A Substitutionary (Python) Spirit

A Substitutionary (Python) Spirit 
Robert Wurtz II

Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling. (Acts 16:16)

We have the familiar story of Paul the Apostle encountering a woman that was possessed with a demon. A spirit of divination is the Greek pneuma puthoœna. Hesychius defines it as daimonion manikon (a spirit of divination). The etymology of the word is not clearly known (Robertson). Vincent suggests a Python. Python, in Greek mythology, was the serpent which guarded Delphi. According to the legend, as related in the Homeric hymn, Apollo descended from Olympus in order to select a site for his shrine and oracle. Having fixed upon a spot on the southern side of Mount Parnassus, he found it guarded by a vast and terrific serpent, which he slew with an arrow, and suffered its body to rot (puqei√n) in the sun. Hence the name of the serpent Python perhaps means “rotting”; Pytho, the name of the place, and the epithet Pythian, applied to Apollo. The name Python was subsequently used to denote a prophetic demon, and was also used of soothsayers who practiced ventriloquism, or speaking from the bellyBengel suggests puthesthai from punthanomai, to inquire. Certainly Luke does not mean to credit Apollo with a real existence (1 Cor. 8:4). Plutarch (A.D. 50-100) also says that the term puthoœnes was applied to ventriloquists (eggastrimuthoi). In the LXX those with familiar spirits are called by this word ventriloquists (Lev. 19:31; 20:6, 27, including the witch of Endor 1 Sam. 28:7). (see Vincent, A.T. Robertson)

False Inspiration

It is possible that this slave girl had this gift of prophecy “by soothsaying” (manteuomeneœ). Present middle participle of manteuomai, old heathen word (in contrast with propheœteuoœ) for acting the seer (mantis) and this kin to mainomai, to be mad, like the howling Dervishes of later times. Dervishes were Muslim’s first appeared in the 12th century; they were noted for their wild or ecstatic rituals and were known as dancing, whirling, or howling dervishes according to the practice of their order. (Webster) This young woman was moving in a demonic spirit that was substituting itself for an operation that can only justly and rightly be occupied by the Holy Spirit of God. The demon that possessed this woman was an unholy spirit, in an unholy person, speaking true statements. 

The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. And this did she many days. (Acts 16:17, 18b) 

Paul’s reaction? He was grieved after listening many days. Vincent suggests rather, worn out. Both grieved at the sad condition of the woman, and thoroughly annoyed and indignant at the continued demonstrations of the evil spirit which possessed her. It is not fully known why Paul waited to cast this demon out. Certainly it verifies the testimony of the demon that attacked the sons of Sceva, “Paul I know and Jesus I know, but who are you?” The demons knew who Paul was. Paul did not need the affirmation of demons. It was of no benefit to the preaching of the Gospel. The message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ must be carried not under the inspiritation of unclean spirits, but by the inspiritation of the Holy Spirit of God. 

Deceiving the People

At some point in this woman’s life, she became possessed by this demon. That is common sense. She obviously opened herself up to it by being continually subjected to its influence. Every human being on the face of the earth is a temple: the question is, they are a temple of what or who? Not all people are demon possessed that do not know Christ, but they are still indwelt by the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience (Ephesians 2). Those that are demon possessed have obviously underestimated the spiritual nature of the world we live in. Some have gone far enough to invite the demon to possess them. This is why it is foolish and dangerous to subject yourself to the influence and working of demonic spirits that operate in this present evil age. Multitudes come under demonic influences as they subject themselves to secular activities that move upon the people. The Holy Spirit strives with man, but so do demon spirits. 


Paul spoke of the Corinthians being “carried away” unto dumb idols. Music has the ability to “carry one along.” This is why the Israelites danced and carried on before the Golden Calf. Their is a spiritual dynamic to these things, just as there is a Spiritual dynamic when believers sing praises unto God. The Psalmist spoke of God “inhabiting” the prises of the people: do we not understand that the enemy desires to “inhabit” the places where men are being lifted up? The time would fail to give example after example of Rock star, Rap singer, and other genres that admit to having “sold their soul to the devil” or “made a pact with the devil” in order to be successful. Rock bands speak of “feeding off of the energy” that they draw from the crowds as they play. Any desire to venture a guess where this energy comes from? Unclean spirits? This is how the enemy substitutes a spiritual need to worship – with a counterfeit of himself. People “feel” something and it is often more than soulish, it is spiritual (demonic). It is earthly, sensual or demonic or it is earthly+sensual+demonic. In either case, Christians should be vexed by it, even as Paul was. 


