Paul doing the miracles. Is not Paul looking into this? No. God is doing extraordinary miracles. Through the hands of Paul, God is literally healing people through handkerchiefs and aprons that Paul have touched, literally sweat rags that he sweat and wiped himself on.

They’re taking these, I don’t, we don’t know if that, that he was, he probably wasn’t giving them away if we know anything about Paul, but people probably just grabbing them on his lunch break or something like that and taking them to the sick and to the demon possessed and people are getting healed just by the fabric that has touched Paul.

I mean, how crazy is this, right? I mean, this is absolutely crazy, but I did, um, I have some hanger chips in my office that passer. Mark has sweated on and prayed over. Um, I will be selling those for 29 99. Um, they’re only good for one use though, so if you want to do two for 60, I’m willing to do that. Three for 90.

I’m joking. Right. This was something that the Lord was doing special for the city of Ephesus. Luke records these ama amazing miracles. Not as a formula to follow, but to show just how big and creative God is to bring people to himself. God has no limits or boundaries or restraints. He’s creative and often uses unique and miraculous ways to show himself.

It shows his mercy to reach and condescend to the city of Ephesus that was steeped in superstition. These miracles must have gotten around because we now, we see the Sons of s Skiva attempt to take advantage of this so-called formula, right? These guys, I mean, sons of s Skiva, just this, they just sound like bad people.

I don’t, there’s no record of s Skiva actually being a high priest in any Jewish text. So I don’t know if this guy just gave him this title or maybe he just wasn’t influential, so they didn’t write him down or what, but this guy and his sons are charlatans. They see Paul doing something. They see the power of God at work, and they say, Hmm.

I wanna try that. I wanna try that. So it was it, and then this was actually a very common practice for exorcists. What they would do is they would adhere to a more powerful spirit demon to try to cast out lesser spirits and demons. This is what they do. So they name and claim and, and try to use this incantation of someone else’s name to cast out demons.

So they’re think, whoa, this, this name of Jesus seems pretty powerful, this name of Jesus, that this guy Paul Proclaims seems to be working for him. So why don’t we try this one out and notice how they do it. They say, I adur you by the name of Jesus, who Paul proclaims. They didn’t know Jesus. They didn’t know who he was.

They heard of his name, they heard of Paul using his name and decided to give it a try. Man, were they surprised? You gotta put yourself on the seed. They go in, they’re like, they’re probably making money off this, right? Scamming people. They go in and they’re like, oh, we got this guy, just one single guy.

There’s seven of us. You know, we’ll just say the name of Jesus. Everything will be good. And it says they left wounded, bloodied, and naked talk about getting embarrassed, right? And not only with that, it says, this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greek. This is a big city. And now these Jewish exorcists that had their business and claim the fame about exercising demons have now been mastered by them, embarrassed by them.

And now the whole city knows about it. But then it says, and the name of the Lord was extolled. And so I’m talking about God. There’s no boundaries. For God. There’s nothing he cannot use to make his name great. Right? The absolute unthinkable happens next, new believers come forward, divulging and confessing sins and evil practices they were a part of.

They took all the books, scrolls, incantations, and whatever else demonic tools they had and burned them in the sight of all. If I haven’t emphasized this enough, Ephesus was a city steeped in superstition and demonic practices. This was so prevalent that literally the rest of the Greco Roman world, when they would refer to these spell books and incantations in magic books, they would refer to them as Ephesian writings.

That’s literally what they would refer to these books on, because this is so, this is how prevalent and superstitious this city of Ephesus was. These demonic practices were common, that even these believers, these were believers. We’re still engaging some of these practices, and what do they do? They have the most epic and most costly bonfire of all time.

The value is stated as 50,000 silver pieces. That would be one silver piece is equivalent to a day’s wages. So even a, a most odd modest estimate would be a million dollars in today’s currency, but it could be anywhere between a million and $5 million. They didn’t care. The name of the Lord was extol. The spirit moved and they came confessing and say, I want nothing to do with this life anymore.

