In this chapter of Acts, Paul and Silas were on their way to the place of prayer. On their way, they were met by a servant girl who had a spirit of divination. Her owners made a living from her work as a fortune teller. She followed Paul and Silas and continued calling out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation” (Acts 16:17). There was nothing wrong with what she was saying on the surface, but the spirit operating through her irritated Paul. Paul became greatly annoyed because he discerned that what spoke out of her was the spirit of divination.
The spirit world recognises Jesus and the Holy Spirit living in us. They are able to perceive when the greater one lives in us and the authority that we command in the realms of the spirit. Paul used his spiritual authority and commanded the spirit to come out of her in the name of Jesus. The spirit obeyed and came out of her the same hour. We are not sure how dramatic the scene of her deliverance was but the following scriptures show that her owners were very angry with Paul and Silas. “But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers” (Acts 16:19).
The irony is that the masters of this servant girl profited off her state of bondage. In fact, many people mistake the spirit of divination for a gift as people seem able to predict the future or to tell people details about their past. The spirit of divination works along with spirits of darkness who obtain information about people. Familiar spirits are well acquainted with earthly affairs and communicate with people operating in divination. Paul knew enough to know that the spirit was not a gift to the girl but a spirit that oppressed and used her to further the kingdom of darkness.
The girl’s owners complained that Paul and Silas, ‘are disturbing our city’ (Acts 16:20). Notice that Paul didn’t address the woman but addressed the spirit that she was being controlled by. We have to be discerning to know who is operating by the gift of the Holy Spirit and those people who are operating by another spirit. We don’t have to tolerate spirits that are not of God and we have the authority to resist spirits of oppression. We don’t have to be afraid when it comes to the spirit world and understand that Jesus gave us power over every power of the enemy and nothing shall by any means harm us.
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).