“. . . confessing and disclosing their practices.” Acts 19:18
Conflict. Combat. Confrontation. These are descriptions of the Christian life. Many Christians today suffer from an unbalanced tendency for comfort and safety. The proof that our relationship is right with God is that we persevere in battle, regardless of how we feel.
It comes as no surprise that frequent ways the Christian life is portrayed in the New Testament is that of a life of a soldier. It’s more than a clever metaphor, it’s the whole context for following Jesus. For to follow Jesus is to do battle with the ever-present prince of darkness.
Spiritual warfare sometimes involve exorcisms. The four exorcisms referred to in the book of Acts indicates they were a standard part of the Christian life. The first ones in Acts 5:12, 16, “those tormented by unclean spirits were all being cleansed.” Secondly, Philip drives shrieking demons out of people in Samaria in Acts 8:7. Then Paul excises a demon out of a slave girl in Acts 16:16-18. And finally, the stronghold of the seven sons were exposed, banished and overpowered in Acts 19:13-14. Freeing people from the torment of evil was a regular part of the apostles ministry.
What set the early church apart from other exorcisms being performed was not that they practiced exorcisms, but that they were so successful at it. Others were trying to mimic their power by using their words, but the demons knew who their real opponents were.
Today the conflict continues. Our problem with evil is not an intellectual problem to be resolved with contemplation, but a spiritual problem to overcome and overthrow. It’s not pious resignation, but a spiritual revolt against the forces of darkness that the victory is won.
Are you in the battle?