I told you I, I love this passage. It literally preaches itself. I could like pray and say Amen. We could go on and let the spirit of the Lord do the rest of the work. But I do have a couple points, so hang with me first. I have three, three takeaways for us. The first one is the preaching of God’s word is dangerous to the enemy’s camp.

A preaching of God’s word is dangerous to the enemy’s camp. Paul knew who his real enemy was. He knew when he wrote to the Ephesians in Ephesians six 12, he says this, for we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers, over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil and the heavenly places.

When Paul was going up against the city of Ephesus and the thousands upon thousands of people and the pagan, uh, worship and the idol worship and the temple of Artemis, he knew the people. He was looking at the opposing Jewish people that rejected him. He said, no, no, you’re not my battle. I know where my battle is.

It’s not against flesh and blood. There’s a spiritual battle. There’s a spiritual battle happening in the city of Vestus. There is strongholds that the enemy held, and Paul said, I know what I’m going after. I’m going after these strongholds. I’m gonna tear ’em down. And how does he do it? Notice Paul doesn’t go in asking God for miraculous things to happen.

We don’t start off the chapter and miracles are happening. What happens? He preaches God’s word. That’s his attack. He goes against these evil forces with God’s word. For three months, he reasoned and taught in the synagogue. After they had enough of him, he preached in the lecture hall for two years. He made disciples and had them go out and preach the word.

The preaching of God’s word brought forth miracles. Paul didn’t start in Ephesus asking God to do a miracle. He went and preached the word and through the preaching of the word miracles came God affirming his ministry. Through these wonderful things happening, and through the preaching of the word, the Lord’s name was magnified, people confessed people, repentant of their sin.

They turned away, they rejected it. The last verse in verse 20, it says, so the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily. The word of the Lord, not Paul’s name, right? Not Paul’s. No. The word of the Lord increased and it’s because the faithfulness, the diligence, the hardworking of Paul to continue to preach God’s word, even in the face of rejection.

Going back to Ephesians six, right after that verse, it talks about the armor of God. The armor of God is described and we have the belt, right, the Belt of truth. The shoes fitted with the readiness of the gospel of peace. The helmet of guys, you can talk in church. It’s okay. The helmet of, okay, the breastplate of the shield of and the sword of the, which is what The word of God.

Notice every piece of armor of the armor of God is defensive except for one piece. It’s the sword of the spirit, which is the word of the God. Everything else is defensive. Faith, righteousness, salvation. I got a helmet on, I got a shield on. I got a breast blade on. I got a belt on. I got shoes to run. The sword of the spirit is the attack on the enemy.

The word of God. This is how we play offense. This is what Paul went into a city that was under demonic oppression. He led with the word of God.

How did Jesus resist the devil in the wilderness? He quote it, scripture, Jesus was tempted, like none of us ever will be tempted for 40 days out in the wilderness, faced with the devil himself. And how he combated with him is quoting scripture,

the pastors and some of the other staff here at fcc. We go away. Um, every six months we partner with, uh, Clark Summit Church, uh, up, up in uh, Clark Summit and we do this thing, and it’s called Preach the Word. It’s actually, uh, uh, organization and, and ministry, I believe started in Brazil. They call it Prague.

If there’s any Brazilians here, please forgive my pronunciation. I’ve really tried on that. Uh, I hope it was somewhat accurate, right? Preach the word. It comes out of, um, second Timothy four, one through two. It says this. This is Paul talking to Timothy, his young disciple. He says, I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is the judge, the living and the dead.

And by his appearing and in his kingdom, preach the word, be ready. In season and out of season. Out of season, reprove, rebuke and exort with complete patience and teaching. Paul’s telling Timothy this from his own experience, from his own experiences that he had. The preaching of God’s word is not only important, it’s essential we go away.

Um, as I mentioned with this, preach the word ministry and we partner with this church and we literally sit in a room and a circle around each other. And for two days straight, like eight to nine hours a day, we study a book of the Bible. And I mean, like, if you know how much I move on stage, you know how much I might move, like sitting down for eight and a half hours of like, oh my gosh, can I stand and talk about God’s word?

Now I’m, I’m, I’m, I’m ready to move here. Right. But that’s what we do. And it’s, it’s been so fruitful. It’s been so evident in, in, in our teaching and our preaching to just come back and it feels like your quivers full. It feels like your, your cup is overflowing with the power of God’s word. It’s essential.

