Unstoppable! 'Conflict Over Deliverance' — Acts 16:16-21

Sunday, August 22, 2021

One day as we were going down to the place of prayer, we met a slave girl who had a spirit that enabled her to tell the future. She earned a lot of money for her masters by telling fortunes. She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, "These men are servants of the Most High God, and they have come to tell you how to be saved."

This went on day after day until Paul got so exasperated that he turned and said to the demon within her, "I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her." And instantly it left her.

Her masters' hopes of wealth were now shattered, so they grabbed Paul and Silas and dragged them before the authorities at the marketplace. "The whole city is in an uproar because of these Jews!" they shouted to the city officials. "They are teaching customs that are illegal for us Romans to practice."

— Acts 16:16-21 NLT

Key Thought

From the beginning of time, those in power have exploited others for their pleasure and profit. Human trafficking and the exploitation of the vulnerable are not new to our world. Luke's description, "Her master's hopes of wealth...", should make us retch. Slavery, abuse, and exploitation take many forms. In Philippi, these men made money using this demonized woman with her special powers. When Paul delivered this woman from the demon, her "masters" were incensed. When God's people oppose any form of exploitation — slavery, abuse, human trafficking, prejudice, racism — they battle evil on multiple fronts:

  • Satan wants people in bondage, so deliverers have to fight the power of hell to deliver those in bondage.
  • Human partners with Satan find ways to make money through the exploitation of others so they furiously oppose God's people who value the person being exploited more than possible profits.
  • Sometimes even the people who are being exploited can oppose liberation because they have become so accustomed to their way of life that they don't want to change since they don't understand what a good life is and are afraid of change.
Jesus, however, repeatedly showed us that he came to deliver people from every kind of bondage.* If we claim to follow Jesus, human exploitation must be opposed and defeated by the power of God working through us, and we must help rehabilitate those who have been exploited. We will likely pay a price because of the forces that oppose this deliverance, but we must follow where the Lord has already called us to go with his unstoppable message and trust the outcome to him as the great Deliverer.**

* See the Related Scripture Readings on this point.

** See Psalm 36 for a poetic declaration of the wickedness of the evil ones in Psalm 36:1-4, God's goodness in Psalm 36:5-9, and God's people and their prayer for salvation from the evil ones in Psalm 36:10-12. Jesus invites us to be partners in the work of this third section of the psalm!

Today's Prayer

LORD God, you came to us in Jesus to redeem us and deliver us from the grip of Satan. Thank you! Now, dear LORD, please use me to help deliver people from every kind of bondage. Stir my heart with righteous anger at every kind of exploitation of people — people you made in your image but who are dehumanized and mistreated. Give me your passion for people as I embrace the redemptive lifestyle of Jesus, in whose name I pray. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

  • Luke 4:14-21, 31-36, 40-41, 8:1-3, 26-39, 9:1-2, 37-43, 49, 10:17-20, 11:14-20, 13:32-33
  • Acts 5:12-16, 19:11-16

Comments

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Illustration

Illustration of Acts 16:16-21 NLT — One day as we were going down to the place of prayer, we met a slave girl who had a spirit that enabled her to tell the future. She earned a lot of money for her masters by telling fortunes. She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, "These men are servants of the Most High God, and they have come to tell you how to be saved."

This went on day after day until Paul got so exasperated that he turned and said to the demon within her, "I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her." And instantly it left her.

Her masters' hopes of wealth were now shattered, so they grabbed Paul and Silas and dragged them before the authorities at the marketplace. "The whole city is in an uproar because of these Jews!" they shouted to the city officials. "They are teaching customs that are illegal for us Romans to practice."

About This Devotional

Unstoppable! is a one-year devotional guide through the book of Acts. Each devotional consists of a scripture passage, a reflection and a prayer. The reflection opens up the day's scripture and shows how it challenges one to live for Jesus.

Unstoppable! is written by Phil Ware.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.