3. Elymas the Sorcerer

The Sons of the Devil

Neil Girrard
Scriptures Referenced in This Article:
          (Follow the Scripture links if you want to study the Scriptures for yourself.)
Gen. 15:6 π Mt. 3:1-3 π Mt. 23:25; 2nd π Mt. 23:27 π Mt. 23:27-33 π Mt. 23:29-30 π Mt. 23:32-33 π Jn. 6:29 π Acts 13:6-8 π Acts 13:6-12 π Acts 13:9-10 π Acts 13:10; 2nd; 3rd; 4th; 5th π Rom. 4:3 π Rom. 14:17 π 1 Tim. 4:1-3 π 2 Tim. 3:1-9 π 2 Tim. 4:3-4 π Heb. 3:15 π Jas. 3:16
Greek Words Mentioned in This Article
Straight euthus [2117]

Now when they had gone through the island to Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew whose name was Bar-Jesus, who was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man. This man called for Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. But Elymas the sorcerer (for so his name is translated) withstood them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. Then Saul, who also is called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, "O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord? And now, indeed, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a time." And immediately a dark mist fell on him, and he went around seeking someone to lead him by the hand. Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had been done, being astonished at the teaching of the Lord. ( Acts 13:6-12; top )

To Turn Away from the Faith

"Now when they had gone through the island to Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew whose name was Bar-Jesus, who was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man. This man called for Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. But Elymas the sorcerer (for so his name is translated) withstood them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith." ( Acts 13:6-8; top )

In this passage, Paul singles out Elymas as a son of the devil. ( Acts 13:10; top ) One of the key reasons he described him as such was because of his efforts "to turn the proconsul away from the faith." We know that turning away from the faith is also a key element in the end times. Paul wrote:

Many who read these passages miss the obvious fact that this is not describing the world. It is describing the people who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ. But even those who recognize that the mainstream of Christianity will succumb to the efforts of the spirit of antichrist and fall away from the faith, even these fail to recognize the subtlety with which the spirit of antichrist works this deception.

It is to be noticed that the spirit of antichrist, the spirit of the devil, seeks to turn people away from "the faith." Many people who read this assume that "the faith" is simply a compilation of doctrines and beliefs that must be intellectually or emotionally agreed with. This is precisely why many people believe themselves to be "Christians" and "believers" when they have never truly been spiritually born again. Or, if they have had a genuine born-again experience, they are kept in spiritual infancy because they are so busy learning this intellectual or emotional misconception of "the faith," their denomination's list of creeds and doctrines that divide them from other believers who hold to slightly different creeds and doctrines. The end result is that they are effectively turned from the faith - all in the name of Jesus Christ!

"The faith" is that moment-by-moment life lived in obedience and trust in the Person of Christ Jesus through the promptings of the Holy Spirit of God. It is not the mental agreement with a certain divisive sect's list of ideas about God. It is a personal life lived in and by the Spirit of God - it is not a religious exercise of the powers of the soul independent of the commands and expectations of God. The religious exercising of the soul is the essence of the sin of unbelief, that doubt that God is able to sustain the life of the follower. To gain the soul at the expense of living the life of the Spirit is the sin of unbelief - it deftly shows that you have no trust in the power of the Lord Jesus Christ to preserve your life.

Unbelief is not a refusal to subscribe to some list of doctrinal creeds. Unbelief is the actions of a person who has succumbed to the efforts of the spirit of antichrist and been turned away from "the faith," that moment-by-moment resting and trusting in Jesus Christ that produces prompt obedience. Believing is not a once in a lifetime kind of thing - like saying a "sinner's prayer" or answering an "altar call" - as most people perceive to be the criteria as to whether or not they are a believer. Believing is an ongoing, moment-by-moment surrender to the promptings of the Holy Spirit of God. A person who has no ability to lay down his or her own life at the command of Christ is living in unbelief. The one who refuses to repent and forsake his unbelief is in great danger of being only a tare among the wheat.

Filled with the Holy Spirit

"Then Saul, who also is called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said..." ( Acts 13:9-10; top )

When Paul called Elymas "a son of the devil? ( Acts 13:10; top ), he was not speaking on his own. He was "filled with the Holy Spirit" when he made this statement. With complete discernment from the Holy Spirit, Paul recognized Elymas as a son of the devil and, by the promptings of the same Spirit, publicly denounced, rebuked and even cursed Elymas with blindness. The modern clergy of today and their blind followers will use slander and gossip to oppose those who speak against their unScriptural practices - and quite a number of people will believe them even though they are mistaken in their judgments. But woe to the man whom the Holy Spirit denounces and declares to be a son of the devil.

