Acts 19:18-19 – Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. 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.
One thing here is for sure, the life of a true believer is different than it was before. In this account, many people, after receiving Christ, repented of their studies of magic—studies which God strictly forbids. They came together and burned their old books, and the Bible tells us that those books were of great financial value.
Imagine for a moment how easy it would have been for these people to try to rationalize their way out of doing what they did. They could have said to themselves that they were not intending to practice magic any longer, but they should not destroy something of such great value. They could have tried to reason out a way that they were not bound by God’s prohibition of such things. They could have tried to at least sell the books, and get some sort of financial benefit out of getting rid of them. But these folks did none of that. They saw the books, recognized them as evidence of evil in their past, and they destroyed them.
We could certainly learn a thing or two from this crowd of excited young believers. The fact is, the life of a new believer is different than it was before Christ. It is not just changed because the person has hope and joy in Christ. It is not just that a religious aspect is added to the person. The person who comes to Christ has a new heart, and it does not look like the old one. Sure, even new believers or long-time veterans of the faith can slide back into old habits. It is easy to do. As one pastor remarked, “slipping back into old sinful patterns can be like slipping on an old pair of shoes. They may look terrible, but they are so comfortable and familiar.” However, if we are to truly honor Christ, we must continually participate in the process of being made new by God. We are to become so new that, as Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:17, we become new creatures with the old gone and only the new remaining.
We can also learn, practically from this group, that we need to get rid of old stumbling blocks from our lives. There can be no excuses, no treasuring of old sin. It has to go, and it has to go completely. We do not try to benefit in a earthly way from its removal. We do not try to excuse it, or pretend that we can keep it and it won’t hurt us in the future. We have to perform radical surgery on our lives. We have to cut out what causes us to sin, as Jesus called us in Matthew 5:27-30.
Lord, I thank you for showing us this group of believers who truly changed because of the gospel of Christ. I ask that you will reveal to me anything that is in my life, like the old magic books of these people, that is an evidence of old sinful patterns. Help me to cut it out of my life once and for all. Help me to see it, hate it, and repent of it. Let me not slide into comfortable old patterns of sin. Let me, instead, put on the new, glorious life of Christ.