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Christian Natural Health

with Dr. Lauren Deville

Paul and Silas's Jailbreak: Acts 16:16-40

00:00 22:17
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Today's meditation and retelling is from Acts 16:16-40. Introduction:  I always thought it strange that this demon-possessed girl announced the truth of Paul and Silas’s message, and yet the disciples found this troublesome. Why would a demon endorse their message, and if it did, why would that be a bad thing? There must be something we’re missing. Perhaps this gave the distinct impression to listeners that Paul and Silas were in cahoots with the demons. Jesus was accused of this very thing, too (Luke 11:15). Also, if this demon-possessed girl bothered Paul (whatever the reason), why did it take him “many days” to cast the demon out? Why didn’t he do so at once? We’re not told what was going on that would have hindered this solution, so we can only speculate. Andrew Wommack’s interpretation is that perhaps the girl had no desire to be free of the demon. If that were the case, as Jesus said, casting out one demon without replacing it with a new Spirit might leave her with more demons than she started with in the end (Matthew 12:44). As a naturopathic doctor, I think of this as similar to a course of broad-spectrum antibiotics. They might wipe out the pathogen, but if you don’t repopulate with good bacteria to defend the territory against subsequent attacks, opportunistic organisms may invade instead. The end state of that patient’s digestion and health generally can then be worse than it was to begin with. Perhaps Paul and Silas waited to see if the girl might give any indication that she wanted deliverance. But after many days of her presumably hindering their message and preventing others from coming to the Lord, they’d had enough.    Unfortunately, the girl turned out to be a valuable slave, because of the demon. In their anger, her owners dragged Paul and Silas before the magistrates of the city. I’m not sure why Paul didn’t tell the magistrates that they were Roman citizens then, since apparently that would have changed everything. Perhaps God told them to keep their mouths shut about that for the time being, though it seems like if that were the case, it would have been recorded. Also, while the apostles were certainly persecuted in many cases for their faith, I can’t think of a time in scripture when God explicitly told them to submit to persecution because He intended to use it for the greater good, even though He always did so. God taking evil and turning it for good certainly isn’t the same thing as God causing evil and turning it for good. Later in Paul’s life, God specifically tried to lead him away from Jerusalem, apparently to spare him persecution (Acts 21:4-11). It therefore seems more likely to me that in the ensuing brouhaha, Paul just couldn’t get a word in edgewise.    I love how God redeemed this miserable story, though. Beaten, bloody, in stocks so they couldn’t even move, and now thrown into prison, Paul and Silas surely didn’t feel like singing. Yet they offered a sacrifice of praise, anyway (Hebrews 13:15). This time, God didn’t send an angel, but an earthquake. He needed to make sure the jailer was awake to see Paul and Silas’s deliverance. As a result, rather than committing suicide (since the jailer knew that if all the prisoners escaped on his watch, he would be killed for his negligence), he and all his family were saved. Not only that, but the Roman law protected Roman citizens from being punished without a trial (Acts 22:25-29). When the magistrates learned they had thus treated Roman citizens, they were afraid, for their positions and possibly even for their lives. Naturally, word of the scandal  would spread—“Did you hear what the magistrates of Philippi did to two Roman citizens? Yes, and without trial!” The next question of course would be, “What did the men do to deserve such treatment?” And so the gospel might spread even farther than it might have otherwise. Also, magistrates in other cities would be careful not to repeat the offense, protecting Paul and Silas from similar treatment in the future. The story might even have protected other believers from harassment too, as they preached; surely no other magistrates would be in a hurry to repeat the Philippian mistake.    Fictionalized Retelling:  I felt a sinister presence right away, at the edge of our meeting in Philippi. One minute, it felt like I had the crowd’s full attention, like they were hanging on my every word. The Holy Spirit was almost palpable. I brimmed with anticipation, eager for the awesome display of the Lord’s power that was sure to follow. But then suddenly, the energy of the group shifted, and soured. I didn’t miss a beat, and continued speaking, but I scanned the crowd for the source of the disturbance. My eyes landed on the girl at once.  She was dark-skinned, her wrists spangled with bracelets and her head and waist with colorful scarves. These told me her profession at a glance: she was a diviner. All diviners were either demon-possessed or charlatans, so I wasn’t too surprised to note the sne
March 11, 2022
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Meet Your Host
Dr. Lauren Deville is the owner of Nature Cure Family Health in Tucson, Arizona. She received her NMD from Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, AZ, and she holds a BS in Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics from the University of Arizona, with minors in Spanish and Creative Writing. She is the author of The Holistic Gut Prescription and How to Be Healthy: Body, Mind, and Spirit.

In her spare time, Dr. Lauren writes young adult science fiction and fantasy novels as well as Biblical retellings under the pen name C.A. Gray, and she maintains a movie review blog with her cinephile husband.
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