“You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy” (Acts 13:10a)
How would you like to be on the receiving end of that statement? How many people would dare to use that language on somebody else, especially in this country where you would be blasted by every media source imaginable for weeks on end? Yet these weren’t the railings of a man for the sake of cursing someone out like the drill sergeant of Full Metal Jacket. There words were inspired to be used by the Holy Spirit. These were truthful words perfectly describing their target’s real situation. The verse continues and gives the rational behind Elymas being told that he was a “son of the devil”:
“Will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord?”
Elymas was a son of the devil because he consistently spoke words in the attempt to make crooked the path of salvation laid out by the Lord. Salvation is a straight path – believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior and you will be saved (John 3:16). We don’t know exactly what was being said by Elymas, but apparently it was a twisting of the word of God, trying to deceive the listener, a proconsul named Sergius Paulus, “a man of intelligence, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God” (Acts 13:7). Elymas spent his time opposing them, “seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith” (Acts 13:8).
According to the Bible, everyone who has not received salvation by receiving Jesus and His death on behalf of our sins is a son of the devil. This is the truth that Jesus declared in John 8:42-47. The passage in Acts 13 helps unveil that acting upon the impulses of the devil doesn’t necessarily mean that a person is a mass murderer, but can be a simple as a sarcastic comment intended to turn someone away from Jesus and the truth of the Bible.
There is enough activity in the world today by non-Christians to “make crooked the straight paths of the Lord”, how great a shame it is for Christians to be acting like sons of the devil by compromising the truth for the sake of avoiding persecution, being politically correct, or being “progressive”. There is nothing wrong with adapting to the culture around you in order to more effectively reach people for Christ as this is demonstrated throughout Scripture. But once the adapting to culture crosses the line into condoning sinful behavior & lifestyles (such as biblical sexual morality) and compromising the core elements of the faith (such as Jesus being the exclusive way to salvation) it is no longer being culturally sensitive but sinfully making crooked the paths of the Lord and acting as a son of the devil.