The Crux of the issue—knowing Jesus (v. 15)
One of the most memorable lines in the whole book of Acts is the one that occurs in verse 15: '"And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?" The demon is in effect saying, "Who do you think you are? You have no power unless we give you power."
But why did the demon know Paul? I think at least three reasons: First, Paul was a Christian, and according to Scripture, every person who is a believer has a mark that is invisible to man but that makes him visible to demons and angels. For example, Ezekiel 9:4 says, "put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it." That mark enabled the angels to spare such holy men from judgment. The angels could see it and the demons could see it. It was a clear marker. Revelation gives us a little bit more information about this mark. In Revelation 7:3 one angel said to his troops, "Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads." It was a mark invisible to man, but quite visible to angels and demons. And until the last of the elect in that city were marked, the angels were not allowed to destroy the city. Revelation 9:4 speaks of bondage and affliction that came to those who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads. Revelation 14: I says that the 144,000 had the name of the Father upon their foreheads. These are just some hints that demons can tell who is a Christian and who is not. Of course, Revelation also indicates that demons did indeed control those who had the mark of the beast on their foreheads. So the first reason that they knew Paul was because he was marked out by God.
The second reason they knew Paul was because Satan's kingdom has been taking hit after hit as demons have been cast out by Paul. It would be hard for demons to not report to each other what was going on. It was clear that Christianity was invading their territory. And Paul was one of the chief "culprits."
The third reason they knew who Paul was is that Paul was making a difference in culture. Demons hate it when we make a difference. We ought not to look at persecution, satanic opposition as an indication that we are losing. On the contrary, Revelation 12 says that it is precisely when demons know they are losing ground that they lash out the most. The demons knew Paul.
My question this morning is, "Do demons know your name?" If they do not, it may be because you lack one of those three things: 1) if you are not a true believer, but only a fake believer like those Jewish exorcists, you have no power against Satan and no safety against his kingdom. 2) Second, if you have never cast out demons or in other ways actively resisted demons, Satan may not be aware of your danger to him. I know some of you have been shown how to resist Satan in your home, and you are noteworthy persons. 3) Third, if you are a sleeping Christian, demons might safely ignore you. If you have not done anything to advance the cause of Christ, he might leave you alone and/or not take notice of your name. So the title of today's sermon is, "Do Demons Know Your Name?" If they do, the likelihood is you are walking rightly with God.
God's demonstration of the power of grace (vv. 11-12)
God's power, not man's (v. 11)
Paul certainly had nothing to fear from demons. Verse 11 says, "Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul." I want you to notice why Paul did not need to fear the demonic. It wasn't because he was so strong. This text does not say that Paul worked unusual miracles or cast out demons. If it had been up to Paul, he would have been a weak and vulnerable vessel. But the text says, "Now God worked unusual miracles..." That is a subtle, but very profound distinction. Paul was simply the vehicle through whom God's power was being made known. It was because God had marked Paul, and because God was at work in Paul that demons were scared. Paul in himself was no match for demons. But Paul and God together made a winning majority. And this truth is true of us, even though we may not be able to do unusual miracles. When we are weak in our own eyes, God's strength is made perfect in us. Our focus must be on God rather than on miracle men. There are no miracle men; there is only a miracle God.
Why the need for unusual miracles (v. 11)
But the phrase, "unusual miracles" does beg for some explanation. There are some people who say that miracles by their very nature were unusual in Paul's day. They say that these miracles were signs of an apostle, and once the office of apostle ended, all miracles ended. These interpreters are actually half-right. There are two places in the book of Acts where unusual miracles took place - in Acts 5 when the other apostles were authenticated to be unique apostles of Jesus Christ, and in this chapter when Paul was authenticated as being an apostle. In Acts 5, the apostles seemed to be able to perform miracles on demand. And the miracles were extremely unusual.
If even Peter's shadow touched someone, he was immediately healed of every disease that he had. There were miraculous provisions and miraculous judgments. That was the chapter where Ananias and Sapphira were struck down dead at Peter's word. Those were unusual miracles for even Peter because they needed signs to authenticate their authority as apostles.
