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The Holy Spirit or spirits? - Shepherd of Hope

Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, – 1 Timothy 4:1

 

Halloween is one of the biggest money-making holidays in our country. Costumes, candy, parties, movies, and a host of scary paraphernalia are a bonanza to stores and merchants throughout the land. Merchants begin promoting Halloween in August and it seems they are pushing it earlier and earlier each year. What’s the attraction? Why is Halloween so successful?

Some people say that Halloween, even though it promotes dark images of the occult, witchcraft and sorcery, is harmless. But is it so harmless? More importantly, is the occult something God wants the Christian to take lightly or be involved in? What does God say in His word (i.e. the Bible) about the occult, witchcraft and sorcery? There are a number of reasons why people should think twice about exposing themselves to the occult, witchcraft and sorcery by participating in a “holiday” such as Halloween. That is what we are going to consider in this teaching.

The word “holiday,” is a contraction of the words “holy,” and “day.” The word “holy” means separate and distinct, unique. When God speaks of something as “holy,” He means something set apart particular for Him. Christians are called “saints” (e.g. Acts 9:32; Romans 15:25; 31; 2 Corinthians 8:4; 9:1; Ephesians 1:1; Colossians 1:2; Hebrews 6:10; Jude 3). Christians are “saints,” another word for “holy’  in that they are set apart unto God, for His purposes. Halloween, as a “holiday,” is anything but holy. It certainly isn’t a day set apart unto God. And those who are called “saints,” those who are supposed to be set apart unto God, for His pleasure and use, shouldn’t involve themselves in things that are not only not holy, but things that are particularly aimed at being unholy. And that is what Halloween is.

The Bible our Authority. The Bible has stood the test of time and history and the repeated onslaught of those who would discredit it. The Bible is like no other book. It is confirmed and proved by archeology, fulfilled prophecy, its accuracy, and its power to change lives. The Bible is the Word of God and as such, is our standard, our manual for life. The Bible is a love letter from our heavenly Father who loves us so much that He gave us directions about life and how to live it the right way. Listen to what the Bible says about itself:

  • 2 Timothy 3:16-17 – 16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

The Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, is breathed out from God through the human authors to us so that we can know who God is and how we can have an eternal relationship with Him. Someone has said of the Bible:

“This book contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveler’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldiers sword, and the Christian’s charter. Christ is its subject, our good its design, and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently and prayerfully. It is given to you in life, will be open in the judgment, and be remembered forever. It involves the highest responsibility, rewards the greatest labor, and condemns all who trifle with its holy precepts.” – Author Unknown

What can we expect in the Latter Times? In His Olivet Discourse on Latter Days End Times events the one thing Jesus emphasized and repented throughout His message was “Take heed that no one deceives you” (cf. Matthew 24:3-5, 23-25; Mark 13:5-6, 22-23; Luke 21:8-9, 34-36). According to Jesus the latter times leading up to His return are going to be filled with a spirit of deception.

Paul frequently spoke of the “latter times.” He exhorted the Roman church to wake up out of any lethargy they had allowed themselves to slip into (Romans 13:11-14). He told the Corinthians that everyone would face judgment and Christians would stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:9-11). Paul also warned the Corinthians to beware of being deceived by the devil into departing “from the simplicity that is in Christ” and lured into following “another Jesus whom we have not preached, a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted” (2 Corinthians 11:3-4). In his letter to the Thessalonians, which was composed of young Christians only a month old in the Lord, he ended each chapter with an exhortation to be ready and watchful for the End Times (1 Thessalonians 1:10; 2:19-20; 3:12-13; 4:16-18; 5:23-24). In his second letter to the relatively young in the Lord Thessalonians he is inspired to write about the circumstances of the Tribulation. Paul had the latter times and return of Jesus and culmination of all things on his mind and in his heart. That sense of the return of Jesus and latter times was from the Lord and a part of what made Paul great and able to endure great hardship.

James exhorted his readers to “be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord” (James 5:7-8). The Apostle Peter wrote of the End Times and that there would be those who are skeptical of prophecy (2 Peter 3:1-18). The Apostle John said “it is the last hour” and “Antichrist is coming” (1 John 2:18). He warned there would be a spirit of antichrist and deception in the latter days and we would have to rely on the truth revealed by the Holy Spirit (1 John 2:18-23; and 4:1-6). He warned against being deceived by false teachers and antichrist spirited people (2 John 7).

