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Leaving the Past Behind - Life of Paul Part 64

So What? / Lon Solomon
The Truth Network Radio
January 24, 2021 7:00 am

Leaving the Past Behind - Life of Paul Part 64

So What? / Lon Solomon

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January 24, 2021 7:00 am

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The date was May 10, 1933 and students under direct orders from Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Robles students in Hamburg, Germany transported books from their university library into the city square and began to burn them in a huge bonfire. Citizens from all over the city of Hamburg were encouraged to bring their band of books and throw them on the fire as well and Goble stated that the purpose of this book burning was to rid Germany of books that contained on German ideas and were therefore on it to read that you remember our good friend Indiana Jones was there in town. When this happened. Your grandmother right okay so that's what were talking about now. These books that were burned all came from authors such as Albert Einstein, Hg Wells, Upton Sinclair, Jack London, Sigmund Freud and even Helen Keller was among the books that were banned by the Nazis, and this was followed by a series of book burnings all over Germany. Time magazine called it a biblical cost. Newsweek called it a holocaust of books but you know the real issue for the Nazis was not books. The Nazis were trying to destroy books in Germany they were trying to destroy freedom of thought in Germany and is one German philosopher said in words that proved to be sadly prophetic, and I quote he said where one burns books one will soon burn people." Now, today, the reason I bring that up is because were going to look at a book burning that happen here in the Bible of the apostle Paul was right smack dab in the middle of this book burning, but it was a very different sort of thing that happened in Germany in 1933 were to talk about the differences and then bring all that forward in the 21st century and say well, so what difference does that make to me.

So that's our plan. Let's give you a little bit of background here to ask chapter 19 remember your next 19 Paul is on his third missionary journey are accepted 19 verse one Paul took the road through the interior that is of Asia minor and he arrived in Ephesus. Remember we said last week, emphasis was such a strategic city that the apostle Paul spent three years here doing ministry. Verse eight Paul entered the synagogue in Ephesus and spoke boldly. Therefore, a period of three months verse nine but when some of the Jewish people became obstinate and they began to speak evil of the faith.

Paul left and began teaching the word of God daily in the school of Taranto school of Paramus became like, like Ephesus, Bible college where believers and nonbelievers alike would show up and sit at the feet of the apostle Paul and learn the word of God. Verse 10 and this went on every day for two years from the spring of 54 A.D. until the spring of 56 A.D. so that all the Jews and Gentiles who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of God. That's what we've been so let's jump in and let's see what happens next.

Verse 11. God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that touched him were taken to the sick and they were cured and to the people with evil spirits and the evil spirits (now these handkerchiefs literally in Greek were sweatband they were no doubt rags that Paul tied around his four head while he was making tense in the morning and though they caught swept off his four head and the word aprons here literally means work, aprons. There were aprons that were normally worn by tanners working with all the chemicals in you work with the tan leather and since Paul was making tense out of cloth and leather. It's entirely reasonable to be wearing some of these aprons and the Bible says that these pieces of clothing which Paula taught were taken in late onset people and they were healed they were taken and laid on people who were demon possessed and the demons departed from folks, this is not the first time here in the book of acts that God has demonstrated this kind of power through the apostles to tap into other times, ask chapter 5. In acts chapter 8. Let me show you in acts chapter 5 we read the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders among the people of Jerusalem as a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on Matt's soul.

At least Peter shadow my fall on them as he passed by crowds gathered from the towns all around Jerusalem, bringing those who were sick and tormented by evil spirits and all of them were healed.

This happened again in acts chapter 8 when the apostle Philip for the first time took the message of Christ to Samaria, Samaria, is what we think of today has northern Israel and all of the West Bank and this was the first time the message is gone there and there was a similar outpouring of miracles.

They say long-winded when women do you really believe this happened. I mean you really believe Peter shadow fell on people, they were healed and they took sweat rags off of Paul and laid him on people and they got better. You really believe that sure I believe that was the problem.

I mean, if God is who he says he is in the Bible.

