Last evening while having dinner with some great friends, we got into a discussion about labeling spirits. Many of you know that I have no problem engaging in debates with my scholarly husband, who is a seminary professor of doctoral students. I love how we can disagree and seek Jesus for the answers without shutting one another down. That’s called a healthy relationship. It is also called knowing who you are in Christ as one of His children. You know the scripture, “Study to show thyself approved…” (2 Timothy 2:15 KJV) We can agree to disagree without having bad feelings. Hmmm, I can see this being a topic all by itself at a later time. Well, allow me to go there momentarily by asking a straightforward question. How often do we, as believers, argue with other believers based upon their understanding of God’s word and distance ourselves from a long-time relationship or end the relationship?
Okay, I digressed.
Grab your Bible or your electronic device and read Acts 16:16-18. I’ll also type it here from the NIV, but I encourage you to study it for yourself. I would love to hear your take in this great debate. Be sure to use the Inductive Study Method worksheet.
“Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. This girl followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so troubled that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.” Acts 16:16-18 NIV
There’s so much to unpack here, but I will do my best to stay on topic and work through this quickly.
On Friday, December 6, 2019, I sent an email with the title Pray. Power. God’s Authority. As you can see in this scripture, Paul had prayer, power, and God’s authority. The scripture reads, “Finally Paul became so troubled that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” Notice that he was talking to the spirit and not the girl.
Point one. We must stop treating people as if they are the problem and begin dealing with the spirit. How many people have we walked away from or cut off because of the spirit they have within them? How often do we push someone out of a church fellowship because we have isolated them? They depart and take the spirit within them to another fellowship, and the cycle continues? Why not choose to disciple them and use our authority to command the spirit to come out?
John 14:12-14, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”
Paul exercised his authority of Jesus. Once he commanded the spirit to come out of her, at that moment the spirit left her.
How often does a spirit harass us, and we think that if we ignore it, the spirit will go away? Not happening. Use your authority and speak to that spirit and tell it to be gone in the name of Jesus.
Second point. The girl knew who they were. “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” Yes! People know who we are when we walk in the power and authority of God. Those who know who we are, know that we can discern their agenda as well. Ever shaken up some things at church or in a fellowship because of the presence of the King you bring into the room? Let’s read, “James 2:19-20, “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?” Prayer. Power. God’s Authority. Take action with your faith. Yes, begin with prayer. “However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” Matthew 17:21 NKJV. And after you have prayed…
“After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.” Acts 4:31 NIV
Third point. Paul and Silas were headed to the place of prayer. By now, you can see that I’m working backward in this section of scripture. Paul and Silas were headed to the place of prayer. They were doing the Lord’s work. Anytime you are doing something that will glorify the Lord, stuff happens. They were on an assignment and got interrupted. They encountered a slave girl who made money by fortune-telling. Don’t miss it. From their presence, they were shutting down her operation. Can your presence shut down an evil operation? Are you walking in power and God’s authority through prayer?
Now that I have shared these three points, let me return to the great debate. We were discussing people in the church who may be on an assignment from satan to disturb, deceive, and try to destroy. The discussion started when I brought attention to women or men who may be dealing with seductive and lustful spirits. I call them Jezebel spirits. My wonderful husband objected, stating from his academic side that a spirit is a spirit, and we (the 21st-century Christian) have begun labeling spirits. He continued by stating that nowhere in the Bible do you read Jesus calling out a Jezebel spirit by saying, “Jezebel spirit come out.” I responded by saying, in this society, we have identified spirits and call them out by name. I took us to Acts 16. My defense was crushed when I read, “Finally Paul became so troubled that he turned around and said to the spirit…”
Okay, he may have initially won that particular debate, but I’m not throwing in the towel just yet. What do you think? What’s your take? Should we label spirits when we are calling them out, or do we say to the spirit…?
Let’s talk. Join the blog and post your comment.
Andrew, thanks for reading this blog post and leaving a comment.
How many spirits did Jesus call out by name in scripture? Reading this today made me ask the question of when did we come up with labeling spirits? Followers of Christ have the authority to to speak: spirit in the name of Jesus be gone, get out, or be thou removed.
M, great question. I continue the debate with my husband, but the more I research scriptures the last couple of days, I am not finding any labeling of spirits. I studied Mark 5:8-10 (Living Bible), which says, “Then Jesus spoke to the demon within the man and said, “Come out, you evil spirit.” It gave a terrible scream, shrieking, “What are you going to do to me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? For God’s sake, don’t torture me!” “What’s your name?” Jesus asked, and the demon replied, “Legion, for there are many of us here within this man.” Then the demons begged him again and again not to send them to some distant land.” M, I share this with you because Jesus did say, “Come out, you evil spirit.” I started asking myself could this be considered labeling a spirit. I don’t know because when Jesus asked him his name, the demon replied, “Legion, for there are many of us…” This led me to question, “How can we label a spirit if we don’t know the names within a person?” This debate continues…
Gail, very good point. So Jesus identified the spirit as “evil spirit “ so is a person that has the jezebel spirit as we call it; a spirit of the flesh or is a demonic spirit? My opinion is that it can be either and at times be both combined. I understand that either way it is a ungodly spirit and needs to dealt with. So is labeling necessary?
M, you raise another great question. I don’t know if labeling spirits are necessary. Can we simply call out a spirit like what Jesus did in Acts 16 with the fortune-teller?
When we say spirit, we need to understand what we are referring to. The are evil spirits but there are also attitudes or agendas that are referred to as spirits. I believe the Jezebel spirit is just that – an attitude or way of thinking or dealing with situations that may not be an actual demon but is not of God and may need to be handled with the same prayer and authority that we would deal with demon spirit.
Charles, thank you for joining the conversation. I see where you are going. I can agree that there are attitudes or agendas that are referred to as spirits. Could that be where or why we label them as such? Is there a comfort in labeling that helps us identify who or what we are encountering?
Mark 9:25 KJV
 When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him….
The scripture you stated earlier about Legion was one that came to mind as well
Yvonne, I am loving this debate. This is how we should interact and have an exchange as we seek the truth of God’s word. I see it! Great scripture you have shared to show there could be a place for labeling spirits. “Dumb and deaf spirit…come out of him…” Thank you for joining the conversation.
O great debate! I’m reading this saying….wow there’s so much in “the church” we just do or say out of routine. I like how this post causes the reader to reflect alongside THE Truth directly and not what other people think or feel. I’m going to spend more time on this 😉 Thanks for writing Gail! Keep sharing!
Amber, thank you for joining the conversation. Yes, “so much in the church” we do out of habit. This takes modeling what we have seen from others to another level. We see it. We mimic it without questioning it. There’s so much to unpack on this subject, but not enough room here to do so. Thanks for following the this blog. So much more is coming.