This week's devotions are written by MBBC Student Ministry Intern Allison McSwain.
Verses 18 through 20 of our text today are both shocking and convicting. Here, Luke tells us that many new believers in Ephesus made a point to divulge, i.e. “proclaim or reveal,” their sinful practices to one another. As uncomfortable as this practice is, we do find it mandated in Scripture: “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed” (James 5:16). The practice of confessing our sins openly is not meant to bring us guilt or shame, but to indeed heal us from them. Ask yourself, is there sin in your life you need to bring into the light (1 John 1:6-7)? Do you have an accountability partner you feel comfortable being honest with? Perhaps you need to get coffee with a trusted, believing friend and confess what you have been struggling with. However, remember first and foremost our sins must be confessed to God.
Not only did these Ephesian believers confess with their mouths, they actively repented by literally burning the things that led them into sin. They disposed of their pagan books even though the value of them all equaled 50,000 pieces of silver—roughly $6,000,000 in today’s U.S. currency! Wow! This little verse suggests that no amount of money should persuade us to be comfortable with sin—sin is that detrimental and that abhorrent to God. True repentance involves doing away with the old things of our pre-Christian lives even if they are valuable. Perhaps you may not need to burn physical possessions that lead you in to sin, but you may need to cut out unhealthy practices. You may need to set up internet restrictions or change the types of movies you watch and music you listen to. You may need to change friend groups. Ask the Lord what you need to “burn” in order to better pursue Him and His ways. When He reveals something to you, rid yourself of it so that the word of the Lord may continue “to increase and prevail mightily” in you.
Acts 19:1-20 (ESV):
And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. 2 And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John's baptism.” 4 And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. 7 There were about twelve men in all.
8 And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. 9 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 Tyrannus. 10 This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.
11 And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. 13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.”14 Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this.15 But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” 16 And the man in whom 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. 17 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 extolled. 18 Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices.19 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.20 So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.