Daily Archives: October 22, 2011
God was performing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that handkerchiefs or aprons were even carried from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out. But also some of the Jewish exorcists, who went from place to place, attempted to name over those who had the evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, “I adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preaches.”
Seven sons of one Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this.
And the evil spirit answered and said to them, “I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” And the man, in whom was the evil spirit, leaped on them and subdued all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. This became known to all, both Jews and Greeks, who lived in Ephesus; and fear fell upon them all and the name of the Lord Jesus was being magnified. [Acts 19:11-17]
Here we have a case where the password to the Kingdom of God became known to non-believers. They attempted to use it the way Paul did but with much different results.
Imagine an evil spirit so powerful it could work through one man to beat the hell out of seven religious pretenders. These clowns were not merely defeated. They were abused, humiliated, and literally ripped-off.
Though the Name of Jesus is the password to the kingdom of God, its proper use is restricted to those who have made a wholesale commitment to the owner of the Name. Unless one’s heart is fully circumcised unto the Lord, the password will not work, though it may appear otherwise in some circumstances. If one’s faith is weak, the password will not work. If one’s motive is wrong, the password will not work. If one has unrepentant sin, the password will not work. If there’s any flesh involved, the password will not work.
The seven sons of Sceva had apparently had some success in exorcising demons. There are certain Christian sects that have historically practiced exorcism and continue practicing it today.
But the Lord Jesus never practiced exorcism. He quite simply but most powerfully used His authority and commanded evil spirits to obey Him. No need for silly formulas and little wooden crosses. The Lord merely said, “Get out!” and they scrammed. His disciples had been given the use of His powerful Name and also ran off any number of demons through the same authority. Demons were often scared enough to stay away from those filled with the Spirit of God. They knew they’d get their backsides kicked. They certainly knew who the Lord Jesus was, that He was a Warrior on the warpath shining a great Light into their dark little hovels.
You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. [James 2:19]
The proponents of Unreal Christianity have not been granted the authority of the Name since they have never fully committed to the Lord Jesus. This is obvious by the way they dishonor and disrespect Him. (“Oh, those things don’t happen anymore!” “We don’t believe in that stuff!” You’re a fruitcake and those things are of the devil!” “It makes me feel so uncomfortable…”) Dead churches are dead because they lack the power of God. They have no access to it. They claim to have authority to use the Name but one never sees much demonstration of the Lord’s Spirit in such places.
Other people counterfeit it. The devil is using them and they don’t even know it.
But one thing is sure: There is great power and authority in the Name of Jesus but one must be qualified to use it or nothing good will happen.
Ask the sons of Sceva. They never, ever made that mistake again. The evil spirit punted their rears halfway across Ephesus.
Many also of those who had believed kept coming, confessing and disclosing their practices. And many of those who practiced magic brought their books together and began burning them in the sight of everyone; and they counted up the price of them and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing. [Acts 19:18-20]
This is the real gospel in action.
But why did the Lord direct Paul to go to Ephesus in the first place? Once again, it had to do with the power of His Name. It seems there were certain followers of John the Immerser there who had never heard of Pentecost. Note what happens after Paul discovers the way they were baptized:
It happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus, and found some disciples. He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”
And they said to him, “No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.”
And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?”
And they said, “Into John’s baptism.”
Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus.”
When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying. There were in all about twelve men. [Acts 19:1-7] 
Why did Paul connect the infilling of the Holy Spirit with water baptism? Was it for the simple reason that the password to the kingdom of God is directly associated with water baptism? Was it because water baptism in the Name of Jesus is a major part of the heart-circumcision process toward total submission to the Messiah and gaining proper authority to use His Name?
© 2011 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [Part 8 of 10]
 Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.