READING: Acts 16-17
It was a strange demonic encounter, actually. Paul and his team were in Philippi, where they met a girl “who had a spirit by which she predicted the future” (Acts 16:16). Others must have thought she was good at it, for she earned her owners a lot of money. What was strange was that she followed behind Paul, crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved” (Acts 16:17). The demon-possessed girl, it seems, was giving Paul free publicity.
In fact, she did this for many days until Paul finally got aggravated and cast the demon out with a simple phrase: “In the name of Jesus I command you to come out of her” (Acts 16:18). Paul’s reasons for his actions may have been many. Maybe the girl’s hollering was distracting, keeping others from hearing. Perhaps she was simply adding Paul’s God to her pantheon of other gods. Or, it may have been that Paul had no intention of allowing a demon to proclaim the message he was called to preach. Whatever the reason, Paul was annoyed enough to take authority over the evil spirit.
It would seem, then, that the battle was over — but that was not the case. The girl’s owners were so frustrated by their loss of income that they seized Paul and Silas, and the magistrates eventually cast them into prison. Paul freed the girl from a spirit and wound up in bondage himself at the hands of angry owners. The battle just continued in a different form.
Two truths leap from these stories. First, demons are real enemies, but it is evil in the human heart that most stands in the way of the work of the gospel. The owners, the crowd, and the magistrates most opposed Paul and his work. Second, God trumps even the enemy’s wins. Yes, Paul and Silas were imprisoned, but it was in the prison that they led the jailor and his family to the Lord. In a way that only God can do, He used the temporary victory of evil men to bring eternal victory to a repentant man and his household.
He's quite a God who uses the enemy to defeat the enemy.
- Don’t let others be the only ones who proclaim the good news of Jesus. Tell somebody about the One who brings salvation.
- If you feel like you are in bondage today, pray and sing God’s praises anyway, as Paul and Silas did. Focus on Him more than your circumstances.
PRAYER: “God, You’re an incredible God. Keep teaching me about You.”
TOMORROW'S READING: Acts 18-20