“When the seven days were nearly over, some Jews from the province of Asia saw Paul at the temple. They stirred up the whole crowd and seized him…” (Acts 21:27 NIV84)
From Satan’s first words in the Garden of Eden, “Did God really say?”, he has used partial truths to deceive humanity and stir up trouble for the kingdom of God. In the context of our text for today, Paul had finally arrived in Jerusalem, but his reputation preceded him. People were already stirred up in Jerusalem about Paul’s outreach ministry to the Gentiles. As he arrived there was already tension in the air. Some Jews from Asia, where Paul had been recently evangelizing, riled things up with accusations that Paul brought a Gentile into the temple and defiled it. Now, Paul did bring a Gentile into the city of Jerusalem, but not into the temple. In fact, when Paul went to the temple, he went to fulfill a customary Jewish rite. His goal was to be non-offensive, but Satan subtly twisted reality into something sinister and the riot began. Things got so crazy that Paul was arrested in order to stop the Jews from killing him. It is no wonder that Jesus says of Satan that he “comes to kill, steal and destroy.”
Let’s not kid ourselves into thinking that things like this don’t happen to Christians today. I have seen Satan twist events, circumstances, words spoken to the detriment of wonderful Christian people and the kingdom of God itself. I’ve seen a few words of gossip ignite a church community to act contrary to its calling. We have to be very wise and discerning when we listen to what people say. We have to make sure that we go to the source and not just believe what we are hearing from others. This is why it is so vital that a Christian community has “homothumadon” (one-mindedness). We provide Satan fewer and fewer openings to get into when we are united in purpose.
Today, may we be discerning enough to see where Satan is twisting the truth.