There is a story in the book of Acts that displays true pretenders, which caught my attention. It involves a few people who tried to use the Lord’s name for ill-gotten gain. We see the evidence even now in these last days which the bible foretold. I’m referring to the seven sons of Sceva and also the people of God who, in this day, put themselves in the way of spiritual and physical harm.
There are three main points of interest that should be considered: Jesus Christ, who is the authority; the relationship with the authority; and knowing your enemy.
Paul, who was a powerful servant of the Lord, had an experience of a lifetime on the Damascus road. We know and learned that before then, persecution was his objective, but on that road his conversion took place and God used Paul to turn the world upside down under the authority of Jesus Christ.
From the passages of Acts 19: 8 – 17, we see that Paul on his third missionary journey came boldly proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. Though there were some that believed not, it didn’t stop him from doing what thus said the Lord. For Paul knew who had the authority, he understood his relationship with the authority and he also knew his enemy.
This brings me to the Authority of Jesus, God’s only begotten Son, who is God Himself manifested in the flesh as stated in the gospel of John 1:1. Anything that our Lord and Savior said and did was directly from the Father. Every miracle or demon cast out had been done by Jesus as evidence of His divine authority. Scripture says, “If ye ask anything in my name I will do it;” but here’s where the tricky part comes into play. Is Jesus Lord of your life or in name only?
Secondly, our relationship with the authority parallels on the same concept as when a child is born into the world. They are helpless and depend on their parents or caregiver to provide their needs. As this child develops, certain changes begin to take place that we’ve all experienced at some point in life. That first word, or first step, which when reflected upon, we were more excited than they. Notice that as time went on, the child learned your voice, could recognize your face, and most of all knew who you were. The same holds true when we come to Christ, because like we begin in the natural also happens spiritually. We don’t just accept Christ in our lives and that’s enough. He wants us to know the Father through Him in exactly the same way we all came to know our earthly parents. It is fact that the more you stay in God’s word the more you know, trust and depend on Him.
We can’t build a relationship on just what we hear, there has to be personal communication, invested time, and a willingness to accept and obey what is written in the Word. Nothing happens overnight. The men of God were told to fast and pray constantly, which in turn lead to them patiently depending on Him. He doesn’t operate on our schedule. As you grow in this relationship, you’ll know the voice of the Lord and be willing to do His will.
When a true relationship with the authority has never been accomplished, a pretender is the end result. There are many who come in the form of being “Christians" and have no power thereof, for they truly haven’t accepted Christ as Lord and Savior of their life. They talk the talk, playing the role really well only to lead others far from the truth.
In the text, these men were trying to cast out a demon with no authority. They used the name of Jesus whom Paul preached, but didn’t know Him. Many today are doing the very same thing, whether it is the laying on of hands, anointing with oil, or simple prayer. People are doing and speaking things into others lives not knowing the damage they are causing. They have no concept of the spiritual warfare that is before us, and are therefore defeated by an enemy they do not know. There are so many demonic spirits roaming about that you must be led by the Spirit of God to know who they are. You cannot cast out a lustful spirit when you can’t control your own eyes, or depression and you are a worry wart. God takes us through experiences in life to prepare us for when such a time comes. The enemy knows that you’re not committed to Christ by the life you live.
A lot of people are at a standstill because they go to church and believe they are good people, but that is not enough. You can’t play church one day and do the world the rest of the week. This is an everyday job till you leave this earth, for someone is watching you and waiting on just you. Where you lead them is up to you - heaven or hell. So many people don’t realize the spiritual aspect of being a true follower of Christ. Think about when ever Christ encountered a demon and the response of the demon. They knew who Christ was, and it is my belief, that if you are a child of the King, indwelt by His Holy Spirit, they also know who you are. Furthermore, you will be equipped to carry out the will of God.
The devil gets too much credit from so-called Christians. Many are living defeated lives because they deny the authority of Christ. They live contrary to His Word and can never expect to receive anything from God with no commitment to Him. We must, as committed people of God, genuinely worship God in spirit and truth as he commanded.
What people fail to realize is that it’s a spiritual battle, not ours to fight. By faith people have been healed, the lame walk, the mute talk, and yet it’s still said, “The devil is on my back.” Well of course he is when you allow yourself to do what God said don’t do. The bible is very clear when it tells us that we can’t serve two masters, but folks still try to get by in their disobedience by stating “God knows my heart.” Yet, it is truly going to be a sad day, on that day when Jesus says, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” All that time spent thinking they had it all figured out only to find themselves damned forever, unable to go back and get it right.
It is therefore my prayer that we who truly know, love and serve the Lord will continually work tirelessly to help those are who are serious and truly willing to draw closer to the Lord so that they may help others before that day comes.