Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Recognized by the devil

We find this scene recorded in the book of Acts, chapter 19, verses 13-17:

Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled.

This fascinating passage of Scripture tells us that the demon in this possessed man knew who Jesus was. The text also says the demon recognized Paul. Jesus gives authority to his followers to act in His name (e.g., Mark 16:17a; 9:38-40), and Paul, as an apostle of Jesus Christ, had the authority from Christ to cast out demons in Jesus’ name. However, when the sons of Sceva came along, the demon wanted to know, “who are you?” It was as if the demon asked, “Who do you think you are?” The demon knew that the sons of Sceva had no right or authority to act in Christ’s name and, therefore, had no right to tell the demon to leave. Apparently, demons can distinguish between those who trust in Jesus Christ and those who do not.

Beginning in Genesis 3, and ending with his eternal destruction in the lake of fire in Revelation 20, we see that the devil and his demons are opposed to God. It follows that if the devil and his demons are opposed to God, they also oppose the children of God. Believers in Jesus are children of God (John 1:12), and if you are a child of God, the devil and his demons know who you are, and hate and oppose you, too.

Unbelievers are children of the devil (1 John 3:10), and what holds true for the devil holds true for his children in that the devil in unbelievers will hate and oppose the Jesus in you, if you are a believer in Christ. Isn’t this what Jesus told His followers? Jesus said, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” (John 15:18-20a).

So, believer in Christ, don’t be surprised when people dislike you, oppose and undermine you, or even hate you, for apparently no good reason of which you’re aware. Maybe—perhaps even subconsciously—they oppose you simply because you’re a child of God. In that, they’re only following the lead of their father, the devil. Whatever you do, don’t return their animosity. Rather, “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:44-45a). Pray sincerely and compassionately for their salvation and deliverance from the devil.

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