As incredulous as it may sound, this story is actually true. Indeed, the devil went on a soul-winning mission with one famous preacher known in almost all Christian circles. The good news however, is that the preacher in question is not a false preacher but a good one. “How do you know? You may ask. Well, we will find out together. Keep reading…
Being a Christian myself, I was shocked to the bone when I came to the realization of the facts of the story. It is out of that astonishment that I decided to write this post and share the story with all the believers out there. This way, we can take caution and watch against these things repeating themselves in the Church.
Many Christians would confidently say they would be able to easily identify the devil should they set eyes on him. But what I learned today proved to me that most of us have a skewed perception about the devil. What is your perception of satan? What or how does he look like? Is it a horned and tailed beast with fumes of evil emanating from his face, and from every pore of his skin? Better yet, is it a fearful goat-headed or ‘baphometed’ being, an epitome of fear? Obviously these were the images of the devil that had being let down from generation to generation, and in recent times have been fueled by movies, books and the media.
Well, I also do agree with the above descriptions of the devil. The truth however is that, satan does not look scary and evil all the time. He only looks evil and fearful when he is in his habitat – hell. This is because in hell his main aim is to fright and torment his victims. Taken out of hell and brought to earth, satan does not take on the scary and fearful image that most of us have about him. The reason for the change is because on earth he has a totally different mission. The devil’s main aim on earth is to deceive and take people captive. Surely he would have been unable to deceive no one if he were to come looking scary.
So it was this strategy of changing appearance that I believe eluded the famous preacher and made him go out on his gospel preaching mission with the devil. Anyway, the preacher in question is Apostle Paul. Yes, the same powerful man of God who wrote about two-third of the New Testament under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. It is that same man who went on preaching mission with the devil. To satisfy your curiosity, here is the story:
And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation.
And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.
(Acts 16:16-18 KJV)
Wait a minute! Even Paul could not identify the devil when he joined his evangelism team. And for many days the devil followed him proclaiming, “These men (i.e. Paul and the other disciples that were with him) are the servants of the Most High God, and have come to show us the way of salvation.” (see Acts 16:17).
What would you do if the devil speaks well of you? Obviously you would not accept his good report if he appears in the form of the devil we all know. But what if he did come in the appearance of someone you never imagine could be used by the devil to deceive you? That’s the kind of situation apostle Paul found himself. The devil followed him for many days and kept proclaiming great things about them. None of the apostles including Paul himself discerned that young girl was possessed by the devil. This is a great lesson to all of us.
We saw in the scripture above that young girl was possessed by the “spirit of divination”. This spirit is not part of the seven manifestations of the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 11:2). The word ‘divination’ also means prophesying or soothsaying. It is regrettable but most of the prophets in churches today are actually soothsayers operating under the influence of the spirit of divination. By the help of the devil, these false prophets are able to give accurate and outstanding words of knowledge. The spirit of divination is a very powerful deceptive spirit that satan is using to deceive many Christians. This is why believers must be very careful and check all prophecies with the Bible (2 Peter 1:19) to see if they are correct or not.
Also, we can overcome this deception from the spirit of divination by doing what Paul did. How did Paul finally know that the girl was possessed by an evil spirit? The Bible says, “…But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour” (Acts 16:18). The key word here is ‘grieve’. True prophesies come to exhort, to encourage and to lift us up. Beware of prophets who prophesy to scare you or make you afraid. “For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).
I believe Apostle Paul was able to discover that the young girl was possessed by the devil because her words of prophecy did nothing than bring grieve to the apostle. So as soon as he became grieved he did not hesitate but turned to the girl and commanded the spirit out of her. Another lesson is the fact that Paul did not cast the evil spirit out by his own power but by the power and name of our Lord Jesus Christ. This too is a lesson to us that the battle over the devil and his demons can only be won when we stand in the name and power of our Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ.
Finally, my prayer for all Christians is that we will begin to see the devil for the deceptive being that he really is, and not only as we have known him to be. Also we must not be ignorant of the satan’s goal on earth which is to deceive as many as he can. May God deliver us from every deceptive plot of the devil, in Jesus’ mighty name. Amen!