Speaking Hard Truth (Acts 13:8-10)

Acts 13:8-10 – But Elymas the magician (for that is the meaning of his name) opposed them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. But Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, “You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord?”
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When the apostle Paul was faced with opposition to the gospel and the kingdom of God, he responded with honesty and boldness. He responded to a magician who wanted to turn people away from the gospel by calling him a son of the devil, an enemy of all righteousness, and a person full of deceit and villainy. He did not mince words. He was not politically correct.

Recently, in the US, a couple of fairly prominent Christian speakers made reference to the evils of Islam, even going so far as to call that religion demonic. IN defense of such statements, R. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, stated, “I would have to say that as a Christian that I believe that any belief system, any worldview, whether it’s Zen Buddhism or Hinduism or dialectical materialism for that matter, Marxism, that keeps persons captive and keeps them from coming to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ … is a demonstration of satanic power.” (click for text)

The question with which we must deal is this: Are we willing to risk the scorn of the world to speak the truth? Mohler is absolutely right. Someone or some ideology or religion that opposes the kingdom of God is clearly of the devil. Paul said it to the magician, and Dr. mohler said it of several false religions.

As Christians, we have an obligation to share the truth in love. This means that we must speak truth. Love supposedly given by concealing honest, eternal truth is not love. Thus, to pretend that those who follow belief systems that are opposed to the biblical claims of Jesus Christ are spiritually OK is to lie, and it certainly is not loving. Such “tolerance” may win you a few friends in your community, but it will not gain you the chance to preach the true gospel, the only message that can save the souls of those held captive.

With that said, however, we also must add that truth not spoken lovingly can also cease to be truth. We must be careful to be kind, respectful, and loving even as we are honest. This is no call to return to some sort of crusader mentality. It is not a call for Christians to begin arrogantly haranguing anyone who is not a believer. It is a call to honesty, even painful honesty; but such honesty must come from one who is humble, compassionate, and demonstrating the love of Christ.

The fact is, all who oppose the gospel of Jesus Christ are children of the devil. They may not mean to be. They may very well be blinded, spiritually, to their condition. But for us to say anything less is for us to fail to recognize what the scripture teaches. Also, for us to fail to recognize that we too were once in the same category is for us to forget the truth of God’s amazing grace that saved “a wretch like me.”

It is time that we stop trying to impress people by pretending that their worldviews are OK. No, we do not get mean. No we do not ever get violent. But we do get honest, even while we aim at humility and love. It is time to learn to speak the truth in love, and that will require the wisdom of God and the guidance of his Holy Spirit.