John also was inspired to write the most detailed book of the Bible on the End Times, Revelation. In Revelation John is inspired to record letters from Jesus to churches which include Jesus’ words to the compromising Pergamos church, the corrupt Thyatira church, the dead Sardis church and the lukewarm Laodicean church. All of these shortcomings in the churches are linked to being deceived and diverted from God’s truth in some way. About 27% of the Bible speaks of prophecy. A large proportion of this prophetic material speaks of the latter times and a large part of the material on the latter times warns against being deceived.

A lot more could be referenced to show the emphasis on preparing for the latter days by particularly guarding against being deceived. Suffice it to say that when Paul writes to his young protégé Pastor Timothy it’s not surprising he includes chapter dealing with preparation for the “latter times” by stating “Now the Spirit expressly says that in the latter times some will depart from the faith.” Throughout the New Testament unbelievers are warned to get right with God by repenting of their sin and receiving Jesus as Savior and Lord by faith. Believers are exhorted to walk in the Spirit by faith growing in their relationship with Jesus and becoming better prepared for His return. This is especially important for a shepherd of the hope of Jesus to be well schooled in.

The expressed conditions of the Latter Days. The word of God is always relevant. It has something to say to every generation. And it something relevant to our view of Halloween. The Apostle Paul shared a distinctive word from the Holy Spirit about what we could expect in the Latter Days. He was inspired by the Spirit to write:

1 Timothy 4:1-5 – Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.

Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will be no means pass away” (Matthew 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33). Keep in mind that while God used human instruments to write out His word, He is the Author of His Word. And God as Author is eternal; unlimited by time. Therefore, it is said of God’s word, “Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven” (Psalm 119:89). And when we look at passages such as we find in 1 Timothy we can be sure that it holds great relevance and value for us because when we look at what Jesus and His word says about the latter times we see that the predicted conditions of the latter days and the conditions of our days are very similar. We may be living in the latter days. Personally, I believe we are! What are the conditions of the latter times? Let’s dissect and investigate what Paul says and see how it relates to us.

Now the Spirit expressly says

What Paul is about to share with Timothy (and us through the inspired word) is not something he concocted or dreamed up; it is something the Spirit “expressly” says. “Expressly” (Greek rhetos) is a word that means specifically, clearly, explicitly. It’s as though Paul begins by saying, “Now the Spirit specifically, clearly, explicitly says this; there is no doubt about it.” What Paul is about to share is not something based on speculation or human thinking alone. What Paul is going to state is from the Holy Spirit; from the heart of God.

These opening words of Paul also depict for us the nature of the inspiration of the New Testament. Paul wasn’t offering his own human opinions; he was simply passing on what the Holy Spirit expressly and clearly said to Him as an inspired instrument of God. The Holy Spirit breathed these words into and through Paul to the pages of the Bible (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16-17). Because of this we should pay close attention and apply all that is said in God’s word.

that in latter times some will depart from the faith,

“Latter times” refers to the times leading up to the culmination of earthly existence as we know it, the return of Jesus, establishment of His kingdom on earth and eventual transition to life in eternity in the New Heaven and New Earth (cf. Revelation 20-22).

The words “will depart from” (Greek apostesontai from aphistemi) means cause to revolt, mislead, lead away, withdraw from, abstain from, depart, desert, fall away. [1] This is a word that speaks of apostasy of a willful move away from and rejection of “the faith.” This is something people will choose to do.

The faith” refers to that which has been taught by Paul and all of the inspired New Testament writers (Hebrews 10:17). Generally, “the faith” would consist of the “doctrine” or teaching Paul has already mentioned to Timothy (1:3; 3:10). He will contrast such “doctrine” with the “doctrine of demons he mentions later in this verse.

But particularly “The faith” points to this scriptural teaching as it reveals the way to a faith relationship with God. It implies holding to the Gospel of God’s gracious provision in Jesus Christ. It implies accepting this gospel by faith. And it implies an ongoing continuing life of faith with God through the Spirit as long as one is alive or until Christ’s return. This is summed up in Paul’s words, “For in it [the gospel] the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith'” (Romans 1:17).

