Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament scriptural account of the spiritual body of Jesus the Christ which is the church as it was written and recorded by the beloved physician Luke in the book of Acts. More specifically, today’s passage is found in verses twenty-three through forty-one of the nineteenth chapter. When you come to this particular portion of scripture you will find the apostle Paul continuing his time within the city of Ephesus. Ephesus you will recalls was a specific city which the apostle Paul came for in the previous chapter after departing from the Grecian city of Corinth on his way back to Jerusalem to fulfill a vow he had made and to go down unto the feast. When the apostle Paul originally came to the city of Ephesus he entered into the synagogue of the Jews which was his customary practice wherever he went within the cities and places he visited. For the apostle Paul it was always customary to go unto the Jews first and to preach the gospel concerning Jesus the Christ unto them first. If you read the account of the life of the apostle Paul beginning with the ninth chapter where we read of his conversion you will find that from the time he began preaching the gospel concerning Jesus the Christ he experienced opposition from the Jews. It’s actually quite interesting to think about and consider the fact that almost immediately after the apostle Paul began teaching and preaching concerning Jesus the Christ and declaring that He was indeed the Christ and the Son of the living God he experienced persecution from the Jews. Within the ninth chapter alone we find to examples and two accounts of the Jews’ opposition towards and against Paul, for not only in Damascus do we find them seeking to kill and put him to death, but also in the city of Jerusalem the Jews there also sought to put him to death. It is no different when we come here to the nineteenth chapter of the book of Acts, for if you read the words which the beloved physician Luke wrote you will find that the Jews who had hardened their hearts toward and concerning the gospel opposed the apostle Paul and the message he preached among them. This was true in the seventeenth and eighteenth chapters of the book of Acts, for in the seventeenth chapter you will find the apostle Paul in the cities of Thessalonica, Berea and evening Athens. As you read the words which are found within this chapter you will find the Jews which were in Thessalonica were moved with envy and gathered certain individuals unto them in order that they might incite a riot and uproar in the city against the apostle Paul and the message he preached. The apostle Paul would eventually move to Berea and would preach the gospel there as well, however, the same Jews which opposed him in Thessalonica also came to Berea and opposed him there. It was no different when the apostle Paul came to Corinth, for there within that city he would experience opposition from the Jews who were unbelieving and hardened their hearts.
As you come to the nineteenth chapter of the book of Acts you will find the apostle Paul returning unto the city of Ephesus which if you study the history of this city you will find that it was of great importance during the days of Paul as an influential trade route. It would be this city which would have access to two rivers which would be used for trade, as well as access to the sea. If we are going to understand that which is found and written concerning the city of Ephesus it is necessary that we understand it’s significance and importance during those times—not only as a chief city of trade and commerce, but also for its worship of the goddess Artemis which had a specific temple there within the city. If you study the history of the city you will find that there was present within the city a temple which was known as the temple of Diana which they believed hid and co NBC takes that which fell down to the earth from Jupiter. Much like the ancient city of Athens which was wholly given to idolatry, the city of Ephesus was given to idolatry and fo the false worship at this temple of Diana. In fact, if you continue reading the words which are written and found within this passage of scripture you will find a great uproar and riot taking place within the city because a silversmith who made his living making and selling silver shrines which were used in the worship of this goddess. This understanding of the influence and power of this city is necessary if we are to understand why the gospel which was written by the apostle John would have been written there, for a document such as that document which describes the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ would have been able to be disseminated and distributed along and throughout the trade route. What’s more, is that even Jesus the Christ would dictate unto the apostle John a letter which would be written unto this influential city which would be one of the seven churches mentioned within the book of the Revelation of Jesus the Christ. What’s more, is the apostle John would write three distinct epistles and letters which would be sent unto the saints and disciples which would be present there in the city of Ephesus. This ancient city of Ephesus would be of supreme and great importance because of its access to a marvelous trade route, and even because of it housing one of the seven wonders of the ancient world—the temple of Diana. We dare not miss and lose sight of this awesome and incredible importance of this city and why a church being established here would be of such great importance. ESTABLISHING CHURCH IN THE MIDST OF TRADE! ESTABLISHING CHURCH IN THE MIDST OF COMMERCE!
