As people, we cannot help but be a little curious and a little jealous of things we cannot control. As Paul was thriving in Ephesus, God was getting the glory. People were being healed, experiencing freedom from demonic possession, finding faith in the true Lord and Savior Jesus.
Some in the Jewish community were livid. They made it difficult for Paul to teach in the Synagogue. So, Paul left and started teaching the truth down the Street. Paul had no ego in the outcome, he simply was completing the mission. God honored that, and did amazing miracles through Paul and his ministry.
Other Jews decided that if Paul could do it, by gum, so could they. So, they started casting out demons. Well, that was until the demons beat the crud out of them! These imposters were beaten bloody and sent home naked and ashamed. The demon was very artful in response–I know Jesus, and I know Paul, but who the heck are you?
The point was once again affirmed, it is God that is in charge. All our pride, hubris, and self-righteousness will never provide power, or glory to us–especially when we are trying to replicate the things God is accomplishing. If we will humble ourselves, seek the Lord first and follow Him closely, there is no limit to what He can accomplish in and through us.
In contrast, if our efforts are expended with the notion that we will gain notoriety or better standing with God–then sadly, we have wasted our time and energy. We are completely loved and forgiven at the moment we receive Christ. Our accomplishments done in His name are expressions of that love for Him and for His glory. That is reward in and of itself.
He simply cannot love us with any more fervor than He did at the cross. More importantly, He can give us no greater reward than he did at the cross. Romans 5:8 says it best, “God demonstrated His love for us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us!”
We neither deserve our standing as His adopted, chosen ones; nor, do we become entitled to some other great or extra prize than we have already received at His death, burial, and resurrection. Personal pride and gain will always run counter to the transformative power of God and His Spirit.
In practical sense, like those Jewish exorcists, if we try to compete in our own power and for our own pride and glory–the enemy will kick our bums the same way he did the sons of Sceva. We are not righteous on our own; nor, are we spiritually empowered by our works or our knowledge. Let us walk humbly; trusting God to work in and through us to accomplish what He chooses and when He chooses to do so.
God Bless You
Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God. 9 But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. 10 This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.
11 God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.13 Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” 14 Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15 One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” 16 Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.
17 When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor. 18 Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed what they had done. 19 A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas.[c] 20 In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.