At that moment the spirit left her.
Thoughts for Today:Previously, a slave girl, who had a spirit by which she predicted the future for her masters, had been following Paul and his missionary team shouting, "These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved." Eventually Paul became so troubled by this that he turned around and said to the spirit, "In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!" We find in today's passage, "At that moment the spirit left her."
Notice first who Paul spoke to (the spirit not the girl). Second he waited to address the issue until it troubled him (the Lord spoke to him through his progressive concern). Thirdly, the spirit left immediately at Paul's command (because he spoke in the name and person of Jesus). Let's look at each of these steps a little more closely:
1. Many times we consider a problem we encounter in another person to be their fault. To heal, you have to see the person separately from the problem. Too often we see the person and the problem as one and the same. In our passage, the girl had a spirit by which she told the future. Would you see the girl as a fortune teller who used her talent to willfully work for Satan, or would you see a girl who was being controlled by demonic influences?
2. I think one of the reasons Paul waited so long to address this issue was because he wasn't initially aware of the danger (see our previous devotion). But as he became more aware the Holy Spirit empowered him to both identify and confront the spirit. Often we will not be successful in calling out a spirit if we act too quickly (in our own power versus the Holy Spirit's), and before we have clearly identified the controlling spirit. What good does it do to call out a spirit that doesn't exist?
3. In Biblical times a name carried within it the essence of the person (for example Barnabas means "son of encouragement"). So when Jesus said in Mark 16:17, "And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons;" He wasn't speaking about the letters of His name (as if they were magical), He was speaking about belief in a real living person, the Son of God, who has complete control over heaven and earth including the power to command a spirit to leave a slave girl. The spirit didn't obey Paul; it obeyed Jesus!
"At that moment the spirit left her." At which moment, you might ask. At the moment he separated the person from the problem, at the moment the Holy Spirit had come upon him for both discernment and empowerment, and at the moment he commanded in the name of a person -- Jesus Christ. At that moment the spirit left.
Questions to Ponder:I know these are heady concepts that we in Christian circles avoid most of the time. Spirit inhabitation is as real today as it was two thousand years ago, we just have different names for it. Sometimes we refer to it as Bi-polar, schizophrenia, depression, alcoholism, etc. Science has identified chemical imbalances in the brain that cause many of these problems, but who's to say that the source of the chemical imbalance might not be spiritual? Pray about this and ask the Lord to help you see someone diagnosed this way as separate from the illness; ask the Holy Spirit for discernment and power.