“And she did this for many days. Then Paul, being sorely annoyed and worn out, turned and said to the spirit within her, I charge you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her! And it came out that very moment.” (Acts 16: 18 AMP)
Today we will look at the python spirit specifically found in the King James Version were the righter says, “As we were on our way to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who was possessed by a spirit of divination [claiming to foretell future events and to discover hidden knowledge], and she brought her owners much gain by her fortunetelling. She kept following Paul and [the rest of] us, shouting loudly. These men are the servants of the Most High God! They announce to you the way of salvation!” (Acts 16: 16-17 AMP).
In the authorised version of the Bible, this spirit of divination is considered the spirit of python. But when one looks up the literal meaning of the word divination here it actually means ‘gateway or entrance to a city’. Likewise the same is meant to be true of an apostolic church (see Ephesians 3:10) where it serves also as a spiritual “gateway” to a city, for the Word and Power of God to flow in. The python however sets out to “stranglehold” this particular authoritative (apostolic) preaching of the Word, so that demonic (strongholds) can use this spiritual “gateway” instead.
A Python spirit is similar to that of a Jezebel spirit – but more complex. Jezebel was outwardly seductive as well as ultra super-spiritual; remember she was a false prophetess. The Python spirit on the other hand does not operate as much around sex and manipulation as it does around prayer and the suffocating of leaders (especially those with true spiritual authority like those in the apostolic ministry).
Notice that Paul was the overall leader there, but there were other men of God present, she went after “them” by saying, “these men are servants of the most high God,” but it was Paul who got vexed the most by her touting and taunting and it was him who she targeted the most, because he had the most authority there. However although Paul was greatly annoyed, he still took his time, (only Satan is in a rush!) the Holy Spirit is never “anxious” or “worked-up” and will have been waiting for the right moment to cast that spirit out of her! In other words this was not a “flesh reaction” from Paul, rather a spiritual one, and one which successfully brought about her deliverance, to the disdain of her owners!
As our adversary is a “master-strategist” and “legalist” let’s look at the order, pattern and strategy with which this “spirit of python” went to work in Acts chapter 16. For it is a fact that, exactly how it operated back then is just how it will operate today. No change! Our adversary has no new tricks!
First of all, let’s look at the significance of prayer. In verse 16 it says, “…we were on our way to a place of prayer,” this clearly shows that this spirit was very much attracted to “intercession” especially with those who have true weighty “spiritual authority.” It is still true of intercession groups today. The python spirit first tries to infiltrate the prayer group. Once it can effectively influence the prayer warriors or the intercessors – its aim is ultimately to stop their effectiveness and fervency [see James 5:16 “the effective fervent prayer of a righteous man makes great power available.”] Usually any person who is being used by a python spirit loves to be in the prayer meeting and loves to appear highly spiritual and knowledgeable. It’s a super spiritual guise!
Secondly let’s mention Mammon as the continuing verses declare that she brought her owners “…much gain.” This spirit’s influences include that of greed, severe selfishness (narcissism) with a sheer love of money (one of their main focuses in life and nauseating to-boot!)
Then there is the flattery and false loyalty seen where it says that she “…kept following Paul” – (people operating with this spirit often “attach” themselves to Leadership, but their allegiance is false). Leaders are singled out and attacked. In fact I would say that this spirit goes “relentlessly” after leadership. In the passing of time these individuals often create a false sense of security around leaders and while giving the impression that they are very loyal they bring leaders into great “distress.” Everything sounds right – they have all the right-words to say, but like someone once said, “…it’s just like trying to wash your feet with your socks on!” Something just isn’t right!
Then there is the loudness aspect to it as seen where it says she, “kept following and shouting loudly.” Those who operate like this lack a great deal of discretion and sensitivity! In fact individuals operating with this spirit are often incapable of being sensitive to the Holy Spirit, although they seem very spiritual! They are loud and draw all the attention to themselves and away from what God is really doing. They stir up a false atmosphere and a “forced-sense-of-excitement.”
To follow this they are very tormenting! As seen where it says, “...and she said this for many days.” – It is a tormenting – unrelenting and unyielding spirit... to the point that Paul and the others were “…sorely annoyed and worn out.” This spirit’s attempts are designed to – exhaust - tire out – weaken and drain leadership, especially the man or woman of God at the helm, as with Paul.
Now ask me how I know all this! It was after my wife and I “endured” similar circumstances as these in our own ministry, not just with one incident but several – yet one in particular. From that point on we decided (and it was some time ago now) to make a study of this spirit and its major manifestations. Nothing changes in how it operates, all the “out-workings” are the same even if the host (person used by this spirit) is different! Therefore our study still remains relevant today and this is what we came up with way back then:
We found that if this “spirit” (python) is in operation in any area, then several major things occur: confusion, distraction, diversion, rivalry, competition, gossip, slander and churches just being “incapable” of working together! And yes! All of this can go off in just one city, town or place! In fact if you are a leader and this is going on in your town, then you will find that this spirit will “stir up the people” (sometimes vehemently) against you! Even others in leadership will get stirred against you. Those relationships you thought were your friends and your allies; who you could work together with; will completely fall apart! (Note: to pit leaders against each other is a special trophy for this adversary as it is at authority level, it is most damaging to the city).
