She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” – Acts 16:17 NIV
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The Apostle Paul had arrived Phillipi, a colony of the Roman empire and a leading city in the region of Macedonia, and through the help of the Holy Spirit, his sermons had been able to convince and convict Lydia who the Bible confirmed as a worshipper of God and who was eventually led to Christ – Acts. 16:5-11. He subsequently baptised her and her entire family, most probably after leading them to Christ. They had finally perfected their worship of God like Cornelius also did. – Acts 16:11-15; 10:1-49.
It was this same place of prayer, where they had earlier won Lydia and her entire family over to Christ, that they were going when they met a young slave girl whom the Bible says, earned great fortune for her owners by fortune telling and her ability to predict the future – Acts 16:16. According to Luke, who was a medical doctor and the writer of the book of Acts of the Apostles, the young lady followed the Apostle Paul and his entourage for many days repeating loudly the scripture which is the foundation of today’s devotional until she started constituting a nuisance value in the view of the Apostle Paul. He had no choice but to exorcise the spirit from the slave girl who, subsequently could no longer earn money for her owners with that gift.
This as expected did not go down well with her owners who immediately seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the market place to face the authorities. They were promptly charged on two counts;
- That they are Jews who have come to disrupt the peace of a Roman city.
- That they were foreigners who were advocating customs that were unlawful for Romans to accept or practice.
The Almighty God definitely had a task for the Apostle Paul to accomplish in Phillipi as earlier revealed. He was still in Troas when in a dream, he was shown a man who was inviting him over to Macedonia to help them. What else could he be expected to go there to do, other than to preach the good news which has been his main task since he was called on his way to Damascus – Acts 9:1-31. He did arrive in the district of Macedonia and settled in the Roman colony of Phillipi which was a leading city in that region. No sooner had he settled down that he sought out a place of prayer by the river just outside the city gate where he started ministering on Sabbath days heralding the Good news. With the help of the Holy Spirit, he was able to convince Lydia who was a confirmed worshipper of the Almighty God and together with her family, they got baptised – Acts 16:11-15.
All these was achieved without drawing much attention as he was merely ministering weekly in the place of prayer and it did not seem like he was noticed anywhere else until during one of his visits to the place of prayer, he was met by a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future and earned great deal of fortune for her owners by fortune telling.
Her activities would probably not have meant anything to the Apostle Paul and his entourage, at least initially, but she was constantly following them and shouting that the Apostle Paul and his entourage were servants of the Most High God who were telling people the way to be saved – Acts 16:17.
Ordinarily, this should have meant nothing and may even be considered as positive as one would have thought that it should help in introducing the men and their mission. That was until the possible real intention behind the publicity was gradually being revealed. She was not doing what she was doing to the advantage of the Apostle Paul and his entourage but that was her way of alerting the authorities to the potential damage that their activities could cause.
Firstly, they were representatives of the Most High God. Although she recognised that the god that Paul and his entourage were representing was the Most High God, that definitely was not the god that she was representing. The law of self preservation would make anyone quickly know that the shouting was to draw attention to the danger that she and all those who benefitted from her gift were in. These were no ordinary men and they were not representing an ordinary god but the Most High God, a god definitely bigger than the one that she and all the beneficiaries of her services were acknowledging.
Secondly, they were in the city telling people the way to be saved. Now, that should have gotten anyone alerted and the question to be asked should have been, “saved from who or what?”. No doubt what the Apostle Paul was preaching would deliver the people from the spiritual enslavement of the slave girl and her masters but they probably did not understand her message or were probably too engrossed in the massive profit they were making, for them to see the imminent threat that the slave girl was referring to and thus react earlier. These men were not also armed with any physical weapon, so they definitely could not be planning to save the people from the enslavement of the Roman government, so maybe for once, they actually had to doubt her message. The Apostle Paul, however probably saw the danger of these unnecessary publicity and took a decision to exorcise the slave girl of the spirit operating in her. He commanded the spirit to leave the girl in the name of Jesus Christ and instantly, the spirit departed leaving the slave girl very ordinary and no longer in a position to earn fortune for her masters – Acts 16:18.
Christians need to watchout always for these negative spirits most of who are operating in the Church today. They pretend to be of God and unfortunately because of the precision with which they predict the future and the perceived advantage that their services is bringing to the people, many Christians have been deceived into believing that they are of God. There will be the need to keep such negative spirits quiet and far away from the children of God. Though, they should not be sent out of the church as they also need deliverance, a quick identification will help to save other innocent members of the body of Christ from being victims of their negative spirit and falsehood. It should also not be surprising if there are people especially church leaders who are benefitting from such evil spirits and powers, and so do little or nothing to stop their operations. The foundation of some of those congregations or all those miracles on display is sometimes courtesy of the spiritual support provided by these people with spirits of this nature. The strong backing given to the activities of the ministry by these spirits encourages such spiritual leaders to turn their eyes away from negative activities of these evil spirits. Such leaders must know that, nothing the devil gives ever lasts and so, it will be better for them desist from such connivance that continues to expose innocent souls to potential destroyers. They need to also remember that there will always be a day of reckoning when they will have to render account of their stewardship.
But until then, true Christians should not be ignorant of the possibility of this occurring in their environment. They should remember that they only are responsible for the safety of their soul. It is true that the spiritual leader and the false prophets will render account, but that will be after departure from this realm. Until then, the Christian that is not spiritually alert will remain a victim of his/her naivety only to be blaming the Almighty God for unanswered prayers or worse still may believe that it is the Will of God for his/her life. That may be too much price to pay for being spiritually naïve. Take charge of your spiritual life by heeding the advise of the disciple John to all who do not want to be victim of false prophets, to test all spirits – 1Jn. 4:1. Every spirit, that is, and not prophet. To test every spirit means to test every prophecy as different from testing prophets. Testing a prophet could just be a process carried out once in a while but testing the prophecy will mean that every time, the prophecy is assessed, not only in terms of its correctness but also the spirit in operation during the prophecy. That is the only way the Christian can protect himself from the danger of being consumed by the deception of negative spirits. May God grant his children the ability to successfully test all spirits so as to be saved from the destruction caused by their deceitful pronouncements in Jesus name. Amen.