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Acts #58 (chapter 16:16-18)
The Book of Acts
The Enslaved Woman
Acts 16:16-18
Turn to Acts 16. Last week we began a study of two women who  Paul and Silas encountered at the beginning of their mission trip to Macedonia. 
The first of those was Lydia, who was a Jewish proselyte who came to faith in Jesus Christ under the preaching ministry of Paul.  He attended a prayer meeting that she and some other ladies were having at the side of a river near Philippi and there, God opened  here heart to the things Paul preached. 
nd as a result, she and her family were saved and baptized. In fact, she was the very first European convert to ever come to faith in Christ.  And she goes on to be a very significant part of the ministry in Philippi. We called her a liberated woman. God set her free!
Next we meet a young girl who is enslaved.  And together, these two women represent for us a picture of every human being that has ever lived.  We are either free through the grace of God or we are enslaved to sin and Satan. And there is a great contrast between the two.
Notice what we read beginning at
Acts 16:16-18
It is always safe to assume that anytime and anywhere God is at work, Satan will soon show up to try and disrupt what is happening.  That si certainly true in this case.
Paul and Silas show up in Philippi, the Sabbath rolls around and they go to worship, God provides an opportunity to preach and this family comes to caith in Christ.  The church begins to grow and things are about to take off. 
And immediately, Satan invades the situation. It's absolutely inevitable. Now understand, he is not omnipresent, but he is fast. And he has some kind of awareness of where God is at work and he does his best to get there as quickly as possible.
And sure enough, he gets to Philippi.  Now not only is Satan fast, he is also observant.  He is aware of what's going on around where God is at work.  By the way, that's why you really ought to be careful about what you say when you're upset about something. 
Did you ever notice how one person can get bent our of shape, and before long a whole bunch of people are stirred up?  How does that happen?  We talk too much!  And Satan gets hold of it and stirs the pot.  he sneaks around to others who are aggravated and makes sure they know about how mad you are.
He whispers, "I'd be mad too!   I'd be mad as hell!  And suddenly, it's mushroomed into a situation!  It doesn't matter if the facts are right or not.  It's like a barking dog in your neighborhood. 
There can be one dog that has a legitimate reason to bark, but before long, every dog on the block is barking.  They have no idea what stirred up dog #1.  They're just barking to be barking.
So hear is Satan and he is observing what's been going on.  The last time somebody got saved, they were attending a prayer meeting down by the river.  So the antennas go up to anything like that happening again. 
And sure enough, what does verse 16 say? 
"Now it happened, as we went to prayer".  They're going to the same place to do the same thing that they were doing when Lydia got saved. 
But this time, they meet another women and this young lady is possessed with a spirit of divination and she's out there making the men who control her a bunch of money. 
Let's stop there and talk about this girl for a minute.  She has what Luke calls a "spirit of divination." Now I wasn't sure what that meant so I went to my Greek New Testament and looked at the words and what I discovered was really interesting. 
The literal Greek states it like this, "She had a spirit, comma, a python" and what that means is she had a spirit that was the same as a python serpent.  A literal translation would be, "She had a pythian spirit."  So what does that mean?  What is a pythian spirit?
Well, in Greek mythology,  there's a place located at the foot of Mount Parnassus called Pytho and it got its name, according to the myth, because there was a dragon that lived at the foot of the mountain and its name was Python.
This dragon guarded the oracles of Delphi. The term "oracle," which is an occult term, means either a place where mediums consult demons or it means the revelation the demons give themselves. So Delphi was a place of demonic revelation. There was a large temple there, and this temple was where these medium priestesses would conjure up these evil spirits and obtain their revelations.
Now, as I said, there was a dragon named Pytho that served as a guard for this temple and city.  And the myth was that Apollo, who was the third son of Jupiter, came down and slew the dragon. When the dragon died, all of the oracle power of the dragon was then transferred to Apollo and he took on the name Pythias.
So this reference to a pythian spirit is referencing all of this mythological story of Apollo and how he obtained the dragon's power and was then able to contact these demon spirits at Delphi.
Now it is important to keep in mind that they people alive in that day in that area believed all of this stuff.  It was kind of like living in California!  They believed that the gods were alive. It wasn't mythology to them.  It was reality. They believed in Apollo and Jupiter and Venus and Mars and Cupid.  And therefore, they  believed that Apollo spoke through the oracles at Delphi.
And this girl was one of the thousands of priestesses from Delphi who were called Pythians because they were connected to Apollo.  So they would consult this girl and listen to what she said and believe that the gods were giving them information.
You say, well, are there any around today? You better believe there are.  Look at the emphasis on horoscopes and astrology and psychics.  When I was a kid it was women like Jeanne Dixon.  The internet is full of them and they are just vehicles through which demons speak.
And just to warn you, if you research "pytho" and Delphi, and all of that, you are going to find that modern Charismatics talk a lot about a "python spirit" and some of them will direct you to these verses and others just make stuff up.  I read one writer who connected this python spirit to being like an anaconda and it is a spirit of Satan that tries to suffocate anything Godly out of your life. 
By the way, I found it interesting that the term "Pythian" also referred to ventriloquists.  The connection is rather obvious because a medium is nothing more than a body and mouth for someone else to use.  This girl was nothing more than a dummy for demons to talk through.
