Darkness and Light

Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling. This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.” And this she did for many days. But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And he came out that very hour. But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities.

—Acts 16:16–19

I have often wondered why Paul didn’t rebuke this demon on day one instead waiting for many days. I have also been amazed at the words this demonic spirit of divination spoke through this girl. The spirit didn’t tell lies about Paul and Silas; it spoke the truth. They were indeed servants of the Most High God, and they did proclaim the way of salvation. However, we need to note an interesting fact here. Though the truth was spoken, it was spoken through a spirit of divination and used to promote fortune-telling, a practice the Bible forbids (Lev. 20:27; 1 Chron. 10:13).

It has been said that when the devil saw he couldn’t defeat the church through persecution, he joined it. That was the scenario in today’s passage of Scripture. The enemy, who is the father of all lies, sought to join himself with the truth and align fortune-telling with the gospel. But darkness and light have no fellowship, and Paul rebuked this spirit even though it spoke the truth.

Be careful of those who want to join occult practices with the work of the Lord. Chanting and meditation in hopes of achieving altered states of consciousness are not of the Lord. That holds true even if the words in the chant are true or the target of the meditation is God. Yes, the Bible teaches to meditate on the Word, but the word meditate does not imply any association with Eastern meditation practices. The word meditation in Scripture means “to ponder” or “to study.”

There are no biblical grounds for incorporating Eastern mysticism into the pondering of God’s Word. As a matter of fact, everything we need to know about God’s views on the marriage of occult practices and His truth is answered right here in this passage. Even though the young girl’s words were true, her practices were false. Paul, therefore, rebuked the demon, and the spirit of divination left the girl. All that remained was a young girl speaking truth. This resulted in Paul and Silas being beaten with rods and locked in prison, but a Philippian jailer was there who would be set free from his sin!

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BARRY STAGNER

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