The School of Hard Knocks! A Lesson on Deception (Read Acts 19:11-20):

Ephesus was a city filled with the worship of the false goddess Diana or Artemis and with occult practices.  Certain Jews went about making a living by claiming to heal people and working wonders.   Some noticed the miracles Paul was performing and wanted to get in on the act.

In verses 11-12 we read that Paul followed the pattern of Jesus Himself—“And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them.”

Sceva (a Jew and chief of the priests) had seven sons who went around performing magic.  Obviously, these boys did not understand the severity of trying to impersonate the work of the Holy Spirit, but they would quickly find out that the person using the formula must be a sincere and yielded channel for the supernatural Person of the Holy Spirit.  The humiliating failure of the seven sons of Sceva is also clear proof that success in casting out demons does not depend merely on using the right “formula.”  They knew nothing about the Name with which they fabricated.   Instead of saying, “We adjure you in the matchless Name of Jesus Christ, they said, “We adjure you by Jesus Christ, whom Paul preacheth.”  These boys did not have a personal relationship with Jesus. Therefore, since they did not know Jesus, they could only recite a chant by saying, “in the name of Jesus Christ whom Paul preacheth.”

They, being the sons of a high priest of Israel should know better than to get mixed up with sorcery and witchcraft. The Law of Moses strictly forbids the practice of witchcraft and sorcery in Israel.  Nonetheless, to them, it was a profession, a means of gaining wealth for themselves.  These “vagabond Jews, exorcists, were also known as walkers/strollers who employ a formula of conjuration for expelling demons.  (See verse 13-14).  They were impressed by Paul’s results.   This was phenomenal!  They could see great possibilities for themselves.  They could make a fortune with this kind of power! One day when they were trying their hand at casting out demons, they took upon them to call over a man who  had an evil spirit saying, “We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth.”  The demon in the man spoke out and said, “Jesus, I know.”  In other words, I recognize that Jesus is Deity God.  When He speaks, I must obey.  And, “Paul I know.”—I recognize Paul as an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, and I know that Jesus has given Paul authority over us.  I obey the voice of Paul because Jesus sent Him.  “But who are you?”—Who do you think you are giving me orders?  You are not God!  Neither were you sent with authority from God!   Immediately the man who was possessed by the demon leaped on all seven sons, overcoming, and beating them so badly that they ran from the house wounded and naked.   The fact that one man beat up seven men at once indicated that he had to be controlled by a legion of demons, which gave him super strength.  He could break chains and fetters. (A “fetter” is a chain or shackle for the feet). They got the thrashing of their lives.

These events in Ephesus provided a further New Testament example of how the ministry of deliverance can affect an entire community.  The spectacle of the sons of Sceva fleeing in disarray before a demonized man had an impact on the whole city of Ephesus, but especially for the Christians living there.  It served to draw a clear divided line between the disciples of Jesus and the unbelievers (See Acts 19:18-19):  And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds.  Many of them also which used curious arts [practiced sorcery] brought their books together and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.

These Christians had made a profession of faith in Christ but had retained in their possession scrolls containing the secret formulas they had used in their occult practices.  The calculated value of these scrolls today would be equivalent to more than two million dollars.  How many know there is money being made in the occult?   Nonetheless, look at the results in the closing verse, 20: “So the Word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed” (Acts 19:20).  If we are not seeing these results, then who has changed?  Is it Jesus?  Is it the demons? Or is it the Church?

My prayer is that the Church wake up to the reality of our authority over unclean spirits given to us by our big Brother, Jesus.  We are too inexperienced in this area of expelling demons, too structured, and/or too scared of this reality. It has become a “taboo.”  These signs should follow every believer that believes. Especially in these perilous times, we need to live and walk in continued freedom, and we need to help free those that are bound. Remember, just as God was with Jesus on His Christian journey, the Holy Spirit is with us.  He promised to lead and guide us into all truth.   After all, it is He who is performing the good work in us, and not we ourselves.  Stop letting the enemy take over your home.  Take authority over demonic influences that are bombarding your home, your family, and cast them out.  Literally open your front door and command them to leave in the Name of Jesus!  You should at least have dominion over your home. It is your legal right.

Jesus read the following from the book of Isaiah (chapters 61:1-2) in Luke 4:17-19.   “And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”  


Mark 16:17-18 – 17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

The Scriptures provide a great example for believers to follow: Jesus appears to His disciple just before ascending up to heaven commanded them to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.   After He had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, sat down at the right hand of God, and is consistently praying for you and for me. The disciples obeyed by going out and preaching everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed. (Read Mark 16:19-20).

If you are a sinner, repent for the remission of your sins (Romans 10:9-10) and tell others about the great things the Lord has done for you.  If you are a Christian and have forsaken the Lord, return to the Lord, repent, pray (Acts 8:22), and testify of the great things the Lord has done in your life.

  • Jesus loves you. Make and keep Him the center of your life.  Yield to His Lordship in every area. (Romans 10:9-10).
  • Live a Godly, holy life by obeying the Word of God. (I Peter 1:16, I Corinthians 15:58).)
  • Continuously build your faith by praying in the Holy Spirit (Jude 20, Ephesians 5:18).
  • Guard against Satan’s attack by putting on the whole armor of God, daily. (Ephesians 6:10-20).
  • Nurture the right relationships with others and forgive others. (Luke 18:8).
  • Confess and forsake your sins. Don’t give the enemy an open, cracked door or a foothold. (Ephesians 4:27, Psalm 66:18).


“ONLY BELIEVE” by Paul Rader, 1921

Fear not, little flock, from the cross to the throne,

From death into life He went for His own;

All power in earth, all power above,

Is given to Him for the flock of His love.


Only believe, only believe;

All things are possible, only believe;

Only believe, only believe;

All things are possible, only believe.

Fear not, little flock, He goeth ahead,

Your Shepherd selecteth the path you must tread;

The waters of Marah He’ll sweeten for thee,

He drank all the bitter in Gethsemane.

Fear not, little flock, whatever your lot,

He enters all rooms, “the doors being shut,”

He never forsakes; He never is gone,

So count on His presence in darkness and dawn.

ONLY BELIEVE (excerpts from the Ministry of Deliverance teachings) by Min. Gail Faulkner