Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.
It started with the believers, the Christians, who began to clean up their own lives, who came and divulged their hidden practices, confessed what they were doing in private. Obviously these were relatively new Christians and perhaps they had never thought that anything was wrong with these practices. But as they sat under the teaching of the apostle and saw the kingdom of God and how God longs to set people free, they began to see that what they had been doing — the astrology, the reliance on horoscopes, the belief in the influence of the stars, and all their other superstitious practices — had held them in bondage. They were the reason why they were weak and fearful, upset and distressed within themselves. So they began to confess all this and therefore to be free from their bondage.
And that, in turn, precipitated another movement. The pagans around them in the city began to take a second look at their own practices. Many of them who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them when they became Christians under the influence and power of the gospel, and thus they were set free from their own deadly delusion. Again this illustrates how light breaks forth through the church. It is the church that is the light of the world. When the church begins to straighten out and clean up its life, and act and live as God has called men to do, then the world will begin to see itself as it is, and see what is wrong, and start straightening up and being freed from the practices that are darkening and blinding it, hounding and inhibiting, blasting and ruining. This is what happened here. They surrendered all their occult literature — and that was a costly thing to do. As they totalled up the value of these books, and the various paraphernalia that was brought to be burned, it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. That is approximately ten thousand dollars, which was a tremendous sum in those days. It meant that these people were forsaking their livelihood. They were actually changing the total pattern of their lives, as they saw that they could no longer practice the occult and live as Christians too. It revealed how willing they were to be free from this terrible practice.