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Dancing With the Devil

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Dancing With the Devil

Acts 19:13 through Acts 19:20 (NIV)

13Some 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.” 14Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” 16Then 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.

17When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor. 18Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds. 19A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas. 20In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.

Introduction: If you dance with the devil, you might get burned.

- Holloween -- Some have a good Christian Witness, but when Halloween comes, the Devil says, "May I cut in?"

                        - Harry Potter

- No such thing as a good witch (Samantha of bewitched, or the good fairy).

- The Old Testament forbade the use of witchcraft and sorcery. (Saul of Tarsus, and the Cananite religions). God showed the limitations of this kind of quackery when he opposed the Pharaoh's Magicians in the Exodus, and He showed his great power until they had to say, "surely this is the finger of God!"

- A Common mistake is to either claim that we can copy these miracles, or to claim that these accounts are made up. Neither is true.

- Too often people do not see the real battle between the kingdom of God, and the evil that invades. God ultimately has the power, but when we minimize the enemy, and we make dabbling with the occult seem innocent, we make God look weak, and our witness is compromised.

- Through these Jews, we can learn that Jesus Christ will not suffer himself to be trifled with, nor his religion compounded with pagan religions.

I.      Beware of a Foolish Encounter (vv. 13-15)

A.     Unskilled in the Spiritual

- Trying to manipulate by magic what is a far greater force. Using incantations and spells to control the spiritual. Magic and manipulation runs contrary to the Biblical model of submission and trust in the God of the universe.

- Trying to copy a method instead of seeing the Extraordinary Miracles of Paul as his Apostolic Credentials.

- Let God use you, instead of you using God!

- "Jesus I know, and Paul I Respect (as the servant of God) but who are you?" (indicating they were not serving with the credentials that Paul was).

- A quack doctor, serving with credentials from the Weehawken school of doctoring, Trained by Granny Clampet Herself!

B.     Unsure of the Savior

- They did not know the person whom they named.

- If they really knew who Jesus was, they would not be using Him as a magical spell, or thinking they could manipulate him. They would have understood Him to be beyond manipulation, and one to be revered over all.

C.     Unprepared for the Supernatural

- An unpleasant surprise.

- Many do not expect anything to really come about from the use of pagan incantations and spells, or symbols and images, but the supernatural realm is real, and should not be entered into lightly.

II.   Be Warned of a Narrow Escape (vv. 16-17)

A.     Realize the Danger

- You better know who you are messing with.

- A good rule in any battle is to never underestimate the enemy.

- You better know what's good for you!

B.     Respect the Power

- The time I first picked up a router, and was surprised by the power, and it twisted out of my hands and the base of it broke on the floor.

- When we make cute witches, and pumpkin goblins, we show that we are not really aware of what we are dealing with, and the enemy uses the innocent picture we paint of him to gain entrance into unsuspecting lives. Before we know it, there are twisted and broken lives because they did not know the power they were messing with.

C.     Reverence the Lord

- A new reverence for the Lord who is able to truly have power over the evil one.

- Apart from Christ, we are no match for the evil. In reverence to Christ, we sever all connections to evil, which is opposed to Him.

III.           Bear Witness to a Decisive Elimination (vv. 18-20)

A.     Through Confession

- Realizing that it is not Christ who gets the glory in such things, and confessing our willingness to play with the things that give him not the glory or detract from our witness.

B.     Through Commitment

- The sale of magical items in Ephesus at the time was great, as is the sale of Halloween articles now. What kind of a witness is it when we spend so much on items that advance the cause of the enemy.

- The commitment of one lady at another church we had, who in all other areas was committed to the church, but when it came to Halloween, was very defensive and protective of the practice of  Trick- or -Treat, and Halloween Decorations.

C.     Through Conquest

Taking the territory of  ignorance and manipulation and turning it over to God!

Conclusion:

When Holloween comes, don't let the devil cut in. Even though it may seem an innocent pastime, realize that Christ does not get the glory in such things, and that the devil uses such innocent looking things to minimize the power of the kingdom of God. Put aside those things that have to do with the kingdom of darkness, and advance the kingdom of Christ. Don't dance with the devil, or you or someone you love may eventually get burned. Jesus is not pleased when people who name His name try to unite Him with the pagan religions and symbols of the occult. The two do not mix. Don't let the devil cut in, but stay away from those things that minimize the power of Christ and detract from your Christian witness.

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