Paul was casting out devils in the name of Jesus so some Jews who were trying to make money from casting out devils decided to duplicate what Paul was doing. I think it is hilarious but yet we need to take heed to important lessons we can learn from this group of Jews.
Acts 19: 13 A group of Jews was traveling from town to town casting out evil spirits. They tried to use the name of the Lord Jesus in their incantation, saying, “I command you in the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, to come out!” 14 Seven sons of Sceva, a leading priest, were doing this. 15 But one time when they tried it, the evil spirit replied, “I know Jesus, and I know Paul, but who are you?” 16 Then the man with the evil spirit leaped on them, overpowered them, and attacked them with such violence that they fled from the house, naked and battered.
I’ve always thought this would make a good comical part of a movie but yet it’s so real. These seven sons of a leading priest had heard Paul command demons to come out of people using the powerful name of Jesus so they thought they had found another religious ritual that would produce the power of God.
Lesson 1: There are no formulas. There is only obedience to the leading of the Holy Spirit when it comes to the supernatural. Very seldom did Jesus heal the sick the same way; sometimes He would simply speak to the sickness, another time He would lay hands on the sick, another time He would make new eyes out of dirt by spitting in it, another time He told the lepers to just go show themselves to the high priest. The reason is that Jesus never wanted the supernatural turned into a formula.
Never think that the creator will give the creation a formula to control and manipulate His power and His presence. Yes, there are keys but never a certain way to manipulate the presence of the Lord. Keys like praise and worship sets the atmosphere for the presence of the Lord, prayer and fasting allows us to prepare our bodies for His service but only as we do it with pure hearts and clean hands and not with a manipulative spirit. Too many only pray, only praise, only fast when they have to have a breakthrough but real praise, real worship, real prayer, real fasting is when we just want less of us and more of Him.
The seven sons of Sceva wanted a formula (ritual) not a relationship with Jesus Christ. They wanted to use His name, demonstrate His power without taking time to know Him.
Lesson 2. You can know and say the right words and still have no power backing your words up and that’s all they are, WORDS without the anointing! The power to operate in the supernatural (such as casting out devils, healing the sick, etc.) comes from two things:
1. Relationship with Father God which only comes through the blood of Jesus. The more you know Him, it produces hunger and humility which are keys to flowing in the supernatural. 2. Obedience to the Holy Spirit! We are commanded to never lay hands on any person suddenly (1 Tim. 5) but we should be led by the Holy Spirit because He knows the will and purposes of the Father and also the condition of the person we would like to pray for and help. Sometimes the person we desire to help is not ready for help, does not really want help or the timing may not be right. We must be led by the Spirit!
So the seven sons of Sceva find a demon possessed man and start saying in the name of Jesus whom Paul preaches come out and the demon answers back, “Paul I know, Jesus I know but who are you”? Then it gets worse, the demon comes out of the man and jumps on them, overpowers them, strips them of their clothes and they run out the door hurt, confused and defeated.
Catch it, the greatest thing on earth is knowing heaven knows your name but don’t you love the fact that the demonic forces of hell not only knew about Jesus but knew Paul and when Paul spoke they had to listen (that’s Kingdom Power and Authority). The demons knew Paul because Paul took the time to know Jesus personally through prayer, fasting and study.
Prayer points: Father in Jesus Name, I don’t want to just know about you but I want to know you personally. Anything in my life that would hinder the flow of the supernatural in my life, I repent of and turn from now in Jesus Name. Use me to help build your Kingdom!