The Spirit of Jesus in Act 16
In Act 16:16-18, the evil spirit in the girl was proclaiming Paul and his companions to be slaves of the Most High God. This was an exaltation and a boast for them. This is similar to the many times when Jesus would not permit the demons to proclaim that He was the Son of God (e.g. Luke 4:41), because He always took the position of the Son of Man, that is, a man, not God. Similarly, I think the reason why Paul rebuked and cast out the demon was because he was disturbed that the demon would uplift him and his companions in this way, making them stand on a higher status than they ought to stand. Yes, they were indeed the dignified slaves of the Most High God, but to stand and minister on such a position would be against the principle of baptism, standing as men in the flesh good for nothing but death and burial.
In Act 16:22-24, we surely see Paul and Silas living a crucified life by the Spirit of Jesus, taking the standing as unworthy men. We know from 16:36-39 that Paul and Silas had every right to not be beaten and imprisoned. As Roman citizens, they had a high status, and could have easily avoided such treatment. But why did they mention in 16:36-39 that they were Roman citizens, but not in 16:22-24? I believe it must surely be because the Spirit of Jesus would not permit them to take the high standing of Roman citizens, but rather restricted them to taking the low standing of common subjects of the Roman empire.
I doubt that Paul and Silas understood why at the time, but they received the restriction of the Spirit of Jesus, and because they were one with this Spirit, they were filled with joy. Thus, their singing in 16:25 was not a performance; it was the overflow of the bountiful supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ–since they bore in their bodies the death of Jesus, they were spontaneously ushered into the resurrection life of Christ. The Lord’s intention for this was the gospel to the jailer and his family; for Paul and Silas, it was simply their living of Christ.
I do not fully understand why in 16:37 Paul mentioned boldly that he was a Roman citizen, and insisted on his rights, but I am sure of two things: first, he must have done it under the permission of the Spirit of Jesus; and second, without this strong stand, we would not have realized that he had voluntarily chosen to be silent in 16:22-24.
I am so impressed by this view of the Spirit of Jesus. In ourselves, we cannot lower ourselves to allow ourselves be mistreated below our rights. But the Jesus who lived such a life is available to us in the Spirit. Lord Jesus, I say amen to your restriction, so that You might have a way to fully live Yourself out of me.