Acts 19.8-20 8Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God. But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord. God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.
13 Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, "In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out." Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. (One day) the evil spirit answered them, "Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?" Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding. When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor. Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds. A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas. In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.
Good Morning, Friends.
Notice with me what God was doing through this one man who was faithful to his calling---Paul taught in the synagogue a full three months, until discord began, then he left the synagogue and rented space from Tyrannus, a local philosopher. He taught in the afternoons from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, the time when the people of Ephesus took their midday 'siestas'. I am so inspired by Paul's faithfulness to teach the Word. In addition, the power of God was established through the miracles that were done through Paul--including people being healed and evil spirits cast out, just because they touched an article of Paul's clothing. . . amazing! The Holy Spirit was alive and well in the town of Ephesus. (modern day Turkey) Not to be outdone, some of the Jews who made their living off exorcising demons--the sons of Sceva--also came out to cut in on Paul's action. It is actually a little comical because they truly were trying to cut in on Paul's action--'hey you, evil spirits, by the name of Paul's Jesus, we command you to. . ." You see, it was not uncommon for a team of vocational 'exorcists' such as this was, to recite a list of names for power and authority; so they used Jesus' name so that they could match Paul's authority, and see evil spirits banished. Their competitive spirit was not veiled--it was ridiculous--and dangerous.
First, they used God's name (Jesus) in vain, in the truest sense of the word.
Second, they didn't have any idea the havoc that they wreaked upon themselves, until. . . the inhabiting evil spirit answered the exorcists with, "Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?" Then the possessed man overpowered them, and beat them silly. The 'exorcists' were so out-gunned by one evil spirit in the man that all seven of them were attacked, stripped naked, and badly injured. You see, knowing ABOUT Jesus is not the same thing as KNOWING Jesus; they erred greatly. But believe me, word got out about what happened with those who trifled with an evil spirit, invoking the name of Jesus, though they didn't know Him. . . a reverent fear, an awesome fear of the power of the most high God spread amongst the people. As a result, many of the occultists, the "new age" thinkers of their day brought their books with chants and charms to battle evil, to fuel a bonfire and publicly burn them.
Now Ephesus was a center for black magic, superstition and other occult activities during Paul's day, but the power in the name of Jesus released captives from the bondage of evil. That power coupled with the truth of the gospel message spread like wildfire throughout the Asian continent. Today, the forces of evil are often quite subtle. We must realize and respect that evil is around us, and the evil one prowls around our lives trying to find an entry point, through which he might reap destruction. As we noticed yesterday from the writer of Ecclesiastes, 'there is nothing new under the sun'. . . that includes occult thinking and practices; the "Secret" and Eckhart Tolle's "A New Earth" are just old ideas in new clothing. They contain enough right-sounding elements to entice, but their goal is to mislead individuals. . . to pull them from the truth of one true God. So many consumers of our culture hear just enough of the Oprah-ized religious thoughts to lull them into thinking they are 'o.k.'----well, they aren't, and Jesus' holy name should not be enmeshed within their teaching so that it sounds kinda' Christian. Just like you can't be kinda' pregnant, you can't be kinda' Christian either. . . you either are, or you ain't. Period.
So please let us recognize the power in the name of our Lord Jesus--power to bless, to heal, to call down fire from Heaven. . . but not to bandy about lightly. I guess Sceva's seven sons learned that the hard way as they saw the power of the Holy Spirit prevail over the evil spirits they sought to command, while they ran around looking for their togas. For me, well I remember a couple of very dark times in my life, when I wasn't even sure how or what to pray. . . at those times, I could only speak one word--"Jesus"--and it was enough. 'Reminds me of a verse in Proverbs - The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe. (18.10) What's in a name? Everything, if it is J-E-S-U-S.
Peace only in the Name,