Full of All Deceit and All Fraud

"O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil...? ( Acts 13:10; top )

Elymas was a Jewish sorcerer, a spiritual man capable of performing wondrous acts of power. Elymas was quite acceptable in the upper crust of Cyprian society - and his services were greatly desirable to the Roman proconsul. He was a man who had arrived in life. In the context of North American evangelicalism, Elymas would have made a great charismatic television preacher/showman. Religious people who claim to be Christians are especially good at putting on a good front, of giving a good show. This is nothing new - and Elymas is by no means the first.

Jesus said to the Pharisees of His day, "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self- indulgence. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, 'If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.' Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your father's guilt. Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?" ( Mt. 23:25 , 27-33; top )

"Church" goers today read this passage and, having failed to apply it first to themselves, are nearly incapable of seeing how closely parallel their own religious habits are to those of the Pharisees. Jesus said, "you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of extortion and self-indulgence. ...you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness." ( Mt. 23:25 , 27; top ) Modern "church" goers will dress up, gather on Sunday morning to listen to a sermon, feel guilty about something from the message and resolve to do better, go home and come back next week to do it all again while they continue to live as they please, as they have always lived, throughout the rest of the week. They look the part on Sundays but their religious form of godliness lacks the power to make them truly righteous in God's eyes 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And their soulish expression of the Christian faith does nothing to bring them into regular, close, personal contact with the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ through His Spirit.

Jesus also said, "...you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, 'If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.'" ( Mt. 23:29-30; top ) This is precisely what nearly every modern "church" is - a monument to some man who opposed what he perceived to be an error in the teachings of some previous group of believers. And if the man or his ideas were popular enough, the monument crystallized into a denomination. And now those who regularly attend this denomination, especially those in distinctively "non-denominational" denominations, loudly proclaim their allegiance to their denominational roots, inextricably linking their founders, at least in their own minds, to the prophets and righteous men of the Bible. And yet, when someone comes along and calls their founders' and leaders' unScriptural notions and practices to account, they will be just as quick to crucify this one as were the Pharisees who condemned Jesus.

Jesus then said to these religious hypocrites, "Fill up, then, the measure of your father's guilt. Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?" ( Mt. 23:32-33; top ) Those who find these statements "harsh and unloving" have failed to see the irony contained within them. Standing before these Pharisees being so "harshly" rebuked was the very One to whom they could turn to for forgiveness so that they might indeed escape the condemnation of hell! But their arrogant pride and religious blindness kept them from seeing Christ as their Savior - instead He was just another competitor for the attentions and support of the people. So too today. A prophet holds forth the truth of Jesus Christ and calls for repentance but the religious "church" goer is offended by his "harsh and unloving" presentation of the truth that says we cannot remain religiously hypocritical and escape the condemnation of hell. The religious "church" goer is so filled with arrogant pride and religious blindness that he is often filled with rage and will make every effort to stone the messenger who dared to intrude upon his religious rights and freedoms to bring him this "supposed message from God."

These tares among the wheat will be uprooted and burned before the harvest at the end of the age.

Enemy of All Righteousness

"You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness." ( Acts 13:10; top )

To recognize what an enemy of all righteousness is, it would be helpful if we were certain what righteousness really is. The Amplified version gives, as its rendition of the word "righteousness," the phrase "right living and right standing with God." That's good as far as it goes. But for those who want a practical way to approach and understand this word, we need a little more. And actually, this word has a very simple, very practical meaning. Genesis records, "And [Abraham] believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness." ( Gen. 15:6 ) Paul quoted this passage in his letter to the Romans. Paul wrote, "For what does the Scripture say? 'Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.'" ( Rom. 4:3; top )

This is another instance where, like when we read above about "the faith," we read "righteousness" and we assume that to be some list of rules and regulations which we are expected to uphold. But, as we can see from Abraham's experience and the revelation Paul received about Abraham's example, righteousness is what God accounts to the person who believes Him. Jesus said it bluntly, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent." ( Jn. 6:29; top ) The work we are to do in relation to God is to believe Him - the work He does in relation to us is to account it to us as righteousness. It is not up to us to determine what we are going to believe. Once we have made a commitment to receive Christ, our only option is whether or not we will believe. Yes, we must be careful to make sure what we are hearing and reading is the full counsel of God on the matter. But once we are sure we have received the instruction in full from God, our only choice is to believe and obey or disbelieve and disobey. There are no other options.

