as we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling. she followed paul and us, crying out, “these men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” and this she kept doing for many days. paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “i command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” and it came out that very hour. [acts 16:16-18]
our efforts to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ will encounter opposition. we are promised suffering, trial, and tribulation all throughout the bible. as followers of Christ, we will be hated by the world.
if you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but i chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. [john 15:19]
this word of Jesus to his disciples is a word for us as well. because we have renounced the ways of the world, the ways of the flesh, we have renounced the ways of the prince of the power of the air. and you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. [eph 2:1-3] we are no longer children of darkness. Christ has brought us into his kingdom of light. [1 thes 5:5] and so as long as we walk in the light, the darkness will try to stop us, to overcome us, to destroy us.
but as we see in this passage of acts, the power and opposition of the darkness is no match for the name of Jesus! i have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. in the world you will have tribulation. but take heart; i have overcome the world.” [john 16:33] Jesus has overcome the world! the power of the enemy was bound when Jesus died on that cross. he crushed the enemy’s head. and so in Christ we are conquerors!
along with Jesus overcoming the world, he has sent us the Spirit to help and guide us through opposition, temptation, trial, and tribulation. we have been given the power of the Spirit to war with the enemy. and the Spirit is mightier. little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. [1 john 4:4]
the Spirit helps us to remember who we are in Christ – the Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, [romans 8:16]
the Spirit helps us to pray – likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. for we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. [romans 8:26]
the Spirit helps us to resist temptation – no temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. [1 cor 10:13]
the Spirit helps us to overcome opposition – for though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. [2 cor 10:3-4]
the Spirit helps us in suffering – not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. [romans 5:3-5]
the Spirit helps us to bear fruit – but I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. …but the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. and those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. if we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. [galatians 5:16,22-25]
we do have a crafty enemy, who is always crouching at the door, waiting to deceive, waiting to destroy. but the enemy is no match for the Spirit of the living God. and the Spirit of the living God lives in us.
~ arwen eastma