It’s why we do this every Sunday is preach God’s word because it has power. There’s nothing special about Pastor Mark or, or me or de desire or Mike or Tim or whoever other pastors. It’s that we have the word of God and it has power and it’s dangerous to the enemy’s camp. So Paul marches in Ephesus, and he goes in and he preaches God’s word faithfully.

He was in Ephesus for three years. He demonstrated this preaching God’s word, faithfully. The preaching of God’s word is dangerous to the enemy’s camp. Secondly, we can clearly, clearly see that there is no other name like Jesus. Jesus’ name is above all other names. Philippians two, nine through 11 says, this says, therefore, God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name.

So at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confessed that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the father. Jesus’ name is the name above all other names and, and first we see in this passage is the misuse of the name of Jesus by the sons of Skiva.

We see as a misuse. They use the name of Jesus like a magic charm. That’s how they use it. They didn’t know Jesus. They didn’t know who he was. They didn’t know about him. They didn’t trust in him. They had no faith in him, and yet they go in and they try to charm something up with the name of Jesus. I’ll say this, there is no power, that there is power in the name of Jesus, but the power is knowing the person of Jesus not chanting his name right?

They didn’t know him. They just heard of his name. They didn’t have faith in him. They just knew how to say his name. The Israelites were were guilty. Of this, uh, in a, in a variety of different ways. But one of the ways the high school youth group, um, and I, we’ve worked through the whole book of First Samuel this whole last year.

We, we’ve taken it chapter by chapter. We’ve actually broken up, um, in the start of youth group, and we’ve read the chapter and, and individual groups. Then we come together, um, and we talk about it and preach on it. Then we go into small groups and we ask questions about it. And one thing that, that I really saw as just the common theme throughout First Samuel and, and through the Israelites and, and how they worked in chapter four, they do something, they actually have recently even defeated by the Philistines.

They lose about 400 men. And so they, you know, they’re, they come up, the leaders come together and they’re like, guys, we got a good idea. We know how to defeat the Philistines. At this point, the Philistines aren’t camped around them, right? They’re ready to go to battle against Israelis. And if you know the Philistines, these were these evil, um, pagan practicing people.

They’re against God. Um, they’re against his word. Um, and the people of God. So they come up with a strategy. Say, you know what we’re gonna do? We’re gonna go get the Ark of the Covenant, and we’re gonna march it out into battle, and that’s how we’re gonna defeat the Philistines. Here’s the problem. They didn’t inquire of the Lord.

They didn’t ask him to do this. They didn’t have the right processes that God had set up to have priests and sanctification processes and washings to now bring the Ark of the Covenant out. They didn’t do any of this. What they did was they marched the trophy out to try to defeat their enemies. What they made short of the Ark of the Covenant, which if you don’t know about the ark, it was the symbolic place where God’s spirit was resting in the camp of the Israelites, but they marched the Ark of the Covenant out like it’s a idol.

Even the Philistines notice that when they have a mighty roar, they’re so excited a come to come to the camp. The Philistines say, oh no, they’ve brought their gods out small G.

And what happens is they absolutely get defeated. They lose more men in that battle than most any other battle. They didn’t take time to turn to God, to ask of him, to inquire of him, to know what he wanted. They went out and they marched out his ark like it was a trophy. Like it was an idol. And what power did it hold?

None because they weren’t inquiring of the God who gave it power saying the name of Jesus is pointless if we don’t have faith in the person of Jesus. There’s a scene in, um, the chosen series, if you’ve seen it or not. Um, my wife Jason, and I are only a couple episodes. In one of the first episodes. I mean, it starts off hot and I think it was the first or second episode and we were following the story of Nicodemus, right?

Who’s this prominent religious Jewish leader. And they, they used some writing in between the lines here cuz they have him talking to, uh, Mary Magdalene. Mary Magdalene was a woman who Jesus had cast out seven demons out of her. But before that, they show this scene. This isn’t necessarily in the Bible, they kind of write this in.

