Acts 16:16-21 (NIV)
16 Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. 17 This girl 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.” 18 She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so troubled that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her. 19 When the owners of the slave girl realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. 20 They brought them before the magistrates and said, “These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar 21 by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.”
Years ago, liberal theologians tried to “strip away” the supernatural from the Gospels and Acts. Even today, you will still find churches who reject the idea of God’s miraculous intervention in the lives of humans. But happily, they are in the minority of Christians. In fact, Americans in general believe in the supernatural. 8 of 10 Americans believe in angels and 66% believe in demons. So humanists may be winning some battles, but not this one.
Here we see Paul and Silas face to face with a demon – and we can gain some insight into how they work:
- Open Doors and Money – as you know, demons come to a place of influence in the lives of humans through open doors. In this particular situation, the open door was economic. This slave girl was making her owner a “great deal” of money by predicting the future. When they lost their cash cow, they became angry. In the same way, many of the most demonic structures in society today are tied to economics. I can think of a million examples: abortion, human trafficking, drug trafficking, pornography, deception from national leaders – all of these make lots of folks very rich. That is why it is so difficult to pull down these spiritual strongholds in our nation – people get angry when you mess with their money. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (1 Timothy 6:10, NIV)
- Mixed Messages – demons, of course, take their marching orders from the father of lies. That’s why they are such master deceivers. They often gain traction by sending mixed messages. In this situation with Paul and Silas, the young girl was telling the truth: they were servants of God and showing the way to salvation. But at the same time, she was a distraction from the message and she was gaining credence (and more customers) by implying that she was on the same “team” as the Apostles. Of course, we see the same thing today: demonically inspired power structures use misleading arguments to lead people astray. Again, a million examples come to mind: gay marriage as “equality”, abortion as “personal choice”, pornography as a “first amendment right.” Who wants to take a stand against equality, choice, and the first amendment?!
But in the end, truth is truth and demons are demons. At some point, we’ve got to (like Paul) get fed up enough to take a stand – whether that’s in our community, nation, or personal lives. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1, NIV)
Stay free, my friends!