The more I read and the more I consider the words which were written concerning the city of Ephesus and the time which the apostle Paul spent there within the city the more I can’t help but get the strong sense that the Holy Spirit desired to establish a church at the very heart and helm of trade and commerce and in such a place where access to the gospel would be found as well as distributed. We cannot and must not miss and lose sight of this reality, for to do so would be to miss and lose sight of just how important this city was to the gospel. When we study the history of the church in the book of Acts we must understand that the Holy Spirit is a master strategist and one who strategically moves pieces and players into place like a skilled master in the game of chess. Moreover, we must understand that the Holy Spirit—like a grand master at chess—will move people in specific locations in order that in those places there would be a great influence and spread of the gospel. For the Holy Spirit to establish a church within the city of Ephesus is absolutely remarkable and astounding, for by establishing a church here within the city the gospel would be able to be preached and sent all throughout the modern and known world. What’s more, is that I would dare say that so vital and so important was this city that not only was the apostle Paul the first apostle to be present there, but the apostle John would also be present within the city and would spend a considerable amount of time there within the city. What’s more is that it is said that Mary the mother of Jesus would also retire to this city, and to this day you can still visit the house of Mary, and even the tomb of the apostle John. What’s more, is that Timothy would be ordained and appointed as the first bishop of the city of Ephesus and the two letters which the apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy would be written while he was laboring and ministering within the city. There is not a doubt in my mind that this city was of supreme and extreme importance for the spread of Christianity and the message of the gospel, and the Holy Spirit would bring two of the apostle of Jesus the Christ unto this city, and would even have Timothy the spiritual son of the apostle Paul unto this city. If we are going to understand that which is written within the nineteenth chapter of the book of Acts we must understand history of this city and how important and influential this city would truly be for the apostle Paul, as well as for the cause and spread of Christianity. I sit here this morning and I read the account of the apostle Paul there within the city of Ephesus and I can’t help but be drawn to the awesome and incredible reality of just how important this city would be for the spread and cause of the gospel, and how initially the Holy Spirit forbad the apostle Paul from entering into Asia and preaching the gospel there within the region. Initially when the apostle Paul would have sought and desired to enter into Asia to preach the gospel He was forbidden by the Holy Spirit from doing so, however, all that would change when the apostle Paul would come unto the city of Ephesus, for there is something very specific we must understand when reading the account of this apostle of Christ within this city.
If you read the words which are written and found within the nineteenth chapter of the book of Acts you will find that the chapter begins and opens with the apostle Paul finding certain disciples, which he asked very candidly and openly whether or not they had received the Holy Ghost since they believed. Upon hearing the question which the apostle Paul asked them they responded by declaring unto him that they had not so much as heard that there was a Holy Ghost. Perhaps shocked and surprised that they had not heard of the Holy Ghost the apostle Paul asked them unto what baptism they had been baptized—a question which was met with their speaking of the baptism of John the Baptist. When the apostle Paul heard these words he declared unto them that John did indeed baptize with the baptism of repentance through the outward manifestation and demonstration of being baptized in water, and declared unto the people that they should believe on Him which would come after—namely, the person of Jesus the Christ. In other words, the baptism of John was a baptism in water unto and for the remission of sins and unto repentance, but it was a preparatory work that was intended to prepare and make ready a people for the coming of the Messiah who would emerge on to the scene. When we think about and speak concerning the baptism of John we must understand that this baptism of water was meant to make ready and prepare a people for the coming of the Messiah and the kingdom of God—a Messiah who would not only bring with Him the kingdom of heaven, but would also baptize with the Holy Ghost and with fire. The disciples which the apostle Paul had found and encountered there in Ephesus had been baptized with this baptism of water unto repentance, however, they had not as of yet experienced the baptism of the Son—the baptism of the Holy Ghost and with fire. When the apostle Paul spoke unto these disciples concerning Jesus the Christ as the One who was to come after John the Baptist and his baptism, these disciples were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus the Christ. Immediately after this the apostle Paul laid his hands on these disciples and the Holy Ghost came on them allowing them to prophesy and speak in tongues. As you begin reading the account of the apostle Paul there in Ephesus you will find that it begins with twelve disciples who did in fact believe and who had initially been baptized with the baptism of John, however, they had not yet received the Holy Ghost. The account of the apostle Paul here in this particular chapter begins and opens up with twelve disciples receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit as the apostle Paul laid hands on them. As the apostle Paul laid his hands on them and prayed for them they were immediately filled with and received the Holy Ghost, and began speaking with tongues and prophesying. How absolutely wonderful and remarkable it is to think about and consider the fact that when we begin reading of the time which the apostle Paul spent in the city of Ephesus we find it beginning with a wonderful and marvelous work of the Holy Spirit, as twelve men who had previously been baptized with the baptism of John would now experience the baptism of the Holy Spirit and would speak with other tongues and would prophesy.