To continue; those operating in this python spirit like to demand all the attention; they engage lots of false prophecies (by declaring the opposite of what God is really saying). Therefore divination occurs (see familiar spirits in 1 Sam28.7). This spirit will affect everybody not just leaders, even though it goes mainly for the head honcho! Its influence is felt by everyone, especially if it gains a stronghold in an area. We saw this first hand in a region, it operated amongst the churches so strongly that eventually things just began to fall utterly apart. It did irreparable damage for some, and others are still trying to rebuild their lives. It causes “madness” (making people question their own sanity!) and causes people to “endlessly question” God’s will for their lives (where previously people were generally secure and clear headed!) It is when people feel that they have to constantly second-guess themselves, or justify themselves all the time, that things get very intense! And ultimately severe hopelessness sets in. Many in leadership give up the ministry and simply walk away.
This spirit also causes such “tiredness” a spiritual, extremely strong and overpowering tiredness; because all the mind games drain people of their vital spiritual energy!
Going back to “hopelessness” just briefly, this was one of the major oppressive elements that we discovered in a small town where we used to live. Also this spirit of python was in operation within the whole region making the churches there totally incapable of working together on any real level. And there existed an overriding sense of hopelessness amongst the people we had to minister to. The place offered profound potential. There was apparent wealth and opportunity and yet so many of the folks we ministered to there, were extremely affected by this deep sense of “hopelessness.” On the surface an outsider would not detect it perhaps, but living there for some time, it became so obvious and the average person there was really suffering with it. Hope deferred really does make the heart sick.
What often followed in succession was deep depression and disappointments in people and this provoked much murmuring and gossip. In fact in an area where python has a stronghold, there will be MUCH murmuring, complaining and gossip. It affects everyone underneath it influence, but it is targeted of course especially at leaders. Leaders end up feeling so tied-up that they can’t move freely by the spirit as they want to. There is this overwhelming sense that they better “please” the people so that murmuring stops, but of course it doesn’t! The plan of course is “spiritual suffocation” which involves “emotional blackmailing” to exhaust, drain and zap the energy both mentally and spiritually.
Python will drain leaders as with Paul, by sending people who appear to everyone else to be “supportive” (of all their hard work and efforts) but actually challenge every decision and every move they make; usurping their authority by lifting up their own agenda or the ones who sent them! Then comes the mockery; they try to overpower people by mocking them and showing outward disrespect. Every opinion they have is loud and public. They are extremely VERBAL and designed to be “intimidating.” This makes people take sides with it - in fear of reprisal. No one confronts them.
Those who need all the attention for themselves permanently are probably operating with a python spirit. Now I am not talking about basic immaturity that like centre stage like a child does, but we are talking mainly about those who have influence around ministers and who operate in a premeditated manner especially against authority. (Note: it is a great victory for out adversary to bring leaders down by making the people question their authority.)
Essentially the python spirit takes people’s focus and attention from the Lord and puts it on to other things; just as the slave girl did – who angered Paul so much. They go after the “elect” of God, knowing that even they can be deceived.
Finally a python spirits chiefly wants to rule and posses “cities” not just insignificant slave girls! Verse 20 says, “…OUR city.” Their agenda is the “city” or “region” and not just the random individual. This spiritual strong hold that we are calling the Python spirit today, aims higher than the average person. It wants to infiltrate and exhaust leadership so that it can ultimately “still and hinder” the prayers and “squash” the authority that has the potential to stop it and overcome it!
PRAYER FOR THE DAY
Father thank you that although there are many spirits; there is only “one” Holy Spirit, who is well able to guide and equip me, so that I am well prepared both in season and out, to walk with you successfully and without hindrance. Thank you that I can walk in a right spirit today and be led of your Holy Spirit, allowing Him to have influence through me, for the rest of my life. Amen.
CONFESSION ON THE DAY
Today I declare that victory is mine. I am more than a conqueror. No intimidation need affect me. I live secure in the Love of my Saviour and the one who died for me. There are no boundaries to his Love and I rest secure in His mercy. My daily agenda is to follow and obey (Isaiah 1:19).
THANK YOU FOR HELPING TO MAKE THIS MINISTRY POSSIBLE!
WE LOVE YOU…!
Motto: ‘God Chooses, then the Spirit Tests, but You Must Respond!’
Copyright 2010 © Alan Pateman Ministries