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Master of All

Master of All

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Master of All

Power in the Name

Acts 19

Scripture reading:

And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. 13 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.” 14 Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. 15 But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” 16 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. 17 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. 18 Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. 19 And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20 So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily. (Acts 19:11-20 ESV)

We are talking today about evil spirits and demonic possession. Church just went and got all weird right!  Maybe you brought a guest today and now they get here and we are casting out demons. 

I would have been hesitant to talk about this, but surprisingly I have had people ask me questions about weird experiences. I was at a business meeting in town and met a lady and when I told her I was a pastor she asked me if I could answer a question for her. She began to relate an experience she had in Hawaii where it seemed an evil spirit was present in a room. She called a witch doctor who counseled her and apparently took care of the spirit. She still didn’t know what to make of it or if it was really gone. How can you be sure?

Perhaps you have had times where you felt spiritually attacked.

And I know you have seen clips of the exorcists. I have not seen the whole thing because it freaks me out. I don’t want to see that. People see the demonic. Television shows. Ghosthunters.

Psychic industry, witchcraft, are billion dollar industries in the US

The Ouija Board, a tool witches and spiritualists said helped them commune with spirits, was patented in 1891 by the Kennard Novelty Company. Within a year, the company grew from one factory in Baltimore to two in Baltimore, two in New York, two in Chicago and one in London. By 1967, the patent was in the hands of toy company Parker Brothers and annual sales reached 2 million — more than Monopoly.

People make two mistakes about the presence of evil spirits. They attribute everything to the presence of evil spirits or they attribute nothing at all.

We shouldn’t hide from reality of evil and evil spirits. We shouldn’t hide from offering the gospel to people who encounter them. 

Evil is real and is overcome not through psychics or exorcists but through faith in  Jesus Christ and a relinquishing of everything else. 

  1. Evil spirits are real. 

This passage affirms that there are evil spirits in the world. Goes back to the beginning of the Bible when Satan is in the garden and pulls Adam and Eve off the course God had for them. That’s where things went wrong. David was pulled off course by Satan. Job was attacked by Satan. 

[-So we wanted to come to you– even I, Paul, time and again– but Satan hindered us. (1Th 2:18 CSB). 

[-Yet Michael the archangel, when he was disputing with the Devil in a debate about Moses’ body, did not dare bring an abusive condemnation against him, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” (Jud 1:9 CSB)

It’s in the Bible. Perhaps you have encountered it too. 

Me praying in Raleigh. Everything had gone wrong. Read a book that said when you plant a church just expect to be attacked. Lymes. House, can’t sell; sell it and everything goes wrong on inspection. Kids breaking arms, getting concussions. Watching my life saving go away. Casting out demons, I’m not even sure that is theologically right. Praying in tongues. Whatever it takes I am going to avail myself of that. 

There is evil in the world. There are evil spirits. People are searching for ways to overcome it. You may be searching for ways to understand and overcome the presence of evil in your life. You will see how to do that in this passage. 

Paul is known to have been ministering to people and delivering people from demonic presences. There is something unique here with Paul, God’s accrediting his apostles through miracles, signs and wonders just as Jesus did. Paul holds a unique place in the faith. And yet we also see followers of Jesus doing the things that Jesus called and empowered them to do (Mark 3:15, Matt 7:22)

These seven sons of the Jewish chief priest are beaten down by one they were trying to save. Not spoken of very highly. 

Itinerant is moving from place to place. Wanderers. Used of people who were of little spiritual good. “”Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to make one proselyte, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as fit for hell as you are!

 (Matt 23:15 CSB).

Exorcists. God had used prophets in past to restrain evil. These have created an office for their doings. Exorcists. No position like that was designated in Scripture: one who drives out evil spirits, usually by invoking supernatural persons or powers or by the use of magic formulas – ‘exorcist, one driving out evil.

They are confused. Self-titled. Religiously connected to people but no connections to truth. No anchor. No rock. Wonderers. 

Poor solutions to overcoming evil. 

