Who Are You?

by Pastor Peter Baugh

"And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them. Then 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. And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. And 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. 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 pieces of silver. So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed." (Acts 19: 11-20)

"Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?" What an intriguing question. "Who are ye?" We find it posed by the devil-possessed man to the seven sons of Sceva who were attempting to perform an exorcism. "Who are ye?" We can almost hear the sneer in the voice of this deranged demoniac. We can almost see the snarl, the lip curled in derision, the leering grin of a madman. "Who are ye?"

Contextually, this confrontation took place at Ephesus, during the two-year ministry of the Apostle Paul in that city. From Scripture, we know that this city was a cesspool of occult activity. A C Gaebelien described it like this:

"Ephesus was a stronghold of Satan. Here many evil things both superstitious and satanic were practiced. Books containing formula for sorcery and other ungodly and forbidden arts were plentiful in that city. The Jews themselves were contaminated with these practices."

Thus it becomes obvious that this two-year ministry of the Apostle Paul represented an ongoing spiritual warfare. Ephesus was a battlefield. On the one side stood arrayed the hosts of Satan. On the other side stood Paul and a growing body of believers who had rejected the occult activity that festered there, a small band led by an apostle, under the captain of our salvation, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Over the course of the campaign for Ephesus, numerous conflicts took place. Scripture makes it clear that the cause of Christ emerged victorious in verse 20:

"And so mightily grew the word of God and prevailed."

However, we do notice that this word "prevailed" appears more than once in this passage. It occurs the first time in verse 16:

"And the man in whom the unclean spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed..."

This is the only instance in this inspired record that indicates a victory of any kind for the hosts of darkness at Ephesus. It therefore stands as a sobering warning for Christians of every age afterwards of the dangers involved in spiritual warfare. It ought to be duly considered, and taken much to heart.

I. The Facade
We notice that these seven sons of Sceva may have seemed spiritual to those around them. Their language sounds spiritual. "We adjure thee by Jesus whom Paul preacheth." They knew how to talk the talk. They knew the right terminology. They knew how to associate themselves with spiritual leaders in such a way that they too would appear spiritual. They were much like many of us in independent Fundamental Baptist circles today. We often want to talk about the great men of God of the past, and identify with them. We often want to blow the trumpet before us in the synagogues about our stand as Baptists and our Baptist heritage, and the faithful Baptist forefathers who have gone before us and paid the price for their faith. We know how to talk about the King James Bible. We know all of the technical terminology about manuscript evidence and textual criticism and can throw it around like real scholars. But talk doesn't cut it when it comes to real spiritual warfare. Talk is cheap.

It's easy to look the part too. It's easy to go to the barber shop and get a nice sharp haircut that lines up with the Word of God. It's easy to run down to the local Men's Wearhouse and pick up a suit that will really make an impression at the next preacher's fellowship. It's easy to purchase a nice wrinkle-free suit and a set of cuff links to accent that we can show off on Sunday morning. It's easy to keep our shoes nice and shiny. But clothes don't make the man. You can have the nicest tailored suit available, but that still does not answer the question of the spirit world. "Who are you?"

II. The Falsehood
You see the longer I run in independent Fundamental Baptist circles, the more I am convinced that there are a lot of these little "sons of Sceva" in our midst. Worse than that, it seems that today that we have far more "sons of Sceva" among us than we have "Apostle Pauls." We all know how to talk the talk. We all know how to throw out the phraseology that will make us look good at church or at the Bible college, or at the preacher's fellowship. We all know how to look the part. That's easy. But the real question is, "Who are you?" Who are you personally? Who are you inside? Who are you in private? Who are you before the Lord? Who are you in your prayer life? As my dear friend, Dr Bob Hamlen puts it, "Are you known in the spirit world?" It's about a lot more than just talk. It's about how we live before the Lord. It's about our walk with God. It's about having genuine spiritual power with God to prevail in spiritual warfare. These seven sons of Sceva knew how to talk the talk. Perhaps they knew how to look the part. But underneath all of the jargon and veneer they had nothing. And I fear that all too often, that is the case in our independent Fundamental Baptist churches, colleges, and fellowships today.

III. The Feebleness
These seven sons of Sceva knew how to maintain an external appearance of spirituality, but in terms of spiritual power, they were bankrupt. Commenting upon the parallels between them and our independent Fundamental Baptist churches, colleges, and fellowships of today borders upon overstatement. I ask today, "Where is the power?" Praise the Lord for the great men of God of the past, but where is the power today? Praise the Lord for our Baptist forefathers and their faithfulness, and their willingness to pay the ultimate price, but where is the power today? I can tell you where we won't find it. We won't find it on the golf course after we rush through the preaching to make sure that we leave plenty of time for a few holes! We won't find it at the continental breakfast before the preacher's fellowship next month. We won't find it at the next church barbecue on Memorial Day as we stuff our faces with hot dogs and hamburgers. We won't find it at the pizza party, or the "laser-tag lock-down" or at the Six Flags theme park on our next youth rally.

I can already hear the criticism: "There's nothing wrong with those activities." Perhaps not. But what I am saying is that the church has lost a biblical sense of priorities, and therein has lost biblical, spiritual power. It seems that the only thing that anyone wants to do anymore in our churches is play games. Well, the Apostle Paul wasn't playing games. Our Baptist forefathers weren't playing games. The great men of God who had the fullness and the power of the Holy Ghost, and who led the great revivals that swept Europe and America in bygone days weren't playing games. And it is high time that this generation of independent Fundamental Baptists threw their golf clubs in the river and got down prostrate before God and spent quality time seeking his face, his grace, his mercy, his forgiveness, his pardon, his power, and his renewed blessings, because if there's one word that does not describe out independent Fundamental Baptist churches today, it is the word "prevailed."

IV. The Failure
The end result of the endeavors made by these powerless men was an inevitable failure. They failed miserably. And the simple conclusion to this whole matter is that God will not give us special treatment in the matter of spiritual warfare. The only way that we will prevail is by getting serious about this matter of spiritual power, following the example of the Apostle Paul and our Baptist forefathers and replacing all the games and nonsense in our local churches and Bible colleges with an earnest pursuit of God's renewed enablement and blessing. We are going to have to start paying the price. We are going to have to start backing up our talk about the Lord with a deep and genuine walk with the Lord. We are going to have get on our faces before God and implore his forgiveness and mercy for our casual and carnal Christianity. We are going to have to get back to the "Sweet Hour of Prayer." We are going to have to get back to the old-time prayer meetings. We are going to have to get back to fasting. We are going to have to back to reading and memorizing our King James Bibles, instead of just talking and arguing about them. Until we do, we will be nothing more than modern-day "sons of Sceva," pathetic and feeble failures, subject to ridicule and scorn and the taunting question of the unclean spirit world, "Who are you?" http://www.baptistwitness.com/archives/2010/april/who-are-you.html

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