Saturday, July 30, 2022

Don’t Be a “Knockoff” Christian

 “Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are YOU?” – Acts 19:15

You know what a knockoff is, right? According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, it is “a copy that sells for less than the original; a copy or imitation of someone or something popular.” Whenever there’s a clothing or food brand that is hugely popular, there are always people looking to make a fast buck by making cheap knockoffs. Here are a few actual examples. For all you coffee lovers, have you ever saved a few bucks sipping on good ol’ “Sunbucks” Coffee? Or maybe you’ve brushed your teeth with “Crust” toothpaste. And this might be my favorite knockoff of all: Who on earth would knowingly drink “Peepi” Cola?

Well, in the Apostle Paul’s day, he established a pretty big name during the three years he spent ministering in Ephesus. In Acts 19:11-12, we read that the Holy Spirit worked “extraordinary miracles” through Paul as people were healed of illness and cured of demonic possession simply by holding aprons and handkerchiefs Paul had touched. Yes, the miracles and exorcisms God was working through Paul were “extraordinary.” And what do wannabes do when they discover something extraordinary? Posers who are just out to make a fast buck quickly come up with a knockoff. In First Century Ephesus, there wasn’t a Starducks Coffee, Crust Toothpaste or Peepi Cola, but there were a bunch of wannabes running around trying to knock off the healings and exorcisms they saw Paul doing. And it came back to bite them. 

In Paul’s day Ephesus was steeped in paganism and the occult, and medical professionals had only a basic understanding of disease and mental illness. So, most people believed the root of most illnesses was spiritual. Instead of going to a doctor, many people would just go to their friendly neighborhood exorcist to get the illness demon cast out. The chief priest in Ephesus, Sceva, had seven sons who made a living performing exorcism house calls. At some point these seven brothers must have witnessed the “extraordinary miracles” that God was working through Paul. So, they tried to cash in. Even though they didn’t believe in Jesus, they decided to invoke the name of Jesus. And even though they didn’t support or follow the Apostle Paul, they decided to invoke the name of the Apostle Paul. Things were going great … until the day these seven brothers encountered an actual demon.

When the seven sons arrived at the home of the demon-possessed man, they whipped out their new favorite exorcism line: “In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, we command you to come out!!” Well, the demon wasn’t impressed. But in my opinion, the demon DID have a pretty good sense of humor. It responded: “Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who [on earth] are you?” (v. 15). Then the possessed man pounced on all seven brothers: “He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding” (v. 16).

But even through the demon’s actions, God was working all things together for good. We read in verse 17: “When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor.” In other words, a lot of wannabe exorcists were put on notice. And Jesus’ name was lifted higher than it had ever been lifted in that town, which led to more unbelievers getting saved and more Christians repenting of their sin and growing in their faith.

Here are two insights to consider:

Insight #1: As long as God’s Spirit is moving powerfully in and through Christians and churches, there will be cheap knockoffs. So, be on guard.  Jesus and His apostles performed miracles for three reasons: 1) to show loving compassion to hurting people; 2) to teach spiritual truths; and 3) to confirm their authority as apostles of Jesus Christ. Sadly, there are some Christian leaders today whose motives for performing miracles are much different than Jesus’ motives. They save their most compassionate acts for times when they themselves are in the spotlight and the camera is rolling. Some Christian leaders use miracles to play with people’s emotions instead of using them to teach spiritual truths. Some try to manipulate a move of God for their own glory, instead of allowing Christ to get the glory. So, be on guard, Christians.

Insight #2: Today most people believe the root of all illness is physical and never spiritual, but don’t count out the healing power of prayer and the Word of God. In First Century Ephesus, most people saw a demon behind every headache and sniffle. In Twenty-First Century America, most people see a virus or disease behind every headache and sniffle. Both viewpoints are wrong. That’s not to say that your congestive heart failure or your sister’s asthma are the result of sin. But many of our illnesses and diseases ARE the result of sin.

And Christians can play a pivotal role in physical healing. Our prayers, at times, make sick people well. And when sinners repent and realign their lifestyles with the Word of God, they can actually experience healing. Make no mistake: At Impact Christian Church, we are pro-doctor and pro-medication when that medication is physically necessary for good health. But we are also pro-prayer, pro-repentance and pro-obedience-to-God’s-Word, because these things are ALSO critical for good health.

It’s too easy to be a knockoff Christian. We come to church and listen to some great music, hear an inspiring message and eat a donut on the way out the door. But don’t forget one of the most important reasons for a worship service: to get right with God. So, don’t fake it hoping to make it. Be the “real deal.” Be a man or woman of prayer and the Word of God.

Dane Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church in Victorville. Join us at Impact for Sunday services: in person at 9 a.m., or online at 10 a.m. on YouTube or Facebook Live. For more information, visit

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