There's no problem here, God could do this without even breaking a sweat friends so I don't have a problem with this. The bigger issue and let me just say before the Lord appear here today and you've never trusted Jesus in real and personal way with this demonstrates is that God's power to free us from ailments whether they be spiritual ailments or physical ailments is enormous and there may be some of you here today who have some spiritual ailments, addictions, things in your life that you feel of gotten their claws into you and their tentacles around you and you're never going to be free and I'm here to tell you that's not true I'm here to tell you the power of Jesus Christ to liberate and free us is beyond belief, but he only does it for people who are in relationship with Jesus Christ. And that's one of the wonderful benefits we get when we come into relationship with Christ. We get freedom. We get the opportunity to be three and friend if you need to be free. And I invite you to come into a relationship with Christ and let God do that for you. He will is willing well. The bigger question here is not whether God could do this the bigger question is why. Why did God pick these three strategic points in the book of acts acts five acts eight and acts 19 to pour out miracles in this abundant fashion. The way that we see. Well it's it was answer that question in acts chapter 5 I think the answer is obvious here in acts chapter 5 the message of Jesus was in its infancy here in acts five. Jesus is only been risen from the dead for a matter of a few weeks and the apostles in Jerusalem. The followers of Christ in Jerusalem were struggling to gain a foothold.

There they needed some credibility. They needed some proof they needed some validation that the message they were teaching about Jesus really was true and so God unleashed the this outpouring of miracles in Jerusalem to be that kind of proof that kind of validation and it worked. Acts chapter 5 verse 14. As a result of these miracles, the apostles were highly regarded by the people and many men and women believed in the Lord Jesus asked 60 the word of God spread and the number of disciples continue to increase in Jerusalem and a large number of priests also became obedient to the faith that what about acts chapter 8 will remember acts chapter 8 is the first time that Jesus Christ has been preached outside of Jerusalem. And just as the apostles needed credibility and validation of for the message of Christ in Jerusalem. So Philip needed it when he took the message in the Samaria and I believe that that's exactly why God did gave him the outpouring of miracles that he did in the same thing happen hundreds of people thousands of people came to Christ. Now it's interesting to note this is very important that in both of these cases, once the message of Jesus Christ, had become established in Jerusalem. Once it had gained credibility in Samaria.

It's interesting that these outpourings of miracles ceased in these two places and the non-miraculous preaching and teaching of the word of God took over as the normal practice for the church. There so it acts 19 doubt we had skipped 20 years ahead. From acts chapter 8, acts chapter 8 Took Pl. in 34 A.D. acts chapter 19 and 54 A.D. there is not been an outpouring of miracles like this in 20 years and suddenly we have another one. So the question is why what was there about Paul's ministry in Ephesus that was so unique that God felt it needed this kind outpouring of miracles, welders, and answer and the answer is that we know from archaeology and we know from history that at the time of Paul, the city of Ephesus was the center of the world center for magical arts for sorcery and for witchcraft, which is sorcerers medium soothsayers exorcists that all congregated in Ephesus. They all practice the occult in the city. Ephesus was the voodoo capital of the Roman Empire.

What Haiti is to the 21st century, Ephesus was to the first century.

Now in order to saturate the city with the message of Christ. The way Paul wanted to in order to make the impact on this city that Paul did dreamed about making folds. He had to take on this occult subculture and he had to beaded you couldn't go around. It was way too large and way too important way too noticeable in the city.

He couldn't pretend like all these witches in soothsayers and sorcerers morning town. He had to prove that Jesus was stronger than Satan. He had to prove that the message of Jesus Christ was more powerful than any message they were giving out. He had to prove that what he was offering people was true and what they were offering people with balls. He had to confront them as one commentator said in addition to Paul's evangelistic ministry. He also had a ministry in Ephesus that can be classed as a power encounter with the demonic forces that bound the people of that town. The miracles that Took Pl. in Ephesus were needed to demonstrate God's power as being superior to these evil forces and you know if you know your Bible well you will know you will remember that Paul's most comprehensive treatment of how we deal with demonic forces. We call it the whole armor of God in Ephesians chapter 6 you'll remember that that's written in the letter to the church of Ephesus. You say will why is it what friendless when Paul wrote letters to these churches.

He wrote to about the problems and the issues they were dealing with in that church. He didn't just sit around and say all legacy I need to write some about the spiritual armor of God here that's been a bottle and see what church points to and I'll write it to them. No no no, he wrote this to the church of Ephesus because this was such an issue in this town and that's why it's contained in the letter to the Ephesians.

Well what happened.

Paul's confronting and beating these demonic forces verse 13. Some Jewish exorcists who went from place to place.

Driving out demons tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon possessed, saying in the name of Jesus whom Paul preaches I command you to come out. We know in the days of the call. There were a number of itinerant exorcists in itinerant sorcerers going around passing demons out of people.

