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Chuck Smith :: Sermon Notes for Acts 16:16

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A. They were probably headed again on the Sabbath day to the place where Jews assembled for prayer by the riverside.
B. "A certain damsel."
1. Two women play a prominent roll in the ministry at Philippi. Last week we met Lydia the seller of purple who became the first convert in Europe. She was from the top of the social scale.
2. Now we meet another woman of a far different character. She is from the bottom of the social scale, she was a slave. She is described as a certain damsel with a spirit of divination, or Pytho.
a. In Greek mythology, Pytho was a great snake with the power to tell a person's fortune. Apollo killed Phytho and afterwards he was called Pythius. Those who had the power to tell a person their future were called Pythius.
b. Today we would call her a fortuneteller.
c. However, today many so-called fortunetellers are only deceivers, and have no real capacity to see into the future.
d. This damsel was able to tell a person their future through the power of an evil spirit that possessed her.
3. We are told that she brought her masters much gain by her ability to tell fortunes.
a. She was a slave. She was in a very pitiful state, for her life was under the control of the demon, and by these ruthless men.
C. "The same followed Paul and us." The "us" being Paul, Silas, Timothy, and Luke. There were possibly others who are not named.
1. She was crying out, "These men are the servants of the most high God which show unto us the way of salvation."
2. Everything that she was saying about them was true.
3. Why then was Paul's spirit grieved by her doing this?
a. Paul knew that Jewish law forbade all magic, incantations, magical rites and dealing with familiar spirits.
b. The Jews who knew of this gal and her familiar spirit would then begin to relate Paul with these spirits, and would reject the testimony that he had to bring, thinking that he was somehow aligned with the same spirit, and thus the miracles that they were performing were being done by the same spirit.
4. The Pharisees accused Jesus of being in league with Satan and casting out the demons with the power of Satan.
5. Jesus showed the folly of such a thought declaring that if He was casting out demons through the power of Satan then it was time for rejoicing for his kingdom had come to an end, and a kingdom that is divided against itself cannot stand.
a. The Gentiles would think that Paul possessed the same spirit as the damsel and would believe that he has nothing different to offer to them than that which they already had.
b. Paul was not interested in Satan being his PR man.
c. The church is always in great danger when it looks to the world to help promote its activity.
d. Satan had tried to stop the ministry of Paul through great opposition; having failed at that, he is now seeking to align himself with the ministry of Paul.
D. It is interesting that in the ministry of Jesus the people possessed with demonic spirits would often say the truth about Jesus.
MAR 1:23 And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out,
MAR 1:24 Saying, Let [us] alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know You who are, You are the Holy One of God.
MAR 1:25 And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him.
MAR 1:26 And when the unclean spirit had torn him, and cried with a loud voice, he came out of him.
MAR 1:27 And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine [is] this? for with authority commands He even the unclean spirits, and they do obey Him.
MAR 1:34 And He healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils; and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew Him.
MAR 3:11 And unclean spirits, when they saw Him, fell down before Him, and cried, saying, Thou art the Son of God.
MAR 3:12 And He strictly charged them that they should not make Him known.
E. Paul finally turned and said to the spirit.
1. Note he did not address the girl, but the spirit that was controlling the girl. He saw them as distinct persons.
2. He recognized that the girl and the spirit that was controlling the girl were two different entities.
3. Are there people today who are possessed with demons?
a. Very definitely.
b. It used to be quite rare in the United States to find a person that was truly possessed.
c. Missionaries would tell of encounters with such people, for it was a common condition in foreign lands where the light of the gospel had not penetrated.
d. Now that Satan worship is becoming a common thing here in the States, and there are rock groups, and rap artists who are openly advocating that the kids discover the powers of witchcraft, we are beginning to see much more.
e. Harry Potter is going to have a very dangerous long term effect upon our society.
f. This is one of Satan's ploys in these last days to bring the curious minds of the children to seek to tap into the powers of darkness.
g. I am amazed at the silence of the church in warning people against such dangers.
4. He said, "I command thee (that is the spirit) in the name of Jesus, to come out of her (that is the damsel).
a. The name of Jesus, Jesus is the Savior.
b. One of the names of Satan is Apollyon, which means destroyer. The Savior says to the destroyer, "Come out."
c. When Jesus had sent His disciples out we read:
MAT 10:1 And when he had called unto [him] his twelve disciples, he gave them power [against] unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. He commissioned them to:
MAT 10:8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.
d. The gospel of Luke tells us:
LUK 10:1 After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come. In verse 17 we read:
LUK 10:17 And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.
e. We read here that the spirit came out in the same hour.
A. With the evil spirit cast out, she lost her divining powers.
B. How evil is the greed for money.
1. The Bible tells us that the love of money is the root of all evil.
2. These men would much rather see this poor human being bound by these demonic powers that they might profit from her gifts, than to see her free.
3. They had no heart for her, but only for the money they could make off of her.
C. They caught Paul and Silas and drew them into the market place to the rulers.
1. In the Greek cities the courts were often in the center of the agura or market place.
2. Here they filed their charges against Paul and Silas.
D. Note the trumped-up charges.
1. "These men being Jews exceedingly trouble our city."
a. Here they were playing on the anti-semitism of the crowd.
b. This is a national curse that the Jews have had to endure through the centuries because of their forsaking of the true God.
DEU 28:15 But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee:
DEU 28:37 And thou shalt become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword, among all nations whither the LORD shall lead thee.
JER 24:9 And I will deliver them to be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth for [their] hurt, [to be] a reproach and a proverb, a taunt and a curse, in all places whither I shall drive them.
2. "They teach customs which are not lawful for us to receive or observe, being Romans."
a. It was a charge of disturbing the peace. Great care was taken both among the Athenians and Romans that no one should introduce any new religion. It was on this account that Socrates was condemned, and on this account the Jews were banished from Rome. Cicero said: "No person shall have any separate gods, nor new ones, nor shall he privately worship any strange gods, unless they be publicly allowed."
b. These were the laws the men were pleading against Paul and Silas. They were accused of bringing new gods, which were not approved by Rome.
Sermon Notes for Acts 16:13 ← Prior Section
Sermon Notes for Acts 16:22 Next Section →
Sermon Notes for John 1:1 ← Prior Book
Sermon Notes for Romans 1:16 Next Book →

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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