Recently a strong believer was visiting my home when another believer happened to be present, casting demons out of a woman. I had given the man permission use my home to cast out the demons, but I was in my workshop, not realizing that he had arrived, and that the work was in progress.
The believer who happened by at the time of the exorcism came out to where I was, very upset over the method of exorcism that the other guy was using. It was not the method the second guy used, so it was, of course, wrong… He left in anger because I would not go in and stop the exorcist from getting rid of the demons.
It was not the method I use to cast demons out of people, either, but he seems to get them out most of the time, so I was OK. The situation reminded me of the story Luke shared in what we call chapter 9 of his writing, verse 49. Right after the disciples were arguing about who among them was the greatest, John told Jesus about a man they had seen while they were on the Kingdom-preaching mission they had just returned from, having been proving how great they all were. He had been casting out demons in Jesus’ name. The disciples stopped him from doing it, because he was not following them. Jesus responded that they should not have stopped him, because whoever was not against them was for them.
In Acts 19, Luke described an event that happened to a group of Jewish “exorcists.” The word used to describe them is only in the Bible in verse 13 of Acts 19. Strong’s dictionary of New Testament words defines it as someone who “binds by an oath or spell; a conjurer.”
There were seven sons of a high priest named Sceva who were practicing this witchcraft, which I believe to be an early form of what has come to be known as “Kaballah.” It is a very loose collective of writings and/or teachings by Jewish mystics that intend to explain how the world works and how to manipulate its forces or defend oneself from them.
When they tried to cast out demons “…in the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches,” the demon replied, “Jesus I know, and Paul I have heard of, but who are you?” He then empowered the man he was possessing to beat the seven of them until they ran out of the house and down the street “naked and bleeding.”
I am suggesting that the contrast between Paul’s success at casting demons out of people and the wandering exorcists’ lack of success was hinged on knowing and listening to Jesus, not on knowing the rules on how to deal with demons.