The cost of ignoring the demonic is the self-subjection to a level of ignorance that neither wisdom nor scripture, or even the Christian experience permits.
The Church has done a great disservice to its people, too, by not teaching, clarifying, or even acknowledging the demonic. In our opening act of Restoration U last Thursday this was the theme Brian was looking to drive home. To 'know your enemy' is to be tactical and shrewd, not feeble or weak, and recognizing that we war against real principalities, rulers and authorities, not flesh and blood diversions, is critical to a life of nearness with God.
The 'Sons of Sceva' Effect
The Book of Acts tells a story of some Jews, and included in their company were seven Sons of Sceva. Acts 19 details their interaction with a demon possessed man and how things went south for the brothers. The important part of this story, though, as Pastor Brian pointed out Thursday, is the result, even after the sons were whipped, fled, and shamed by this evil spirit. Verse 17 says that "when this [story] 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." Why? The demon acknowledged Jesus and Paul, but had no gauge for the sons of Sceva. The rest of the scripture adds that many who would come to believe came to the apostles with repentant hearts and put to death the deeds of old, having to do specifically with sorcery.
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. ACTS 19:13-19 - NIV
Brian's point in hanging out for a time in this scripture was A. We must have authority and exercise it when confronting the demonic & B. The authority that we do possess can bring freedom to people and fame to God. If the entire region of Ephesus, both Jew and Greek alike, was gripped with fear because of an unsuccessful exorcism, then our authority over the demonic realm, when exercised, can be just as powerful if not more powerful.
Casting out Demons is Part of our Commission
It's made clear in each of the four Gospel accounts that casting out demons, or unclean spirits, is part of the deal, as regards the Christian's commission. It has been unfortunately a ministry greatly neglected, with little faith surrounding it in the church, but none-the-less it's there in our plain, straightforward instruction from Jesus himself. The world has different terms for this type of phenomena or manifestation, medical and psychological terms mainly, but no such lofty, intellectual verbiage is used in all of scripture. A woman bent double, a man with epilepsy, a lunatic raving in a cave - none of these instances and others in the Bible were a result of genetics, mental deficiencies, or psychological abnormalities: they were evil spirits. This realm is probably more common than we know, and the more we press the envelope in faith and acknowledge these types of things, for freedom's sake, the more we'll see this stuff, and it shouldn't frighten us. As Brian shared in this vein, "these buggers [demons] don't want to be talked about."
Going after 'Unforgiveness'
Week 1 of Restoration U culminated with a call to forgive, others and possibly even more importantly: ourselves. Brian pointed out that as much as 90% of instances of deliverance deal with issues of unforgiveness. So when Brian called on anyone wanting to be free of such bondage, about 1/3 or more of the some 75 people in attendance rose to their feet.
Brian prayed for divine exchanges, where trades were taking place, bondage for freedom and doubt and adversity for faith, and there was something happening in the room. As a spectator, I sensed that even more than releasing others, this, especially, was a powerful time of self-forgiveness. I felt veils and burdens being lifted and self criticism and self-hatred being disspelled.
Brian also made mention that the goal of i61, and Restoration U more specifically, is what verse four states in Isaiah 61. We're a people, that once restored, are to rebuild old ruins, raise up former desloations, and repair the ruined cities, and the desolations of many generations.
And they shall rebuild the old ruins, They shall raise up the former desolations, And they shall repair the ruined cities,The desolations of many generations. ISAIAH 61:4 NKJV
THIS WEEK: 'Standing Firm' Pastor Adam Bower