So sang Debbie Boone in the song You Light Up My Life. But, yes it can be wrong even if it feels very right. If sin felt horrible, no one would ever be tempted to engage in it. Unfortunately, we are a people that too often gauge the rightness of something on how it feels, which is subjective, rather than on truth which is objective. And when something seeks to rob us of our feelings, we will do just about anything to protect our good-feeling activities. So was the case with the Ephesians in Acts 19.
The preaching of Paul was turning the people of the area away from their worship of the oriental goddess Diana, also known as Artemis. Demetrius, a silversmith had become quite wealthy from making small statues of this goddess. Now his wealth and the good feelings that it generated were in jeopardy. Paul had to be stopped. Demetrius really didn’t care too much whether the worship of Diana was according to truth, only that it was profitable to him. The desire for good feelings generated by money will make people set aside truth quickly. (Of course, no one would be so motivated today)
In order to justify the continuance of their error, they began to chant, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians.” (verse 28) The verb tense indicates that this was a repetitive chanting, not simply a singular statement. Although there was no objective evidence to support their claim, it is what they wanted to believe in order to protect their good feelings. A lie, repeated enough times, then comes to be accepted as truth. And so they convinced themselves that their actions were righteous. (Of course, no one today would repeat a lie today over and over again)
With the foundation of Diana’s greatness laid, Demetrius and company moved to fortify their position of “truth” by adding faithless fiction as fact. In verse 35 they state that the image of Diana fell from heaven. What is interesting is that this is stated as fact, “we know.” They didn’t know. At best, they theorized. But the idea that a carved image just fell out of the sky seems ridiculous. More than likely, a fragment of a comet fell to the earth and they interpreted it as an image of Diana. (Of course, no one today would declare unproven things as fact)
Finally, in order to maintain their “truth” the Ephesians prevented Paul from presenting the gospel and defending his faith. It was the old adage, “My mind is made up, don’t confuse me with the facts.” When all the Ephesians held to the belief that Diana was worthy of worship, there was peace in the region. Now Paul is preaching Christianity and the whole town is in an uproar of confusion. Peace is better than confusion so if they kept Paul from presenting his faith, the town would return to the good feeling of serenity. (Of course, we are more open to different ideas today and we would never keep anything from being presented that might upset our world)
Wait a minute! There’s a fortune to be made in the pharmaceutical industry by providing good feelings to people with emotional problems without changing what causes their problems. So maybe today we do justify error on account of profit. And why do we keep repeating the lie that a woman should have the right to do whatever she wants to her own body when the child in the womb is not her body? Maybe we do repeat the lie over and over again. And when did evolution become fact? At best it is a theory of origin. But if God created us, then we wouldn’t be free to express our “animal desires” and feel good about them. And why is it that we require our children to read all kinds of literature in our schools and prohibit them having a Bible in many places? Well, it can’t be wrong if it feels so right, can it?
Feelings will fade but truth is eternal. No one today is worshipping Diana!