But Nicodemus goes and they ask him the Romans that this, this lady’s causing too much conflict. She’s tearing everything up. She’s bringing fear in the town. So they send Nicodemus in this religious leader, this Jewish leader, this highly respected rabbi, and they send him in and he goes in there with his incense and he saying every name of God he can and, and, and rebuking this demon.

And Mary Magdalene’s kind of like curled up in a ball. It’s kind of scary. And then everything goes quiet. And he is like, you don’t know if he succeeded or not. And Mary Magdalene looks at Nicodemus and the demons speak through her and they say, we are not afraid of you. You have no power here. And I was struck when I saw that scene because why?

Why didn’t Nicodemus have power? Why weren’t they afraid of him? Because Nicodemus had no faith in God. He was studied, he knew the scriptures, and yet his faith was lacking. What Jesus said to Nicodemus when he finally meets him, he says, you need to be born again. You know about me. You don’t know me. These sons of s Skiva did not know who Jesus was.

Therefore, they had no power. They didn’t know him. They say, we know Jesus. We recognize Paul. He’s been absolutely tearing up this city. Who were he? You. We don’t know who you are, but we’re not afraid of you.

Nicodemus was very influential and powerful religious leader, had a lot of knowledge, but no faith. These sons of s Skiva had a name. Their father was a high priest. They were known in the city, and yet they had no power over darkness cuz they had no faith in the person of Jesus. I think we’re guilty of this all the time.

We even do this with our food, what we say? God bless this gown of ice cream on my body, and help it turn into celery before it goes down.

Ever think about that prayer, like, God, I know I’m not supposed to eat this six hotdog, but bless this one going down. Right, right. Oftentimes in our life, we just want God to show up. We just, sometimes you ever do this in your scripture, you’re like, gimme a good one.

But if we’re not taking the time to know God and to inquire of him and to get to know him, what are we doing right? We need to stop using God like a genie. What are we Just rub him the right way. He’s gonna show up exactly when I want him, how I want him, where I want ’em.

I’ve heard people engaging in sin, darkness of sin. Just say, you know, I just, I prayed right after I was done. I prayed the name of Jesus over it right after.

But when it comes to that, we’re using Jesus’s name just like the Sons of s Skiva did. Like we don’t know him cuz if we knew him then we know these things aren’t good for me. I know Jesus wouldn’t want this in my life,

and yet we try to use his name like a charm or a genie. And this is how good God is that he even works in a superstitious sometimes. This is what he did with the people of Ephesus. God’s not working through fabrics like he always does, right? There’s, there’s a couple instances where he does, and that the woman, um, grabs Jesus’s cloak, right?

She had faith that if I just touched his garments, I’d be healed. And she was healed. We know later, earlier in the book of Acts, Peter was walking by and people laid their sick out in the shadow. Just say if, if, if his shadow only passed over me. I’d get healed. This is how good God is that he works even in these moments.

But he what He wants us. He wants us to make his name above all their name. He wants us to treat him like that. That prayer that Mike prayed, our father and heaven hollowed be thy name. Glory to your name. Raise it up above all other names cuz that’s who it is. That’s what who you are. Lemme see even in the misuse of his name, verse 17 tells us fear fell upon them.

And all the name and the name of the Lord Jesus was extol. It was magnified in the panic and the fear. The Ephesians realize the great danger of the demonic and they feared the name of Jesus. They feared the name of Jesus in the right way and said they saw that this name is not to be trifled with Jesus’ name.

It’s above every other name, but the power is in knowing the person of Jesus.

In chapter before, or sorry, at the beginning of this chapter, Paul meets a couple disciples that ha they were in the baptism of John the Baptist, right? They, they were expecting the Messiah to come. And what does Paul say? He’s come, he, I, I, I know him and you can know him. And when they heard of this and when they learned of this, the spirit of God fell upon them.

This is what knowing the, the name of Jesus is. It’s about knowing who he is, knowing the person, and believing in faith. He will do what he said he will do. He’s able and mighty and stronger than this.

Jesus’ name is the name above every, another name. And he’s asking us to treat it like that. Not to use it like a charm or haphazardly, but to treat it as holy and upright as we walk in faith with him. Third, and I’ll, I’ll close with this. God is burning everything off of us that doesn’t look like him.

