Sketches From The Life of Paul
by Ellen G. White
Chapter 13: Paul at Ephesus.
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An attempt was made by seven brothers, the
sons of one Sceva, a Jewish priest. Finding a
man possessed with a demon, they addressed him,
"We adjure thee by Jesus, whom Paul preacheth."
But the evil spirit answered with scorn,
"Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are
ye?" and the one possessed sprang on them with
frantic violence, and beat and bruised them, so
that they fled out of the house, naked and
The discomfiture and humiliation of those who [p. 137] had profaned the name of Jesus, soon became
known throughout Ephesus, by Jews and Gentiles.
Unmistakable proof had been given of
the sacredness of that name, and the peril which
they incurred who should invoke it while they
had no faith in Christ's divine mission. Terror
seized the minds of many, and the work of the
gospel was regarded by all with awe and reverence.
Facts which had previously been concealed
were now brought to light. In accepting
Christianity, some of the brethren had not fully
renounced their heathen superstitions. The practice
of magic was still to some extent continued
among them. Convinced of their error by the
events which had recently occurred, they came
and made a full confession to Paul, and publicly
acknowledged their secret arts to be deceptive
and Satanic. Many sorcerers also abjured the
practice of magic, and received Christ as their
Saviour. They brought together the costly books
containing the mysterious "Ephesian letters,"
and the secrets of their art, and burned them in
the presence of all the people. When the books
had been consumed, they proceeded to reckon up
the value of the sacrifice. It was estimated at
fifty thousand pieces of silver, equal to about ten
The influence of these events was more
widespread than even Paul then realized. The
manifestation of the power of Christ was a grand
victory for Christianity in the very stronghold of
superstition. From Ephesus the news was widely
circulated, and a strong impetus was given to the
cause of Christ. These scenes in the ministry of
Paul lived in the memory of men, and were the [p. 138] means of converting many to the gospel, long
after the apostle himself had finished his course.
When the Ephesian converts burned their
books on magic, they showed that the things in
which they had once most delighted were now
the most abhorred. It was by and through
magic that they had especially offended God and
imperiled their souls, and it was against magic
that they showed such indignation. Here was
given the best evidence of true conversion.
Those treatises on divination contained rules
and forms of communication with evil spirits.
They were the regulations of the worship of
Satan,—directions for soliciting his help and
obtaining information from him. By retaining
these books, the disciples would have exposed
themselves to temptation; by selling them they
would have placed temptation in the way of
others. They had renounced the kingdom of
darkness, and they did not hesitate at any
sacrifice to destroy its power. Thus the truth
triumphed over men's prejudices, their favorite
pursuits, and their love of money.
It is fondly supposed that heathen superstitions
have disappeared before the civilization of the
nineteenth century. But the word of God and
the stern testimony of facts declare that sorcery
is practiced in this Christian age and Christian
nation as verily as by the old-time magicians.
The ancient system of magic is, in reality, the
same as that which is now known as modern
Spiritualism. Satan is finding access to
thousands of minds by presenting himself under
the guise of departed friends. The Scriptures of
truth declare that "the dead know not anything."
Their thoughts, their love, their hatred, [p. 139] have perished. The dead do not hold communion
with the living. But true to his early cunning,
when in the form of a serpent he deceived the
mother of our race, Satan employs this device to
gain control of the minds of men.
The heathen oracles have their counterpart in
the spiritualistic mediums, the clairvoyants, and
fortune-tellers of to-day. The mystic voices that
spoke at Endor and Ephesus, are still by their
lying words misleading the children of men.
The mysteries of heathen worship are replaced
by the secret associations and seances, the
obscurities and wonders, of the sorcerers of our
time. Their disclosures are eagerly received by
thousands who refuse to accept light from God's
word or from his Spirit. While they speak
with scorn of the magicians of old, the great
deceiver laughs in triumph as they yield to his
arts in a different form.
His agents still claim to cure disease. They
profess to employ electricity, magnetism, or the
so-called "sympathetic remedies;" but in truth
the magnetic power of which they boast is
directly attributable to the sorcery of Satan.
By this means he casts his spell over the bodies
and souls of men.
The sick, the bereaved, the curious, are
communicating with evil spirits. All who venture
here are on dangerous ground. The word of
truth declares how God regards them. In ancient
times he pronounced judgments upon one who
sent for counsel to a heathen oracle: "Is it not
because there is not a God in Israel that thou
sendest to inquire to Baal-zebub, the god of
Ekron? therefore thou shalt not come down from
that bed on which thou art gone up, but shalt
surely die." [p. 140]
The visible and the invisible world are in close
contact. Could the veil be lifted, we would see
evil angels employing all their arts to deceive and
destroy. Wherever an influence is exerted to
cause men to forget God, there Satan is exercising
his bewitching power. All who venture into
scenes of dissipation or irreligious pleasure, or
seek the society of the sensualist, the skeptic, or
the blasphemer, by personal intercourse or through
the medium of the press, are tampering with
sorcery. Ere they are aware, the mind is
bewildered and the soul polluted. The apostle's
admonition to the Ephesian church should be
heeded by the people of God to-day: "Have no
fellowship with the unfruitful works of
darkness, but rather reprove them."
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