Paul and Silas were clicking along from city to city until the Holy Spirit forbid them from heading north into Bithynia. They instead responded to a vision that Paul had about a man who said, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.”
The twosome hurried to Troas, boarded a ship to cross the northern tip of the Aegean Sea, and landed in Neapolis. They then journeyed thirteen miles by foot to Philippi.
The city of Philippi had a population of 2000 people and a large Roman garrison. It was the chief city in the province of Macedonia, but the Jewish population was too small to support a synagogue, which required ten Jewish men.
Thus, Paul and Silas searched for and found a Jewish prayer meeting along the banks of the Gangites River. The two spoke to the Jewish women attending the meeting where a woman named Lydia was converted and baptized as a believer in Christ. Paul and Silas then stayed at Lydia’s house.
All of this sets the stage for a powerful scene.
As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling. She followed Paul and us, crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” (Acts 16:16-17)
If we use our New Testament Bibles – which Paul and Silas did not have at the time – how would we judge the accuracy of the slave girl’s prophetic words? We would have to admit that the girl’s words were accurate because Paul and Silas were God’s servants and did proclaim the gospel.
Yet, Paul was greatly annoyed by the slave girl’s proclamations and said to the spirit in the girl:
“I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her…” (Acts 16: 18)
As the Apostle Paul demonstrated in this scene, spiritual discernment is a two-sided coin. On the one hand, we need to know if the prophetic words line up with scripture, and on the other hand, we need to know what spirit backs the prophetic words. Is it the Holy Spirit, a demon, or our own fleshly spirit?
How can we do this?
(Continued in Part 4)
7 responses to “To Listen or Not to Listen to Prophecy…That’s the Question (Part 3)”
And, What if it was just the TONE of the slave girl’s voice and the “way” it aggravated him? Sounds like that was the intent of the devil. You know… like when a Mother rags and rags about putting scarf and hat on in the winter time… its Truth but the nagging and snarly sound of it wants the volume annihilated.
Good points. Jesus would not allow the demons to speak aloud that He was the Son of God. (Mark 3:11) Why? The Holy Spirit brings life, but anything Satan says is filled with darkness, death, and lies.
One of the reasons I send you stuff that may be true but have no TRUTH. eg. Holy Spirit. Usually I can discern myself but occasionally it is so close to sounding right I need someone else to bounce it off.
Could have been about tone but I have always leaned toward the idea that when flattery is involved it is often the enemy. I think that Paul knew this thing was just trying to put attention on him when his intent was to put attention on Daddy. He didn’t want any credit.
Thanks for your input. None of us have 100% perfect discernment. Each of us have blockages of some sort or another and that’s why we need the whole Body of Christ, not just a few leaders.
Mr. Larry, I am so thankful for this series and this post. Really appreciated the comments too, and how we need each other , the whole body of Christ. I remember that J addressed this at a church one time when she came back for a visit to the US . . . .at a church where demonic spirits were masquerading as the Holy Spirit.
God bless you as you teach us!
Thanks. This is one of those issues that needs the whole body, rather than just a single leader. We are all vulnerable to our flesh and demons with leaders being included in the word “all.” God bless you.