I have to admit this is one of my most favorite scenes in the entire Book of Acts.
There were some Jews who traveled around throwing out evil spirits. They tried to use the power of the name of the Lord Jesus against some people with evil spirits. They said, “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you!” The seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. The evil spirit replied, “I know Jesus and I’m familiar with Paul, but who are you?” The person who had an evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all with such force that they ran out of that house naked and wounded.
This is an absolutely ridiculous scene: seven Jewish men running out of a house, probably tripping over each other, bruised and naked. I know spiritual warfare is not a joke, but this strikes me as funny.
This scene also paints a very serious picture of our relationships with God. We know from the Gospels that there were Jewish exorcists who really could cast out demons (see here). But here is a completely different situation. Here are some Jewish exorcists who invoke the name of Jesus through the name of Paul. This is the issue.
During the exorcism they do not appeal to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as faithful Jews would do. Rather, they appeal to Jesus, in whom they have no faith since they do not fully appeal to him, but the Jesus whom Paul preaches. They have no relationship with God whatsoever. And as a result, they are beaten and humiliated.
It is a good lesson to learn. We cannot ever depend upon the faith of someone else or someone else’s relationship with God for our own well being or salvation. We must have our own relationship with God. If we will ever hope to overcome the evil forces in our own lives, we must have a real connection to God ourselves.
And that connection to God is only possible through the Holy Spirit, who is made available to us through Jesus Christ.
If you do not yet have that connection, I strongly urge you to seek out a Christian you trust and ask for guidance and instruction on how to have a relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. Having a relationship with God, which is being a follower of Jesus Christ, is not an easy life. It is one full of sacrifice and totally dependent upon God for everything. Yet it also is a rewarding life as it brings us victory over the sin and evil in our lives.
When we have that relationship, unlike the seven sons of Sceva, we are victorious over the evil forces that confront us.