We must solemnly consider that Scripture reveals the horrific extent to which demons can corrupt humans in a passage that makes several key revelations about an ancient sorcerer:
Acts 13:6 And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Barjesus: 7 Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God. 8 But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith. 9 Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him, 10 And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?
This profound revelation is noteworthy for many reasons because of what it reveals about the fearful malignity of a professional occultist.
First, it says that he was a professional occultist (who was also a false prophet) who sought to turn away from the faith an unbeliever who wanted to hear God’s truth. Such people thus are profoundly dangerous to unbelievers.
Second, it infallibly reveals key truths about the sorcerer by infallibly recording what the leader of the apostolic company being filled with the Spirit said to the sorcerer. This shows that the statements that Paul made about the sorcerer were exactly what the Spirit directed him to say about the sorcerer. None of Paul’s statements about him were in any way just his own thinking, perspectives, or even possible biases against a particular kind of person because of that person’s ethnicity or any other important aspects of his person.
Third, it shows how consummately this human being was a corrupted human being.
Elymas was “full of all subtilty and all mischief.” He was a profoundly crafty and fraudulent person who used deceit to accomplish his objectives.
He was an “enemy of all righteousness.” He actively opposed everything that was an aspect of righteousness before God. He thus openly fought against the doing of anything that was righteous in the sight of God.
He also would “not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord.” This man continually did whatever he could to corrupt the doing of something in a way that was right before God.
Fourth, and most disturbingly, he was a “child of the devil.” Through his involvement and participation in the occult, this man whom God made in His image had become so corrupted that he was now a child of the most evil being in the universe. In effect, the image of God in him had been completely overcome so that he effectively was a human being who was at least in some respects in the image of the devil!
This passage thus shockingly reveals that there are occultists (at the very least those who are sorcerers) who actively and passionately seek to promote demonic interests in every possible way!
As believers, we must soberly and solemnly heed what God has revealed to us about the fearful malignity of this professional occultist. May God grant all of us grace to have nothing to do with such people and to have no fellowship with their unfruitful works of darkness (Eph. 5:11).
In this post, I have used much of the same material about Elymas that I presented in this earlier post: Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians: The Importance of Daniel 1:20 and 2:2 for Interpreting Daniel 3
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