By: T. M. Moore|Published: November 2, 2006 4:33 PM
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 deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? Acts 13:9, 10
Paul wouldn't cut it in the seeker-friendly environment of many contemporary American churches, where it's necessary, so as not to offend, to euphonize or avoid issues of sin, downplay differences in worldview, and speak the language of the world rather than those trite and irrelevant old Gospel terms that nobody understands any more.
Poor Paul. Look at him there, staring intently at Elymas, so as to leave no doubt in anyone's mind concerning who was about to be the object of his remarks. Didn't his mother ever teach him? And then, oh my gosh, such an outburst! "Son of the devil"? Really, who believes in that devil stuff anymore? "Enemy of all righteousness"? Hey, who's to say what's righteous and what's not? That's pretty judgmental, Paul. "Full of all deceit and villainy"? Well, just how is that kind of talk supposed to attract anyone?
Of course, there is that sticky little matter, you know, of Paul being filled with the Holy Spirit as he was saying these things. Maybe it was just a bad day for the Spirit?
Or maybe Paul's fierce confrontation with this obstructor of truth is meant to be, like so much of his life, a pattern for the rest of us to follow (1 Tim. 1:16). Where truth is on the line, issues of life and death are at stake. It is not loving to allow those who are seeking to oppose the truth, whether or not they are aware of it, to continue on that course. Nor is it loving so to hedge the issue -- "This is just my opinion, you know, and I'm not judging you or anything, but..." -- and leave such people thinking their opposition to the Gospel is no big deal.
Me? I see five principles for faithful communication of the Gospel at work here: