Q. I have heard Acts 19:13-16 used to support that only those called to the ministries of deliverance and spiritual warfare may cast out demons in Jesus’ name. But that doesn’t seem right to me. It seems to me that anyone with the Holy Spirit in them should be able to invoke his name and that forces of hell must obey. I do notice that that the exorcists in Acts 19 were Jews, not Christians, But I don’t see how it relates to the demon’s response. Why was the demon unaffected by the use of the Lord’s name? I thought demons couldn’t stand to hear the name of Jesus. Can you help clarify what this passage is saying?
A. Acts 19:13-16 says:
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 Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” 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.
The passage is clear in stating that these were Jews using the name of “Jesus, whom Paul preaches” in their exorcism efforts. But they had no right to do this. The demons, recognizing this as an unauthorized use of the Lord’s name by people who didn’t even believe in His power, questioned their right to do so.
In chasing them off, the demons showed that it’s not the name that has power over them but the One who is called by the name. By authorizing His followers to use His name (John 14:13) Jesus gave us the right to act on His behalf, but this right has not been granted to anyone else.