Still in Philippi, Paul and team seem to have picked up a cheerleader, so to speak:
“Now as we were going to the place of prayer, a slave girl met us who had a spirit that enabled her to foretell the future by supernatural means. She brought her owners a great profit by fortune-telling. She followed behind Paul and us and kept crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation.””
(Acts 16.16-17, NET)
At first glance this looks great, doesn’t it? Someone who by supernatural means is testifying to the authenticity of Paul’s message and merit:
“These men are servants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation.”
Nothing to object to there, is there? The message is true and highlights that Paul et al. are from the most High God and have a message of utmost importance: the way of salvation. Does it matter, then, the environment from which this message comes forth?
“She continued to do this for many days. But Paul became greatly annoyed, and turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!” And it came out of her at once.”
(Acts 16.18, NET)
Even demonic spirits confess Jesus as Lord and Saviour (Mark 3.11-12) but Paul doesn’t want that kind of witness following him around town. It matters a great deal where the truth comes from.
I read recently that Paul “…did not appreciate the free advertising from the demon. He did not appreciate the source of the recommendation, and he didn’t need demonic approval of his work.” ¹
It matters where the truth comes from.
As Augustine said, all truth is God’s truth, sure, but when it comes from an environment that doesn’t honour the Lord or take seriously the person and work of Jesus, is that a truth we want in our lives? Paul would go on to write that everything is permissible, truth is truth, and God is truth, but not everything is beneficial. Just because something appears to be Christian, appears to honour God, all that glitters is not gold. As important as the truth is where it comes from. Jesus knew that (Matthew 8.28-34) and I hope you do too.
¹ – Enduring Word