16 One day we were going to the place of prayer. On the way we were met by a female slave. She had a spirit that helped her tell people what was going to happen. She earned a lot of money for her owners by doing this. 17 She followed Paul and the rest of us around. She shouted, “These men serve the Most High God. They are telling you how to be saved.” 18 She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became upset. Turning around, he spoke to the spirit that was in her. “In the name of Jesus Christ,” he said, “I command you to come out of her!” At that very moment the spirit left the woman. 19 Her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone. So they grabbed Paul and Silas. They dragged them into the market place to face the authorities. 20 They brought them to the judges. “These men are Jews,” her owners said. “They are making trouble in our city. 21 They are suggesting practices that are against Roman law. These are practices we can’t accept or take part in.” 22 The crowd joined the attack against Paul and Silas. The judges ordered that Paul and Silas be stripped and beaten with rods. 23 They were whipped without mercy. Then they were thrown into prison. The jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24 When he received these orders, he put Paul and Silas deep inside the prison. He fastened their feet so they couldn’t get away.
This is a powerful passage where the powers of this world are contended with by God in very direct ways. It is clear that the confrontation between Paul and this evil spirit in the girl is straightforward enough. Paul was annoyed by being exposed by the servant girl under the influence of the evil spirit. Just why an evil spirit drew attention to the ‘Most High God’ – seems almost stupid, but then the prideful element of the spirit was simply drawing attention to itself, in a sense saying look at me I am so good that I can even tell when an ambassador of God is around. The spirit was no match for the authority of God – but this was not the end of the story. The powers that be were then summoned to place these rabble rousers in gaol.
Forces that oppose the Kingdom of God are not always obviously demonic, sometimes they are within institutions that oppose the work of the Kingdom. We need not be surprised nor alarmed at these kinds of events. We need to be vigilant and recognise that the work of the enemy may occur in ways that may otherwise seem eminently rational, at least to some. The work of the enemy may occur from direct demonic activity or more subtle worldview issues like where people are regarded as disrupting the peace, when in-fact they are bringing freedom from tyranny, of an evil; spirit or an anti-Christ system. We need to maintain our faith in God and face each situation with the peace-filled strength of a believer in Jesus. Each of us need to develop the wisdom and faith to see breakthrough in these kinds of situations.
Father give each of us the wisdom to stand strong in the spiritual battles we face, whether direct and obvious demonic activity or more subtle world-view issues where the anti-Christ spirit is at work as well.
Written by Ps. Richard Botta