Thursday, May 25, 2006

Abusing God's Name (Acts 19)

Acts 19:13-16 tells a story of some Jewish men (seven sons of Sceva) trying to exorcise demon-possessed people by using the Name of Jesus. Apparently they thought uttering His Name would work like magic and do for them what they wanted. On one occasion the evil spirit inside a possessed man talks directly to them. It asks them, “Who are you?” The evil spirit even acknowledges it has heard of Jesus and Paul, but not these men.

What do I learn from such a story? A couple things:

1. When we are working with and for God (building His Kingdom), the Enemy is going to know us. The evil spirit remarked in verse 15,

I know about Paul.”

The Enemy knew all about Paul and the good things he was doing for God’s Kingdom. Please don’t find this discouraging, but when we accept Christ and start living for Him, the Enemy marks us. They have every right because Their kingdom is at risk. So, expect an attack. This is why Paul asks us to suit up in spiritual armor in Ephesians 6:13-18. God has given us protection (thank you God!). He’s not going to force us each day to wear it, we have to put it on. This passage also reveals how the Enemy feels towards unbelievers. They care nothing about them. These seven sons of Sceva were on the Enemy’s side, since they were not confessed believers in Jesus Christ, they belonged to Satan and his kingdom, but, as we see, the demon doesn’t even know them (maybe he missed the memo that day). He doesn’t even know who’s on his own side, proof of the selfishness of demons and Satan.

Another thing I learn is...

2. God’s Name is holy. His Name is holy because He is holy. If you believe we serve a holy God you will show reverence towards His Name. People who throw God’s Name around in a phrase like, “Oh my God!” have no respect for God’s holiness. Reading this section in Acts might, I hope, change your mind. Going back to our story we discover that after trying to misuse God’s holy Name to drive out the spirit, it backfires on the seven sons of Sceva and they are badly beaten up by the evil spirit (v.16). After this, fear seizes the community and the Name of the Lord is held in high honor (v.17). If we’re misusing God’s holy Name, we could be inviting the Enemy in for such an attack. What do you think? God’s Name deserves respect. He deserves our worship?

*To see the amazing results and conclusion to this story read Acts 19:17-20.

Questions:

- What do you learn from this story?
- How do you honor the Name of the Lord?

2 comments:

yourblogreader said...

God's name is holy and should not be used except in devotion to Him. Have you ever thought that maybe even Christians use it too freely? I think we should remember His name is powerful and not use His name casually. Maybe when we pray we should say, "Dear Holy One" instead of His name? Maybe we should teach younger Christian to respect His name by showing them the scripture of Christ example when He prayed, "Our Father who art in heaven....hallowed be thy name....

slony said...

So true. I think that it is easy for us to forget the power of His name when we are surrounded by a culture that throws it around so casually and irreverently.