One day as we were going down to the place of prayer, we met a slave girl who had a spirit that enabled her to tell the future. She earned a lot of money for her masters by telling fortunes. She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, and they have come to tell you how to be saved.” This went on day after day until Paul got so exasperated that he turned and said to the demon within her, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And instantly it left her. Her masters’ hopes of wealth were now shattered, so they grabbed Paul and Silas and dragged them before the authorities at the marketplace. “The whole city is in an uproar because of these Jews!” they shouted to the city officials. “They are teaching customs that are illegal for us Romans to practice.” A mob quickly formed against Paul and Silas, and the city officials ordered them stripped and beaten with wooden rods. They were severely beaten, and then they were thrown into prison. The jailer was ordered to make sure they didn’t escape. (Acts of the Apostles 16:16-23 NLT)
It seems that the group continued to frequent the place of prayer. This could have been the gathering place for the church. On their way to this location they encountered a woman who was said to have had supernatural ability to tell the future of others. This is called a spirit of divination (supposedly using "divine" powers to tell things unknown to mere mortals). This woman followed the group and consistently professed, loudly, that "these are the men of the Most High God and have come to tell you how to be saved". What she was saying was true! The spirit she was saying this from and the repetitive, interruptive manner in which she spoke it was disorderly. Paul discerned her evil motive and grew weary with her constant remarks. Recognizing this woman as demon possessed, Paul turns to her, and in the power of the Holy Spirit, spoke to the demon to come out of her in Jesus name!!! Immediately the demon fled. The woman was employed, as a slave, by men who were using her to make money in this fraudulent way. Now that she was free from the demonic powers, she was no longer of use to her masters. They became angry because they lost their "cash cow." Their only interest was making a dollar. They didn't care for her at all. They used her for their selfish purposes. Sounds like a lot of business dealings today.
The preaching of the truth didn't seem to bother these people until it hit their pocket book. Sounds like some church folks I know. We want our religious encouragement and liturgy so we can satisfy our consciences, but, when the power of the Holy Spirit invades our private enterprises and exposes our selfish, money driven hearts, we get bent out of shape. We have people in church that will say all the right spiritual jargon and can speak the church "lingo", but they will turn on us in an instant when the light of the Word is broadcast. We need more Holy Spirit discernment in the church. We need demons exposed and expelled. We need only those people saying "Amen" or "Praise God" that are doing so under the Spirit of God! If the Holy Spirit is speaking, say on my brothers and sisters! If He isn't, we need to sit down and listen to the Word of God! God grant us true discernment and true hearts!
When the masters of this girl saw that their fortunes were lost, they stirred up the city against Paul and his comrades. They drug them before the city authorities and orders were given to have them beaten. They were beaten publicly and then they were locked up in prison.
These men had gone from peaceful messengers to criminals in an instant because of the hatred of evil men. They were lied about and unnecessarily beaten and imprisoned. What a price to pay for speaking the truth! You and I are in a culture that is more interested in religious appeasement than truth. The price may be high for our willingness to stand for, and preach, the truth. Are you willing to pay the price?
Rev. Curtis Norris