Saturday, March 1, 2014

February 28: Known + recognized by demons

Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists attempted to pronounce the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I command you by the Jesus that Paul preaches!” Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. The evil spirit answered them, “I know Jesus, and I recognize Paul — but who are you?” Then the man who had the evil spirit leaped on them, overpowered them all, and prevailed against them, so that they ran out of that house naked and wounded. This became known to everyone who lived in Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. Then fear fell on all of them, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. And many who had become believers came confessing and disclosing their practices, while many of those who had practiced magic collected their books and burned them in front of everyone. So they calculated their value and found it to be 50,000 pieces of silver. In this way the Lord’s message flourished and prevailed. (Acts 19:13-20  HCSB)

This is the only instance that the term “exorcist” is mentioned in the Bible. Whenever Jesus or His disciples dealt with demons this term was never used, the Bible simply states that they “cast out” or “drove out” demons. This is because what Jesus did was based on spiritual authority, whereas exorcism relies on ceremony and ritual—one works, the other does not.

Not only did the sons of Sceva make the mistake of thinking that demons could be cast out by rituals, they ordered the demons to leave in the name of “Jesus that Paul preaches”… not in the name of Jesus that they believed in. The results were devastating, not because Jesus’ name had no power, but because they did not believe in Jesus themselves. 

Do demons know or recognize you? They knew Jesus and recognized Paul in this instance, but did not know the seven brothers. Most people would probably say that it’s just fine for them to go unrecognized by demons; they mistakenly think that not being on demons’ radar is a good thing, that life will go easier, that they will have less problems. But in fact, the opposite is true. Demons respect nothing but power, and we have to confront them face to face like Jesus and the disciples did, get their attention and prove that we are stronger than them, anything less and we are asking for trouble. We need to be known and recognized by demons, it’s a sign that our faith is on fire, that we have a presence in the spiritual world. We have no example of demons attacking and overpowering Jesus or any of His disciples because they used their authority—the demons were no match for them.

“You must not bring any abhorrent thing into your house, or you will be set apart for destruction like it,” (Deut.7:26) is an important verse to keep in mind. Just like these people got rid of valuable books on magic, not by selling them but by burning them, we should also have the same spirit. Anything that belongs to the occult, psychic phenomenon, Wicca, the horoscope, etc., or any images that have to do with worship, witchcraft, or other gods should be destroyed regardless of their value. Certain things serve as open doors for evil to come into our lives, and if we want to be free we have to be very clear about where our loyalty and faith lie.

This does not mean that we necessarily have to laser off tattoos, burn old photographs, and get rid of everything that pertains to our lives before Jesus. If something can be used as part of our testimony to prove where we came from and how much God has done for us, we should probably hang on to it. In this instance, we are not tempted to worship or follow these things, we are only holding on to them to make our testimonies more genuine.

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