And I believe that the reason these unusual miracles were needed in this chapter was to authenticate Paul's office as apostle. And there was a great need for that. During the three years that Paul was in Ephesus, there were many false teachers who were doing everything they could to prove that Paul was not an apostle. After all, Jesus had not selected Paul while on earth. Paul had not spent three years being trained by Jesus. And in his epistles, Paul has to demonstrate that he was an apostle even though he was an apostle born out of due time; that he was the last of the apostles; but that this did not make him any less than the most eminent of the apostles; that he too had been trained for three years, but that Paul had been trained in Arabia by direct visitation from heaven. Both I and 2 Corinthians (written right here during this three years) defend Paul's apostleship against his detractors in many different ways. But one of the ways he supports his apostleship is that he too had had a period when he had all the signs of an apostle. These were not just ordinary miracles, but unusual miracles like in Acts 5.
2Corinthians 12:11 I have become a fool in boasting; you have compelled me. For I ought to have been commended by you; for in nothing was I behind the most eminent apostles, though I am nothing. 2Corinthians 12: 12 Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds.
The unusual miracles were signs that he was indeed an apostle on a par with the other twelve. So that's what is going on with the unusual part. It was unusual for the church, unusual for the apostles and unusual for Paul himself. He was not able to do these kinds of miracles before this time or after this time. Later in Paul's life, he still had miracles, but not these unusual ones. When there was no longer a need to authenticate him as an apostle, the number of miracles dropped off significantly for him. Let me give some examples:
Usual miracles are not on demand
Later, Timothy was not healed (1 Tim. 5:23)
In I Timothy 5:23 Paul tells Timothy, "No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your stomach's sake and your frequent infirmities." If miracles could be always performed on demand, then why didn't he just heal Timothy? For that matter, why didn't he just heal his own eye disease? But he couldn't. Ordinarily, miracles come at God's sovereign pleasure, and for some reason God heals some and chooses not to heal others. We can continue to pray for miracles, but we won't get the kinds of miracles on demand that we find in this chapter and in Acts chapter 5.
Later Trophimus was not healed (2 Tim. 4:20)
2 Timothy 4:20 gives another example where Paul was not able to heal. He says, "Trophimus I have left in Miletus sick." Unusual miracles were not at work at that time in his life. He couldn't heal Trophimus. He left him behind sick.
Later, Epaphroditus was not an automatic healing, but a person Paul almost lost to sickness (Phil. 2:25-27)
Another person he wasn't able to bring automatic healing to was Epaphroditus. Philippians 2:27 says:
Philippians 2:27 For indeed he was sick almost unto death; but God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.
That passage is saying that Paul grieved over this prolonged illness. There was no unusual miracle. Some have taken this evidence to say that miracles and casting out of demons ceased in the first century. But I do not see it that way for two reasons: First, if these unusual miracles are what Paul calls "the signs of an apostle" in 2 Corinthians 12: I 2, then all that it proves is that signs of an apostle ceased with the apostolate, but it doesn't do away with what Mark 16:17 speaks of as signs of a believer - which by the way, the context indicates will continue till the end of the world.
Secondly, the very words "unusual miracles" implies these are being contrasted with the "usual miracles" that were performed by other leaders and by common Christians. The literal rendering of "unusual miracles" is "never happening miracles." What made the miracles in Acts 5 and Acts 19 something that never happened outside of those unusual contexts?
Unusual miracles are different in some way from regular miracles
Paul could heal by touch (v. 11) or by distance (v. 12)
Verse 12 gives us three clues: "so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them." First, Paul could heal whether he was close enough to touch them (verse II) or whether he was far distant from the people (verse 12). He could cast out demons without being present. That is remarkable. I've never seen anyone cast out a demon without being present.
Paul healed people and cast out demons without his knowledge about it (v. 12). All that had to happen was to be touched with a cloth from Paul.
Second, what is even more remarkable is that it doesn't even seem that Paul needed to know about the disease or about the presence of demons in order to conquer both. All that had to happen was for a demon-possessed person to be touched by a cloth that Paul had touched. The closest thing in Christ's life to this would be when the woman touched the hem of his garment and was healed. But this is even more remarkable. It's touching a garment of Paul at a long distance from Paul. It was very unusual.