Then the man who had the evil spirit leaped on them, overpowered them all, and prevailed against them, so that they ran out of that house naked and wounded. (Act 19:16 CSB)

These itinerant ghostbusters are overpowered. They are mastered. Look you don’t need to know the greek etymology of this word. If you are in a fight and you leave naked and bleeding, you did not win that fight!!

  1. Jesus is greater than the evil.

The demons speak truth. There is power in Jesus. There is power in the name of Paul. But we don’t know or recognize you because you have no connection to the power in Jesus. 

James says, “Even the demons believe in God and shudder with fear.” 

These demons know God is in charge, don’t follow him but know his power. There is more truth coming out of these demons than out of the sons of the high priests. The people stood in fear of this. The demons recognize the name of Jesus. They confessed. 

“so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow– of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth.” (Phil 2:10 CSB)

There is power in the person of Jesus. We access that power by calling on him. But we must call on him with faith, real belief, and surrender. 

The end of this passage is people believe in Jesus, renounce their ways. There is power in the name of Jesus.

[In this way the Lord’s message flourished and prevailed. (Act 19:20 CSB)

Jesus is God’s solution for overcoming evil. 

You need to see there is power in the name of Jesus. But you also need to see Jesus will not allow his name to be manipulated. It’s about relationship. That is where real healing happens. 

  1. Deliverance is through a Relationship with Jesus.

The sons of Sceva thought there was a ritualistic or mechanist practice of overcoming evil. Mechanistic. Mechanism. The light switch is a mechanism and when I flip it the light comes on. I can tell people go turn the light on flip the switch. Relationships are not mechanistic. Talk to a friend, took his wife on a date, said these words and she thought I was the best husband ever. Friend writes down the words and says them off the note card and his wife kicks him out of the house. Don’t manipulate Jesus. You miss the whole thing. 

Paul prayed with these words so if I utter the same words it will have the same effect. 

Ritualistic prayers and contrivances are no solution. These itinerant ghost busters thought if they uttered the right prayers, the right names that they would have power over the demons. They used the name of Jesus. And the demons recognized the lack of true connection to the saving power of Jesus. They didn’t fear them because they didn’t really know Jesus. 

A relationship with Jesus involves true faith and following. Surrender to him. What’s easier, “say this prayer three times.” or follow Jesus with all your heart and soul. 

Mechanistic, ritualistic practices are not what God wants. Even the demons know those things are nothing. That is religion without power. 

Live in the fullness of what Jesus has done for you. If you want deliverance, you don’t need a shaman, you don’t need an exorcist, you don’t need a psychic, you don’t need a ouija board, you don’t need tarot cards. God has provided a deliverer. He has overcome. He has power. You need to trust in Jesus. You follow him. You find the power that is available and present in him. 

He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, (Col 1:13 CSB)

As Christians, acknowledge evil, don’t fear it, and don’t get entangled in it. Let’s pray for those who are sick, debilitated. Call them to trust in Jesus. Let them know life is in Christ. Follow Jesus. 

You don’t need more than Jesus. Death was the power evil had over us and it is abolished. Fear derives its power from death. Fear has no power over us. Evil is real. Don’t pursue it. It’s like stepping in dog mess. I’m not afraid of it, but I don’t really want to get close to it. I don’t live in fear of it. It’s there. It’s in my backyard. I’m going to be careful with it. But I don’t need to go and seek other counsel, comfort, encouragement about it. I have all I need in God’s word. 

Those who feel the need to look at their horoscope, psychic, reading signs of the day, do so because they have not truly trust in Christ’s power and position in their lives. Your second guess. Did God really say…. Dad, are we really going to do that twenty mile bike ride. 

True deliverance means changing your life. Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. (Act 19:18 ESV). They saw the utter uselessness of what they previously held so tightly. 

  1. They have encountered the living God. 
  2. Burn them. Not interested in recovering some of what they invested. Get rid of it. Out of here. 

That is what it looks like to experience the deliverance of Jesus. You believe. You confess where you diverged from his way. You give up everything to follow him. This is where you are liberated from demonic and destructive power. 

