Powerlessness over Sin? Learn from the Seven Sons of Sceva

Jesus did not Leave us Powerless

Are you struggling with entrenched sin in your life?

Do you feel like you are defeated by your weakness, moral failings, and lusts on a daily basis?

It could be you are trying to fight your battle against sin unarmed.  You are like a soldier in full uniform marching off to war without his weapons.  You look the part.  You are determined.  You have great intentions.  Yet, you are simply not much good.  You have nothing to fight the battle with.

You cannot fight sin on your own merits.  You desperately need Jesus to do the real heavy lifting.  For more on sin read Do You Want to Be Healed? and Sin Wants to Destroy You

You need the life-changing power of the Holy Spirit to make any difference in this world.  Will power, determination, and the right attitude do nothing on their own to vanquish our enemy.   It is only God’s empowering that turns the weakness of man into the weapons of God.

Even the most disciplined man’s intentions and abilities are worth nothing in a spiritual battle.  For more watch Missing the Real Messiah – Reflecting on Palm Sunday Sermon

Fighting Evil Unarmed

The Seven Sons of Sceva found this out the hard way in the Book of Acts.  They were sons of a Jewish priest in the city of Ephesus.  They claimed to be exorcists.  Paul was also in the city at this time doing great works.  He drove out many demons through the power of Jesus.  It was only God working through Paul that caused them to flee.  The Sons of Sceva missed this important point.

History tells us Jewish exorcists like these would invoke names from the past to try to drive out evil spirits.  They ordered the demon to depart in the name of David or Solomon and then crossed their fingers and hoped it would work.  They were unsuccessful but the interactions were also generally uneventful.  They were often charlatans and fakes out to take advantage of those in distress.Powerlessness-over-Sin

Things appear to go well for them until the Sons of Sceva encountered the man in Acts 19.  The Bible sets out they decided to up their game a bit this time.  They thought they would follow the pattern of Paul’s successful exorcisms.  They added the name of Jesus to their act.  They did so without understanding it or being born again themselves.  For more on this read What Does it Mean to be Born Again and 11 Life-Changing Bible Verses about being Born Again

Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.”  Acts 19

The Sons saw there was clear evil that needed to be confronted.  They were aware of others being freed from demon possession by Paul invoking Jesus.  They knew the words Paul said when fighting his battles.  They tried to drive the evil out of the man with the name of Jesus involved.  Yet, the Sons of Sceva failed miserably.  They did so because “took it upon themselves” to rely on someone else’s Jesus.  God was not with them.  He was not leading them.  A Slave by Choice

They did not know Jesus themselves.  They had no relationship with Him.  They certainly did not rely on Him.  His name was just as dead and empty to them as Solomon’s.  It is obvious they did not have His power working through them.  Jesus was just part of a spell or formula to be followed, not the maker of Heaven and Earth, King of King, Lord of Lords.

Who Are You?

The Sons of Sceva had all the looks of being ready for the battle but no way to fight it.  Even worse, they spoke the name that always causes a reaction among the enemy.  They suffered as a result.

15 And the evil spirit answered and said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?”

The evil spirit knew the power of Jesus.  Demons tremble at His very name.  The name guarantees that the Sons of Sceva had the attention of the evil spirit.  It is clear they were trying to oppose the spirit.

The same thing occurs when you set out to conquer a stronghold of sin in your life.  When you set your heart on expelling the enemy from your home and heart, you get the attention of that enemy.  Satan does not go down easily.  He is not afraid of any simple man.  You need to bring much more to the fight if you are expecting defeat evil.

But who are you?

Great question from the demon.  Who are the Sons of Sceva to order him around?  They have no power over the demonic realm.  They have no inherent ability to conquer sin.  Their flesh is corrupted by sin.  Humanity cannot conquer sin.  That job belongs to Jesus alone.Powerlessness over sin

If you are struggling with a sin stronghold, do you think you can conquer it on your own?

Applying will power or your force of personality just brings more of you to the equation.  You are the problem to begin with, right?  More of your flesh involved just opens the door to more attacks from the enemy.

This is what happens with the Sons of Sceva.  They get the evil spirit’s attention with the name of Jesus.  They are intent on driving the demon out.  Yet, when the demon looks at them it becomes obvious that Jesus is not with them.  They are relying solely on their own strength and planning.

No Jesus means no power.

This means they stand defenseless before the powers of darkness.

The Backlash of Sin

16 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. 

I am sure you have been here before.  We all have. This is what sin does to us all.  For more read Sin is Pleasurable for a Season but Ends in Death

You build up the courage and determination to face your sin.  You tell yourself repeatedly this stronghold is gone from your life.  You are done!  Yet, a short time later you have been thrashed by it, have been completely exposed and flee in terror.  What is the problem?

I know Jesus, I know Paul who was filled with Jesus as he took on sin, who are you…all by yourself?

You can be a Christian and still take on sin on your own.  You can go to church and take on sin on your own.  You can be a deacon, minister, or pastor and still take on sin on your own.  The result has been the same since the Sons of Sceva.  Sin sees you are fighting alone, beats you up, strips you bare, and sends you running filled with shame and guilt.  You are powerless on your own to fully defeat sin.  The great news is you are not on your own if you are in Jesus.


Jesus does not mean for you to fight this way.  When He is about to ascend after the Resurrection, He gives the disciples clear instructions.  Jesus says He has all the power in heaven and earth.  His going to heaven but He is sending another just like Himself, the Holy Spirit, to be with them.  He will give the disciples power to fight the battles they need to win in life.  The word used for power is the one from which we get dynamite and dynamic.  This is the type of strength they are given.

Importantly, Jesus tells the disciples to go to Jerusalem and do nothing until this happens.  These are the Apostles and other amazing men and women of God.  They walked with Jesus and already did great miracles themselves.  Jesus orders them to not try to do anything without the Holy Spirit.  They are powerless with Him.  The Holy Spirit comes with power on Pentecost. He is the power behind the billions of lives changed since that time.

It is the same for believers today.  Jesus working through His Holy Spirit is the way to change our lives.  We must seek His power, His protection, and His deliverance from the evil that besieges us today – just like the demon-possessed man 2000 years ago.  Our good intentions and plans are just as worthless as those of the Sons of Sceva.  I know I don’t feel very powerful on many days.  I don’t feel dynamic or filled with dynamite.  Yet, this is exactly where we need to be if we really want to be delivered.  It is when we admit that we are weak and without power and truly call on the One who is that things change.

Are you struggling with sin?  Are you defeated by addiction, pain, and lusts?  The bad news is you cannot fight this battle alone.  The great news is Jesus promised to do it for you.

Have you called upon the power of God?  Have you repented before the Most High God and let Him destroy your stronghold?

If you haven’t – today is the day of Salvation!  Call on Him today!






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