And the evil spirit answered and said,
“Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?”
– Acts 19:15
There is no secondhand spirituality. No one else can develop Christian maturity on your behalf. A strong Christian heritage is an asset, but it cannot take the place of your own vibrant, growing relationship with Christ.
Paul had a powerful walk with God. God used him so mightily that extrordinary miracles occurred through his life. Cloths that touched Paul were taken to the sick, and the sick were healed (Acts 19:10-12). Evil spirits were cast out. Paul’s preaching and teaching were instrumental in building a strong church in Ephesus. Paul’s ministry was so impressive, in fact, that others tried to duplicate it.
Seven sons of the chief priest, Sceva, attmpted to cast demons the way Paul did. They confronted an evil sprit and attmpted to exorcise it “by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.” These men were trying to use a spiritual power that Paul had acquired after years of walking closely with his Lord. They could imitate Paul’s words, but they could not duplicate the power that was his through his personal relationship with God. The evil spirit retored, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are you?” The demon then viciously attacked them and humiliated them. The evil spirits were fearfully aware of Jesus (James 2:19); they were familiar with Paul’s influence over the powers of darkness. But the demons had no knowledge of the seven sons of Sceva.
You can duplicate the words and deeds of a spiritually mature Christian, but you cannot inherit his or her walk with God. Christian maturity takes effort; it comes over time. If you ignore the place of prayer and if you neglect your relationship with Christ, you will not grow in your faith. Imitating the faith of others will not give you victory. Only as you nurture your own relationship with Jesus will your life be filled with spiritual maturity and power.
Excerpts republished with permission from Experiencing God Day by Day by Henry T. Blackaby and Richard Blackaby c. 1997 B&H Publishing Group.