Acts 19: 15 One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?”
In most sporting matches or sporting events there are a few athletes who stand out in the crowd. When I used to participate in triathlons, Nordic ski races or running races, there was always the racer who everyone knew. If you had any intention of winning that race, you always knew you would have to find some way to beat that pre-race favourite. Everyone’s eyes were on them before the race; all the talk was about their last performance: “Did you hear how much they won their last race by? They wrecked the competition!”
It is the same for team sports. In hockey it might be the winger who is the league sniper, potting goals at a ferocious pace; or the American football wide receiver who no defensive back can cover; or the basketball point guard whose vicious cross overs are affectionately known as “anklebreakers”.
This story in Acts 19 is a very interesting one. If you read the above verse in context (verses 13-20) you hear the story of the seven sons of a Jewish chief priest who were going around driving out evil spirits and to do so they 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.” One day the evil spirit actually answered and let them know that they knew Jesus and Paul but not them. The man with the evil spirit jumped on them and “he gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding”.
I can picture some adventurous young men looking for some danger, some adventure, looking for an opportunity to be honoured amongst their people (perhaps wanting to be honoured like their father the chief priest), but what they instead received was humiliation. And God used this opportunity to turn the tables around and ensure that honour was restored to its rightful place. “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” (vs 17).
This story brings up a very interesting question. Would an evil spirit know you? Unlike God, Satan is not omnipotent (all powerful) or omnipresent (present everywhere at the same time), so I’m sure he and his minions, his demons, use their time effectively. If they sat around a board room table talking about who they fear, who is of concern to them, would your name ever come up? Are you any concern whatsoever to the realms of darkness or are you just one of the many nameless runners in a race that is of no concern to Satan? You’re living but making no impact on the Kingdom of God; perhaps you are even struggling with the same issues that the world is struggling with. Perhaps you’re even crippled and paralyzed by unconfessed sin.
If you are or were an elite athlete, you’re wired to want to be the one that other’s fear. Perhaps God is lighting that same fire in your belly today, to be the one who the demons know by name. If you feel that fire, start by getting your relationship right with your Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ. If there is unconfessed sin, then confess it, if it is simply a disinterested attitude, then ask God to get you in the game. There is a war being waged and the cost is millions of souls. The war requires men and women who are willing to “deny themselves and take up their cross and follow (him)” (Matthew 16:24)