THE DISCERNING OF SPIRITS – 3

Bible Reading: Acts 16:16-18; Ephesians 6:10-18

One of the most remarkable manifestations of the discerning of spirits in the New Testament occurred in the city of Philippi. A slave girl, who had a spirit of divination, was following Paul and Silas. The outworking of this spirit in her life was that she was able to tell fortunes and make a lot of money for her masters. As she followed the apostles she was actually crying out the truth saying, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.” What she said was correct but Paul discerned an evil spirit, and commanded it to come out of her in the name of Jesus Christ!

Notice that the Bible is very specific in saying that this girl had a spirit of divination. The word divination in Greek is ‘Puthōn’ which means ‘python.’ The Greek text reads ‘a spirit, a Python’. Literally a python spirit was controlling her life. I have learned that when the Bible says spirit, it means spirit, for example, a spirit of fear [2 Timothy 1:7], an unclean spirit [Mark 1:23], a spirit of infirmity [Luke 13:11], etc. In our western intellectualism we have tended to reject the idea of evil spirits. Satanic involvement is often relegated only to mass murderers or violent sex criminals, whilst ordinary problem-plagued individuals wonder what is wrong with them and why they can’t get free! I would suggest that there is demonic activity behind the secularisation of society and the rise of aggressive atheism. At the very least the god of this world [Satan] has blinded the eyes of those who do not believe.

The reality of the spiritual world was brought home to me with such force when a young, nominal Muslim, who was attending our church in Surabaya, died a violent death. On his way home from church he heard a voice, and recognised it as the voice of his grandmother, who had died seven years earlier. He responded, “Where are you grandmother?” The voice said, “It doesn’t matter where I am. Come and join me!” “But how can I join you grandmother?” he asked, to which the voice replied, “Go home, bathe in kerosene, and then light a match, and you will join me.” That is exactly what the young man did. As he was dying from terrible burns he screamed three times, “Mount Kawi is a place of fire!” Kawi is a mountain in East Java. On the mountain there is a temple and legend says that if someone makes an offering to the spirits in the temple, and their offering is accepted, then the one who makes the offering will become prosperous. At his funeral the mother of the dead boy seemed cold and unaffected by his death. We told her the last words of her son, and asked her if she had ever been to Mount Kawi. “I went there yesterday,” she said. We asked her if she had made an offering to the spirits on the mountain. Her reply was shocking. She said, “I offered my son. The spirits have accepted my offering, and now we will become prosperous.

Questions:

The spirit world is a very real world. What does Paul say about this in Ephesians 6:1-20? What are we battling against [v11-12]?

Why do you think that very little is said about this subject or of spiritual warfare in many of our western churches?