After the beloved physician Luke writes and reveals the account of the apostle Paul laying hands on these twelve disciples and their being filled with the Holy Ghost and being baptized with both the fire and Holy Spirit, he goes on to write how the apostle Paul would enter into the synagogue and spoke boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God. While this was a customary practice of the apostle Paul to enter into the synagogue of the Jews and teach and speak concerning Jesus the Christ and the kingdom of God, we find the apostle Paul again finding himself facing that which he had previously experienced in cities he had traveled unto. In the eighth verse of the nineteenth chapter we find the apostle Paul going into the synagogue and speaking boldly for the space of about three months as he disputed and persuaded concerning the kingdom of God. In the ninth verse, however, we find when divers of those there in the synagogue were hardened, and believed not, but spoke evil of the way of Jesus Christ before the multitude, the apostle Paul departed from them and separated the disciples unto himself. Having separated the disciples unto himself the apostle Paul would dispute daily in the school of one Tyrannus, and would continue doing so for the space of two years. What we find in direct connection with the apostle Paul disputing daily in the school of Tyrannus is what the beloved physician Luke writes next—namely, that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks. This concept of all Asia hearing the word of the Lord Jesus the Christ is actually quite unique and astounding when you think about and consider it in light of what we find in the sixteenth chapter of the same New Testament book. If you read the sixth and seventh verses of the sixteenth chapter you will find the Holy Ghost being incredibly active within the life of the apostle Paul and his companions—namely, putting the breaks on that which they desired to do. If you begin reading with and from the sixth verse of this chapter you will find the following words which were written by the beloved physician Luke concerning the apostle Paul and his desire to preach the gospel concerning Jesus Christ in other areas and regions. Consider if you will the following words which describe the desires of the apostle Paul and his companions, and their desire to preach the gospel concerning Jesus the Christ:
“Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, after they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavored to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them” (Acts 16:6-10).
The reason why I seek to call and draw your attention to the words which are found within the sixteenth chapter of the book of Acts is because with them we encounter the reality that the apostle Paul and those who were with him were forbidden by the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia. Did you catch that? What a strong and stark contrast between what we find and read in the nineteenth chapter of the book of Acts when we find and read that all Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus Christ as a result of the apostle Paul teaching and preaching in the school of Tyrannus there in the city of Ephesus. When initially the apostle Paul would and could not enter into Asia in order that he might preach the gospel we find only three chapters later the apostle Paul teaching and disputing daily in the school of Tyrannus there in Ephesus, and as a direct result of the time the apostle Paul spent there within the city, we find all Asia hearing the word of the Lord Jesus the Christ. It is absolutely astonishing and remarkable to think about and consider the fact that when the apostle Paul was initially forbidden of the Holy Ghost to enter into Asia to preach the word of the Lord Jesus the Christ, there would come a time when all Asia would hear the word of the Lord Jesus—not because the apostle Paul entered into Asia to travel and preach the gospel concerning Jesus the Christ, but because of his faithful service there in the city of Ephesus. There is something truly astonishing and remarkable about what we find within this passage of Scripture, for more often than not we underestimate the true value, worth, significance and importance of faithfulness in a single place. More often than we tend to forget that there is something to be said about our faithfulness in a single place, for the Holy Spirit has the ability to take our faithfulness in service in a single place and take that faithfulness and cause a great impact to be felt in the surrounding area and region. It’s quite remarkable and astonishing to think about and consider the fact that the apostle Paul would be forbidden by the Holy Ghost to enter into Asia and preach the gospel concerning Jesus Christ, and yet all of Asia would hear the word of the Lord Jesus simply because of the faithfulness and obedience of the apostle Paul there in the city of Ephesus. Imagine what would and potentially could have happened had the apostle Paul chosen to disobey the leading and guidance of the Holy Ghost and enter into Asia to fulfill his desire to preach the gospel unto all those who lived and dwelt within that region. Oh sure he desired a good thing, and sure he would have been preaching the gospel concerning Jesus the Christ, however, he would have been acting in defiance and rebellion to the command of the Holy Spirit. Oh it is possible that we have within our heart a desire for something—even something that is good and something that perhaps is even godly—and yet the Holy Ghost forbids us from being able to move and act upon such a desire. I can’t help but be reminded of David the king of Israel who had it in his heart to build a house for the Ark of the Lord and for the glory and presence of the Lord, and how through the prophet Nathan David was told that he would not build the house for the Lord, but his son Solomon would in fact be the one to build the house.
