Acts 19:14-16 (New Living Translation) Seven sons of Sceva, a leading priest, were doing this. But one time when they tried it, the evil spirit replied, "I know Jesus, and I know Paul, but who are you?"
Then the man with the evil spirit leaped on them, overpowered them, and attacked them with such violence that they fled from the house, naked and battered.
Whenever I read about the sons of Sceva, I don't know whether to laugh, to hit my forehead and go, "Oy!", or to just find myself contemplating the total authority of the Name of Jesus, when IT IS USED BY THOSE IN RELATIONSHIP with Jesus.
Imagine that... as the Name of Jesus and the miraculous deeds in His name were beginning to spread out in Ephesus, some Jews thought it would be nifty to go around doing some spiritual warfare, with the name of Jesus as the 'finishing blow' to the evil spirits. Not knowing much about Jesus, they just used His name as an incantation, giving full credit to Paul, of course, seeing as God was doing miraculous things through him.
Here's what is significant (and kind of scary) to me. The EVIL SPIRIT feared Jesus, and it knew about Paul, but also knew that these seven sons of Sceva had NO RELATIONSHIP with Jesus, and thereby NO EFFECT on it. The name of Jesus meant nothing when it had no relational tie behind it.
And those seven men paid for it dearly. Busted up, drop-kicked, humiliated. It must've been like some Popeye cartoon with fists flailing, stars and swirls abound, clothing flying, and defeated men running! It must've been ugly!
I MUST make Jesus an integral part of my life, so much more than merely a name to be said conveniently. If my only time spent with Him and calling out His name is in the emotional rush of a church service, and forgotten the rest of the time, my relationship with Jesus will be marginal and shallow at best.
My daily time with Him in devotions will let me connect with "the Word become flesh, and making His dwelling among us" (John 1:14 paraphrased). That's the kind of growing relationship with Jesus that will make us effective, and unlike the sons of Sceva, even the forces of evil will recognize and acknowledge the power that's behind the name of Jesus... in the right hands.
Lord Jesus, thank You for Your powerful Name. May I never find myself thinking that merely saying Your name will have any influence in the world, without a growing relationship with You. Thank You for Your words which come alive to me every morning, and grow me to become just like You someday.
I speak Your name boldly, Jesus! Amen!