I've noticed a trend in T.V. and movies of late and that is the marriage of the occult with science fiction or comedy or regular weekly soap operas. There was a time when the various characters and beliefs of the occult, such as witches and demons and fortunetelling etc. were relegated to scary movies or horror.
But today more and more we see the mixing of occult concepts and personalities with mainstream shows:
- Harry Potter - Books and Movies
- Twilight Series
- Good Vampires / Bad Vampires
Of course the concern here is that with acceptance of these "sanitized" forms of occultism we are providing a gateway to more serious and dangerous forms of occult practice. The same way that pot usually leads to hard drugs, playful socially acceptable witches can lead the curious and ignorant to destroy their souls with those practices condemned by God -Gal.5: 20
One problem that the occult produces is fear, fear of the unknown, fear of the dreadful view that the occult has of spiritual life; fear that one is helpless against someone who practices the Black Arts. This is especially true of developing nations like Haiti where the people practice voodoo and witchcraft and are intimidated by those who hold power over them with these things.
I think we are familiar with O.T. passages like Deut.18: 10 - 12 that forbid these ancient practices.
10 Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire,who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft,11 or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead.12 Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord; because of these same detestable practices the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you.
As I said before, Paul reiterates this prohibition in Gal. 5:20 , "Sorcery …. a deed of the flesh". We know it's forbidden but the question I get the most is, "Does it have any power and am I susceptible to its Power?" That's what I'd like to deal with today.
I. The Occult Versus Christianity
In the book of Numbers there's an interesting episode where an enemy of God's people named Balak hired a prophet and practicer of the occult, Balaam, to put a curse on the Israelites. The king, Balak, was afraid that the Jews would overrun his nation so he thought Balaam's magic could somehow defeat them. Eventually Balak gave up trying to get Balaam to curse, the people because it just wasn't allowed by God.
This brief passage however does give us some insight into the spiritual principles that govern the workings of the spiritual underworld:
1. The Occult Practices Do Have Certain Power
Balaam had to be stopped in what he was to do; he apparently had done it before. Satan has certain (not infinite) but certain power that is seen in the negative actions in this world. The occult is an effort to tap into this power - whether people are aware of it or not.
Evil doesn't exist in a vacuum; the Bible describes how Satan used nations and leaders to try to destroy the Church. He tried to tempt Jesus; He led Judas to betray his Lord; He wanted to destroy Peter and would have without Jesus' interaction.
So it is naïve to say there is no power in witchcraft or the - there is power but it is Satan's power and it is limited. Don't be fooled by those who say a "good witch" or sorcerer, this kind of power comes from below.
8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death." - Rev. 21:8
It doesn't say good witch or bad witch, positive or negative activity - those who practice are condemned.
2. The Occult Has No Power Over Christians.
Just as God protected the Israelites from Balaam's curse, He protects all of His children in the same way. This principle is reaffirmed in the epistle of 1 John 4: 4 ".. greater is He who is in you, than he who is in the world." Paul tells us that there is a battle waged in the spiritual realm where (the real enemy of the soul) resides. He also says that we are perfectly equipped as Christians to protect, resist and fend off those attacks.
"Put on the full armour of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places." Eph.6: 11-12
We shouldn't worry about things like witchcraft, ghost, voodoo, spells, curses and the like -- because God specifically protects us and provides for us so that these may not hurt us.
3. God's Word is More Powerful Than Any Occult Power or Practice.
In the encounter between Balaam and the children of Israel we read that prophet could do nothing bad or nothing good for that matter, without God's permission and His word. God's word, the Bible says, is powerful. God likens it to a sword, which was the most lethal weapon of its day.
He says that the word is:
- The sword of the Spirit - Eph.6: 17
- Sharper than any two-edged sword. Heb.4: 12
- The sword that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord - Rev.19: 21
And this sword, this word has great power and ability beyond the power and ability of the forces of darkness.
- The word has power to reveal the truth to us. "Sanctify them in the truth; Thy Word is truth." John 17:17.
- The Word has the power to teach us, correct us, judge us and train us for living a right and fruitful life before God - II Tim.3: 16
- The Word has the power to save us from condemnation and eternal death.
"The gospel is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe.." Rom. 1:16
Yes there is power in the dark sciences, magic and the occult practiced by many but it cannot stand in the face of God's power expressed in His word.
The power wielded by the occult is the power of fear. And people try to deal with their fears in many ways - usually by trying to us magic and superstition (lucky things etc.)
The only power that can defeat the power of the occult is God's power in His word. And the only power that can calm our fears, especially the three things that cause most of our fears and worry, is God's word
God's word calms:
A - Our Fear Of The Spirit World
The Word calms our fears of the "unknown" spirit world by revealing to us that Jesus Christ is Lord of this dimension.
"For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities - all things have been created by Him and for Him." - Col.1:16
Whatever is out there that we cannot see; Jesus is Lord over it.
B - Our Fear of Death
The word reveals to us why we die and how we can avoid dying and being punished forever for sin.
" For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord" - Rom. 6:23
It doesn't matter when we die or what we will die of - everyone will die because everyone is a sinner. However the Word promises us that those who die in Christ will enter into eternal life with God.
The Word not only promises this but it also describes how Jesus obtained this blessing for us through His own death for our sins and His resurrection as a guarantee for our own. The occult power claims to bring back the dead as vampires and zombies, God's word brings back the dead through the resurrection in glory.
C - Finally The Word of God Calms Our Fear of the Future
The word calms our fears concerning the future by revealing the ultimate future. In 1 Thess. 5:1-11, 2 Thess. 2:1-12 and II Peter 3:3-13 these two Apostles provide the scenario for the future when the world as we know it will end.
Everything will be going along as usual in the world in its normal cycle when there will be a decided turn for the worse as the theological and philosophical and moral pendulums swing severely toward ungodliness and Apostasy; When this happen the Bible says:
- God will reveal the Man of Lawlessness to the faithful.
- Jesus will return with a trumpet and a shout.
- The dead will resurrect with the unbelievers and unfaithful to judgment and hell; and the faithful to be with the Lord in the air.
- The creation will be destroyed with intense heat.
- The new heavens and earth will appear as an eternal dwelling place for the saints with God in Christ.
- And all of this will take place in the twinkling of an eye.
- Once we know and are assured of these things there is no need for fear.
God will provide all we need until and on this day as well. There is death in our future but there is also eternal life through Jesus Christ, no need to be afraid.
Whether it be fear caused by the occult, or the simple anxiety that comes from being a weak human being - I invite those struggling with these issues to:
- Come to Christ in repentance and bury your fears in the waters of baptism.
- Come back to Christ if you've been unfaithful and receive the prayer of restoration so you can face the future with confidence.
Give up all attempts to deal with fear without Christ's help and surrender to His love now. If you have any need come forward, don't be afraid - come now.