Power Encounter: Paul and the Sons of Sceva


We have been looking at power encounters between God’s people and Satan’s forces in Ephesus, as recorded in Acts 19.  God showed His power by healing some who were ill, even using sweaty work cloths of Paul’s to do so.  Naturally that caused quite a stir in the city.

As word of God’s power through Paul spread there were those who saw Jesus’ name as a magic charm they could use to their own advantage.  “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” (Acts 19:13).

Sceva, a Jew,  was a self-proclaimed chief priest.  He claimed to do Jewish exorcism but used occult ways to accomplish this. He thought he would try this new ‘charm’ so he could have better results in driving demons out, and therefore earning high fees for doing so.   However, using Jesus’ name just brought him and his sons’ misery because they weren’t believers.  The people learned that Jesus isn’t a magic word to use.  Only a personal relationship with Him will bring victory.

LESSON FOR TODAY 1: Often demons work together in cooperation to make it seem like the human they used had the power to cast out demons.  Really, they were just working together to make it seem that way. One demon would attack a person, then another would indwell a false deliverer so that when the demon was commanded to be gone it would leave.  It was all set up to make it look like the person had power to deliver.  This deceived the person himself and those watching.   But this time the demons from the demonized man overpowered the demonized deliver and beat him up.  Demons don’t always work together, though.  They are filled with hate and jealousy and often take it out on each other, as happened this time.

LESSON FOR TODAY 2: When we feel confusion in our minds it may be from demonic interference, trying to confuse and mislead us.  Other times, though, what we sense as confusion is conflict among the demons themselves as they struggle with each other for authority and influence, especially the leader is gone working elsewhere.  The distraction and/or confusion the demonized person senses could be conflict among the demons themselves, for their self-centeredness, pride and ego isn’t just manifested against us but against each other also.  They cooperate out of fear and being overpowered, not for any other reason.

LESSON FOR TODAY 3:  Our power and authority are in Jesus and His name, but we are not to use His name as a magic charm.  We must always make sure there is no sin in our life, that we are right with God, and, of course, that we are His child through faith in Jesus.  We are to pray “in Jesus’ Name (power, authority).”  Jesus gave the disciples that power and commanded them to use it (Matthew 10:1; Luke 10:17; Mark 6:7; 16:17).  They cast out demons as a regular part of their ministry (Mark 9:38; Luke 10:17).  Paul cast out demons (Acts 16:16-18; 19:12) and so did Philip (Acts 8:7).  When trying to do it in their own strength (without dependence on God) they failed  (Mark 9:18, 28-29).  Paul himself said, “In the name of Jesus I command you to come out”  (Acts 16:16-18).  It’s not the words – it’s the Person whose power is behind them.

Sometimes we are guilty of rattling off “In Jesus’ name.  Amen” after a prayer without really thinking about the implications and ramifications of all it means.  Pay attention to what you are saying next time you say it.


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(India Outreach, Spiritual Warfare, Family Ministries, Counseling, World View)

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