Today’s Scripture reading: Acts 19: 11-16 (NIV).
God did extraordinary miracles through Paul. Even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.
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 the 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 Paul I know about, but who are you?”
Then, the possessed man jumped and overpowered them. He gave them such a beating that they ran, naked and bleeding, out of the house.
In the beginning of the Church Age, the Apostle Paul was one of Christianity’s greatest enemies. On the road to Damascus, with intent to continue carrying out harsh persecutions against Christians, he was confronted by Jesus the resurrected Christ. From that day forward, he was changed. He even received a name change from Saul of Tarsus to Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ.
In today’s text, Paul, who is Jewish, is preaching the Gospel and having a great impact on the Gentiles. God is doing extraordinary things through his life, and the people are even receiving miracles from his clothing.
Some Jewish exorcists — seven sons of a man named Seva, who obviously made money casting spells and incantations — want to try their hand at what they think was Paul’s gimmick. These men were not Gentiles; they also were Jews, therefore they knew about the authentic power of God. They appear to be using their positions for spiritual extortion. I would call them great pretenders. When their spiritual authority is challenged by the evil spirit in a demon-possessed man, they simply are not legitimate in the spirit realm.
The moral of this story is, when we are doing the Lord’s work, we always should have clean hands, clear motives and a pure heart. Also, as believers, we must be authentic, genuine and sincere. So that when — not if, but when — we are challenged by evil in this world, we will be more than conquerors through Christ.
Knowledge is great, but purity is powerful. The Bible says that demons believe and tremble because they know about the power of God. Let’s remember that Satan was evicted from the presence of God because of the corruption found in him.
Although it has become somewhat old school to remind Christians that we are to live holy and righteous lives, today’s text is a great example and a vivid reminder that purity produces power.
Deason is the senior pastor of Liberty Prayer Chapel, executive director of the Liberty County Manna House and a member of the United Ministerial Alliance.