In my personal Christian walk, I have noticed there are different things that serve as roadblocks in my relationship with God. For me, it’s usually a reoccurring theme that I tend to deal with in my life. This theme of my life keeps me in bondage and tends to keep me from growing into all God intended for me to be. We all have something. Something that Satan throws our way to trip us up (Hebrews 12:1) , something to distract us or something that stifles us.
Acts chapter 13 sums up this concept pretty accurately:
“He had attached himself to the governor, Sergius Paulus, who was an intelligent man. The governor invited Barnabas and Saul to visit him, for he wanted to hear the word of God. But Elymas, the sorcerer (as his name means in Greek), interfered and urged the governor to pay no attention to what Barnabas and Saul said. He was trying to keep the governor from believing.” -Acts 13:7-8
So that thing in my life that tries to prevent me from hearing and seeing the glory of God, I like to call an “Elymas.” If you notice some of the key things in this passage, it will help you recognize your personal Elymas.
1) It is something that is all too familiar to you. We notice in the very first sentence that it says he ATTACHED himself to the governor. One definition of attached is, “full of affection and fondness” , while another is “joined or fastened to something.” Therefore your own personal Elymas can be something that brings you comfort. It can be something you have been bound to for a long period. It is something that is ATTACHED to you. Meaning wherever you go or wherever God leads you, this personal thing follows. For example, I believe my “Elymas” is fear and anxiety. For as long as I can remember, I have been fearful of certain things, especially stepping out of my comfort zone. Because of this fear, anything resulting in change or impeding change causes me extreme anxiety. It is something I have been struggling with the majority of my life. Fear and anxiety are 2 things I know well, because I have experienced them quite often.
2) It doesn’t WANT you to hear from God or grow closer to God. It serves a purpose to prevent you from hearing from God. Anything that GOD places in your life will serve a purpose to glorify and praise God (Ephesians 1:12-14). So you know if something is in your life that is preventing you from serving God/hearing from God, that it is NOT from Him and Satan has sent it as an Elymas. It can be something as simple as a job. Now of course, God can strengthen us and produce character through certain trials. But this type of thing produces no type of fruit from the Holy Spirit. There is no GROWTH with your Elymas. It’s job is to keep you from ever growing into the person God intends you to be.
3) It wants to distract you from God’s identity/purpose for you. This passage states that this man just wanted to hear the word of God. God’s word clearly shows us WHO we are in Him and what He intends for us as His children. Your Elymas wants the exact opposite for you. It wants you to never even get CLOSE to who God wants you to be. Why? Because Satan knows if you do strive for that purpose, you will be TOO impactful for the kingdom and you will make things harder for him. So he ensures you that mediocrity is alright. He ensures you that these TOXIC relationships, partying/drinking every day of the weekend, having premarital sex, cursing people out, etc. are okay, as long as you go to church and look at a couple of bible verses. But you keep doing the exact same things and expecting different results. So an Elymas is something that wants you to identify with something other than a child of God. It wants you to put your hope and confidence in something other than our Savior. My Elymas being fear, keeps me from putting all of my hope and confidence in my Savior. It is crippling at times and does nothing for my spiritual growth. It wants to keep me in a box so I do just enough to get by, but never reaching the point that God wanted me to be at.
So how do we recognize our Elymas? Verse 9-10 of Acts Chapter 13 states:
“Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said, ‘You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord?’”
The Holy Spirit is the One that guides us and helps us recognize what is truly beneficial in our lives, and what is stifling us. It helps us to realize that was placed in our lives to help us remain in our stagnation and helps us recognize when things are set up by Satan. We have to be able to listen to the discernment that the Holy Spirit gives us, especially regarding things that we know are not healthy for our spiritual lives. Some of these things may be very difficult for us to let go of. For example, my fear has been something I have battled with for a while now. These things may not be easy for us to be delivered from. But our Savior reminds us, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness,” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
So let go of whatever is keeping you from serving the Lord effectively and whatever is keeping your bound to mediocrity. It’s time to do more. When we know better, we do better. When the Holy Spirit reveals something in your life that is OUT OF ORDER, do something about it and change it. Our Savior is SO rich in mercy and grace that He will send us constant reminders that we aren’t in this alone. One of my favorite verses is Deuteronomy 31:6-
“So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”
When you let go of your unhealthy bondage, don’t think for a second that God has abandoned you. He is preparing you for His purpose and something so much greater!