And here was this girl that Satan is using. According to the ancient writings, these girls would go into frenzies. Notice the reference to "fortune-telling at the end of verse 16. The root word for that phrase is "frenzy".
It must have been quite mesmerizing for those who watched.  And as a result, a lot of money was changing hands.  Now I don't know if her masters were convinced it was authentic, or simply seized on a way to take advantage of gullible people. 
But either way, a fortune was being made off her because everybody's obsessed with knowing the future. So, as we read at the end of verse 16, she "brought her masters much profit".
Now compare this girl who is being exploited through this Satanic spirit with Lydia and her desire to worship and serve God.  Did you ever see a more distinct contrast between light and darkness? 
And we need to understand that, while this girl was an unusual situation, she is a picture of anybody without Jesus Christ.  They are in the same position as she. 
I mean by that if you do not know Jesus Christ, then  according to the words of Jesus, your father is the devil.  And while there are many who are lost that are not demon-possessed, they are still the possession of Satan. 
It's just a matter of degree.  Some lost people are sophisticated and debonair and magnetic.  Others are crude and vile and offensive.  Some manifest an obvious spirit of evil while others are more subtle.  But without Christ, they all belong to the same devil and when they die, they will go to the same hell. 
There is no liberty, no freedom, apart from Jesus Christ. This girl was enslaved and so is every woman and every man who does not know Jesus Christ.
I want you to watch how Satan operates. He is so subtle.
verse 17
So let me ask you a question. Is that a true statement? Absolutely! That is the truth! Now that presents quite a conundrum!  Why would Satan use this girl to speak the truth, and especially the truth about salvation?
He does it all the time. In 2 Corinthians 11, Paul talks about deceitful false apostles who transform themselves into apostles of Christ.  The he says that shouldn't surprise us because Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light and his ministers transform themselves into messengers of righteousness.
Listen:  just because someone says or does something in the name of Jesus doesn't mean it is! , That doesn't mean anything. Satan's been doing things in the name of Jesus Christ for centuries.  And if he has to tell you a little bit of the truth to deceive you with a lie, he'll do it.
That's exactly what's so dangerous about the cults.  In eight out of ten things they're right. And that's how people get sucked into them. They'll speak the truth just long enough to hook you, and once you are hooked, you can be brainwashed and eventually destroyed.
Listen to the Mormons and the Jehovah's Witnesses and they will gladly talk to you about Jesus and God and the church and marriage and heaven and Scripture. 
The goal is to be accepted through the things we have in common.  So what was Satan up to with this girl promoting Paul and Silas? 
If she's not dealt with, then there is the danger of folks in the area believing that she and they are all a part of the same group. After all, they both talk about Jesus and she's directing us to listen to them.  And she speaks as an oracle from the gods.
See the subtlety of that attack?  That's one of the reasons I've never been involved in the ministerial alliances and groups that want us to all get together and be one in the body of Christ. 
Here are Paul and Silas establishing a church for the very first time in the area, and as was their custom. they'll get it started, spend some time doing discipleship training, then move on to another area. 
So after they leave, who's going to take leadership?  I know who we could ask!  Remember that little girl who spoke with such authority?  Let's seek her advice!  Listen: Satan is not stupid.  He has an aggressive agenda to destroy the church and unfortunately, some of his most successful work is done in the name of Jesus Christ.
And here, he tries infiltration.  What she says is interesting.  She says, "These men are the servants of the Most High God."
That was a term that all the Gentiles would have understood. In fact, that was their common term for the God of Israel and it is also the Jews' own term for their own God.  So Satan was really sharp.
He includes the whole audience and he says, "They are proclaiming the way of salvation."  Again, he didn't use Jewish terms and didn't use Gentile terms, but he used terms that reached both groups.  He is trying to deceive everyone by convincing them this girl was a part of Paul's work.
See how subtle that is?  Satan loves it when actors and athletes give God the glory and sing about Jesus and talk about faith, then go out and live like the devil. 
God does not need Satan's publicity.  All it does is deceive and drag the name of Jesus down and ultimately do damage to the cause of Christ.  So watch how Paul dealt with it:
verse 18a
I think he was "greatly annoyed" for two reasons. I think he was annoyed, first of all, because he didn't like what she was doing. 
And I think he was annoyed or perhaps grieved is a better word, because of the power of sin in her life. 
verse 18b
If you want proof the spirit was up to no good, then just read that verse. The apostles were especially gifted by God to deal with evil spirits, and when they commanded them to come out, they came out.
Paul simply spoke and that demon was gone. So what happened to the girl?  We aren't told.  My personal opinion is if she had been converted, we would have probably been told.  We aren't given any details, so maybe she wasn't.
And if that is the case, then there we find the ultimate contrast between this girl and Lydia.  We either belong to Jesus and are set free from sin and its power and will enjoy eternal life or we are enslaved to sin and Satan and will spend forever with him in a place called hell. 
What made the difference?  Lydia, seeking to know God, listened and God opened her heart and she was obedient to the gospel. That's the difference. And it's true for you. If you seek to know Him, and if you listen to His Word and respond when He opens your heart like her, you shall be free.
Let's pray.
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