“A group of Jews was traveling from town to town casting out evil spirits. They tried to use the name of the Lord Jesus in their incantation, saying, ‘I command you in the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, to come out!’ Seven sons of Sceva, a leading priest, were doing this. But one time when they tried it, the evil spirit replied, ‘I know Jesus, and I know Paul, but who are you?’ Then the man with the evil spirit leaped on them, overpowered them, and attacked them with such violence that they fled from the house, naked and battered.
“The story of what happened spread quickly all through Ephesus, to
Jews and Greeks alike. A solemn fear descended on the city, and the name
of the Lord Jesus was greatly honored. Many who became believers
confessed their sinful practices” (Acts 19:13-18, NLT).
What a story! We see in it, clear as day, a picture of thousands of
churches, ministries and believers today. Notice a few characteristics
of the sons of Sceva. They had a religious background, a
second-generation tradition with a history of rituals and religiosity.
They had standing and reputation in God’s house, for they were sons of
the High Priest. They knew the Scriptures, and they had learned well the
jargon of spiritual warfare.
But they were pathetic parakeets repeating the words, intonations,
and prayer formulas while having no true communion and relationship with
God. They had the lingo down pat, but there was no victory, no true
supernatural authority. They knew how to keep up appearances, but had no
power, no divine capacity to deliver; they were just a pale imitation
with illumination. They wanted to cast out demons but they had not
developed their relationship with God in the secret place. The result
was dreadful and dangerous.
Are you thirsting for an anointing of freedom, authority and victory?
Do you burn with the desire to walk by the faith which “gives life to
what was dead”? Cry out with me, “Lord, increase my faith.” There is no
limit to the delivering power, protection and strength that will be
yours if you stand against the enemy with faith that says, “To men this
is impossible; but to God all things are possible” (see Matthew 19:26).
Claude Houde, lead pastor of Eglise Nouvelle Vie
(New Life Church) in Montreal, Canada, is a frequent speaker at the
Expect Church Leadership Conferences conducted by World Challenge
throughout the world. Under his leadership New Life Church has grown
from a handful of people to more than 3500 in a part of Canada with few
successful Protestant churches.