All were healed during this period (v. 12)
The third remarkable or unusual thing about this is that everyone appears to have been healed. Those that were touched by the cloths were healed. In Acts 5 it was similar. It says of Peter when he was being authenticated, "so they brought the sick out into the streets and laid them on beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them. Also a multitude gathered from the surrounding cities to Jerusalem, bringing sick people and those who were tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all healed." That's unusual. Paul wasn't able to do that earlier; nor was he able to do it later in his life. I think these three characteristics make these miracles unusual by anyone's definition. So I have no problem with people who say that signs of an apostle have ceased or that these unusual miracles have ceased.
You can trace the last 2000 years of history, and you will not find anyone who could simply walk down hospital wards and every bed in the hospital is emptied as they walk by. It's never happened again. There is something unique here. These were signs designed to attest to their apostleship, very much like Moses had. The calling of Moses in leading Israel and giving the Scriptures was so outlandishly unique that God attested to the fact that Moses was truly called by Him by giving Him signs - signs like the parting of the Red Sea, giving of Manna, sending earthquakes to those who questioned his authority, etc. And since the apostles were forming a new Israel, and like Moses were giving new revelation that would be recorded in the Scripture, they had to have something unique; something that stood out and that could show that God had indeed attested to them that they did indeed have this authority. And so, just as we would not expect that God would have to part the Red Sea in every century, provide manna and do other miracles after Moses, we should not expect that God will provide miracles for us in an identical way to how He provided them for the apostles. They were what Paul calls "signs of an apostle."
But that is a far cry from saying (as some cessationists do) that all miracles have ceased. It wasn't only the twelve apostles who were given the power to perform miracles, heal and cast out demons. In Luke chapter 10 seventy disciples are given the same power. That indicates that miracles are not simply an apostolic thing. Clearly the miracles of Mark 16 are anticipated to continue till the Great Commission is finished, and they are ascribed to ordinary believers. And that passage is interesting, because it connects such miracles with the presence of the kingdom and Christ sitting at the right hand of the Father. Other passages connect casting out demons with the presence of the kingdom. Daniel 4:3 indicates that wherever God's kingdom is manifested you will see signs and wonders. And that's exactly what Jesus said. He said, "But if I cast out demons with the finger of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you." Surely - it's proof positive of kingdom. Since we live in the time of the kingdom, we can expect that we can continue to cast out demons and that God will bless with other similar miracles. The point is that just because miracles could be signs of an apostle, does not mean that was their only function. They are part and parcel of advancing the kingdom of God whether it is in this unusual way, or the usual way that most of the book of Acts speaks about. The first 1000 years of church history saw non-stop confrontation of demons. Every time a new believer professed faith, he would not only renounce the works of darkness (as believers in verse 19 did), but they would break off any legal ground that Satan may have claimed over them from their ancestor's past. I think that is a very important thing for every family to do. Renounce and bum bridges to the demonic past.
The Contrast between Paul's ministry and that of these exorcists (vv. 13-20)
But now in verses 13-16 we are going to see a number of major contrasts between the world's ways of dealing with the demonic and God's way (whether' God's way was unusual or the ordinary). The world has had to deal with demons down through history. It is only intellectual modernists who deny their existence. But without the power of Christ, what hope do they have? Let's look at some of the contrasts:
Ministry versus career ("itinerant Jewish exorcists")
The first thing that we see here is that many Jews made a career of trying to cast out demons. Verse 13 says, "Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists..." The first point of contrast is that they made a career of deliverance. You don't find that in the Bible. You find believers casting out demons, yes, but that was only a part of their ministry. And I can give you the testimonies of several people who have regretted that they made the demonic their entire focus. It has ruined several good men and women. Many times they end up being demonized.
Free versus fees ("itinerant")
Second, we know from ancient literature that these exorcists made their living from doing so. They charged money to say incantations, the names of God and other things over the demon possessed. Christ and the apostles never charged people for an exorcism. For them it was ministry, not a career. That is a huge contrast.
Stable presence versus wandering salesmen ("itinerant")
Third, these Jewish exorcists had to wander from place to place, which is what the word "itinerant" means in the Greek. They didn't stay in one location. Why? Well, if those who were exorcized kept having the same problems, their lucrative financial opportunities would dry up. Like the traveling salesman in the 1800's who sold the proverbial snake oil and other cure-alls, these guys had to keep finding new markets to be able to make money. I think some of the traveling revival and healing ministries are frauds that could not survive if they stayed in one location.