Would it surprise you to note that it is possible to do that which is good and still be in defiance to the Holy Spirit? Would it completely and utterly shock you to know and learn that it is possible to do that which in the eyes of natural men would appear to be godly and righteous, and yet such a reality is nothing more than defiance and rebellion to the word and will of the Holy Spirit of the living God? It is possible that we can do things within our lives that to the natural eye might appear to be godly and pleasing in the sight of the living God, and yet such actions are nothing more than disobedience and rebellion in the sight of the living God. Oh, I am reminded of two distinct realities which are found within the scripture—the first which is found in the Old Testament book of First Samuel concerning Saul the first king of Israel, and the second is found in the New Testament gospel written by Matthew in the seventh chapter of the book. In the fifteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of First Samuel you will find the prophet rebuking Saul the first king of Israel because of his disobedience and rebellion to the word and will of the Lord. Saul you will recall was given a specific command to utterly destroy and kill everything that was in Amsler, and yet as you read the Scripture you will find that not only did Saul spare Agag king of the Amalekite, but you will also find that he spared the best of the flock, the best of the herd, and the best of the cattle. When Samuel questioned Saul on his actions he declared that he did in fact obey the command of the Lord and carry out his command, and how that which he spared was to be used in sacrifice and worship of the living God. Oh I invite you to think about and consider the words which the prophet Samuel spoke unto and declared unto Saul when he declared unto him that he had spared the best of the flock, the best of the cattle, and the best of the herd to sacrifice before and unto the living God:
“And Samuel said, hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifice, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearten than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, He hath also rejected thee from being king” (1 Samuel 15:22-23).
Within this passage of Scripture we encounter and come face to face with the awesome and incredible reality that obedience is better than sacrifice, and heartening unto the voice and command of the Lord is better than the fat of rams. Despite the fact that Saul thought that he was doing a good thing in sparing the best of the flock and herd to sacrifice unto the living God, he was actually moving and operating in full and outright defiance to the word, the will and the command of the Lord. In his mind he might have thought and believed that he had carried out and completed the command of the Lord, and even that the Lord would be pleased with his sacrifices, however, Samuel declared unto him that even his good intentions were shrouded in disobedience and rebellion in the sight of the living God. Saul might very well have thought and believed that he had obeyed the voice and command of the Lord, and that the Lord would surely be pleased with his sacrifice of the best of the flock, herd and cattle, however, what Saul failed to understand, and what we must understand is that obedience has always and is always better than sacrifice. The Lord of hosts does not have, nor does He take as much delight in sacrifice and offering as much as He does obedience and faithfulness to His word and His command. This reality is actually echoed to a certain degree in the seventh chapter of the New Testament gospel written by Matthew, for in the fifth, sixth and seventh chapters we find the Sermon on the Mount which was delivered by Jesus the Christ. In the seventh chapter of the gospel which Matthew wrote we find Jesus the Christ making a unique and powerful statement—one that has long struck fear in my heart, and one that has caused a great debate in the hearts and minds of students and scholars of the word of God. If you begin reading with and from the fifteenth verse of the seventh chapter you will find Jesus the Christ speaking unto those to whom He was teaching concerning false prophets and how they ought to beware of false prophets which would come unto them in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly were ravening wolves. It would be in the context of entering in at the straight gate, in the context of being aware of false prophets, and even in the context bringing forth good fruit and hearing the sayings of Jesus and doing them that Jesus actually issues a stinging declaration unto those who were present within His hearing. Consider if you will the words which are found within this particular passage beginning with the thirteenth verse of the chapter:
“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name:? And In thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then I will profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 5:13-23).
