“Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had been done, being astonished at the teaching of the Lord” (Acts 13:12).

During the surgery of eighty-two-year-old Marlene Sibert, a family member made a shocking discovery. When her mother’s cell phone rang, Karla, Marlene’s daughter, picked up and was asked if the nutritional supplements she had ordered were helping her. Karla became suspicious and began to ask questions about how many supplements her mothered had ordered and their cost.

After making some phone calls, Karla found out that the company selling her mother supplements had charged her a total of $44,000 for a number of products that were still in boxes. When her mother came out of surgery she could remember ordering only about $500 worth of products. It turns out that this was yet another case of financial fraud targeting an elderly person.

Fraud can cost much more than tens of thousands of dollars. In the book of Acts, a case of fraud was threatening the eternal life of a government leader. Elymas, translated Bar-Jesus in Acts 13:6, was a sorcerer and was wicked not only because of his sorcery but also because he claimed to be a prophet (Acts 13:6). Worst of all, when Paul was preaching to the government official with whom Elymas lived, the sorcerer tried to prevent the official’s conversion by “perverting the straight ways of the Lord” (Acts 13:10).

Although not much is known about Elymas, Paul’s response to the sorcerer’s actions reveals the man’s character. In rebuking Elymas, Paul described him as “full of all deceit and all fraud,” a “son of the devil,” and an “enemy of all righteousness” (Acts 13:10).

When God’s people try to witness, they sometimes have to face deceitful people. God not only punished this wicked sorcerer with blindness but also used the punishment to increase the faith of the government leader. This powerful divine defence should encourage us when we are facing obstacles while sharing our faith.

Father, please give me courage when I face obstacles to witnessing.

For Further Study: Acts 13:4–12; 2 Corinthians 4:2; 11:13–15

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