Not everyone who claims to be religious is good; not everything that appears good is from God. Satan deceives people by offering a clever imitation of the real thing. “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.” (1 Tim. 4:1-2)
When Paul reached the city of Ephesus, he spent three months speaking out boldly and reasoning in the synagogue about the kingdom of God, he then turned to the Gentiles and concentrated his ministry with them “so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.” (Acts 19:10) God’s mercy to the Ephesians was great. The many miracles added weight to the things Paul was teaching about Jesus and the kingdom of God. “God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.” (Acts 19:11-12)
The miracles performed by Paul in Ephesus also attracted the attention of those that wanted to do the same things, but did not have the power of God to do so. “Some 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 the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.’ Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. One day the evil spirit answered them, ‘Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?’ Then 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.” (Acts 19:11-16) God was not working through these “cheap substitutes”. They were using Jesus’ name as an incantation (using words as if they have magical powers) in their attempt to cast out the demons. They were not looking to glorify God, but themselves.
Battling demons is real, but we are not to be fearful or intrigued by it. Neither of those positions are what God wants us to do for both of them play into the hands of our adversary. In Ephesians 6 Paul is very direct about spiritual warfare stating in verse 12 “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Satan is a supernatural being that “masquerades as an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14) because he is a liar and deceiver.
No Christian ever faces Satan or any demon alone; Our Lord Jesus Christ is always standing with us. The apostle John said it this way, “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (1 Jn. 4:4).
James gives us our direction very succinctly, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7) The key element in this verse is not resisting the devil, it is submitting to God. When you submit yourself to obey God you are resisting the devil, and when you do that, the bully shows himself to be the coward that he is and will flee.
There are people around today who misuse the name of Jesus Christ, in their teachings and their deeds. Jesus said, “many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.” (Matt. 24:10-11) Satan also uses people to deceive. Jesus warned, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” (Matt. 7:15)
And He cautions that not everyone who calls on His name are known to Him. “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matt. 7:22-23) Only those who believe in Jesus as their Lord and Savior, confess and repent of their sins, and invite Him into their hearts will have eternal life in Christ. Don’t be deceived into believing there is another way. “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)
- Life Application Study Bible (NIV)
- Living in the Power of God