Part XVI

The Holy Spirit’s Deliverance Ministry

Paul continued his preaching ministry in that town, but his ministry was hindered by a slave girl with a demonic spirit, as we can read in Acts 16:16-17

Once, when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by her fortune-telling. 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.”

Though this young girl brought a seemingly very encouraging message, Paul was very disturbed by her words. We wonder how that can be. After all, was she not telling people to listen to him and Silas? Yes, she was. However, Paul discerned that this young girl was not led by the Holy Spirit, but by a demonic spirit and that, therefore, her words would not bear good fruit. Likewise, today we need to know the spirit behind the word of anyone bringing us a message they claim to be from the Lord. In the case of Paul, he cast the spirit out of the slave girl, and his action so enraged her owners that they had him thrown in prison, as we can read in Acts 16:19 

When the owners of the slave girl realised that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities.

Paul and Silas ended up being thrown in prison, and we would expect them to be very discouraged. After all, they had been doing the Lord’s will and should be able to rely on the Lord’s protection of them. However, that did not happen. Instead, He allowed them to be beaten and thrown in prison. What happened next was truly amazing, for these two men, no doubt with their backs still bleeding because of the many lashes they had received, began to worship the Lord, as we can read in Acts 16:25 

At about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.

In response to their prayers and worship, an earthquake took place, as we can read in Acts 16:26 

Suddenly, there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once, all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose.

The jailer was convinced that all the prisoners had fled, and knowing that he would be made responsible for this, he was about to kill himself, as we can read in Acts 16:27 

The jailer woke up and, when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped.

But Paul was able to prevent him from doing so, for no one had escaped, and he and was given the opportunity to share the gospel with this man and his entire household. As a result, the jailer and his family came to faith in Christ Jesus, as we can read in Acts 16:29-34 

The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved – you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds, then immediately he and all his family were baptised. The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God – he and his whole family.

The Holy Spirit had led Paul to Philippi, knowing full well that it would mean imprisonment for Paul and Silas. However, He knew too that it would mean the jailer and his family would hear the truth about Jesus. Just as the Holy Spirit allowed Paul and Silas to suffer so that a jailer and his family would hear the gospel, He may allow us to go through difficulties and hardships, in order that we may have an opportunity to share the gospel with others.