There were a lot of Jewish people doing this and they decided to add when they saw with the power of Jesus in Ephesus. They decided to add the name of Jesus to their repertoire. They decided to add him is another incantation that they use at a guy named Steve a Jewish man who had seven songs for seven sons decided they were going to try this. So, look what happened and the demon answered and said to them Jesus I know, and Paul, I know, but who are you not think that's hysterical don't you think that's hysterical you know will.

That's because this is Bible humor. You don't get it, but this is hysterical.

They go up to this demon but that guy they go in the name of Jesus and Paul preaches we command you to come out in the demons that I know Paul and I know Jesus, you guys are you guys and then the Bible says that the man who had the demon jumped on the seven guys overpowered them be all seven of them up to such a degree that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding. That's what you call a bad day now this happen and a look. Verse 17 says this event became known to all those who lived in Ephesus, Jews and Gentiles alike and here sees them all in the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high esteem.

Women take a break for second. Wasn't that the purpose isn't that what God was trying to do is in God that wasn't God by pouring out all these miracles trying to take the name of Jesus and exalt that name above the name of all the sorcerers and witches and all the things incantation they had well the point is, it works in many of those who believe now came in openly confessed their magical practices. A number who would practice sorcery brought their books and began burning them publicly. Here's our book burning. They brought them all down to the square in Ephesus and they started burning these books and when they calculated the value of the books. The total came to 50,000 dogmas in today's money. That's about $20 million that these books were worth in this way, the word of the Lord was spreading widely and prevailing.

Now these people came to Christ because of the superiority of the message of Jesus that these miracles had displayed many of them were these sorcerers and witches and exorcists in the Bible says not only do they embrace Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Not only did they openly confessed their occult practices and repent, but more than that. They brought their occult books with all their spells and their potions and their formulas and write down in the middle of the city. They had a huge book burning and you know we we are we are sure that these books existed.

Some of them have survived to this day, having the magic spells everything in the back. If you go to the library at Princeton University. One of these ancient books is actually on display there containing magical potions and all kinds of witchcraft formulas that have survived to this day.

We know these books existed and they went right out in the square and had this huge book burning in downtown Ephesus, and the result is that the message of Jesus Christ made a huge impact on the city of Ephesus in the province of Asia may also add that just like in Jerusalem and just like in Samaria.

The Bible is clear that once the message of Jesus Christ became established here in the town of Ephesus.

Guess what happened. The miracles disappear. There was no more outpouring of miracles like this. After that, but the regular preaching and teaching of the word of God then took over.

Now that's as far as we want to go in the passage because we got a question to ask and y'all know, our question, and all you guys an overflow to punk out on me now I want to hear it all right here we go. You ready 123 right a lot. So what say all right so that a book burning in Ephesus like they had in Germany. Look what difference does that make me wait a minute now when the book burning that they had in Germany in 1933 is not all the same, book burning that they had an emphasis in 54 A.D., let me tell you why the Nazis burned their books as a way of snuffing out all freedom of thought friends.

These new believers in Ephesus. They bring their books as a way of breaking from their sinful past and beginning a new life in Jesus Christ do understandings work the same events at all and this whole principal that there is a need to break from our sinful past and there is a need to begin a whole new life in Christ. This is a very biblical principle luck.

Jesus said Matthew six. No person can serve two masters.

Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and the things of this world that was Jesus really saying here. He's saying if you really want to follow me. You got to leave the past behind.

There are some things you got a break with a pulse. Romans 13 verse 12, let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.

Let us behave properly as in the day, let us put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for gratifying the desires of our sinful nature. What's Paul saying he's saying that in order to honor God in our life. There are some things in our life. We got a leave behind. There are some things in life you got a break from.

And finally, Hebrews 12 therefore, let us throw all every encumbrance and the sins that so easily entangle us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking on the Jesus the author and the finisher of our faith.

What is the writer of Hebrews, saying he saying you were gonna run the race well and successfully. The Jesus is called us to run. There are some things we got to lay off almost there are some things that we got to leave behind and separate from this. What these new believers in Ephesus were doing. They were leaving the past behind. They were jettisoning the things that had spiritually encumbered them. They were cutting their ties to the sins of the past so that they could really run the race and run it will and that's what that book burning was all about, you know, I'm sure you picture the little animal here.

