The following article is an opinion piece and reflects the views of only the author and not those of AllOnGeorgia.
In the book of Acts, there is a passage that can almost read as comic relief. The seven sons of a Jewish high priest, Sceva, wanted a piece of the action. During this time of the early church Paul was performing all kinds of miracles in Jesus’ name so naturally, people were paying attention. These seven men went into a house where a man was possessed by an evil spirit. Their plan is to go in and pronounce the name of Jesus over the evil spirit as Paul had been doing.
“I command you by the Jesus that Paul preaches!”, they shouted at the evil spirits. The spirit came out and spoke back to the seven brothers, “ I know Jesus and I recognize Paul – but who are you?” Then the spirit jumped on them and commenced to beating up on them. Those seven brothers who entered the house full of false pride, left bruised, bloodied and naked. Acts 19:11-17.
Although this passage makes me laugh and seems somewhat irrelevant today, it is actually extremely relevant to modern day Christians. No, we may not be in the habit of calling out evil spirits, but there are plenty of unsuspecting evil spirits that are “whooping up” on believers today. These seven sons make me think of the seven churches in Revelation. Like the seven sons, so confident were the seven churches in the name of Jesus, they allowed some things in that they were sure they could overpower. Jesus warns each church that if they are not careful, the evil spirit will overpower them. As Christians, we need to be hyper aware of spirits that can slip in among us and leave us defeated and exposed just like the seven sons of Sceva.
Let’s take a look at each church and consider how each spirit still threatens our faith today if we are not in relationship with Jesus and empowered by his Holy Spirit. In the seven letters to the seven churches that begins in chapter two of Revelation we begin with the church at Ephesus.
The Church at Ephesus was warned against a spirit of religion. They had a correct doctrine, but not a correct heart. They were following a program out of duty, but there was no passion because they had forgotten their first love, Jesus. A spirit of religion will always leave you feeling like a dish rag that has been rung out over and over, but a relationship with Jesus will continually fill you and your well will never run dry.
The letter to the Church in Smyrna brings attention to the spirit of slander, “the devil’s work”. This church was in the habit of slandering believers, thereby causing division within the church. The church is for building up believers so that we can then spread the gospel to the world. Without unity within the body of Christ, we may as well be naked and exposed like the sons of Sceva.
The Church at Perganum sounds somewhat familiar to me. This church had taken on a political agenda within the church that created double mindedness. Balaam was an Old Testament figure who dabbled in the political realm for financial gain. He altered the truth of God just like this church was doing. In recent years, I have seen a spirit of politics destroy churches and the witness of Christians. Many today have been overpowered by this evil spirit because they thought they could entertain it as long as they used Jesus’ name. If we look at the times Jesus was in the company of powerful political leaders, he remained silent.
The Church in Thyatira was under the evil spirit of Jezebel or sexual immorality. This is no spirit you want to play around with. It will beat you up and everyone around you, leaving you powerless and on the run. Avoid any house where this spirit is allowed in.
The church in Sardis was warned against the spirit of entertainment. They looked alive maybe because they had awesome worship music or great programs, maybe they had a healthy bank account or a charismatic preacher, but they were dead. Where the Holy Spirit does not have freedom and the truth of God is not taught, we are just playing church.
The Church in Philadelphia was hypocritical, saying one thing and doing another.
And the Church in Laodicea was lukewarm in the faith. Spiritual apathy can grow like cancer within the church until it is completely dead.
The seven sons of Sceva busted through the door of that house confident they were good enough and religious enough to beat up an evil spirit, but instead it beat them up. If you feel beat up in the faith, consider what spirit may have slipped in on you. That spirit knows Jesus and if you are in relationship with Jesus, it will know you too. When you tell it to go in Jesus’ name, it must go!
By: Nadolyn Lee
Nadolyn has served in church ministry in the areas of music, children and youth for over thirty years. She is creator of ‘Dirt Road Believer’ YouTube channel where she produces Christian devotions every Tuesday and Thursday. Her home is in Summerville, GA with her husband and four children.