Me praying in the house. God delivered me in a powerful way. He didn’t give me the money I wanted for my house. He showed me the things I feared had no power over me. Devil, you can have my house. I have a Savior. I have eternal life. You can have my health, my life. Jesus promises to restore. Often the conflict is our unwillingness to part with what God doesn’t want us to have. 

  1. Follow Jesus. Resting in Jesus. Turn away from following things that are not God. Some People don’t think this happens today. Mental health. Put people in asylums. Get it our of our view.

[Therefore, submit to God. Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you. (Jam 4:7)

  1. Humble yourself. Stop resisting God. Pride. Comes before the fall. Harboring bitterness. I think one of the main ways we see spiritual warfare today is in our mental health. That is not to say all depression or anxiety is due to demons. But I do mean to say there is a spiritual component to mental health. 

We live and work in our minds. We let all kinds of videos, speeches, movies, shows in our minds, and we are not feeding it with truth. Lazy and indolent with God’s word. 

Many people who are depressed are depressed because of pride. They think they should be leading the business and they aren’t. They should be more successful. Many of them are suffering from narcissism, love of themselves. Those are tricks of the devil. And Satan is dancing a victory dance when we tell people stuck in pride, arrogance and selfishness that the solution is to take a pill. Maybe there is a biological side. But don’t forget the spiritual side. 

Depressed. How is your spiritual walk with God? How is your reading of God’s word? Who are you being discipled by? What is God calling you to do right now? Don’t konw? Maybe you need to reflect on if you are even following God. 

Separates you from God’s word. 

  1. Contentment. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no root of bitterness springs up, causing trouble and by it, defiling many (Heb 12:15 CSB).  become so angry when you don’t get what you want. Spiritual battle that we are under. Why else do people who have so much stuff live so miserably. Why is it every time I check out at the grocery store I see magazines talking about the misery of the richest, wealthiest, most beautiful and successful people in the world. Because we are more than physical and material beings. We are spiritual and there is a spiritual battle in the world.
  1. Bitterness. Letting go. Not letting go. The power Satan had on me was spiritual and mental. Once I had a Job-like illumination that God can take all that and I’m still OK. The power was thinking my life was ruined if I didn’t get it. 
  2. If you want set free from Satan’s power then you trust in Jesus. There is power in his name. 

Doctor will tell you it’s all physical. Therapist will tell you it’s all mental. Others may say it is only spiritual. Jesus heals the whole person. We need to love him with our whole person.

Don’t live like spiritual oppression and warfare are not real. Don’t live like you are lost! What would God call me to do? Trust in Jesus and follow him. 

*Probably not many Satanist in church this morning. But are there itinerant Christians living without the power of God in their lives. Are you experiencing the fullness of Christ. Are you following him. The love joy peace patience kindness. Or have you settled in the dissension, anger, jealousy, fits of rage, anger, malice that are the fruit of the evil on. 


There is power in the name of Jesus. Power to overcome. Power to put old ways behind. Power to push satan aside. Power to experience freedom. 

Philosopher Soren Kierkegard spoke about a wild duck who was flying home and saw a farm with ducks below. He swooped down to see how things were. And after being there a bit he said, this isn’t too bad. Shelter. Grain to eat. I think i will stay a while, so he did. He stayed a few days, then a few weeks and then a few months. Then one day he looked up and saw another wild duck heading south for the winter. He got excited to flap his wings and soar to wherever he wanted. So he ran, jumped, flapped his wings, and plopped on the ground. He came to realize he had subtle and slowly become numb to no longer being who he wanted to be. 

Power of God in repentance. Power of God at work in renunciation. Power of God at work in surrendering to him. 

Have you fed so much on the world, the goods, the food, the distractions that you are in no shape in the mission of God. Are there people in your life that are in spiritual bondage? You are called to help them. Save them. Minister to them. Bring them freedom. 

May see people leaving their addictions. Leaving their alcohol. Leaving their heroin. Leaving their couches. Leaving their TV’s. Leaving their houses. 

Follow Jesus. 

Repent. Follow him. Let everything Go.


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