2 Essentials for Being a Radical 24/7 Believer
“11God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, 12so 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.
13Some 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.” 14Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15(One day) the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” 16Then 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.” Acts 19:11-16 NIV
As I read about the seven sons of Sceva, I couldn’t help but get a chill in my spine as I see the demons acknowledging Jesus and Paul. The evil spirit says, “Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” As I read that, I cannot help but to think that the demon actually feared Jesus and Paul, but had not given the seven sons of Sceva a second thought. The enemy knew exactly who the true, authentic believers were that they needed to watch out for, and the sons of Sceva were NOT the ones to be feared or respected.
When I think about that in the context of today, I recognize that the enemy still knows who the REAL followers of Jesus are. Radical, authentic, sold out, 24 hour 7days per week followers of Christ whom the enemy feared seemed to have these two overarching traits.
Authentic disciples were those who inwardly believed in Jesus.
While the sons of Sceva spoke in Jesus’ name, without really getting it. It seems obvious that they didn’t know or believe much about Jesus since they tried to claim authority by saying, “In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” In other words, they were using Jesus’ name like a version of a “Christian abracadabra”. Paul didn’t speak in Jesus’ name in order to get some mystical experience. He spoke in Jesus’ name because it was Jesus’ who sent him.
Authentic disciples know Jesus, not because He is the cultural norm, or because that would seem like the right thing to do. We know and trust Jesus because we have encountered Him and He has changed us. Praying in Jesus’ name is not simply a saying that we tack onto the end of a prayer, like “sincerely”, or “yours truly”, it means praying in the name, authority, power, and character of Jesus Christ Himself! The authentic believer truly believes in Jesus from the depths of his heart. The seven sons of Sceva spoke about the Jesus that Paul encountered. The authentic believer speaks of the Jesus that I have encountered.
Authentic disciples were those who outwardly lived their lives for Jesus.
Many times believers want to let their faith end with a certain “belief system.” Real disciples are those who outwardly live for Jesus. They have left behind the need to live for pleasure, power, greed, the pursuit of money, pride, popularity, lust, and are now LIVING FOR JESUS!
Being an authentic disciple does not mean simply believing the right creeds and theology in my head, it means putting my faith to practice. What am I doing because Jesus is leading me today? How is the Holy Spirit changing me to become more like Jesus today?
The authentic disciples of Jesus do not just speak of the Jesus we have encountered, we are totally, entirely, transformed because of the Jesus of whom we speak.
I’m not so sure that the enemy would fear the believer who simply professes his faith without putting into everyday practice.
I am a fan of mixed martial arts (or MMA) as a sport. I have great respect for fighters like Fedor Emalianenko, Randy Couture, Anderson Silva, and George Saint-Peirre, but I don’t participate in MMA. I cheer on these guys as they get up and fight, trying to be the best at what they do. I am a fan of MMA, but I am not a follower. My actions are not different because I watch MMA. It does not change me if Randy Couture wins or loses a fight. My lifestyle is the same if I watch MMA on television or if I don’t. I am absolutely a fan, but I am not at all a follower.
Paul teaches in Acts, that the enemy of our souls knows who the followers of Jesus are (like Paul) and he is not so concerned about the fans of Jesus (the seven sons of Sceva)! There may be many people who cheer on Jesus and cheer on the church. They like hearing about God, but nothing about the Gospel or the Holy Spirit changes their lifestyles or habits. They are fans of Jesus and fans of the church, but they are not followers. Life is no different after hearing about Jesus as it was before hearing about Jesus. Satan fears the sold out followers of Jesus, not the adoring fans of Jesus. Satan fears and knows the reputation of believers who are willing to give their very best and throw their hearts over the line for God. He doesn’t fear or even pay attention to the fan of Jesus who goes to church on Sunday and does nothing about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Lord Jesus I don’t want to settle to be a fan of Yours, but a follower. I don’t want to settle for mediocrity in my relationship or in being Your disciple. I want to throw my heart over the line and give my whole life, all that I am, to be an on fire, radical, 24/7, sold out believer in You. Amen.