All demonic spirits are “pythonian” in nature. That is to say, they want to influence you away from God, to distract you, to squeeze you, until you have no desire for God and His Spirit. He wants to create a scenario where God is not welcome so he can come in and influence in His place. This is the great danger. Once it starts happening the people begin to resent the entire notion of holiness. They have subjected themselves to the demonic until they are in agreement with that demons rebellion against God. That is the simplest way to say it. Any person that resists holiness is under the influence of the demonic whether they know it or not. it does not matter that they cry day and night “These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation.” The Holy Spirit will always lead us to separate ourselves from these type of things. He cleansed Heaven of them and as Temples of the Holy Spirit He wants us cleansed of them as well. What folly is it that a Christian would want to subject themselves to the spirit that was cast out of heaven? It is because they are under its influence and stand in need of repentance and deliverance. If the desire for God is leaving or is gone; if the desire for holiness and righteousness is gone; if there is a general desire to live in the world and agree with it – there is a demonic influence that has taken hold. Renounce all behavior leading up to this effect! Renounce it forever. God is well able to deliver, but one must not be fooled into believing they can eat at the table and drink of the cup of devils and serve God at the same time. Hell will be full of such people. 

Flirting with the Devil

Flirting with the Devil
Robert Wurtz II

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. (2 Corinthians 6:14-18)

Our passage is a reference back to the Old Testament where God commanded Israel to enter the Promised Land and commence throwing down all the altars and idols, even driving out the Cananites from the land. We read this sobering passage, “And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants.” (Leviticus 18:25) Is this God saying that these people were as vomit? That’s right. They were as that thing that would enter your belly to kill you, but as a natural God-given response you system heaves out the deadly contents before it has a chance to do the job. The land had vomited the people out for their evil, but according to Judges 2:1-20 the people of God refused to utterly throw down the alters and drive out this people. Instead they began to fellowship with them.

Unequally yoked  

Samson used a phrase in Judges 14:18 that comes front and center; … “If ye had not plowed with my heifer, ye had not found out my riddle.” (Judges 14:18) The story is common so we will not visit it in detail, but Samson had given a riddle to the Philistines and his wife was privy to it. She told the Philistines the secret and Samson expressed this betrayal as the Philistines “plowing with his heifer”. The trouble with that is that Samson should not have been plowing with her himself. Why? Because God warned the people of God over and over not to become romantically involved with the Philistines because they will draw the people of God to their false idols and gods. He had been “unequally yoked” with this woman and it was he in fact that was “plowing with the wrong heifer”. But Samson loved to yoke up with such figures as her and he will eventually give in to Delilah that will ultimately divulge not the secret of his riddle, but the secret of his power. 

Drunk on compromise

The people that were to be driven out of the land, that the Israelites were keeping around were some of the most evil people that ever drew breath. This area of the world was notorious for wickedness. Sodom and Gomorrah was once in this area, appropriately situated near the very lowest spot on earth, the Dead sea. This sea of death is rightly so called because that’s what it is, “dead”. It is over 8X saltier than the ocean. Lot pitched his tent towards this area and soon was living in Sodom. Figuratively and quite literally this place was on the very edge of Hell. These people were deliberately situated as far from God as they could get. If serving God can be viewed as a mountain-top experience, what are we to make of a city built at the exact opposite end of the topographical map? They wanted to be as far from God as they could possibly get. Lot, apparently under the delirium of compromise, marched his family right in to this devil infested, sin intoxicated, high-handed and rebellious assembly. 

