Calvary Road Baptist Church


Acts 16.16-18

 Paul, and his party of church planting missionaries, which included young Timothy and Luke, the physician who had recently joined the team, was enjoying the blessings of God in Philippi. With the conversion of an influential businesswoman named Lydia, who allowed them to live at her residence, the embryonic congregation was beginning to take shape. However, Philippi was a little difficult for Paul to get used to. He had learned of the prominent role that influential and well-established women had played in the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the lives of the apostles, but Philippi was likely his first experience with such women. Such women were definitely an asset to the ministry, and he personally liked them and held them in high esteem, but he had to get just as used to providing spiritual leadership for them in their newfound Christian life, as they had to get used to following spiritual leadership in their newfound Christian life. However, overall it was exciting to see Godís profoundest blessings in this new area of ministry.

The routine of conducting Bible studies for the new Christians and going to the weekly prayer meetings where the Jewish worshipers and Gentile God-fearers were dealt with was established. Paul would stand or sit and preach Godís Word in his rabbinical robes and from time to time, a Jewish person or a Gentile in attendance would be spiritually awakened, and Paul or one of his co-laborers would carefully answer whatever questions there were and eventually guide that person to faith in Jesus Christ. Things continued to progress smoothly until one day. Read our text for today with me, Acts 16.16-18:

 16     And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying:

17     The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation.

18     And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.

 This marked a turning point in Paulís ministry in the city of Philippi. Take note of three ingredients that would change the spiritual landscape in Paulís first European outpost for Jesus Christ.

In verse 16, we are first told of the demoniac damsel. This young girl of perhaps twelve to fourteen years of age happened to be demon possessed by a spirit of divination, a spirit who purported to foretell the future. As if that was not bad enough for the poor thing, she was also a slave of some men who used this demonic capability to make money off her. This demoniac damsel was spiritually possessed by a being who claimed to be prophetic and was at the same time physically possessed by unscrupulous men who clamored only for personal profit. The Lord only knows what the Spirit of God chose not to report about this poor girlís tragic circumstances at the hands of her masters.

In verse 17, we are told of the girlís dramatic declaration. It seems that one day the damsel crossed paths with Paul and his men on their way to prayer and she began following them about. As she followed them, she cried out saying, ďThese men are the servants of the most high God, which show unto us the way of salvation.Ē At first, you might think of this as free advertising, but wisdom and experience would cause you to think again and consider two things about this girlís, or rather this demonís, dramatic declaration. First, you would consider that her declaration was entirely truthful, as far as it went, but it was also incomplete. These guys serve the most high God and show people the way of salvation. So what? How does that help Paulís ministry? How does that help anyone else? Those of you who are saved, when you go out for evangelism door to door, or when you talk to a coworker at lunch, do you imagine it would help you reach people for Christ to have someone with a loudspeaker announce your coming? Of course not. You want to deal with people privately, personally. So, this declaration is only an annoyance and does not actually give anyone any truth that will bring them to Christ. This is truth, to be sure, but it is truth that doesnít actually do anyone any good. Second, the motive was deceitful, but incognito. This girl is being tormented and dominated by a spirit, a foul being with no good intentions toward her or toward the Apostle Paul and the cause of Christ. Therefore, even though the foul spiritís motive was incognito, was hidden and undercover, it is not hard for any student of Godís Word to discern. This demon follows Paul around, telling the truth about Paul, hoping to get close to Paul, perhaps hoping to be taken as an ally of Paul, certainly hoping to fool, deceive, and trick people into thinking that the girl and her spirit are Paulís allies.

Understand something, people. Understand something that some prominent Christian leaders do not seem to understand. Understand something that some of our church members sometimes do not seem to understand. Understand that Satan and his crew will speak truthful things and will seek to align themselves with you on certain issues. However, this is done only for the purpose of deceiving the child of God and convincing him that he and the enemy are not really enemies. The deception continues until you separate yourself from the enemy in obedience to Godís Word, or until the enemy sees an opportunity to betray you with a vicious strike, in hopes of ruining you. This is what destroyed evangelicalism over the years. Compromising with unbelief, evangelicals were undermined and encroached upon by unbelievers over the years, until, now, you would be hard pressed to find an evangelical Christian who is genuinely saved. Before, liberalism was the enemy of evangelicalism. However, now unsaved evangelicals are the enemies of fundamentalists. The solution? Win them to Christ or separate from them.