True righteousness is not just a personal, independent function in a believer's life. It is also an essential element in the corporate expression of Christ in His body. Paul wrote, "The kingdom of God...is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." ( Rom. 14:17; top ) When we are walking in that moment-by-moment life in the Holy Spirit, truly believing God and obeying Him moment by moment, then we will experience the righteousness, peace and joy of God's kingdom. If we continue to soulishly strive to adhere to some external or denominational notion of things to do and not do, we will experience the confusion and every evil thing that come because envy and self-seeking are an integral part of the soul and sinful nature. ( Jas. 3:16; top )

This is why Satan opposes all genuine righteousness by deceiving us to live in soulish or self- righteousness - those acts we can do in our own strength, by our will, by our own design. We can be as gods knowing good and evil when we walk in self-righteousness. And this is the carrot by which Satan lures people to live in error. Any religion that requires you to utilize the power of your soul - that is, your mind, will and emotions - at the expense of that moment-by- moment, obedient relationship with Christ through the Holy Spirit is a counterfeit which will rob you of your inheritance in the kingdom.

Those religious people who have nothing to do with Christ or the Holy Spirit are living in self-righteousness and, as such, are the tares sown among the wheat, the tools of the devil to keep the genuine wheat, the true believers, from reaching maturity. These tares will be uprooted from the kingdom and burned before the harvest at the end of the age.

Perverting the Straight Ways of the Lord

"you son of the devil, ...will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord?" ( Acts 13:10; top )

This is an echo of John the Baptist's message. Matthew records, In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!" For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying: "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord, Make His paths straight.'" ( Mt. 3:1-3; top ) The keynote of John the Baptist's message was twofold. First, the kingdom of heaven was near - that is, the King was approaching and giving the people the opportunity to be His subjects in His kingdom. And second, the way of this King would be characterized by straightness.

When we read that in English, we often lose the full meaning of that Greek word. The word in Greek is "euthus" [ 2117 ] and it has three connotations. The first is what we could call the geometric aspect - that is, "straight" and "level," without curves or angles. The second is what we could call the moral aspect - that is, "straightforward, upright, true, sincere," without guile or deception. But the third that is often overlooked is what we could call the temporal aspect of this word - that is, "straightway, immediately, forthwith," an urgency and immediacy, without delay.

From this complete recognition of the full meaning in the Greek, we can see that a straight path for the Lord would contain three elements - simplicity, sincerity and immediacy. That is, while His commands may be difficult in the sense that it causes us to reject our own desires, His commands will be simple and straightforward. There will not be the theological subterfuge and weaving of "doctrinal" threads that is so common from the pulpit. In addition to the simplicity and straightforwardness, there will be the righteous requirements of God. And in addition to the simplicity, straightforwardness and righteous requirements, there will also be a timing. "Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts..." ( Heb. 3:15; top )

We should consider again John the Baptist's message for it was the message that prepared the people to receive the Messiah. His call was for the people who would hear to make straight paths for the Lord - not for the Lord to make a straight path to the people. It is the responsibility of those who hear to keep the relationship to God simple, to keep that relationship straightforward, to keep to the path of righteousness (through obedience and confession of disobedience), and to keep all this current. Yesterday's manna has rotted and is full of worms. That is, the bread of life that comes down from Heaven, the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, is not available to us yesterday. For us, confined to a temporal, linear existence, that is a contradiction in tenses. He was available to us yesterday and He will be available to us tomorrow (once we get there in time), but He is only available to us right now through His Holy Spirit who dwells within us. If we will not communicate with Him now, when are we going to communicate with Him?

The devil attempts to pervert the straight ways of the Lord in all three aspects. If he can deceive us into over-complicating the simple and straightforward truths of God's word, then he has succeeded in perverting the straight path of the Lord. If the devil can deceive or lure us into unrighteous or deceitful actions - anything from blatant fraud and theft to putting on social masks and robbing one another of the gifts that God would give us through one another - then he has succeeded in perverting the straight path of the Lord. And if the devil can divert our attention away from the Lord right now, he has also succeeded in perverting the straight way of the Lord.

The straight way of the Lord is not just a list of religious requirements and creeds. It is a clear, a certain, a constant and an instant path between the King and His subjects - both in an individual capacity and a corporate capacity. Anyone who does not have a straight path to and for the Lord and who attempts to distort the straight paths of the Lord in others is a tare sown among the wheat, a son of the devil destined to be removed and cast into the fire before the harvest at the end of the age.


The Sons of the Devil

Neil Girrard

1. The Wheat and the Tares
2. Your Father the Devil
3. Elymas the Sorcerer
4. The Children of the Devil
5. Sin - the Work of the Flesh
6. The Children of God



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