(The following account is a narrative of the event recorded in Acts 19:10-20, KJV).
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, ministered in the city of Ephesus for two years. He shared the wonderful message of salvation, the Holy Spirit, and the Kingdom of God. The good news of the gospel spread throughout Asia Minor to all the people, both Jews and Greeks. Confirming the message with healings and deliverances, the power of God rested on Paul in an extraordinary way. Paul would anoint and pray over handkerchiefs which were then taken to the sick and devil possessed. The sick were healed of their diseases and those with evil spirits were set free.
There were certain Jews who were exorcists that went about endeavoring to expel evil spirits and cure diseases by charms and incantations. When they heard how Paul cast out evil spirits in the name of Jesus, they added that name to their repertoire of sayings and practices. “We command you by Jesus, whom Paul preaches, to come out,” they would say over possessed individuals. Sceva, a priest with authority among the Jews, had seven sons who coveted such power. Having heard of Paul and the power that was in the name of Jesus, the seven sons gathered around a man that had an evil spirit. With pomp and exaggerated authority, they laid hands on him and demanded, “In the name of Jesus, come out.”
The evil spirit spoke from within the man: “Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are you?” In other words, “I know the divine authority of Jesus as the Son of God and the power of His servant Paul, but you have no connection with God and no authority over me. Who do you think you are?” With that, the evil spirit left the possessed man and jumped on the seven exorcists. The power of Satan overcame them and possessed them. Yelling and hitting themselves, the men writhed and foamed at the mouth. They tore off their clothes before running out of the house naked and wounded.
When all the Jews and Greeks of Ephesus heard the account, there was great fear among them and the name of Jesus was magnified. Many people confessed the evil in their lives and were saved from the power of sin. They brought their books of magic, incantations, and charms and burned them in a great fire, knowing they were not of God. The Word of God spread mightily as the works of the devil were renounced.
Reading the Scripture of these wonderful events is inspiring and encouraging, but it should also bring a godly fear and respect upon the reader. There is power in Jesus, but that power is only available to those who are truly acquainted with God and are pure in heart. Satan himself knows who Jesus is and he knows the true servants of the Lord. Satan also knows those who are not saved. He knows the secret sin and evil dwelling in the heart of mankind. He knows the hypocrites and those preachers who are as the seven sons of Sceva. The evil spirit asked a question that should be thoroughly examined by every individual. Who are you? What is your identity? What are the true facts of your character?
Many people identify themselves by their name, tribe, race, religion, congregation, or position. These things are unimportant when compared to spiritual identity. Spiritual identity is not defined by one’s spiritual reputation or position of leadership in the church. It is defined by the reality or the heart and conduct of the life.
Are you really a child of God, living in consistent holiness with a daily desire to please the Lord? Do you call yourself a Christian and perhaps even fellowship with godly people, yet have sin in your life? Do you appear righteous on Sunday and yet live and dress worldly through the week? Do you have the joy of the Lord? Areyou honest or are there times that you lie?
Do you appear to be a loving husband or wife, but mistreat your spouse in the privacy of your home? Do you abstain from evil in the light of day only to pursue the sinful pleasures of the flesh under cover of darkness? True identity is not defined by who we used to be or who we want to be. Who are you now?
One day, every individual will stand before God and be judged by his true spiritual identity. Let us therefore examine our own heart and ask the question: “Who really am I spiritually?”