This passage is one that is absolutely and incredibly intriguing and astonishing, for within this passage we find that it is possible to prophesy in the name of the Lord, and cast out devils in the name of the Lord, and even in the name of the Lord do many wonderful things, and not only stand before Jesus Christ and hear that He never knew you, but also to be denied access and entrance into the kingdom of heaven—even though men might stand in the presence of Jesus and declare “Lord, Lord.” I fully realize that this might be confusing to some, as they wonder how and why such a reality could even be true, for how could those who prophesied in the name of the Lord hear that Jesus never knew them? How could those who cast out demons and devils in the name of the Lord hear from Jesus that He never knew them? Moreover, how could those who in the name of Jesus do many wonderful things hear from Jesus that He never knew them? The answer to this question actually lies in what we find in the words which are found in the sixteenth chapter of the book of Acts when we read of the apostle Paul being forbidden of the Holy Ghost to enter into Asia and preach the gospel of Jesus the Christ unto them. Surely there would be nothing wrong with preaching the gospel, and surely the Lord would not be displeased with their desire to preach the gospel among the unreached. Surely the Lord would be pleased with their preaching the gospel concerning Jesus the Christ, and surely the Lord would take delight in such a thing as preaching the gospel unto the unreached. This would especially be true if great salvations were wrought as a result of the preaching and great works and wonders were being performed accompanying the preaching of the word. Surely if the apostle Paul entered into Asia and preached the word concerning Jesus the Christ the Lord would honor his preaching and would not be displeased with him. The truth of the matter is that the apostle Paul could have entered into the region of Asia and preached the gospel concerning Jesus the Christ, and yet not only would he have been acting in defiance to the word, will and command of the living God, but what he was doing would not have pleased the Lord at all. The apostle Paul could very well have preached the gospel concerning Jesus the Christ, and there might have been mighty and wonderful conversions, and yet the Lord would have been sorely displeased with the apostle Paul for his blatant and fragrant disobedience to His word, His will and His command. When we read the nineteenth chapter of the book of Acts we find that all Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus Christ—not because the apostle Paul entered and traveled throughout the region, but because the apostle faithfully taught and preached the gospel in the city of Ephesus for the space of two years. For two years the apostle Paul faithfully taught in the school of Tyrannus, and as a result of his faithfulness in service—not only would all Asia hear the word of the Lord, but so also would divers sicknesses and diseases depart from men and women, and evil spirits would be cast forth from men and women. As you read the words which are found in verses ten through twelve of the nineteenth chapter you will find the following words written and recorded by the beloved physician Luke:
“And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks. And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: so that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them” (Acts 19:10-12).
It was true the apostle Paul was forbidden by the Holy Ghost to enter into Asia and preach the gospel concerning Jesus the Christ, yet only a short time later the apostle Paul would be in the city of Ephesus, which is in modern day Turkey, and would faithfully teach and preach the gospel concerning Jesus the Christ for two years. As a direct result of his earlier obedience, as well as his faithfulness in service and labor here in Ephesus all of Asia would hear the word of the Lord Jesus the Christ. Not only would all Asia hear the word of the Lord Jesus the Christ, but so also were divers diseases expelled from the physical bodies of men and women, and evil spirits went out of men and women whom they possessed. How absolutely wonderful and remarkable it is to think about and consider the fact that not only did the Lord honor the apostle Paul’s obedience when the Holy Ghost forbad him from entering into Asia and preaching the word, but so also would the Lord honor his faithfulness in service there in the city of Ephesus. It is important for us to recognize and understand that it possible for us to do good, and yet even the good we are doing might very well be defiance and rebellion in the sight of the living God if what we are doing was either not commanded nor instructed by the living God, or was strictly forbidden by the Holy Spirit. I realize this might come as a shock to you who are reading these words, however, we must understand the awesome and incredible truth that it is possible to do that which is perceived as good in the sight and eyes of men, and yet that good which is perceived as such in the eyes of men and women is nothing more than blatant and fragrant disobedience and rebellion in the sight of the living God—particularly, if we have been forbidden by the Holy Ghost to do that which we have endeavored to do. The apostle Paul could have preached the gospel in Asia, and there might have been some measure and margin of success, however, I am convinced that his rebellion and disobedience to the word and command of the Lord would have been greatly displeasing in the sight of the living God. There is not a doubt in my mind that the apostle Paul might have experienced some measure of success in ministry, and the apostle Paul might have seen some miracles, some deliverances, and some conversion and baptisms, but solely and simply because the Lord will honor His word. Would it shock you to hear the reality that there are countless times when the Lord is honoring His word, and is not in the slightest bit honoring those who are preaching the word simply because they went when they were not sent, and they have engaged themselves in that which they had not been called? I sit here this morning and I can’t help but think about the awesome and incredible reality that it is possible to have good without and apart from God, and it is possible to do good and yet do so without, apart from and absent the living God who created heaven and earth. Popular contemporary Christian author John Bevere wrote a book entitled “Good or God: Why Good Without God Is Not Enough,” and the entire premise of the book is that it is possible for us to have good, and it is possible for us to do good, and yet if our good is absent and apart from God and that which He has spoken and commanded, our good is nothing more than a farce and deception.