In verse 18, we find the record of her divine deliverance. Look at the context in which the demoniac damsel is delivered by the power of God and in the name of Jesus Christ. There are four comments I want to make. The first has to do with the girlís persistence, or should I say her pestering. Day after day after day, she followed Paul and his men around shouting out this wonderful and marvelous, but totally incomplete and unhelpful, message. Also over this period of time, the Apostle Paul became grieved. Do not mistake this. Paul was not grieved at the pestering. He was grieved at the poor girlís, but for Jesus Christ, hopeless situation. Why did he not do something about the problem earlier? Folks, miracles are not things you do whenever you want to. The casting out of this demon was something that had to be done in Godís timing and by Godís power. When Paul came to know that it was Godís Own good time to show His power through Paul, then Paul acted, but not before. Notice one final thing about this spirit of divination cast out of the girl the same hour he was ordered to leave by Paul; if the spirit was a spirit of divination, if the demon really did have the ability to foretell the future, why did he not know he was going to be cast out of the girl?

There are at least four lessons for us to learn from this episode in Paulís ministry. First, the devil and his own will tell the truth in order to do you harm just as easily as they will tell lies. Second, the child of God must not allow the enemy to align himself with you, even if there are points on which the two of you agree. In other words, practice Biblical separation from sin and ungodliness. Third, the Lord Jesus Christís power is such that even the most hopeless situation can be remedied. One final thing to consider. None of these things would Paul have come to realize had he not actually been out serving God. Are you actually out serving God? Do you know what serving God is? If you do not know what serving God is, or if you are not serving God, something is wrong that needs tending to.

I want you to consider this passage containing the Apostle Paulís dealings with this certain damsel in Philippi. I want you to think about how she followed Paul around as he went back and forth to his prayer meetings. I want you to consider the possibility that she might have actually attended some of those prayer meetings. Then, of course, consider what she said whenever she had the chance: ďThese men are the servants of the most high God, which show unto us the way of salvation.Ē You know, of course, that there is nothing new under the sun. Solomon told us that in Ecclesiastes. You also know that people are the same everywhere and throughout history. Since the fall of Adam and Eve into sin in the Garden of Eden, people have always been the same.

With these things in mind, I want to show you how typical this damsel is of so many church going people today. Follow along.


 There are three things we know she did, relative to spiritual things:

First, she paid lip service to God. Did she not refer to God as ďthe most high God?Ē She did not blaspheme His name. She did not refer to Him in a derogatory way at all. She acknowledged Him to be the supreme Being in all the universe. In other words, she talked a good talk, as far as her talk went.

Second, she paid lip service to the church. Let us give her the benefit of the doubt. Some Bible scholars see the faintest of grammatical suggestions that this girl followed Paul around and actually followed him to the meetings and services he was conducting. Let us assume they are correct and this girl actually attended church. She does not slam God. She does not slam church. As a matter of fact, she actually says nice things about God and may have actually attended church.

Third, she paid lip service to the preachers. You never hear her criticize Godís man. No sir. Those guys were the servants of God. She bragged on them. She praised them. She trumpeted their calling. She told everyone about them. Everyone who was within earshot knew where she stood with regard to the preachers. Yes sir. So, if you were to draft a profile of this girl from the things that you could observe, in her behavior this is what you would come up with: She pays lip service to God. She pays lip service to church. She pays lip service to the preacher.


 Before we deal with this girlís problem, may I just make a comment? Some of you here today would be so happy to have this girlís profile. Not all of you pay lip service to God, pay lip service to the church, or pay lip service to the preacher. Therefore, this demon-possessed girl is one or two up on you. Now, to her problem.

