“And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds. Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.” (Acts 19:18–19, AV)
When I went to the Army Ranger School in 1973, on the very first day, we were told to surrender any and all “pogy-bait.” I quickly discovered that this meant any chewing-gum, candy or sweets. All this stuff was strictly forbidden. The only things we were allowed to consume were things that soldiers were to eat. That would be the chow prepared for us in the Mess-Hall or the C-Rations when we were in the field. They wanted to keep us on a balanced diet for our own good.
Surrendering things is not easy. Often, we go on a fast and give up eating for a period or some other thing that we are used to having. Some have fasted from media or social media. When we come to Christ, we will often find ourselves giving up things, surrendering.
Here we see an example of this in Ephesus. Paul had ministered in Ephesus, healing the sick and delivering those afflicted by demons. In the previous post, we saw that some Jewish exorcists attempted to deliver a man from a demon, but failed miserably. What happened became known to all the residents of Ephesus. As a result, many came confessing their evil practices. And those who practiced the magic-arts, brought their sorcery books and burned them publicly. Luke recorded that the cost of these books was about fifty-thousand pieces of silver.
Two things happened with these who practiced magic-arts. First, they gave up their practices of sorcery, which gave them power over others and a likely source of prestige and income. Second, at a cost of fifty -thousand pieces of silver, we can imagine that these were giving up something of monetary value. They chose, rather than to sell the books, to burn them up so that no one else could have them.
In Christianity, believers are called to give things up. Primarily this regards the sinful practices of our former life. This takes two steps which are to be a characteristic of every believer. The first step is confession. Confession, homologeo, basically means to agree. When believers sin, they are to agree with God that they had transgressed the divine standard for righteousness.
The second step is repentance. Repentance, metanoeo, is a change in mind towards one’s actions, which will result in a change in behavior. In this case the believer who agrees with God regarding behavior that misses the mark, determines to turn from that behavior towards the greater call of God’s righteousness.
Sometimes, confession and repentance, from the world’s standard, will have a temporary cost for the believer. It may affect the way we gain our income, our prestige, or our influence over people. However, there is great reward for those who seek the righteousness of God. Moreover, ultimately God will supply all of our needs according to His riches when we are on mission for Him (Phil 4:19).
We should consider our lives. Do we have a heart purposed on God and His righteousness? If we do, confession and repentance will be a characteristic of our lives rather than an event that only happened on the day we made a profession of faith.