God was doing some amazing miracles in Ephesus through the hands (as well as the handkerchiefs and aprons) of the apostle Paul. The work of God was so exceptional that some local Jewish exorcists tried to “catch the wave,” as we say. As part of their efforts, they began to add the name of Jesus to their demon-casting repertoire. If it worked for others, it ought to work for them, right? What could go wrong? They were all about to find out.
“But also some of the Jewish exorcists, who went from place to place, attempted to name over those who had the evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, “I adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preaches.” Seven sons of one Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. And the evil spirit answered and said to them, “I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” And the man, in whom was the evil spirit, leaped on them and subdued all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded” (Acts 19:13-16).
Apparently, merely invoking the name of Jesus doesn’t automatically guarantee that you have access to the power of God. The problem is that these men didn’t know the One Whose name they were attempting to use. This stands in stark contrast in the text to someone who definitely knew Jesus and Paul — the evil spirit! The demonic realm had certainly suffered loss due to the work of Jesus and Paul, no doubt about that. The evil spirit knew it was no match for these servants of God. But who were these lightweight pretenders? By the time the dust settled in this encounter, the seven sons of Sceva knew they were in way over their heads!
What we have here is a reverse exorcism! Rather than being cast out, the evil spirit casts the exorcists out. Lesson? Don’t try to use the power of God at least until you know the God Who has the power.
God loves you!