Grace versus magic ("exorcists")
Fourth, the literature of these exorcists shows that they were into magic, not grace. God's grace frees those who submit to His Lordship. It is very God-dependent. But magic is an attempt for man to control the invisible world. It is a man-centered approach to the demonic. The trouble is that these Jews didn't know Jesus personally. They spoke of Him as "the Jesus whom Paul preaches:" They are using Christ's name as a formula, not as a relationship. But that is dangerous stuff. You cannot control the demonic through magic. In fact, demons are likely manipulating those who engaged in magic. Demons may let you be successful in alleviating stress, pain and other symptoms for a while so that people are further in bondage. But grace is God Himself delivering; it is not man controlling. So the fourth contrast is the contrast of magic versus grace.
Guidance versus presumption ("took it upon themselves")
Fifth, verse 13 says that they "took it upon themselves..." to do this exorcism. This was not at the guidance and leading of the Lord. There are very few people who are called to a deliverance ministry, and they better be called. I have had acquaintances that have been destroyed in their ministries after a brief period of going into deliverance ministry, only to find that they were harassed by demons. They were taking this ministry on themselves. God did not call them and therefore they were not empowered by God. In case this scares you off from spiritual warfare completely, let me clarify: If demons harass you or harass your family, you are automatically called to fight them. You do have jurisdiction over your family. But we shouldn't be picking fights that are not ours without God's leading. If you will remember from Acts 16, it was many days before Paul confronted the python spirit head on. He waited until God clearly led him. In this chapter, he does not confront the goddess, Diana (otherwise known as Artemis). He waited for the apostle John to do it a few years later. We do not take this ministry upon ourselves or we will have only our own strength to fight it. It must be a leading from the Lord. And some people may indeed be led into a deliverance ministry.
Calling upon the name of Jesus versus manipulation of the name ("call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits")
A sixth contrast is that God's people in the book of Acts called upon the name of Jesus, or petitioned the Father in Jesus name, or depended in faith on Jesus' provision, whereas these exorcists used the name as a talisman or fetish. Notice that the wording is not that they called upon the name of Christ. Rather, it says, "... took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits..." These exorcists used many names of Biblical patriarchs (like Solomon whom they believed they derived authority from), Hebrew words and phrases, and other mumbo jumbo as magic potions that they thought had inherent power to do something. They must have seen Paul or heard about Paul simply commanding demons to leave in the name of Jesus, and assumed that this was a powerful word that they needed to include into their ministry. But when Christians do anything in Christ's name, they are appealing to their personal relationship with the Lord Jesus, as those who have been blood bought, cleansed, raised with Jesus and seated with Jesus in the heavenlies. It has nothing to do with the magic sound of a name. It has everything to do with legal standing and relationship. Think of it this way: you can sign the name "Phillip G. Kayser" on one of my checks, but get nothing. My name has no authority to get cash from my account unless I sign it or you are a cosigner on the account. But because we died to ourselves when we converted, and were raised with Christ, and our new identity is legally in Christ, the only way we can accomplish anything is through the name of Jesus. He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Eph. 1:3), and has authorized us to sign checks on the heavenly bank account with Christ's name. It all flows from our legal standing and our relationship with Christ. And yet I have seen Christians ignore both and just use the name as a talisman or magic formula. It will let you down, as verse 15 shows. The name itself does not have intrinsic power. It must be backed by our legal standing before God and our relationship with Jesus. If you want more details on how to properly use the name of Jesus, pick up this free booklet, or download it from the BB website.
Knowing Jesus versus knowing formulas (v. 13 - "by the Jesus whom Paul preaches")
Verse 13 gives yet another contrast: They said, "We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches." This is amazing. They are in effect admitting that they don't know this Jesus. They have seen this Jesus do powerful things through Paul, but they presume to have power without knowing Jesus personally. Again, this is the way magic works. It tends to use formulas, incantations and magic amulets or potions to cure people. But Daniel says that those who know their God will do exploits. Without a personal knowledge of Jesus, people tangle with Satan to their own detriment.
