Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.
The Scriptorium

Accept No Substitutes

Spiritual warfare is real. Really. Acts 19.11-16

Ephesus: Acts 19 (3)

Pray Psalm 66.1-4.
Make a joyful shout to God, all the earth!
Sing out the honor of His name;
Make His praise glorious.
Say to God,
“How awesome are Your works!
Through the greatness of Your power
Your enemies shall submit themselves to You.
All the earth shall worship You
And sing praises to You;
They shall sing praises to Your name.”
Selah

Sing Psalm 66.1-4.

(Regent Square: Angels from the Realms of Glory)
Shout for joy to God, all people, sing the glory of His Name!
Give Him glorious praise and say, “How great Your pow’r and great Your fame!
All the earth shall worship gladly as they praise Your glorious Name!”

Read Acts 19.1-16; meditate on verses 11-16.

Preparation

1. Who began imitating Paul’s mighty works?

2. What happened to the sons of Sceva?

Meditation

Here we see Psalm 66.1-3 in action. Unbelieving Jewish exorcists followed the example of Paul and submitted themselves to the Name of Jesus against demons (vv. 11-13). When the Gospel spreads and lives are changed, even many of God’s enemies will feign obedience to Him (Ps. 81.15).

Like Simon in Acts 8, these sons of Sceva may have been looking for some “edge” for themselves, something to bring a little more glitz and bang to their exorcising business (vv. 14-16). They get their comeuppance in a most unexpected way.

The Gospel has been going forward everywhere, on all fronts, and nothing the devil might try can stop it. The demon in the little girl in Philippi? Toast! Wicked rulers and phony religious leaders? Not a chance of their succeeding against the Gospel. Jesus has the devil on a leash (Matt. 12.22-29), and the more Paul and the others preached and made converts, the angrier the devil became. But all for naught.

The ongoing work of Christ continues amid ferocious and continual spiritual warfare, and Luke doesn’t want us to forget this. Spiritual warfare is serious business, but they who believe in Jesus know how to handle the devil and his ilk.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
We all want to be known by our family and friends. We would like to have a good name in our community and church. “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor rather than silver and gold” (Prov.22.1).

But more importantly, we want to be known by God. And for that to happen, we must know Him, and do what He commands.

We must heed Jesus’ words when He said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord’, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matt. 7.21). He goes on to say, “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?” (Matt. 7.22) Like the brothers’ Sceva attempt at heroics.

Then the really disconcerting bit of this dialogue, when He concluded the thought with, “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” (Matt. 7.23)

In the case of the seven sons of Sceva, they were so lukewarm in their faith that even the demon didn’t know them. “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?” (Acts 19.15) Brutal.

To be known by God, and by a demon, we must know and serve King Jesus with our whole hearts. Realizing that here on earth we will only “know in part”; but gloriously in heaven, when we see Him “face to face”, we will know Him as fully as He knows us (1 Cor. 13.12).

We will grow in our knowledge of the Lord Jesus when Christ dwells in our hearts, when we are rooted and grounded in His love for us, when we can comprehend the width, length, depth, and height of this insurmountable love, and we are filled with “all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3.17-19).

How do we know that we know Him? “If we keep His commandments.” (1 Jn. 2.3) It’s as simple as that! And when we are assured in this knowledge, we go forward to serve as known disciples of the Lord: “For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day” (2 Tim. 1.12).

When we love Him, serve Him, and obey Him, neither He nor the demons will ever ask us: “Who are you?”
Because God says to us, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine” (Is. 43.1).

Known.

For reflection

1. Why were the unbelieving exorcists copying Paul? What should we want unbelieving people to copy from us?

2. How can you know that you are known by God? Why is it important to know this?

3. What do we mean by saying that spiritual warfare is “serious business”? How should we prepare for this warfare?

For to free people from a demon is not so great as to rescue them from sin. It is not demons that prevent one from attaining to the kingdom of heaven. On the contrary, they assist, albeit unwillingly, by making him who has the demon more sensible. Sin, on the other hand, expels him. John Chrysostom (344-407), Homilies on the Acts of the Apostles 41

Pray Psalm 66.5-20.
Pray that, as God delivered His people out of Egypt, so He will deliver many people out of the darkness of sin into the Kingdom of light. Rejoice in the Lord’s salvation, and pray for all who today will declare the Good News of Jesus in their Personal Mission Field. Prepare to share your testimony of God’s grace in prayer before the Lord.

Sing Psalm 66.5-20.
(Regent Square: Angels from the Realms of Glory)
Great and awesome is our Savior in the works which He has done.
He the sea and river dried to let His people cross as one.
Then our joy was great to worship Him our mighty, sovereign One.

He the nations watches ever – all you rebels, humbled be.
Bless our God, all men and nations, praise His Name eternally!
He preserves our souls, and He will keep His paths beneath our feet.

You have tried us, Lord, as silver, and have brought us into nets,
made us carry heavy burdens, let men trample o’er our heads.
But through all Your grace sustained us and has brought us through to rest.

To Your house we come with off’rings, what we vowed, Lord, help us do.
O, receive our praise and homage as we give ourselves to You.
Come and listen, all who fear Him: hear what this great God can do!

When we cried to You, You answered, filled our mouths with highest praise.
Let not sin abide within us, lest we languish all our days.
Bless the Lord, Who hears our pleadings and preserves His love always.

T. M. and Susie Moore

You can listen to a summary of last week’s Scriptorium study by going to our website, www.ailbe.org, and clicking theScriptorium tab for last Sunday. You can download any or all the studies in this series on Acts by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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