Without Jesus in your life you are hopeless, helpless and desperate, even if you don’t know it. Earlier tonight I chatted to our neighbor who lives across the road. I asked him how he was and there was a mixture of anger and sadness. Normally he is loving, kind and gentle. He never speaks badly of anyone. He is jovial and loves the Lord Jesus dearly.
I asked him what the problem was and he explained that after his father-in-law died, they struggled terribly with the undertakers where the policy was. Weeks later (today), he goes to the parlor to collect the ashes. Another lady arrives after him and is served before him. She receives her ashes in a small wooden box.
Sometime later they bring him the ashes of his deceased loved one. It is in a round dish as it arrived from the crematorium. He asked where the wooden box was and was told bluntly that he can collect it on the Monday. He was angry because not only had he paid the balance of the account with his money, every step of the way was a struggle … and more than anything his father-in-law was like a blood father to him. He arrived home with the ashes, was so angry and disappointed that he left it in the lounge and started mowing his lawns. His wife arrived home from work asking where the ashes were. He told her and she went and opened up the envelope to find that the ashes were not her father’s. It had a different name on the papers. Yes, he was angry and sad and confused, so I prayed with him explaining his situation to the Lord, asking for help and comfort. As a child of God he immediately felt so much better.
Calling upon the Lord certainly brings peace to both the believer in need and the un-believer who needs help. So we return to the demon possessed slave girl in Acts 16. She could not help herself. She needed someone to help her but she did not know it. She needed someone to love her and appreciate her as a soul that will live forever. Someone who would help her do what she could not do … just as my friend needed help and God sent me across the road to greet him and ask him how he was. He was in such a low state that he could not help himself. He needed someone to help him. I did this through prayer. This demon possessed slave girl needed help … let’s see how God works.
1) Demons speak the Truth.
Ac 16:17 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.”
It’s rather remarkable how the Holy Spirit worked causing this girl to follow Paul and his missionary team for days. She was a slave owned by masters; she was demon possessed, controlled by evil and she earned cash for her owners. Now for days she is not delivering profits to the owners. She has no permission from the owners to follow Christian missionaries … and why would the evil one want to give support to what the missionaries are saying? This was God’s Spirit in action, overruling the demon, causing the girl to shout out for all to hear … “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” God the Holy Spirit caused the demon possessed girl to shout out that the missionaries are servants of the Most High God … the highest Deity … explaining the way of salvation. It’s amazing how God works. He uses a demon … an evil spirit to support the Gospel message! Often in our day God uses those who are not His to authenticate and support the Gospel. In some countries non-Christian leaders allow the Christian Church because they see the value of people who follow Jesus Christ!
2) Instant exorcism. Even though God was at work, the slave girl’s persistent declaration must have become an obstacle to the method of evangelism Paul was using. From personal experience, it is a huge problem when one tries to do cold case evangelism and someone interferes.
Ac 16:18 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.
By the authority of Jesus he commands the demon … the evil spirit to leave the girl. It does. Now nowhere does it say this girl is saved, but we can deduce that which she was shouting in verse 14 coupled to the demon been exorcised, she was saved. The instant the demon was cast out she was saved to Jesus. This is true whether the person is possessed or unconsciously under the enemy’s influence (Ephesian 2:1ff). The moment the Spirit takes over, the evil spirit departs or the devil’s influence ceases and the person is saved. Salvation is instantaneous. The process might take days, weeks or months of Gospel influences and conviction … but the moment of salvation is instant!
3) Immediate retaliation. When the power of earning money ceases, be it business owners, criminals or fake churches, they use alternative tactics to rectify their loss.
Ac 16:19 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.
The cash cow dried up because this girl was now a new creation in Christ. So her owners “arrest” the missionaries and forcibly take them to the rulers who meet in the business area. Sometimes when “wealth promising churches’ loose congregants who learn how evil such churches are, those churches try to discredit the character of those who have left. Expect this if you leave such a church.
4) Gospel rejection. The slave girl’s owners seek revenge and publically reject the Gospel before the magistrates because the missionaries, according to them, were teaching a religion prohibited by the Roman Empire.
Ac 16:20 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.”
Nothing has changed in 2000 years … perhaps its worse today with Democrats wanting evangelism banded and declared unconstitutional!
Dear Lord, as You worked with the slave girl, kindly work with all opposition to the Gospel in our day. Amen.