Position in heaven versus position on earth (v. 14)
Verse 14 addresses an eighth contrast: "Also there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did so." These sons of Sceva were used to their dad's powerful office meaning something. "Dad's a religious leader; we'll become religious leaders." But let me assure you that authority on earth does not translate into authority in heaven. When I first came to Omaha, I had authority on earth as a pastor, but I was not exercising authority in heaven against the demonic. In fact, I didn't even realize that the horrible oppression that I was experiencing that even made it difficult to formulate words into prayer was demonic oppression. I struggled fruitlessly in my own flesh until the Lord opened my eyes to my call to battle demons as one who is seated in the heavenlies with Christ. When I started reading Mark Bubeck's Scriptural prayers, I began having immediate relief. Why? Because those prayers were so full of Scripture promise that I began praying from the authority that I have in heaven. In fact, that was what started me seeing how I was relying too much on human wisdom, position, perseverance and strength. Without laying claim to the resources we have in heaven, we have no power against Satan.
Personal authority by union with Jesus versus the authority of another (v. 15)
Verse 15 implies that Paul used such authority. The demon certainly knew him. But when the demon says in verse 15, "Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?" he is in effect saying, "Who do you think you are? You have no authority over me." Apart from personal union and communion with Jesus you will get nowhere. You can't plead the authority of your parents or your pastor. You must learn to plead the authority you have as one who is united to Jesus.
Empowered by the Holy Spirit versus being devoid of the Holy Spirit (v. 16)
Tenth, verse 16 shows the utter powerlessness of those who are not empowered by the Holy Spirit. "*hen the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded." If some of you have not yet put your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, you have no protection against such demons. Trust Him now for your salvation. Cast your sins on Jesus who was punished as your substitute and receive by faith His perfect life as yours.
Lifting up Christ's name versus making a name for self (v. 17)
The eleventh contrast is in verse 17 - "This became known both to all Jews and Greeks dwelling in Ephesians; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified." Any time you see a ministry that magnifies the name of a pastor, or a miracle worker or a healer or a person in deliverance ministry, watch out. That person's pride will lead him to succumb to satanic attack. The reason is clear - God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Our goal in our entire ministry should be to lift up and glorify the name of Jesus.
Holiness versus presumption (v. 18)
The twelfth contrast is holiness versus presumption. Verse 18 says, "And many who had believed came confessing and telling their deeds." They didn't want any legal ground that Satan could claim to continue to harass them. This is such an important contrast, that I want to spend a bit more time on it.
Proverbs 28:13 says, "He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy." Ephesians 4:27 indicates that when our sins are not confessed, we give Satan an advantage or a foothold in our lives. In fact, unconfessed sin gives Satan legal rights to continue to harass us. One person that was demon possessed knew that I was coming to the house when I was blocks away and starting screaming that pastor Kayser is coming, don't let him in. And the closer I got the more agitated she became. When I came to the front door she started violently throwing up. I immediately commanded the demon to be quiet, to release her and to let her hear and think. And she immediately calmed down and started to talk to me about the scary thing that had just happened. I pointed out the sins that were giving Satan legal ground in her life. I remember that there were four sins. She was willing to confess three. But the moment she said that she couldn't give up the fourth, the demon took over, and there was nothing more that I could do on that day. I could tell you many stories from the mission field of how missionaries who were able to cast out demons lost their power because of unconfessed sin, and regained their power when they confessed their sins. But I think the testimony of Scripture is more powerful.
Ephesians 4:26-27 says that if you allow anger to go unresolved in your house, you give a foothold to the devil. You're giving him legal ground to resist you. When you ask Satan to leave, Satan looks at God and says, "He's given me legal ground. I don't have to go, do IT' And God says, "No. You don't have to go." If you have unresolved bitterness, the same is true. The bible says rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and almost always where there is unresolved rebellion, you find that prayer for victory is futile. Some of you have sins that you are unwilling to confess to others and to forsake, and it is no wonder that you have no power in your life.
This might discourage you because you realize how many sins you have. But how many is immaterial. David must have had a multitude of sins because he spoke of the multitude of God's mercies. But when you confess your sins, the blood of Christ cleanses them, and Satan has no legal ground. It's not the multitude of sins, but whether you confess and forsake them.
