We read in the New Testament about the envy and jealousy of some of the Jews towards Jesus and his disciples. One of the main groups that had such hatred for Jesus were the Scribes, Pharisees and the High Priest. After Jesus’s death, resurrection and ascension, the disciples operated with the same anointing as did Jesus. Paul was not the least among them, although his conversion happened after the death of Jesus. “And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: so that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them” (Acts 19:11-12).
Paul’s gift stirred up jealousy and competition among some of the Jews that were exorcists. They took it upon themselves to call over those who were demon possessed in the name of Jesus. They proceeded to try to cast out the demons saying, ‘we adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preaches.’ This sounded like a simple statement and could suggest that their intention was to set people free in the name of Jesus. The problem with this scenario was their motive for doing it. They were not converted and did not accept Jesus Christ as Lord and saviour.
These men had not received the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus promised would give the disciples power to do greater works. The exorcist wanted to prove that they were as good as Paul. They felt that if they could do what Paul did, then they would have favour with the crowd and gain as much following as Paul. The outcome for the men was embarrassment and a lesson about rivalry and competition. “And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded” (Acts 19:16).
These men did not have the authority to operate in the name of Jesus Christ and so the evil spirits did not submit to them. “And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye” (Acts 19:15)? Principalities and powers know our names and they know our voices. They respond to the authority given to us by Jesus Christ and the person of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us.
The world does not have the authority or the power to compete with us. Some people will try to compete with us but will not prevail against us. They may try to copy what we do and even use our words to try to get ahead. Don’t be disheartened but stand back and watch what God will do. The kingdom of darkness will always try to imitate the kingdom of light but the darkness cannot overcome the light.