In Acts we read the story of “the seven sons of Sceva” who were going about driving out evil spirits through incantations and ritual. Even though these seven men were Jews, and the son’s of a chief priest, they were using chants and charms to drive out evil spirits. (Acts 19:13-20) These exorcisms were not a new thing to the first century Jews. There are ancient documents that refer to “Jewish magic” being used through amulets and incantations as far back as King Solomon’s time. Though many of the Jewish magical scrolls were intended to help, heal, or cure they still showed a large dependency on man’s abilities to mix a potion or create a charm in order to defeat or control an evil spirit.
In the case of these son’s of Sceva they were using a mixture of Jewish exorcism magic and the invocation of Jesus’ name to expel an evil spirit. While this type of activity may not be something that we see or are involved in on a regular basis I am sure most, if not all, of us can empathize with them. How often do we try to use our own power, will, or strength to create an opportunity? When was the last time we walked into a situation without praying about it first? How often do you acknowledge that you can do nothing without God?
Anytime we act without dependency on God’s strength we are putting ourselves in a position to act without God’s blessing. God even tells us, through his prophet Jeremiah, “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord”(Jeremiah 17:5). Without God’s strength in our decisions we are as “weak as a plant in the desert, and shall not see any good come” (Jeremiah 17:6) to our plans. But…there is hope in Jesus. When we place our faith in Him and depend on his wisdom and power we “bear much fruit” (John 15:5) because “he who is mighty has done great things for me” (Luke 1:49). Our love for Jesus should not manifest itself in just good works for others or only studying the Word and prayer. In order to fully commit to Jesus being our Lord it is imperative that we live in his presence at all times, doing nothing without a prayer for guidance from Him.
So I challenge you over the next few days to think about more than just Easter weekend as a time for God. Think about how many times each day you act as if you are stronger than Jesus and then be intentional about how you acknowledge His presence and your need for Him.