Sometimes It’s Necessary to Be Blunt & Rebuke the Devil to Save a Soul

Going along to get along seems to be the prevalent mindset among many believers today. So they allow ungodly things to go on in the midst of their “Christian” groups to avoid confrontation when certain people introduce heretical doctrines. This is the opposite of what happened in the early church as recorded in Acts.

Acts 13 is one such example. When Paul and Barnabas arrived on Cyprus to preach the gospel, they paid a visit to Sergius Paulus, the Roman leader of the island. As they witnessed to him, a Jewish false prophet, Elymas Barjesus, who was an occultist, tried to tear down everything Paul and Barnabas preached to prevent Sergius Paulus from being saved. The Holy Ghost in Paul finally got fed up with it and inspired Paul to pronounce these words against Barjesus:

10 … O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?

11 And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand.

Yes, these were some very blunt words (some might even say they were rude), but obviously the Holy Ghost knew they needed to be said. When it’s blatantly obvious that someone’s doctrine is unbiblical and anti-God, indignation is what’s required in more cases than we care to admit. Now notice how Sergius Paulus reacted:

12 Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord.

There are instances where it pays to have such righteous indignation that one “goes off” on someone with frank, holy words that expose the enemy’s tactics out in the open for everyone to see. Such an action is commendable and is in line with God’s will. Paul was not defending any denominational man-made doctrines when he did it. Nor was he looking to boost his pride or personal gain. He was defending the very words of God. It showed that passing judgment based on God’s word–not leaning on our own human understanding–is part of God’s system. Based on what v. 12 tells us, everything Paul said and the action he took against Barjesus was all within “the doctrine of the Lord.” His Holy Ghost-inspired frankness backed up with the physical judgment on Elymas by the power of the Lord was the very thing needed at that moment to bring Sergius Paulus to salvation. Just think how many lost souls might be saved today if more believers would exercise righteous indignation instead of letting things slide.

Unfortunately, there was a down side. But the down side did not make it necessary for Paul to apologize for anything that happened. John Mark, who was traveling with them, quit the ministry right after witnessing this powerful miracle. It is a sobering lesson telling us that even when we have everything lined up perfectly within God’s will to the point of him unleashing a miracle and saving lost souls, some believers in our midst will still fail to be on-board with what the Lord has done and may forsake the ministry (mentally and/or physically). Nevertheless, we know in the end that John Mark was still saved and re-joined the ministry years later. All things considered, everything Paul and Barnabas did was worth the trouble since a lost man came to know Christ.

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