Note: This is a devotional from our Pivotal series. For more, please go here.

Most of us are not trying to get acquainted with demons. That’s a good thing. But what does it mean when you pop up on the demons’ radar screen?

That’s kind of what happened in Acts 19. Seven brothers decided to venture into some type of amateur exorcism activity. I imagine they may not have been very successful at first, so in an attempt to draw up some more business, they did something every good competitor does—they adopted their opponents’ tactics.

So the next time they encountered a demon, they tried out their newly retooled tricks. They said, “In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” (Acts 19:13) There was only one problem–the demons had not clue who these guys were! In fact, they said, “Jesus I know and Paul I know about, but who are you?” And that was just the prelude because the next thing that happened to the “magnificent seven” standing there was that one single spirit beat those guys so badly they ran away bruised and naked. So, in this case, not being known by a demon was bad news indeed.

The point is that just invoking God’s Name against demons does not ensure victory over them. God cannot be a mere token and we cannot use His power unless it’s derived from having a vibrant personal relationship with God.

There is a broader application to the principle behind this story, and I don’t mean just that demons too can have a sense of humor…I mean that power comes with knowledge. You can’t brandish somebody’s name if you haven’t personally experienced that person’s power.

This was true of the Apostles, by the way. In Acts 4, Peter delivered a powerful sermon but something didn’t add up. The so-called religious experts knew guys like Peter—they were uneducated Galileans, whose accent sounded horrendous to the ears of the Judea elite; they were brutish fishermen who had no business being in the rostrum, and academia despised them. But the speech Peter gave was brilliant. So what’s going on here?

They didn’t have any trouble figuring it out. Luke said, “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13) Bingo! Peter could invoke Jesus’ power because he was on a first name basis with Him. Know Jesus, then, and He will make you better, smarter, and more powerful. End of story.

The alternative is not only ill advised, it could be fatal. Jesus spoke of that in somber tones when He stated that there will be many people on the last day who will say that they did this and that in the name of Jesus—prophecy, miracles, etc. But there is only one problem, again, Jesus will say, “Depart from me, you evil doers; I never knew you.” (Matthew 7:23)

So I guess you don’t have to worry about whether the demons know you or not because if you truly know Jesus, the demons will know you. And they will tremble. End of story.

Questions to ponder

1. Is there any part of your walk with Christ where you may be simply going through the motions instead of drinking deeply from the source of power, Jesus Himself?

2. Do you truly know Jesus or do you know know about Him?

3. Can you point to someone whom you can categorically say, “knows God,” and if so, what are the signs this person exhibits that proves this to you?