In fact, I want you to turn with me to Zechariah 3. This is a passage that illustrates this point in such vivid language. This event took place during the times of Ezra and Nehemiah. Satan was attacking them from every angle that he could. Satan brought greed, immorality and other things designed to weaken them and make them ineffective. Those historical books show the visible. But this one shows the invisible behind-the-scenes situation. Zechariah 3, beginning at verse 1. .
Zechariah 3:1 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him.
[The filthy garments represent this believer's ongoing sins. And Satan is using those sins as legal ground to resist him and to resist his ministry. And this passage shows how we continually need the cleansing of Christ and we continually need to put on the armor of Christ or the clothing of Christ. Verse 2:]
Zechariah 3:2 And the LORD said to Satan, "The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?"
[The implication is that Joshua had previously been worthy of hell fire, but God had rescued him by His grace and from his pollution.]
Zechariah 3:3 'If Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and was standing before the Angel. Zechariah 3:4 "Then He answered and spoke to those who stood before Him, saying, "Take away the filthy garments from him." And to him He said, "See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes." Zechariah 3:5 And I said, "Let them put a clean turban on his head." So they put a clean turban on his head, and they put the clothes on him. And the Angel of the LORD stood by.
Once Joshua was cleansed, and all of the moral ground that Satan claimed in his life had been reclaimed and given to God, and once Joshua had been clothed from head to foot in the provisions of Christ, God stood by to hear his prayers. Nothing could hinder his pleas. He had power. This is what I mean by protective covering from the Lord. My little booklet on spiritual warfare prayers has prayers for the filling of the spirit, prayers that help teach you how to put on the clothing and the armor of God, doctrinal prayers and others prayers that are needed to battle the enemy. Pick up a copy and start praying them out loud.
Antithesis versus syncretism (v. 19)
We've got two more contrasts. Verse 19 says, "Also, many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all." What they were doing was getting rid of everything from their old life that might cause them to fall. This is such an important principle that I am thinking of devoting an entire sermon to it next week. But if we think we can have a bit of the world and a bit of Christianity and still be safe from demons, we are deluded. Just as God had the Israelites bum everything from Canaan that could be a stumbling block, Paul had these Ephesians do the same. Get rid of Ouija boards. They are not innocent. They give Satan legal ground to harass your family. Get rid of Dungeons and Dragons. Get rid of new age crystals and pyramids. Get rid of occultic medicine. In fact, don't even hang around occultic chiropractors because you are opening yourself up to the demonic. Find a Christian one. You need antithesis to be safe from demons. Any amount of syncretism opens you up to the demonic. And sometimes this can be quite innocent.
When I was away on a trip one time, a new Korean student came to live with us. He brought a house-warming gift that was an ugly idol. He told Kathy that when you are sick you should pray to it. She didn't want to be rude, so she took the idol and thought she would deal with it later. She immediately had a headache, and as she went to bed she felt herself falling down, down, down. She thought she was dying. She tried to utter the words "Jesus help," and with great difficult was able to whisper them, which immediately helped. She realized what had happened, called me, and 1 prayed over her, the family and home and advised them to throw the idol off their property. It was not until we rejected Satan's world in that idol that the house had complete cleansing of the evil one. There have been other times when we have had to cleanse the home of demons. If you don't know how to do that, you need to talk to me. But as I have looked back on the times when the demonic has been present, it is quite clear that those times have been either because of sin or because of something that was accepted into the home. So take this point seriously.
Counting the cost versus easy believism (v. 19b)
The last point of contrast is in the last phrase of verse 19. "And they counted up the value of them, and it totaled fifty thousand pieces of silver." A piece of silver was a whole days wages. So we are talking 50,000 days wages. Here's how you convert it to the present. If a wage is $8 an hour, you come to a current value of three million, two hundred thousand dollars that was burned on that day. They didn't sell it on eBay. They didn't say, "Wow! Three million, two hundred thousand dollars. We don't want to throw that away. That could pay for a gymnasium being added to the church." No. They tossed it. They didn't want anyone else being defiled by the stuff. They burned it. And we too must count the cost of being a believer and be willing to sacrifice money, burn items, and do what is needed to please the Lord. This is a war, and many people don't realize that there is a cost to war.