Many of the new believers came confessing and divulging their practices, right? One thing to note here is the common, uh, consensus was the, these spells and books and scrolls had their power in their secrecy. This is what these magicians, uh, um, and demonic people, um, believe that these scrolls, the, the, these, these magic spells have their power in their secrecy.

So, Just divulging them, just confessing them, just bringing them to the light would empty them of their power. But this was not enough for these believers. They wanted to get rid of ’em. They wanted to destroy them. Remember, these were costly worth over a million dollars. They didn’t sell ’em. They didn’t trade ’em, they burned them.

They didn’t want anyone to have these things, these instruments of the devil that have caused so much sin, so much wickedness in their life. They said no more. They wanted nothing to do with the instruments of the devil.

And if you’re sitting here this morning and you’re wondering, yeah, Jared, this is, this is awesome and it’s a really cool story, but I just don’t see this stuff happening right now in America. I just don’t really see this type of spiritual warfare going on. In America. You know what, maybe that happens in other parts of the world or maybe it happened back here.

But you know, Satan works in different ways today. And although I, I’d agree with you to a certain extent that he does work in different and new ways, but I believe my generation, especially more than ever, is opening themselves up to spiritual practices that are demonic. There’s a whole movement and, um, and practice that they’re labeling it new age or spiritualism, and it can refer to many spiritual practices, but it does not identify as religious, but only spiritual.

You probably heard someone say in your life, I’m not religious, I’m just spiritual. I’m like, what does that mean? I’m like, like, I don’t know. That could literally mean anything. But this is the common movement of just opening yourselves up to spiritual things. And if we’re Christians and we know spiritual things are out there, and if we’re not opening ourselves up to the spirit of God and his holy scriptures, then we’re opening th things up to the realm of darkness.

And pew reachers, pew researchers actually, um, pew Research Center does a study and 61% of Christians hold at least one new age, belief. 61% of Christians. That’s not the world, that’s not the non-believers, that’s not the people that identify as, oh, I don’t believe in anything. 61%. I did a quick Google search by my house.

There are 27 witch stores within 15 miles of my house, 27. I live in Mount Laurel. My wife, Jason, and I were looking forward to going to a fall festival my neighborhood was putting on, um, on Creek Road there. Um, it was around October. I was super excited. All of a sudden, they changed the name, they changed the theme.

It, it was a witch’s market on Halloween. Literally a place that you could go and exchange different witchcraft, terra cards, spell books, other things we didn’t go. Just to let you know, right? This is more common than you’d like to think it is. Deuteronomy 18 speaks on this. This is, um, when the Israelites are getting ready to enter into the promised land.

This is what that instructions them when you come into the land that the Lord your God has given you. You shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of these nations. There shall not be found among you. Anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering. Anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead for whoever does these things is abomination to the Lord.

And because of these abominations, the Lord your God is driving them out before you.

He labels people who sacrifice their children as sacrifices of their gods in the same light as one who uh, tells fortunes and interprets omens. These practices are abomination to the Lord. This might seem dismal, but the reality is this, people are searching, they are searching, and when you search, you might find some scary stuff, but if you’re searching, the Lord will meet you in that.

Now, there’s many stories of friends I know and people I know that in their search, in these spiritual practices, they’ve found some really scary stuff. But in that fear, they’ve turned to the Lord. And these people are, it’s often, um, this, the thi, this is the reality. Satan cannot create. He can only pervert and twist what God’s creation is.

He can’t create so many of these new age and spiritual practices. They promise healing. They promise inner peace. They promise community. They promise All these things that our God can give us. Our God is healer. Our God is the prince of peace. This is who our God is. So the hope is that these people are searching for something that our God can give them, and it’s not watered down.

It’s crystal clear. It doesn’t leave you searching. It doesn’t lead to mental illness. It leads to peace and beauty and comfort and our identity that my father in heaven loves me. God is burning all, all, everything off of us that doesn’t look like him. He wants us to refine us, make us look more and more like his son.

