The Sorcerer's Sacrifice
Acts 19:18-19
And many that believed came, and confessed, and showed their deeds.…

I. WHAT A CONVINCING ACT! The New Testament ever speaks of conversion as a vast change. "Born again," "turned from darkness to light," are the uncompromising terms employed. Now, what are the evidences that this has been wrought? Loving what was once hated, and hating what was once loved. Let us discriminate. To abhor and avoid certain transgressions is comparatively easy. Many "Compound for sins they are inclined to, by blaming sins they have no mind to." The mean man grows eloquent in denouncing extravagance. The good-natured man has small temptation to penuriousness. The man whose animal passions are constitutionally feeble is never in danger of sensuality. A far more searching criterion must be applied. Does the miser loosen his grasp upon his gold? Does the prayerless one abandon his neglect of the mercy seat? Does the victim of vanity become humble and self-abnegating? "What things were gain to me, those counted I loss for Christ." Paul's experience is that of every Christian.

II. WHAT A WISE ACT! By burning these books the magicians consulted their own welfare. Had they put them away, resolving to keep them only as mere literary curiosities, they might have been tempted at some future time to return to their old practices. When duty takes us into places and among persons that are spiritually perilous, we need not fear. God will protect us then. Jesus was "led up of the Spirit into the wilderness"; and left it, unconquered by the Prince of Darkness. But no Divine command or holy impulse moved Achan to the spot where the forbidden treasures lay, hence he was ensnared by them. If we go needlessly into scenes of temptation we must not be surprised if we become its victims. During one stage of his journey, Pilgrim sees a man confined in an iron cage. "I have tempted the devil," he cries, "and he has come to me." Quaintly, but impressively, does one say, "Those who would not fall into the river should beware how they approach too near to its banks. He that crushes the egg need not fear the flight of the bird. He who would not drink of the wine of wrath let him not touch the cup of pleasure. He who would not hear the passing bell of eternal death should not finger the rope of sin. A person who carries gunpowder about him can never stand too far from the fire. If we accompany sin one mile, it will compel us to go twain. The fable saith: 'That the butterfly inquired of the owl how she should do with the candle which had singed her wings. The owl counselled her not so much as to behold the smoke.' If you hold the stirrup, no wonder Satan gets into the saddle."

III. WHAT A BENEVOLENT ACT! They were worthy of all praise in burning the books, because, in the course of time, the books might have fallen into the hands of others, and instigated them to sorcery. The lesson is palpable. We should try to keep others from the evil into which we have once been led. Suppose a man obtains his livelihood by occupation which is clearly injurious to society. If converted, his duty is to abandon it.

IV. WHAT A BLESSED ACT! Yes, God blessed it. The magicians had a compensation. They burned books for Christ, and they received books from Him — Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians, and the letter from the Saviour "to the angel of the Church at Ephesus." Thus is it always. None serve Christ without rich remuneration.

(T. R. Stevenson.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds.

WEB: Many also of those who had believed came, confessing, and declaring their deeds.

The Sign of Sincerity
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