BNewton, June 16, 2004 8:30:00 PM BST
by Barry Newton
Had the ancient city of Ephesus ever seen a fire quite like this one? The year was probably about 52 A.D. Neither the intense heat nor the rising column of smoke would have been unusual.
What may have been a novelty was the Ephesian desire for this fire to burn at great personal loss. The calculated value of what that fire consumed exceeded what a common laborer could earn if he worked 365 days for 136 years! Why had one fellow and then another willingly carried to this great fire their personal items which had been so dear to their hearts? What could have caused such a reversal of their values?
Perhaps we will be surprised to realize that a handful of Jewish exorcists achieved in a single hour what neither years of Paul's preaching nor the extraordinary miracles God had worked through Paul had done. These exorcists had made the mistake of simply invoking the authority of Jesus' name like another lucky charm in their bag of spiritual tools. What happened next was both unexpected and revealed the greatness of Christ.
The evil spirit had acknowledged knowing Jesus and Paul but then a question of disdain emerged, "who are you?" The authority of Jesus was not a power they could subdue and wield for their own bidding; Jesus was far greater and more powerful than them or any of the tricks they had been using. The exorcists were standing before raw evil alone and unprepared for this encounter. The result was not pretty. Wounded, bleeding, and naked men had fled from that evil presence out into the streets.
Because both Jews and Gentiles clearly understood what this meant about Jesus, they became afraid. What followed next represents what happens whenever people come to fully realize the greatness of God and His Son. They confessed their evil deeds and burned what they understood to stand contrary to Christ.
When Paul later wrote the letter of Ephesians, in essence he insisted that Christians visit the bonfire. They are to cast off everything which is incompatible with serving Christ. What are some of those items which belong on the bonfire?
Using unwholesome locker room talk
Sticky fingers that shoplift
Being bitter and set against certain people
Putting down others
Being driven to simply acquire more and more
Jokes at another’s expense
Have you been to the bonfire? Are you in need of visiting it?
mikebenson, 6/17/04 11:56 PM
Powerful and appropriate article, Barry. Your analogy should help people recognize what is involved in repentance. I applaud your thoughtful study.
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