There is a strange phenomena that occurs when individuals are about to draw close to God. The apostle Paul points to the spiritual realm to explain distractions, interruptions and unexplained events, Ephesians 6:12. According to Paul, the devil’s strategy includes three waves. The first enables certain rulers to rise to power such as judges, kings and political leaders. This wave is reinforced by worldly forces, areas, regions and territories under demonic oppression where evil is allowed to reign. Finally, there are spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly realm fueled by demons, minions and strongmen to execute Satan’s schemes on earth.
It happened that as we were on our way to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave-girl who had a spirit of divination [that is, a demonic spirit claiming to foretell the future and discover hidden knowledge], and she brought her owners a good profit by fortune-telling. 17 She followed after Paul and us and kept screaming and shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God! They are proclaiming to you the way of salvation!” – Acts 16:16-17
Using this criteria, Luke details an example from Paul’s ministry while visiting Philippi. While on his way to participate in a prayer and worship service, a slave girl was sent to distract Paul. Apparently, a demonic spirit recognized that Paul’s missionary team were servants of the most high God. Just as spirits hounded Jesus, this revealed truth caused a slave girl to interrupt Paul’s message of salvation to Europe for several days, regularly screaming and shouting as Paul tried to preach. According to Luke, this gradually wore Paul down, annoyed by this constant distraction. When Paul rebuked this spirit, the owners of this slave girl complained to the chief magistrates, convincing law enforcement to imprison Paul and Silas.
She continued doing this for several days. Then Paul, being greatly annoyed and worn out, turned and said to the spirit [inside her], “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ [as His representative] to come out of her!” And it came out at that very moment, Acts 16:18.
While in prison, Paul and Silas could have been distracted by anger, bitterness and injustice. Yet, prayers of the saints strengthened these men, turning this setback into a golden opportunity. How you may ask? Well, Paul and Silas transformed their prison cell into a worship service. As Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns, a great earthquake rocked Philippi. When this quake opened the doors to each cell, some would have taken this as a sign from God to escape. However, Paul demonstrated amazing leadership, convincing all the prisoners to stay put; saving the life of the jailor who was about to kill himself, the fate he would have faced if any prisoner escaped. These are the blessings that await those who recognize spiritual distractions early before it’s too late..
by Jay Mankus