The demons testimony (v. 15)
Well, let's end by looking at the results of all this. Verse 15 gives the demon's testimony, "Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?" Of course the demons knew Jesus. They trembled at the presence of Jesus. They knew about His virgin birth, His perfect life, his death and atonement. They knew and continue to know all about his resurrection and being seated at the right hand of God, triumphing over principalities and powers. They know that they are doomed because of what Jesus did. They know of the final judgment. When the demon said, "Jesus I know," he used the word "ginosko," which refers to knowledge of experience. He was confronted by Jesus. He knows Him personally. I wouldn't doubt if the blackness at the time of the cross was in part the demons of the whole world converging on Jesus to undo him. They learned by intimate experience that they were no match for Jesus.
The word for "Paul I know," is different. It is epistamai, which simply means, "to possess information" about Paul. He's heard of Paul. The other demons have obviously been talking. They had been studying Paul, and they knew that they couldn't mess with him either.
The terror of the exorcists (v. 16)
But this rage and frustration at their shrinking kingdom was taken out on these exorcists, whom previously they probably would have left alone as allies. But in verse 16 the demon terrified the exorcists. "Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded." To flee out of a house naked and wounded must have meant utter terror at what they were witnessing. And the demonic can indeed be terrifying. When I worked in the psych ward in the hospital in British Columbia, I witnessed a frail little lady who was clearly demon possessed. The humanists didn't know what to do with her. They didn't believe in demons, but had a hard time explaining her behavior. Even restrained, this tiny woman could throw five men off of her and lift heavy filing cabinets and throw them. She had superhuman strength. Yes the demonic can be terrifying if you don't have Christ. She escaped from their clutches one time just as I my elevator door opened up with my mop and bucket ready to exit. She stepped into the bucket and looked at me with glowering eyes, and at the name of Jesus she fled. But you ought to have seen the reaction of the staff. They were nervous.
Humanists who have studied the paranormal as a science, have on occasion been so terrified by what they experienced that they have vowed not to touch it again. But curiosity always seems to lead them back. In any case, this showed the powerlessness of Judaism against demonism. Without Christ you have no protection against demons.
The triumph of the Gospel (v. 17,20)
But the third result was the triumph of the Gospel. Though this confrontation was in some ways disconcerting, it opened people to realize for the first time that they needed Jesus; that they were helpless without Him; and that greater is He who is in the Christians than the demon who was in this man. Verse 17 says, "This became known both to all Jews and Greeks dwelling in Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified." This is a work of grace. They were fearing the right thing. They realized that the power of Christ is far more than the power of these demons. And they realize that apart from Christ, none of us is safe. Who do you fear? The more you taste of God's grace and greatness, the more you will fear Him and the less you will fear demons.
The result of that fear is seen in the repentance and burning of occult books in verse 19 and the spread of the Word in verse 20. "So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed." The word prevailed over what? It prevailed over the hearts of men, but it also prevailed over the attacks of Satan. Revelation 12 was written to Ephesus, one of the seven churches of Asia Minor, and it says about Satan, "and they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony." They applied the blood of Jesus to their sins, to their houses, to all that they had, and they declared with their lips Biblical passages that spoke of the victory of Jesus Christ over these demons. The word of God is powerful in resisting Satan. Sometimes it can even visibly set demons back on their haunches. Neil Anderson tells one story of a demon possessed man who tried to kill him, and every time he calmly quoted Scriptures such as, I John 3:8, "For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil," it was like the man was thrown back by an invisible force. And when the demon was cast out of the man, he confessed that he felt this demonic desire to kill, but it was like he was punched back by an invisible force every time the Scripture was quoted. There was a case where the word of God not only prevailed against the demon, but also conquered this man's heart and led him to salvation.
It certainly caused the gospel to triumph in Ephesus. Shortly after Paul left Ephesus, the apostle John prayed in the temple of Diana, exorcising the demons. The altar split into many pieces and half the temple fell down. It never again regained its glory. In 262 AD it burned down. The Gospel had penetrated so deeply into Ephesians' culture that it became an outmoded thing. Praise God!
Let us pray that our culture would be turned upside down as well. If the wicked city of Ephesus could become a Christian city, then so can Omaha and the surrounding towns. It is not by might, nor by power but by My Spirit says the Lord. It is only in His power that we can find the victory. May each of you take seriously our song of closing - the Battle Belongs to the Lord. Amen.