There is a scene recorded in Acts 19 which seems to bring a little chuckle to me every time I read it. It is the mention of seven sons of a Jewish chief priest by the name of Sceva, who took it upon themselves to drive out evil spirits in the Name of the Jesus preached by Paul. (Acts 19:13) Their presumption came back on them where we read. . .
“(15) One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” (16) Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.” (Acts 19:15-16 ESV)
They invoked the Name of Jesus in its association with the preaching of Paul, but they themselves were not acknowledged! As both Jewish and Greek residents in Ephesus heard of this, it resulted in the name of the Lord Jesus being held in high honor. (Acts 19:17) It also caused them to rid themselves of practices out of place with their Christian walk. (Acts 19:18-20)
Presumption can be a dangerous thing, especially when it is action not in line with God’s Will. When Saul failed to obey the command of the Lord against the Amalekites and saved some of the best of the spoil when it was supposed to have been destroyed, God was not pleased. Though the claim was made that what was brought back was for the purpose of being sacrificed to God (1 Samuel 15:15), part of Samuel’s message to Saul was. . .
“(22) And Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. (23) For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.”” (1 Samuel 15:22-23 ESV)
Presumption is like the sin of idolatry because when we presume to do our own thing rather than following God’s Will we have declared self the authority and that our will is higher than God’s! In doing so, self has become sovereign and God has been dethroned! The reality for Saul was his own loss of the throne.
Jesus also warned lest we not be acknowledged by Him where we read. . .
“(21) Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. (22) On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ (23)And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Matthew 7:21-23 ESV)
It is presumptive when we merely engage in good works of our choice and then expect God to put His stamp of approval on them. Simply using the Name of the Lord does not validate our works any more than it worked for those seven sons of Sceva. Though I said that scene makes me chuckle, in reality it is no laughing matter! If we are not seeking the works God desires us to do, even in spite of acknowledging the Name, we could lose the acknowledgement of the Lord. Therefore, may we not merely say the Name as if the spoken words are some magic formula, but rather live the Name as in striving to walk always in His Divine Will. Our blessed position is found in remaining under the authority of His Sovereignty!
Have a great day ACKNOWLEDGED FOR DOING THE WILL OF THE FATHER!