POWER ENCOUNTER 1: HANDKERCHIEF HEALING (Paul in Ephesus 2)
In our previous blog we began looking at the power encounter between God and Satan in Ephesus (Acts 19). Pagan idol worship had a strong foothold there and Satan didn’t want to allow any of God’s light into the area he ruled with darkness. Artemis worship abounded and was heavily entrenched in the culture and lives of the people. Those who merchandized Artemis idols made a good profit by selling amulets and charms that claimed to have power to heal. Many of the illnesses were demonic, as were the ‘cures.’
LESSON FOR TODAY 1: Satan can cause illness: crippled limbs (Luke 13:11), Paul’s thorn in the flesh (eye disease? – II Corinthians 12:7), muteness (sometimes dumbness, too – Matthew 9:32-33; 12:22; Mark 9:17-18,24-25), blindness (Matthew 12:22), seizures (Mark 1:26; 9:17-18,20,22,25; Matthew 17:15,18; Luke 9:39), deafness (Mark 9:17-18,20,25), sores (skin cancer?) (Job 2:7), boils and other painful afflictions (Psalm 78:49 – the plagues in Egypt were demon-caused), physical torments of all kinds (Revelation 9:5,10), painful illness (Job2:7-8), and even death (Job 1:19). Since he can cause these things he can seem to ‘heal’ them by stopping what he did/does to cause them in the first place. Only God can heal, but Satan can counterfeit that by making it seem like he heals.
If the God Paul preached was greater than Satan and the demons who worked through Artemis, then everyone assumed He would be able to do what they did and heal people. “God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them” (Acts 19:11-12). These free articles of Paul’s worked much, much better than Satan’s counterfeits.
LESSONS FOR TODAY 2: This is not a standard way to evangelize or to do deliverance. In fact, Paul probably wasn’t aware of it when this began. Perhaps helpers or others took these cloths and gave them to needy friends. God honored their faith and used this to verify His power through His servant Paul. Of course, it wasn’t Paul who healed, only God. But this validated Paul’s claims to have the best and right power with him. It was a necessary first step to gain a hearing so Paul could spread the good news of Jesus Christ. We must not get involved in objects that seem to have supernatural power for our full faith and attention must only be on God Himself. These things are counterfeit, even superstitions, good luck charms, etc., are to be totally avoided.
We must be careful today to focus all our worship only on God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Images, pictures, icons and even crosses are simply means to an end and are not to be given the reverence that only God deserves. Even His holy Word, although containing the very words of God Himself, is not to be elevated in any way. The book itself is just paper and ink. It is the truth it contains that is special. Even though we are to show respect to the book in whatever form it is printed, our worship is reserved only for the Author of the book – God Himself. John says we are to keep ourselves from idols (1 John 5:21), and that means Christian idols as well. God does not share His glory, it all and only belongs to Him!
Search your heart and life to make sure you haven’t elevated a certain building, location, art object book to the place you hold God in your heart. No idols means just that – no idols.
cto Rev. Dr. JERRY SCHMOYER
Christian Training Organization
(India Outreach, Spiritual Warfare, Family Ministries, Counseling, World View)
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