Miracles vs Magic
And God did uncommon works of power through the hands of Paul, so as even handkerchiefs or aprons from his skin to be brought onto those sick, and the diseases to be released from them, and the evil spirits to go out from them. But certain from the strolling Jews, exorcists, undertook to name the name of the Lord Jesus over those having evil spirits, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preaches.
And there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, doing this. But answering the evil spirit said, I know Jesus, and I comprehend Paul, but who are you? And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, and having overmastered them, he was strong against them, so that having been wounded and naked, they fled out of that house.
And this became known to all, both Jews and Greeks, those living in Ephesus. And fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. And many of those who had believed came confessing, and reporting their practices.
And many of the ones practicing the curious arts, bringing together the books, burned them before all. And they counted the prices of them, and found it to be fifty thousands of silver. So with might, the Word of the Lord increased and was strong. [LITV]Acts 19:11-20
- Do you always have to say “in Jesus name I command you to come out”?
This set of questions make me nervous. Not for any reason connected to demons or demon activity, but because of the words: “Do you always have to say in Jesus Name” and “I have been told there is a certain formula”. Those words make me nervous. Firstly, the way in which many Christians use Jesus name as a formula. We tag it to the end of our prayers thinking that makes whatever we asked for in prayer right because we asked in Jesus name. Adding Jesus name to the end of your prayer doesn’t make your wish list acceptable. That too is using Jesus name as a formula. Praying in Jesus name means praying in way that Jesus would add his signature to it and give it authority. Could Jesus sign His name to your prayer and say “Amen to that Father?” “Let it be established like he / she has asked Father.”
It fits more into the category of WWJD – what would Jesus do? Perhaps WWJT – What would Jesus think (of my prayer)?
We need to understand that outside of Christ there is no spiritual power. We don’t have power over demons because we have experience, knowledge, a certain method or know the right steps. Demons are just as likely to overpower YOU as they did to the seven sons of Sceva. The point of this story people is to teach us a lesson about how we approach ministry in Jesus name.
- I have been told there is a certain formula to be used to effectively cast out demons. Is that true?
I tell people not to use Uncle Google to find spiritual truth. Oh there are many good things to be found on the Internet but the issue is who is it who is telling you? There much flakeyness on the Internet as well. I just did a search online for the formula for casting out demons and was shocked to find what some people think is necessary. Included was getting the demons to name themselves before you can cast them out. I addressed that in the previous Gem. For many there is a long list of things that you have to do to get ready. Let me just simply say that if you are “prayed up” as a Christian and know who you are in God and covered by the blood of Jesus you can overcome by “the blood of the Lamb and word of your testimony”. That is not to say that you use your testimony against the demons. They don’t care a thing for your testimony, it is more a matter of what you remind them of Christ’s victory over the devil and all his demons. That is why I often use the statement in Colossians of the Supremacy of Christ (Col 1:15-22 and include 2:15). This states clearly and concisely who Christ is.
Beyond that itemizing a step by step process of the things you have to say turns any deliverance action into a formula. When a believer knows their place in God and appropriates it demons flee. On the matter of rebuking satan and commanding him to flee, he doesn’t flee because you suddenly have power by using Christ’s name as a magic word, he flees knowing Christ has won the victory. He flees when you appeal to Christ and the Holy Spirit to help you.
I did find one item on the Internet that is worth sharing with you.
Some Help From Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA) (from the Internet)
- Recognize the symptoms of demonic activity. Often, people say they are hearing voices or have thoughts in their head that they can’t control. These thoughts are condemning, blasphemous, often calling the person to self-harm or suicide.
The people feel tormented. Listen to the person’s story. If their family tree is full of abuse, addiction, any form of witchcraft or occult activity, violence, mental hospitalizations, suicide and/or sexual sin, pay attention. This doesn’t guarantee there are demonic spirits present, but it certainly is a common indicator.
2. Help the person break the ground. Ephesians 4:26-27 says, In your anger do not sin…and do not give the devil a foothold.
Foothold has the same meaning as ground. The most common form of ground is unconfessed sin. We must bring all our sin into the light. Jesus’ blood is greater than all our sin, but unconfessed sin remains unaffected by the superior blood of Jesus. Family secrets and curses can also create demonic ground. For example, when someone is dedicated to anyone other than Jesus, that is a curse, and until the curse is broken, demons occupy territory. I try to break all the ground before I deal with any demonic spirits.
3. Do a spiritual test (1 John 4:1). I ask the spirit to answer biblical questions: Did Jesus Christ come in the flesh? Is Jesus Christ the Lord? Do you honour the blood of the Lord Jesus? What is your purpose in this person? The person will know the right answers to the question. But when a demonic spirit is present, the person will hear wrong answers, or see dark images, or feel hatred and resistance. When a negative response comes up, I then gather some key information.
Well the first part anyway. There were two more steps in this process but I am loath to share them with you because they include the kind of approach I don’t agree with so I have left them out.
- But somehow to add “the Jesus whom Paul preaches” waters it down doesn’t it? Don’t you have to know Jesus in order to be able to do these things?
- I am not sure why this story is in the Bible. It seems like it is a defeat. Why record a defeat?
- Why does Luke tell us this story when I am sure he could have told us many more interesting stories?
I am combining these questions together in a bundle. Luke tells us this story to make a point. This story is not a defeat for Christians, this is not a defeat for the disciples who were to be witnesses to the Living Christ in them. This is a defeat for those who thought they could just use the name of Jesus as a formula for success. Be careful. Sceva’s seven sons and likely Sceva himself didn’t know Christ. They had just simply heard of what Paul was doing in Jesus name and tried it for themselves. Christ was not dwelling in them by His Holy Spirit. Perhaps they knew about Jesus but they didn’t KNOW Him intimately. As a result, everything came unstuck. Demons don’t flee because they hear someone using the name of Jesus. Quite simply, demons flee when Jesus is present. When Jesus is within you in power, demons flee.
This account is one of the Bible’s funny stories which should leave us laughing at the juxtaposition of the power in Jesus name being misappropriated and put into a formula. Saying “I command you in the name of Jesus that Paul preached” has no power. “I command you to come out in Jesus’ name because my pastor said I could” carries no weight at all. Is Jesus present by His Spirit? Not likely. When you carry Him with you, then you have power. If you don’t know Jesus like that then any demon present is likely to say, “I know Jesus and I know of your pastor, he brings Jesus with him, but I don’t sense Jesus present with you.”
I have had four encounters with demonic spirits and on each occasion they just melted away when I addressed the situation in Jesus’ way. Incidentally each of those situations was different because of what Jesus told me to do was different. Or put another way what came to mind to do was different. But in each situation, the confrontation was dealt with easily. There is no magic formula but neither does there need to be any drama.
Big shots are only little shots who keep shooting.Ian Vail
It takes nothing to join the crowd. It takes everything to stand alone.Hans Hansen
The best remedy for a sick church is to put it on a missionary diet.David Livingston
“If anyone’s willing to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or if I am speaking on my own authority.” JesusJohn 7:17