when they had gone through the whole island as far as paphos, they came upon a certain magician, a jewish false prophet named bar-jesus. he was with the proconsul, sergius paulus, a man of intelligence, who summoned barnabas and saul and sought to hear the word of God. [acts 13:6-7]


someone who speaks lies hates the truth.


a false prophet who claims to hear things from the Lord and puts himself in a place of authority, hanging around important people of power, must cringe at the thought of God’s actual word being proclaimed. his reputation would be at stake. his livelihood would be at stake. for however long he has claimed to be a prophet, he has been seeking to deceive people by putting God’s signature on his own false prophecies.


this is why it is absolutely crucial that we know and cling to God’s word. there are so many voices all around us every day claiming to know truth, attempting to feed us their false prophecies, taking positions of authority and teaming up with influential people in order to validate their words. this is no surprise to us, however. Jesus warns us, 

“behold, i am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. [matthew 10:16]


for some reason, bar-jesus had the ear of this roman official, perhaps because of the favorable words that he spoke, or perhaps because of the performance of the dark arts. but we know it wasn’t because sergius paulus was gullible or simple. he was a man of intelligence, which tells us that we cannot depend on our own intellect to protect us from false words. we let God’s truth protect us. just as you would study a twenty dollar bill in order to identify a counterfeit, we need to study God’s word in order to identify falsehood. we need to know it, love it, and live it.

so Jesus said to the jews who had believed him, “if you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”


this roman official is about to be set free by the truth. what a beautiful picture of the power of the gospel! it overcomes false words, it overcomes human cunning, it overcomes human intellect, it overcomes impressive demonic works. the gospel brings dead men to life!


today, in the presence of a God who is truth, speaks truth, and shares truth, ask him for a greater hunger for his word of truth. ask him for a greater desire to abide in Christ, and for the desires of your flesh to be weakened. ask for his truth, through the Spirit, to ring loud in your ears and for the false prophecies of the world to be quieted. this is Jesus’ prayer for us. may it be our cry as well!


i have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as i am not of the world. i do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. they are not of the world, just as i am not of the world. sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. as you sent me into the world, so i have sent them into the world. and for their sake i consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. i do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and i in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. [john 17]


~ arwen eastman