Greetings to the Father, Son, Holy Spirit, angels and saints in Christ. Yesterday we learnt that the Elders Paul and Silas exercised their authority in the spiritual realm, casting down a major stronghold over the city of Philippi in order to advance the kingdom of God. This article began when the Lord began teaching me from Paul’s example about the importance of chastising demons and their human counterparts. Is this scriptural? Yes, demons would cry out in fear at Jesus’ arrival and He never allowed them to stay in humans, but always cast them out. Paul and Silas followed Jesus’ example of forcefully advancing the kingdom. Jesus said in Mt 11: 12 that “from the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it”. If we are to advance the kingdom of God in the earth, we literally have to wrestle against the forces of darkness (Eph 6: 12), cast them down and replace them with the forces of the Lord.

ELDER PAUL WORKED THE WORKS OF THE LORD

Acts 19: 11 – 20 records an interesting event that reveals that Paul was such a violent opponent of the kingdom of darkness that demons held him in high respect. The scene is set in Ephesus, where Paul spent two years teaching in Tyrannus’ school. The scriptures say that, following the example of the Lord in having people touch his clothing for delvierance, Paul worked “special miracles” and would send out handkerchiefs and aprons from his body for the healing of the sick and casting out of devils. This is the dimension of power in which Paul operated or functioned and I know that he was mighty in the spirit realm and a man greatly beloved by the Lord. I know that this works indeed, having seen it bring deliverance in cases such as to a mentally ill man in the UK who subsequently returned to work (toilet tissue sent from St.Vincent) and the healing of a man dying with AIDS in New York (paper towel anointed and sent to the man).

EXORCISTS TRIED TO MIMIC PAUL

Seeing the miracles Paul did, “certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth”. Once again, the members of the occultic fan club tried to mimic Paul in an attempt to gain popularity, power and wealth. They were saying the right words yet they had the wrong power source. There are many people like this today, even in the churches. Strong’s in blueletterbible.com says that an exorcist is “one who employs a formula of conjuration for expelling demons”. In other words, the person may use spells and other magical means to expel demons. God embarrassed them using Sceva’s seven sons as an example. Sceva was a Jew and chief of the priests and I infer from the text that his sons were exorcists. Maybe they were using their father’s position in the Jewish religious hierarchy to advance themselves. However, the “evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded”. This is the methodology of power struggles in the realm of the spirit. In order to overcome another force, there must be a leaping for supremacy, an overcoming and a prevailing (stripping and wounding of the victims). This is the means by which Jesus spoiled principalities and powers (Col 2: 15). David in Ps 18: 29 said that God gave him strength to leap over a wall of demons.

MEMBERS OF THE OCCULT EXORCISE DEMONS USING THE PRINCIPLE OF GREATER AUTHORITY

The seven sons of Sceva tried to overthrow another power base in the kingdom of darkness, but they were not strong enough to do so. Jesus taught us that “a kingdom …divided against itself…cannot stand” (Mk 3: 24; Mt 12: 25; Lk 11: 17). This will take us into another dimension of revelation that God showed me from the book of Daniel regarding power struggles in the kingdom of darkness. This too has implications for the war in Iraq (Dan 7; 10: 20; 11), but I will deal with this in another blog. That man would have been left in a worse condition if Sceva’s sons were working with a demonic authority that was greater in power than the one possessing him. Jesus said that when demons leave a person, they will go searching for occupancy elsewhere. If they cannot find it, they go back to the original home with seven stronger demons (why? To resist being cast out again) and reenter if the house if empty (Mt 12: 43 -45; Lk 11: 24-26). You have to get that person totally delivered then filled with the Holy Spirit. I myself learnt this lesson years ago and believe you me, the individual concerned had more than 12 the next time around that I cast them out. This has implications for the altar calls that we do in the church. We cannot just get people saved, but they also need to be delivered from the power of darkness. The example of the man with the demon possessed child showed that although the father believed, the Lord still had to cast that devil out to return the child back to normalcy (Mt 7: 14-18; Mk 9: 17-27). This is particularly important in nations like the USA where people dabble in the occult and have some powerful strongholds in their lives. This is why many believers remain in some states in which they enter the church. No ministry on earth should be void of the sign and wonders that should follow believers. It is for this reason that I question the validity of many so called “teaching” ministries that are lifeless and void of power.

THE OCCULT WILL ONLY SUBMIT TO THE LORD WHEN WE DEMONSTRATE HIS GREATER AUTHORITY

The kingdom of hell inadvertently testified on that day that Jesus is indeed Lord and that Paul was his servant. Did not Paul remind the Ephesian believers of this truth in his letter to them? (Eph 6: 10-18). Many of the members of the early Ephesian church were former witches, wizards, werewolves, necromancers, fortunetellers etc. Acts 19: 17 – 20 documents the dramatic impact of the event on them:

“And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and FEAR fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds. Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.”

They made a public display of their loss of confidence in the power of satan and turned from darkness to light. They publicly confessed their deeds. In other words, if you were living back then, your next door neighbour could have been in the crowd. It is no different today. You will be surprised to know the number of people who follow the teachings and practices of occult. The example for delivering them from darkness to light has already been set for us by the Lord and by his servant Paul. We too must follow the same example. It is therefore the duty of the elders to teach the methodology of spiritual warfare to enable the believers to conquer. Jesus said that the gates or authority of hell shall not prevail against the truth that He is the Son of God (Mt 16: 18). Demons know this for sure and tremble, like the demons did when they encountered Paul. The question is, do we exert this authority over them and advance the kingdom of the Lord. How well are we doing? Blessings until next time.

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