The story is recorded in Acts 16:16 - 24.
The apostle Paul and his companions were on their way to a place of prayer when they were met by a slave girl who was possessed by an evil spirit. She stood in their way and shouted, "These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved." (Acts 16:17 NIV) They walked on by her but she kept following them, shouting those words. The Bible says that she did this for many days. Finally, Paul became so disturbed by her behavior and deeply grieved for her that he turned around and commanded the evil spirit to come out of her, and it did. This got Paul in trouble with the slave owners. As a slave with the ability to predict the future and tell fortunes, the girl had been a good source of income.
The girl was telling the truth. She, or the evil spirit, recognized Paul as an apostle who could show people the way to salvation. Evil spirits told the truth about Jesus too. He also commanded that they leave the people they inhabited. (Matthew 8:29) Why did this truthful proclamation by the demon bother Paul? Wasn't it a good thing?
- Paul cared about the gospel.
The demons who proclaimed who Jesus was and who Paul was were controlled by Satan and did not show reverence to God. Just to believe that Jesus is the Son of God is not enough. Faith is more than belief. It involves the acceptance of what Jesus has done and receiving Him as the only one who offers forgiveness of sin. (James 2:9)
The way to salvation was a popular topic at that time. There were different views of how to achieve it according to what belief system was followed. The demon was trying to discredit the gospel of Jesus Christ by associating it with the occult.
- Paul cared about the girl.
She had lost her individuality as a person. Socially she belonged to her masters and was being exploited because of her fortune telling ability. They were making a lot of money through her.
Psychologically she belonged to the evil spirit which controlled her. She could not control her own thoughts or emotions.
Luke, the author of Acts, tells this story after the conversion story of Lydia (Acts 16:13-15) and before the conversion of the Roman jailer (Acts 16:25-34). This suggests that the slave girl may also have received Christ and been baptized after she was delivered from the control of the evil spirit. I like to think that she did give her life to Christ, who gave it back to her. She received the Holy Spirit and streams of life began to bubble up from within her. (John 7: 38- 39) She went from no identity except what the evil spirit allowed, to gaining her own identity in the family of Christ.
In finding Christ, she was brought into the Christian family relationship with the wealthy business woman, Lydia and the Roman jailer as well as all other Christians. One family, one fellowship in Christ.
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Almighty God. The Creator of heaven and earth.
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