WHEN GOOD CAN BE DECEIVING! Did you know that good can in fact be deceiving? Did you know that you might behold good—even good within your church and the congregation in which you associate yourself and worship—and yet the good you are witnessing can be deceiving? You might be wondering how I could make such a statement, and yet I am convinced that it is possible for us to engage ourselves in that which is good—even that which is perceived as being good in the sight and eyes of men—and yet that good is actually deceiving those around us because the good we are doing has not been commanded, nor has it been commissioned by the living God. Oh, I would dare say there are ministries, there are organizations, and there are churches present among us in this generation that are markedly deceptive in the earth simply because the good they are doing has not been commanded by the living God. What’s more, is it is absolutely and completely possible that some good which we see before and all around us might appear to be pleasing in the sight of the Lord, and yet it was strictly forbidden by the Holy Spirit—not because it was or is wrong, but because it wasn’t intended to be done by those individuals. Consider what would and could have happened had David chosen to ignore the command and instruction of the Lord through His servant the prophet Nathan, and had went ahead with attempting to build the house of the Lord. I can tell you one thing for sure—the glory would not have filled the house, and the fire would not have fallen from heaven and consumed the sacrifice which was upon the altar in the outer court. David might very well have chosen to ignore the will and command of the living God, and he could have gone ahead and built the house of the living God, and yet by doing so he would have been in complete and utter defiance to the word and will of the living God. The apostle Paul could have chosen to ignore the resistance of the Holy Ghost, and could have entered into the region of Asia and preached the gospel, and on the surface it might have seemed and appeared to have been good—particularly and especially if no one before or around him knew of the activity of the Holy Ghost forbidding him from entering into Asia and preaching the gospel there in that region. For most they might have assumed the apostle Paul was preaching the gospel just as he had done elsewhere in the surrounding region, and no one would have had any clue that he was actually operating outside the will of God, and acting in complete and utter defiance of the word, will and command of the Lord. Perhaps the single greatest reality we must come face to face with as we read these words is whether or not the good we perceive ourselves to be doing is actually good without and good apart from God. Are we ourselves engaged in good, and we might be thinking that our good is pleasing God, and others might even state and believe that our good is pleasing the living God, and yet neither is true, for we are acting outside of and apart from the divine will and command of the living God.
What I so love about that which is found in the nineteenth chapter of the book of Acts is not only the activity of the Holy Spirit in the opening verses of the chapter as twelve disciples received the Holy Spirit, but also all of Asia hearing the word of the Lord Jesus Christ, as well as divers diseases departing and evil spirits going out of men and women whom they possessed. I have to admit that I also love how the Holy Spirit also revealed and exposed frauds and those who attempted and pretended to be someone they are not. If you read the words which are found in verses thirteen through sixteen you will find the Holy Spirit exposing those who attempted to be someone they weren’t when it came to trying to cast out evil spirits, for there were seven men who were the son of one Sceva, a Jew, who attempted to adjure an evil spirit according to the Jesus whom Paul preached, and not only did the evil spirit declare unto them that Jesus he knew, and Paul he knew, but he did not know who they were. What’s more, is that the man in whom was the evil spirit leapt upon them, overtook them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. This particular event was known to all the Jews and Greeks dwelling at Ephesus, and fear fell on them all. If you continue reading this p assuage you will find that the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified, and many which believed came, and confessed, and showed forth their deeds. Furthermore, many of those which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them all before all men. Still in addition to this we find and read that the word of God grew mightily and prevailed there in Ephesus. Within this passage of Scripture we find all of Asia hearing the word of the Lord Jesus the Christ, and we find diseases and evil spirits departing from men and women which were present there within the city. What’s more is that we also read how the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified, and many believed, confessed, and shewed forth their deeds. Still in addition to this the word of God grew mightily and prevailed in Ephesus and in the surrounding region, and I am convinced that none of this would have been possible had the apostle Paul chosen to disobey the word, the will and the command of the Holy Spirit earlier on during his apostolic life and ministry. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand the tremendous ramifications of our disobedience and unfaithfulness in the sight of the living God, but it is also true that we must recognize and understand the tremendous significance and importance of our faithfulness and obedience in the sight of the living God and to that which He has spoken and commanded unto us.