Sunday, March 3, 2013

One of Those

In the American Christian vernacular Satan isn't a figure we spend too much time talking about. Actually, talking about Hell is kind of taboo in our culture despite our deeply rooted Christian heritage. According to the most recent polling I could find from 2009, USA Today says that only 59% of Americans believe in Hell compared to the 74% who believe in Heaven.

These statistics are baffling. From what I've read, Hell is clearly distinguished in the Bible as a real thing, and Satan appears more than once. (Refer to the book of Job in the old testament and Matthew 4 in the New) Though I don't know the statistics, I would assume that even fewer people believe in demons. Again, demons and evil spirits are frequently mentioned in the bible.

So why do I bring this up? Why talk about something American Christians are clearly uncomfortable with. Well, because I think it's relevant. I think that sometimes it's necessary to confront the things that make us uncomfortable in order to grow. That said, this blog isn't to try to convince people that Satan, Hell, and demons exist. Actually, I want to encourage you with something that is pushing me to live a life in Christ. And by living a life in Christ, I'm referring to knowing him intimately as my friend and Savior.

The heading in my bible over one of my favorite stories in Acts is "The Sons of Sceva." In case you're not familiar with this passage it begins by describing that God was doing some extraordinary things through Paul in his ministry. Things like healing the sick and casting out evil spirits. Then it says,

"Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, 'I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.' Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this." -Acts 19:13-14

I'll pause there. I want to point out that I could write multiple blogs on the power of the name of Jesus. So powerful, that even Jews who didn't believe in His authority, saw what speaking the name of Jesus could do. But this is a topic for another time. I'll continue,

"But the evil spirit answered them, 'Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?'" -Acts 19:15

Let's break that down. Part 1: "Jesus I know." All throughout the Gospels, it is the demons who have no problem recognizing who the Son of God is. This part is pretty self-explanatory. The demons know Jesus, and don't you forget, they tremble at the mention of his name. Part 2: "Paul I recognize." Think that through for just a second. They (demons) know Paul's name. They recognize him. They know that when he speaks the name of Jesus, he comes with the authority found in Christ. Paul was someone who the demons knew by name.

Part 3: "but who are you?" It's a good question. Are you someone that the demons know by name? Another way to put that, are you living your life in such a way that your relationship with Christ is evident to everyone including the enemy?

In Matthew 7:21-23, Christ gives a chilling warning that I think we would do well to heed.

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophecy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'"

The sons of Sceva had it half right. The name of Jesus is powerful. But they lacked the most important part.

1) I want to be one of those people who Satan and the demons know by name.
2) More importantly, I want to be one of those people who lives in an intimate relationship with Christ.

My question to you, "but who are you?"