Jesus. I need to start wrapping up, but I want to read this testimony, um, from someone I know and I got their permission to share. And I’m gonna keep it anonymous, but I wanna share it with you because this is a recent testimony in the past couple years. It says this, for most of my life I was raised Catholic.

I always knew who Jesus was and had an awareness of God. However, I didn’t have a true understanding of what he did and what it meant to be a follower of Christ. I’ve been heavily attacked by the enemy since day one, and I have faced severe struggles throughout my life. A therapist. I had introduced me to witchcraft when I was 14, and I loved horoscopes, tarot cards and astro uh, astrology signs.

In the fall of 2021, I was dealing and coping with my parents’ divorce. I’d gotten a phone with TikTok, which I hadn’t had before. I spent way too much time on the app and my feed turned dark video after video of dark horror stories, and it really messed with my head. I was feeling tired and weak and trapped almost, but in the middle of all the dark videos here and there, there would be a video about Jesus.

In the beginning, I ignored them, but as I saw more, I started listening more. I deleted TikTok for a while, and I decided I wanted to learn more about Jesus and Christianity. It was a journey of which I’m still on, but I learned so much. I was horrified at some of my past actions, realizing how naive I was.

I stopped and dropped all witchcraft that I had and ever been involved with, and I burned all the books I had acquired about all of this stuff. Coincidentally, around that same time, my therapist ended up getting fired too. I started reading the Bibles I had. I learned and fully understood who Jesus was and exactly what dying on the cross did for me, and what a beautiful selfless act it was.

This is what God is doing. He’s burning things off of us that don’t look like him. The farther you are with the Lord, the more you walk with him, you’ll just notice He just takes His hatching, just cuts things off that aren’t of him. I don’t know what the Lord is convicting your heart of right now. I don’t know if it’s darkness and practices that need exposing.

I don’t know if it’s sin. Secrets lies, lust, pride, anger, or resentment. My prayer for our church is that we would be like these Ephesians who felt the conviction of the spirit and they listen and they did violence to their sin. Jesus spoke so harshly about dealing with our own sin. He said, if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away for it is better that you lose one of your members than your whole body going to hell.

A good friend of mine, um, I FaceTimed her one time and I’m FaceTiming her and I can’t see her. The screen is completely blurred out and I’m like, what is going on? Why can’t I see you? Like, I think your phone’s broke. Did you like break it or something happened with your camera? She goes, oh, yeah. I painted over my front camera screen, and I’m like, why?

She goes, the Lord was really convicting me of vanity. I’m like, okay, right on. Paint it over. Paint over the front one as well. This is the attitude, right? This is the attitude that God wants us to deal with our sin. If we know something’s causing us a sin or a place we’re going to, or a show we’re watching, or whatever it is, that we’d say, you know what?

It’s not worth it to me. I’ll destroy my phone, I’ll throw out my computer, I’ll leave the job. It’s not worth it to me. He’s burning everything off of us that doesn’t look like him. We’re gonna close with a song here about just turning to God and leaving the world behind. These were believers that gave up these practices.

God is still taking things from our lives, and I hope that, uh, this song impacts you. And I just want to read this verse as the worship team comes up here and I’ll pray. This is Paul writing to the Ephesians. Okay. This is Paul literally writing to the people of Ephesians in Ephesians four 17 through 24.

He says this, now, this I say and testify in the Lord. That you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do in the futility of their minds, they are darkened in their understanding, alienate it from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardness of their heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity, but that is not the way you learned Christ, assuming that you have heard about him, and were taught in Him as truth is in Jesus to put off your old self, which to belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through the deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God and true righteousness and holiness.

Lord, that is our prayer this morning. God that we would put off the old self that was corrupted by sin. God, you’ve caught us into a new way of life. You’ve caught us, the walk and newness that works that you’ve already prepared in advance for us, Lord. So God convict us. Lord, I pray after this message that that people would confess to their loved ones, Lord, that you’d work, that you’d expose sins that have so grown and laid in the darkness, God, that you’d expose ’em to the light, God, that there would be true repentance, Lord, that you would create repentant hearts in our lives and that this would spread to our whole community.

Lord, we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.