Week 48 Know the Scriptures – Be Not Deceived

By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell (Guest Blogger)

 Week 48

Scripture Readings: Acts 19-20

Key Scripture Verses: Acts 19:13-16 (NIV, Life Application Bible)

“Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, ‘In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.’ Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. One day the evil spirit answered them, ‘Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?’ Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.”

On first reading of this passage, we might think that the Jews who were driving out evil spirits in the name of Jesus were doing a good thing and it would be God’s will to do so; however, these men were using Jesus’ name as if it were a magical incantation. In a real sense, they were mocking Paul and Jesus by their actions, because their sole purpose was not to heal, but to make a profit from these acts. They were not believers who knew and worshiped Jesus.

The Ephesians performing the exorcisms thought that using the magic words was enough and they found out that their power was not equal to God’s–it was the Holy Spirit in Paul who gave him the power. These people were not disciples of Jesus, but were dabbling in the occult—their powers did not come from God.

When the man possessed by the evil spirit reacted by severely beating them, fear spread among the people in Ephesus. Many were afraid and confessed their sin that they, too, had been using witchcraft and sorcery which was clearly forbidden (Deuteronomy). Many became believers and were converted; Paul continued to make disciples for Jesus and performed many miracles because of the Holy Spirit within him.

We may be tempted to try to contact angels or to use witchcraft or divination. It can be very attractive to want to know the future or to speak with a loved one beyond the grave, but we are strictly told not to. Christians need to put on the “full armor of God” (Ephesians 6:11) to “take your stand against the devil’s schemes” which may at first appear to be of God.

Those who dabble in the occult may find themselves in spiritual danger and the great deceiver, Satan, has subtle ways of making us believe that all spiritual and mystical experiences come from God. But, even the evil spirits know who Jesus is. Christians need to know the scriptures in order to be able to discern the will of God, “so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground.” (See Ephesians 6:10-17 for scriptures re: spiritual protection from evil).

May we be well versed in the scriptures that we are able to discern truth from deception. May we pray for spiritual protection, as Jesus taught us in the Lord’s Prayer: “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” (The Lord’s Prayer: Matthew 6:9-13). Amen.

 

 

 

 

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. “Elpis” is the Greek word for “expectant hope.” He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors, and a member of Spiritual Directors International. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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