To validate the authenticity of the message the disciples were bringing, God did the same kinds of miracles through them that He did through Jesus. “As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by evil spirits, and all of them were healed” (Acts 5:15-16).
LESSON FOR TODAY: These special manifestations of spiritual power through healing and deliverance have not been seen since the first days of the early church, nor should they have been (1 Corinthians 13:8). At the start of the church, with Satan’s attacks, God made sure the spark took hold and grew. He validated and authenticated His servants when it was needed, where the church had not been established before, but as it took root these manifestations faded. Do not think these should regularly occur everywhere today or something is wrong with the church. These are necessary to open a new area of darkness to God’s truth, but not what a growing Christian builds his faith on. God is always able, and will do these kinds of miracles again in the Tribulation (Revelation 11:1-6). These signs had, and still have their place. But that place is not as part of everyday life in areas where the church has been established. So, when we see signs like this, we should be careful how we interpret them. Satan can and does counterfeit these things as well (Matthew 7:22-23; 24:44; Mark 13:20-22; Revelation 16:24). We live by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).
Satan continues to stir up problems within the church today as he did then. Tension, jealousy and competition took root not just in Ananias and Sapphira but in others as well. What was given by those who sold their land was intended to help the poor among them, yet some felt they weren’t getting their fair share of food and clothing (Acts 6:1). The church responded by ordaining deacons to make a fair distribution of the resources to those in need (Acts 6:1-7).
LESSON FOR TODAY: Satan’s strategy is still to bring division. Jesus says our distinguishing mark as Christians is to be love (John 18:35). Satan has many subtle but effective ways of dividing friends, couples, families and churches. Many times these things happen and he or his demons aren’t even involved for our sin nature brings these about without his influence. Even so, his demons are always there to provide whatever ‘help’ they can to bring division among believers. Pray regularly against that. Encourage others to do the same. Be alert to small things that can easily grow into big problems. Pray, give counsel, encourage and show love to all.
As the early church grew Satan continued to attack from within and without. He continued to stir up the political and religious leaders to bring more persecution by having James killed (Acts 12:1-2) and Peter arrested awaiting death (Acts 12:3-4).
How did the disciples counter this strategy? Or rather we should ask how God’s Spirit led them to counter Satan’s persecution without and division within. They did exactly as they saw Jesus do when attacked. They faithfully persevered in their mission. They weren’t discouraged or swayed into changing their focus. They went out by twos and spread His Word wherever they went. Large numbers turned to Jesus for salvation. That, of course, brought up much demonic opposition but it also brought many people freedom from demonizing (Acts 8:5-13). Everything they accomplished was done in Jesus’ name (Acts 4:7).
(This blog is taken from “Spiritual Warfare and the Bible: Advanced Spiritual Warfare Training” by Jerry Schmoyer. See also “Spiritual Warfare Handbook: Basic Spiritual Warfare Training.” For advice or a free electronic copy of either or both contact Jerry@Schmoyer.net)