While Paul, Silas and Luke were in Philippi, they encountered a young slave girl who had a spirit of divination. She heard their message and, because of this spirit, she immediately recognized Paul and his entourage as they witnessed, and believing, shouted to anyone that would hear her that they were servants of the most-high God, proclaiming the way of salvation. She would not have known this on her own, but the spirit of divination she was hosting seems to have recognized Paul. In Acts 19, we can read of another demon who was well familiar with Paul and his ministry.
After following Paul and his companions around for several days, Paul, in what sounds like exasperation, commanded the spirit to come out of her. And it must have obeyed because when the slave girl’s owners found she could no longer tell the future, their loss of revenue was what landed Paul and Silas in prison.
I can’t help but wonder what happened to this girl after this amazing encounter. Because of her “gift,” she would have been especially valuable to her masters. It seems that she had enough autonomy to follow Paul around, so she might have enjoyed other privileges even though she was a slave. She was well situated to thrive in the pagan culture she was living in where fortune-tellers and oracles with real power were highly esteemed.
She lost all of that in her encounter with Paul. In being set free from the spirit of divination, she lost the special status her “gift” afforded her. Now she was just like all the other slave girls in Philippi. The spirit that had given her power, an edge, an advantage in her culture had been removed from her. Did she know what believing in Paul’s message would cost her?
I think back to the time of my own slavery when I was very young. I, too, believed at a young age, and it has set the path for my life since then. There are so many trials that, had I not believed back then, would never have come into my life. I have heard it said that trusting Christ is for people who are weak-minded and lazy. But nothing that sets you at odds with your culture is for the weak-minded or lazy. Even growing up in the American south, a more religious part of the country, to truly follow Christ rather than the prevailing myth of Christ puts you at odds with the culture which is mostly concerned with rules, either doggedly following them or viciously rebelling against them.
Because she believed Paul’s message of salvation, her life would be totally remade. The path the enemy had for her, though it appeared to be promising, would lead only to death. But in losing her life for the sake of the truth, she would find it again, abundant and eternal, an inheritance in Christ, in which we all share when we, too, believe.
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Have you ever been a slave to sin? Has your life been remade because you believe the truth? What did you learn? Share your story. Come share with us on our blog. We’d love to hear from you! ~ Joni