I always find this vignette in Acts 19 instructive:
“But also some of the Jewish exorcists, who went from place to place, attempted to name over those who had the evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, “I adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preaches.” Seven sons of one Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. And the evil spirit answered and said to them, “I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” And the man, in whom was the evil spirit, leaped on them and subdued all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.” (verses 13-16)
If our faith in Christ is not a personal faith, then it is nothing more than a bit of trivial knowledge. If our faith is rooted only in what we have heard of Him from others – and not in what He Himself has taught us as we’ve sat at His feet in prayer and study of Scripture, then we do nothing more than imitate Sceva’s seven sons.
They relied on their impersonal and 'hand-me-down' knowledge of Christ – and it resulted in complete failure.
Fast forward 2100 years. Nothing is different about Christ-centered faith today. Only a personal faith and relationship with Jesus grants us the authority to overcome the darkness in our own lives -- and through prayer, the darkness in the lives of others.
The Christmas season is a great time to reexamine ourselves. What kind of relationship do we have with Jesus?
And what must we do to make it better?