I don't know if you know what this is but the salon I don't know what that is. And honestly whatever it is I don't want one of will let me tell you what is what you're looking at is a barnacle. This is the living animal. It's a little salt water animal but a barnacle build a house for its alt.calcium and their famous for building these houses on the underside of seagoing vessels now when barnacles accumulate ownership. They create drag they slow the ship down they they impede its forward progress. So much so that either the ship moves slowly through the water or if it wants to keep the speed up it's gotta burn more fuel was a matter fact I read an article that even a six month growth of barnacles ownership will cause the ship to burn 40 to 50% more fuel just to stay at speed is only one way to fix the problem of barnacles and that is you put the ship in dry dock and you scrape the barnacles all you don't negotiate with barnacles you don't compromise would barnacles you don't stand there and say well I don't really think that they're harming us in any way. So don't make any difference. No no no is only one thing and it would barnacles you scrape them all. That's how you deal with friends. You know, I believe the Bible is telling us in these verses that there are some things in life that are like spiritual barnacles.

They slow down our progress. They impede our forward motion they get in the way of us running the race like we ought to run the race you say will like what will I think there's two categories of spiritual barnacles category number one of those things that are just plain ungodly. They are just plain simple things.

These are things that are inappropriate and damaging to any follower of Christ at any time in any place under any circumstances you say.

Examples pornography, sexual activity outside of marriage, cheating, lying, stealing, allowing bitterness to control your life when you talk about slowing down your progress in your walk with Christ. These things are barnacles. Little do it in the second category of spiritual barnacles are things that in and of themselves they are not simple for different people. They can really be in encumbrance. They can really be a millstone. They can really be an impediment in our life and this can be different. What may be a barnacle for you may not be a barnacle for me. You say examples. Manuel, an old boyfriend or an old girlfriend. Hey, I dated some huge barnacles before I came on the about slowing down your spiritual progress. Here's another one some kind of music that you listen to before you came to Christ.

When you listen to it now. It affects your spiritual life.

Old friends that you had before you came to Christ treatment after you came to Christ, who take you to the wrong places, and encourage you to do the wrong things that don't help your spiritual life and hinder your walk with God. Sow language that you use before you were follower of Christ. Certain addictions like the television like to some hobby that controls your life like to some leisure activity like golf or tennis or sailing. It could be cards.

It can be gambling you could be going to the racetrack. It can be alcohol abuse.

It it it it can be overeating. Any of these things have the potential to be barnacles in our life and slow down our spiritual progress could even be dancing dancing yet I do lady came in his church to store a true story who was addicted to, square dancing. She was, she went square dancing six nights a week.

This is true, and she began to neglect her family. She began to not show up at work the next day because she's not on my square dancing and begin to ruin her life and she finally came to me and she said you know what, I'm a follower of Jesus Christ, and square dancing is ruining my walk with God.

I said is a simple solution. Scrape it off scrape it off and she did and I was proud of her for doing that.

It was hard she stopped going to stop talking to the friends she knew down at the square dancing place for this was a barnacle in her life that will these things cause us to lose our salvation. The things that I just may know know, but also was down is that it will impede our race for Christ is like a marathon runner wearing a backpack full of bricks. You can finish the race.

But it's ugly and and that's what this is what ended and God calls us in the Bible to scrape these things off our life. He calls us in the Bible to empty out our backpacks so that we can run the race and run it will feel great example of this. When the Bible was a guy named Elisha, the great prophet Elisha wasn't born a prophet. He wasn't trained as a prophet. He was a farmer and one day without this feels farming at his plow in front of him and two walks in the pool and it and got a live jaw. The prophet came up agent prophet who was rolled around Elisha. Elisha knew what that meant. It meant God was calling him now to be the next prophet in Israel to face Jezebel to face King Ahab to go against the profits of bail there and so what he did look first Kings 19 Elisha called all the people together and took the pair of oxen he'd been plowing with any ~slaughtered them. Any also burn the plowing equipment that he been plowing with to cook the meat and he gave it to the people to eat is a long, stupid thing was this to be killed as oxen and he burned up his blouse. He couldn't go back to farming. Things got rough bingo. That was the whole point Elisha decided that if God was calling him to go be a prophet. He won coming back no matter how rough things God if that was the will of God for his life. It was full steam ahead and no looking back to know what he did I would kill the oxen to burn the plow, so that in those days when it got rough and he looked back. There was nothing to go back to.

He cut his ties you see them. That's what a person does it serious about their walk with God. I never met a person who ever came to faith in Christ is what I'm saying to you never met one who in order to run the race well the God's calling us to run didn't have to scrape off the barn government never met one didn't have to burn some oxen, you know I did. I came to Christ in 1971 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and Amanda led me to Christ a couple months after I was a believer. He said to me you know what I'll never forget it.

