And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled. Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.
Certain passages in the bible are very gratifying. Acts 19:11-20 is one of those. In that sense it reminds me of I Kings 18, where Elijah mocks and defeats the prophets of Baal.
However, this passage should also give us pause. The statement by the evil spirit is a somewhat frightening one. The beatdown he gives the sons of Sceva seems funny, but it stems from their lack of faith. What about us? Would the spirit recognize us, or would he send us fleeing?
It is exciting to see God at work in the above passage. The results in Ephesus for the Gospel were impressive. They appear to stem in large part from the nude scampering of Sceva's sons. This leads me back to my original question: would the evil spirit recognize us? If we say yes, then why?