First, the girl was a slave to sin. It is possible to be a slave of men and be free from sin. Some of the most godly saints down through history have been slaves, with shackles restricting the movement of their arms and feet, but nothing hindering the liberty of spirit they enjoyed as those who have been saved from their sins through faith in Christ. However, it is not possible to be a slave to a foul spirit without being a slave to sin. Remember, saved people are indwelt by the Spirit of God and cannot be simultaneously demon possessed. That she was demon possessed shows the greater tragedy of this poor girl being a slave to sin. I read Romans 6.16-18, a passage that shows each individual to be either a servant of sin unto death or a servant of righteousness unto life for those who come to Jesus by faith:

 16     Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?

17     But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.

18     Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.

 Second, and closely related to being a slave of sin, is the fact that the damsel was unsaved. My friend, one of the most difficult concepts for any child of God to learn seems to be the idea that if you are a slave to sin you are not saved. Let me say it again. If you are a slave to sin you are not saved. That this girl was a slave to sin means she was not saved. Listen carefully as I read First John 3.7-10:

 7      Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.

8      He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.

9      Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

10     In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.

 If you sin and sin and sin and sin (in other words, if you are a slave to sin), you are not saved.

Third, the girl believed demonic doctrine. Think carefully here. The girl knew about God. She knew certain truths. However, she did not know God. Further, consider First Timothy 4.1: ďNow the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.Ē Did this girl give heed to seducing spirits? Think about it. How much more could she submit to this spirit than to be completely possessed by him? So, the girl is a slave to sin. The girl is unsaved. The girl is overcome with the doctrines of demons, the teachings of evil spirits.


 First, consider the girlís profile. I said the girl paid lip service to God. Do you say nice things about God? Next, I said the girl paid lip service to the church by attending meetings with Paul. Do you pay lip service to the church by coming to church? Third, I said the girl paid lip service to the preachers. Do you pay lip service to the preacher? Remember, I am not criticizing the girlís profile. These things she has done are commendable. Are you at least as commendable as she is in these three areas? I hope that you are.

Second, consider the girlís problem. She was a slave to sin. Are you a slave to sin? Are you completely unable to put a stop to the patterns of sin that govern every day of your life? Let me read Galatians 5.19-21:

 19     Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,

20     Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,

21     Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

Next, she was unsaved. Is that not the case with you? How can a person be a slave to sin and be saved from sin? Third, she was overcome with demonic doctrine. Now, granted, that girl was demon possessed and you are not demon possessed. However, you are influenced by unscriptural teachings that are not found in Godís Word. Such teachings can only be demonic in their origin. What kind of teachings? How is this for an example? How can you not be worse than an infidel can when you do not support your family, though Godís Word says you are worse than an infidel is? How can you be saved and be a slave to sin, when Godís Word says you cannot be? How can you be saved when you do not faithfully attend church, though Godís Word clearly shows that believers faithfully attend church, Hebrews 10.25? Such teachings, contrary to scripture, are the doctrines of demons.


 What is a prognosis? It is a prediction of what will likely happen.

Let me give you a prognosis based upon your life continuing on as it is. Continue paying your various lip services; to God, and to church, and to the preacher. Deny that your obvious slavery to sin means, and can only mean, that you are unsaved. Perpetuate the lies Satan has planted in your sin-stained heart and sin-warped mind by your stubborn refusal to accept the plain declaration of Godís Word. Do all of these things and you will someday die and go to Hell, because no matter how much you deny it, the wages of sin is death.

However, if you come to Jesus Christ by faith you have a different prognosis. Come to Jesus Christ by faith. Trust Him for the cleansing away of your sins in His Own blood that was shed for you. Respond to His free offer of forgiveness of sin and new life by receiving Him as your own personal Lord and Savior. Reject the obvious pleasures of sin for a season in favor of the righteousness of God that can only be found in Jesus Christ. All different ways of saying, come to Christ and be saved through faith in Jesus Christ, and you will be delivered from your sins and your new destiny will be heaven.


Why not be typical of this damsel in every way. You see, she was delivered from sin.

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