In all likelihood, this practice began because of what is said in Acts 19:11-12, “And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.”

The Lord used the Apostle Paul in a great and unique way. He was the apostle to the Gentiles. (Romans 11:13). He was taken to Heaven for special revelations. (2 Corinthians 12:1-9). He was able to impart a spiritual gift to Timothy. (2 Timothy 1:6). He is the last Apostle. (1 Corinthians 15:1-10). And ‘God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul.”

The Apostle Peter was also used greatly and uniquely by the Lord. We read in Acts 5:15-16, “Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, THAT AT THE LEAST THE SHADOW OF PETER PASSING BY MIGHT OVERSHADOW some of them. There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and THEY WERE HEALED EVERY ONE.”

The fact that the Lord used Paul and Peter in great and miraculous ways served to authenticate their ministries. We need to remember that the Word of God was not yet completed so the Lord performed miracles through His agents to show that what they were teaching was truly from Him. Today, how do we know if a person’s message is truly from the Lord? We compare their messages with the Word of God to make sure their words agree with God’s Word. While speaking in Berea, Paul commended the believers there because they listened to his message and then compared it with the scriptures to make sure he was speaking the truth. Acts 17:10-11, “And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”

Returning to Acts 19, we find there were some who tried to imitate Paul’s miraculous deeds, with tragic results. We read in Acts 19:13-16, “Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.” It is so dangerous to try to operate with a gift you do not have.

Simply put, we do not need handkerchiefs, aprons, holy water, pieces of cloth, or any other article to protect us from evil today. James 4:7 instructs us, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” The order here is vital.

FIRST – We submit ourselves to the Lord. Humbly we place our lives in His hands for Him to lead us. 1 Peter 5:6, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.”

SECOND – Only after we submit ourselves to the Lord, do we have the ability to resist the devil’s temptations. (Read about the ‘whole armour of God’ in Ephesians 6:13-18.)

THIRD – The devil will run away when he recognizes that we are safely in the Lord’s hands and are being led of Him. Though he will certainly return and tempt you again, as long as you are living in submission to the Lord, you will still overcome his temptations. This is how we are protected from evil! (300.2)