I’ve been teaching weekly through Paul’s Letters from Prison. Presently, we’re in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians believers.
To give some context into what the believers in Ephesus were up against you need to read Acts 19 which recounts Paul’s two-year stay in Ephesus.
First, Ephesus was the capital of the Roman province of Asia minor (modern Turkey). A vastly populated city and region, its status ranking right up there with Alexandria of Egypt.
Second, it was an epicenter of pagan, demonic activity, boasting the location of the temple of the goddess, Artemis, one of the ancient wonders of the world. Black magic, sorcery, and the like were widespread, thickly woven into the fabric of society.
It’s not difficult to imagine what it was must have been like to live a bold, devoted life to Christ in that city.
Adding to the persecution of the resident Christians was the lucrative economy associated with the worship of Artemis. Just like modern world religions, statuettes, charms, etc., were everywhere for purchase.
The Cancel Culture of ancient Ephesus didn’t merely want the Christians to “quiet down,” they wanted to eradicate their city of any vestige, any trace of the Christian faith. Sound familiar?
During Paul’s stay there he cast demons out of people who had been in bondage to occultist practices. Some of the residents, jealous of Paul’s rising popularity, as well as seeing a money-making opportunity, decided it would be a great idea to cast demons out of people (no doubt, for a price.)
The unfolding scene is comical:
“A group of Jews was traveling from town to town casting out evil spirits. They tried to use the name of the Lord Jesus in their incantation, saying, “I command you in the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, to come out!” Seven sons of Sceva, a leading priest, were doing this. But one time when they tried it, the evil spirit replied, “I know Jesus, and I know Paul, but who are you?” Then the man with the evil spirit leaped on them, overpowered them, and attacked them with such violence that they fled from the house, naked and battered.” – Acts 19:13-16
Wow. Just wow.
Why did Ephesus’ Cancel Culture fail. Simple: it picked a fight with God.
And that was a foolish decision. (Don’t miss the lesson that, whenever he wants, God will use even the devil to attack those who oppose Christ.)
Satan had filled the Cancel Culture with blind pride, intoxicating them with counterfeit power, influence, and undiluted arrogance. Believing they could cancel the preaching and sharing of the Good News of Jesus Christ, Satan drove the Cancel Culture straight into unhinged and delusional behavior.
Remember this: picking a fight with God is really no fight at all; rather it’s a decision to rush into an epic fail. Even the demons believe in God, and tremble in fear (which, if you think about it, makes demons smarter than a lot of people.)
Stand your ground.
John, the disciple, and eye-witness, of Jesus, would later write,
“Little children (believers, dear ones), you are of God and you belong to Him and have [already] overcome them [the agents of the antichrist/those who oppose Christ]; because He who is in you is greater than he (Satan) who is in the world [of sinful mankind].” – 1 Jn 4:4, Amplified
Paul didn’t shrink back from the bullying of the culture.
Neither should you.
“A scared world needs a fearless church,” Tozer wrote.
What the Cancel Culture fails (chooses not) to see is this: not only will their efforts eventually fail miserably, but the persecution of Christianity only strengthens it. This has been proven throughout history, as well as in our world now.
Case in point. Read what happened in Ephesus…
“The story of what happened (the demon attacking those men) spread quickly all through Ephesus, to Jews and Greeks alike. A solemn fear descended on the city, and the name of the Lord Jesus was greatly honored. Many who became believers confessed their sinful practices. A number of them who had been practicing sorcery brought their incantation books and burned them at a public bonfire. The value of the books was several million dollars. So the message about the Lord spread widely and had a powerful effect.” Acts 19:17-20
Jesus would tell the disciples the night before he was crucified,
“In this world you will have trouble; but take heart (courage; be fearless) for I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33
This is why Paul would write to the Roman believers,
“We overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.” – 8:37
Be fearless. (Satan is terrified you will be.)