An invitation to Satan

Satan does not pass up invitations. If you flirt with him, he will take the bait every single time.He doesn’t discriminate, he wants to plow with every soul he possibly can. I recall as a child that homes would be set up a “safe houses” so that on our walk home from school, if we were being harassed or were hurt, we could walk up to the door and get help. These homes were identified by a sign in the lower window of the house. All the signs looked alike. He said to us children, “you are welcome to come here and you are safe here.” The sign identified the home as a safe house. Likewise, we identify ourselves with the thing we want to be friendly with. If we want to be friendly with the world we will identify ourselves with the world. We communicate our intentions by what we identify ourselves with. Nobody has any trouble identifying Amish folks. They are identifying themselves a certain way to communicate their intentions. For some, they will feel a camaraderie and will be drawn to the identity; others will be repelled and have nothing to do with them. Why? Because they telegraph their intentions by the way they carry themselves. Common sense really.    

Symptoms of destruction

The question most people ask about these type things is, “what’s wrong with it?” What’s wrong with Samson marrying a Philistine? What’s wrong with dressing like a Goth or tattooing skulls and demonic symbols on my body? Noting at all if you want to identify with darkness. But what did Paul say? What communion hath light with darkness? Some people seem to almost get a high off of flirting with the demonic. They bring all manor of devilish things into their lives and then have the nerve to blame God when their lives are destroyed and their family is demon possessed. God told Israel to throw down and ruthlessly destroy the altars and idols. Understand that a pagan idol is not a decoration for your home. Dream catchers, pentagrams, occult symbols, etc. ad infinitum, have no place in the Christian’s life. It is no different than the sign I used to see in the windows walking home from school shouting, “You are welcome here!” The devil knows where he is welcome; all he has to do is look at you and see what you are identifying yourself with. It’s too late to play dumb once your life is ruined. 

Fashionable evil

We live in a time like unto Sodom and Gomorrah. People will fragrantly identify themselves with Satan and darkness and then wipe their mouth as if they have done nothing wrong. They are only fooling themselves. The devil knows when he is welcome some place. For example, we woke up a few years ago and it was suddenly “OK” to watch people suck blood and engage in all manor of occult activity as long as we could attach the behavior to a seductive and romantic story line. What are you saying? “Come here Devil and bind thy neck with me; be my heifer that we might plow together.” What madness. What invitation to total destruction. I recall as a young child a woman being on the late night television that dressed herself as a seductive witch. Black hair, black dress, black eye-liner, black fingernails, black everything. When I think of that woman I think of Jezebel that was thrown down before the man of God and trampled to death for her evil. It was bad enough in the home of a sinner on late night TV, but what happens when all this is done in the name of fashion and expression? Why would a Christian want to identify with God’s sworn enemies. Do you like to flirt with darkness? You are opening yourself up to devils. You are begging to be demonized. If they who practice such things could see the demons swarming around them when they entertain evil and identify themselves as his bride they would not sleep at night. Demons are pictured even as scorpions in the book of Revelation (Revelation 9:3). Would you walk into a room with life sized scorpions for a night of entertainment? This is mere picture language meant to arrest our attention that these creatures mean business and their sting will devastate. God told Israel in Judges 2 that he would not drive their enemies out from before them because they refused to stop the compromise, but that the enemy would become a thorn in their side. How much closer can a messenger from Satan get than “in your side” (2 Corinthians 12:7)? Not because you were being persecuted for the purposes of God, but because you opened the door to the Devil and he walked right in. 

Run for your soul

Many people today are simply in denial. The enemy has them duped into thinking that there is nothing to all of these things. Symbols don’t mean anything, how I dress don’t mean anything, etc. Really? Then why is the Bible loaded with symbolism? From numbers to objects the Bible is loaded with symbols. From the brazen serpent in the wilderness to the golden lamp stands in the Revelation, we have symbols. We are warned not to touch evil things. Why? Because we are telegraphing our desires and intentions by what we identify with and what we entertain. The devil can take a hint. His song is as the old tune goes, “Just give me some kind of sign girl (boy)…” and he’ll come a running. It’s too late once the enemy gets a foothold in your mind and he wins you over to his cause. By the time you start justifying all these things you are already under his delusion. If you are involved in these things, flee even now! Run for your soul! Not as Lot’s wife who turned back to see one last time, but turn and run while there is still hope and you are still reachable.     


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