“Then the multitude rose up against them [Paul & Silas]; and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods. And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison.Acts 16:22-23
It is said that “where there is smoke, there is fire” – which is meant to insinuate that if a person is accused there must be some basis for the accusation. In this incident what terrible thing had Paul and Silas done to merit such cruel treatment? They had delivered a slave girl from demonic possession (v 18). Surely that should merit favourable treatment! But no; it hit the hip pocket of her owners who were using her for their own financial gain. The trouble Paul and Silas brought to the city was loss of immoral financial gain.
We can expect similar treatment today. When we speak against abortion those who are hurt financially will want to silence us. When we speak against suicide for the old, sick and infirm those who will benefit financially will want to silence us. If we speak against prostitution and slavery those who benefit will oppose us.
Paul and Silas were continuing the ministry and mission of the Lord Jesus Christ who came to set captives free. Of course they didn’t deserve such treatment but we shouldn’t expect anything different in a world that is under the delusion of the spirit of antichrist and the power of Satan.
When attempts are made to silence opposition to murder and slavery – which includes abortion, euthanasia and sexual enslavement – does it mean that God is unable to keep us? In no way! Indeed, Paul and Silas accepted it as wounds for Christ and sang hymns and songs in worship and praise because they were counted worthy to suffer for Christ’s sake (v 25). Not only that, but it was the Holy Spirit’s way of getting Paul and Silas into the prison so that they could preach Jesus to the jailer and his household in such a way that they would come to faith in Jesus (v 34). We wouldn’t have chosen that way and neither would Paul and Silas but it was the way that God knew would succeed. We may wonder at times about the path God has chosen for us, which may include suffering, but we can’t see what God is aiming at. We can take heart like Paul and Silas and keep singing praise and worshiping the Lord. In due time we will see where the Lord was leading and His purpose.