He said if you are ever going to amount to anything for God. He said to belong. You gotta get out of this town is all your girlfriends to hear all your old drug buddies are here only old drinking buddies are here everybody in this town is pulling you in the wrong direction. And if you ever want to amount to anything for God. You need to leave this town behind for the rest of your life.

I took them seriously. I sold everything I had put it in a knapsack with my dog Noel 85 pound German Shepherd in fact actually have the backpack was mine because capital was his food is bold is brought so all you have to knapsack and we left Chapel Hill, North Carolina and started hitchhiking around the country 1971 and except for a couple of five-minute visits while passing through on the way to Florida back.

I've never been back to Chapel Hill and you know why is that man was right.

If I hadn't cut those ties and left those things behind and scrape those barnacles off my life paren they would've slowed me down the rest of my life. It was one of the best decisions I ever made was a hard chart was hard, though those all my relationships all my friendships. I didn't know anybody else that was hard, but I'm glad I didn't was the right decision and you know I'll get you here today that a lot of you guys have some barnacles in your life. I just I don't know you personally, I'm not nosing in your business, but I know people and I'm sure it's true there are a lot of people here today who have things in our lives that are slowing down the pace of our Christian growth. They are slowing down the effectiveness of our service for Jesus Christ. They are slowing down the rate of our spiritual transformation and the new creatures in Christ you say like what they some of us here got an old boyfriend that is a huge barnacle duty to scrape that guy off your life. Some of us here at old girlfriends that are the same way you need. Scrape that gal out your life.

Some of us here have hobbies in our life, or leisure practices in our life that are slowing us down and we need to scrape that habit off our life. Maybe not forever for now some of us here have habits in our life that every time we do them.

Man, it slows us down in our walk with God. They need to be scraped off our life or addictions that need to be scraped off our lot is a lot I hear what you're saying but you know what if I scrape these things off my like it's gonna cost me some will you write always does. You know the cost me something to leave Chapel Hill to cause these Ephesian something to burn up all their books and 50,000 drachmas remember what we said. That's almost $20 million that they burned up but you know why they didn't because they were serious about their walk with Jesus Christ you know why they did it because they were determined to be everything God wanted him to be. You know why they did it because they were so in love with Jesus Christ that they were happy to pay any price, it took if it meant that they grunt could run the race and run it will. That's why they did what they did folks on the same conclusion. Those are the kind of people, God still looking for today. Same kind of people. People who love him enough and are serious enough about their walk with God and are determined enough to become everything God wants him to be that they'll pay any price, they need to pay to get there. Those of the people God is looking for and those of the people God uses so I'll leave you two questions today question on the one as a follower of Jesus Christ does there need to be a book burning or an oxen slaying or barnacle scraping pick whatever image you like best in your life and only you can answer that I can answer that for you friend I urge you the honest with yourself and you can't remember what I said you can't negotiate with barnacles. You can't compromise with barnacles and and certainly it's not healthy to pretend like they're not slowing you down the honest with yourself.

I and if you got some of them. My second and last question is do you love Jesus enough that you're willing to do that you're willing scrape them off. That's again a question only you can answer friends. These are the kind of people.

As I said God is looking for and he wants you to be one of the prettier put our heads bowed in her eyes close, I want to give you just a moment. If you need to do some business with God. So if there's some things in your life that you and God need to talk about what you do that right now for Jesus as you know, barnacles we can pick him up. The naughty notice we picked them up. It's easy for us to be going along and everything's fine in our spiritual life and then all of a sudden fully knowing were encrusted with these things. That's just part of the inhuman Lord. And so my prayer today is that you would help us to really take a hard look at our lives, honest look at our lives if we look like that ship that I showed a picture of earlier just all encrusted up with stuff that is just impeding our progress spiritually.

I pray today you give us courage to pay whatever price we need to pay to scrape them off of our lives so we can be lean and mean in our walk with Jesus Christ. Father I pray that you would inspire us by the example of these Ephesian who didn't just say they believe in Jesus and they didn't just confess that openly they took steps to get rid of the encumbrances to their spiritual walk. They made a break with the past so they could really maximize their new life in Christ, father, may we draw encouragement from their example and may we copy for the people who prayed here today and talk to you about some really tough things in their life if they make a break from I pray that you would give them the courage and strength they need to follow through on what they talk to you about today and we ask this in Jesus name, amen

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