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The Sons of Sceva

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A Sermon on Acts 19:13-16

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. (ESV)

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Many in the modern church are like the seven sons of Sceva who know of Christianity, but they are not truly regenerate. As Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones preaches from Acts 19:13–16, they have yet to give up their worldly ways and believe in the truth of the gospel. Many associate themselves with the church for social or financial gain. They are self-deceived hypocrites who try to use Christianity for worldly gain and pleasures. Many of these people are simply humanists or socialists who use Christianity as a platform for their ideologies. This kind of association for gain has been prevalent whenever Christianity is viewed as socially expedient. But this has the terrible effect of creating false believers who have never truly believed in the gospel of Jesus Christ or repented of their sins. This is why there are so many Christians who resemble the world more than Christ. The answer to this is a call to true faith in the only gospel that can save. It is a call for all to turn from their sins and hypocrisy and be born again to a new life in Christ. The church must be clear that to be a Christian one must have been regenerated and given a new nature that comes from the work of the Holy Spirit.

Additional Scripture Translations

Acts 19:13-16, New American Standard Bible

13But also some of the Jewish exorcists, who went from place to place, attempted to use the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had the evil spirits, saying, “I order you in the name of Jesus whom Paul preaches!” 14Now there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, doing this. 15But the evil spirit responded and said to them, “I recognize Jesus, and I know of Paul, but who are you?” 16And the man in whom was the evil spirit, pounced on them and subdued all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.

Acts 19:13-16, King James Version

13¶ Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. 14And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. 15And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? 16And 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.

About Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.