No doubt in the latter times there will be a rebellion against and rejection of the truth of God’s word. That is exactly what we see today as parts of the body of Christ either shy away from or outright reject stated truth of God’s word that they feel is intolerant, offensive or out of sync with the trends and “likes” of the world. The world’s mantra of tolerance and inclusion at the expense of truth and righteousness is being adopted into what is called the church today. However, as we saw at the end of the previous chapter the church as defined and as accepted by God as His church needs to be “the pillar and ground of truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). When the church departs from “the faith” it ceases to be His church.

giving heed to deceiving spirits

Giving heed to” (Greek prosecho) describes an ongoing (Present tense verb) paying attention to, following, devotion to, interest in something. To give heed to something implies a change in attention. It implies a change of focus. It implies a change of devotion. Here it means people turn away from their devotion to “the faith” and instead devote themselves to “deceiving spirits.”

“Deceiving” spirits (Greek planos) are spiritual entities that are misleading, imposters, counterfeits, deceiving. The nature of the devil is to deceive and lie until he can get people to die (John 8:43-44). The “spirits” (Greek pneumaasin) are entities from a spiritual dimension. Pneuma simply means breath or wind. Context determines whether or not pneuma refers to the Holy Spirit or spirits/demons. This chapter begins with a reference to “the Spirit” or Holy Spirit. The article to (i.e. The) indicates we are referring to the Holy Spirit. But “deceiving spirits” is referring to demonic entities; agents of the devil.

These “spirits” are unseen to us. They are able to influence people from their unseen advantageous position. Stealth is always an advantage in war. From their hidden condition they are able to whisper evil sinful thoughts and ideas to people and introduce as well as induce people to ungodly paths. The unsaved are totally vulnerable to such deceptions and attacks. The person who lives in sin and is uncommitted to Jesus, the unsaved, are under the influence of Satan and his demons (Eph. 2:1-4) who works to keep them blinded and, in the dark, separated from the truth of God and His salvation (2 Cor. 4:4). But the child of God indwelled by the Holy Spirit is able to discern the deceptions of the demonic by the exposing work of the Spirit in them. The Holy Spirit helps the believer to discern deception. This is the anointing of knowing spoken of by John (cf. 1 John 2:20, 26-27).

and doctrines of demons,

“Doctrines” (Greek didaskalia) are simply teachings or instructions. People will decide to turn away from “the faith” and in so doing they will actually be turning to teachings authored and supported by “demons.” Whatever teaching you believe in needs to be based on God’s Holy Word. Whenever we venture outside the parameters of God’s word, we make ourselves vulnerable to “doctrines of demons.” Remember, demons, like their leader Satan, are by nature deceivers. What they use to lure people away from “the faith” may appear logical, reasonable, even truthful, but fit very well could be the first step in departing from the faith and truth of God. Beware!

Demons” (Greek daimonion) is an interesting word. One commentary states of it:

The etymology of this word is uncertain; possibly daiomai, “rip, split, tear apart” underlies it. In Greek philosophy daimon would then be “one who devours,” that is, the    spirit of death that separates the body from the soul. Whatever the case, the term conveys     the same animistic views characteristic of heathen religion everywhere: the spirits of the            dead are able to “possess” or “take over” human or animal bodies.[2]

Demonic sources of doctrines are aimed at ripping up people spiritually. They want to tear people apart from God and His truth. They want to devour people. These demonic teachings are similar to that which has been seen throughout history in pagan religions. Such religious practices are characterized by immorality and debauchery and darkness of varying degrees. Anything and everything that can oppose and serve as an alternative to God’s truth are the ambition of the doctrines of demons.

speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron,

“Speaking lies” (Greek pseudologos) means they speak lies, speak untruth or half-truths. These are people who willfully speak things they know are not true. “Hypocrisy” (Greek hupokrisis) is pretense, insincerity, or hypocrisy. A hypocrite is someone who says one thing but does not themselves follow it in practice. They teach people to do things that they themselves aren’t willing or committed to do (e.g. Matthew 23; Romans 2).

The “conscience” (Greek suneidesis) is the place of knowledge of right and wrong. The conscience of those teaching lies in hypocrisy are “seared with a hot iron” (Greek kauteridzo) refers to the branding, searing, burning that desensitizes and deadens the nerves. In other words, the people teaching lies in hypocrisy have no problem and think there’s nothing wrong with whether or not what they teach is a lie or something they themselves don’t live out. Those who are given over to demonic doctrinal teaching have no regrets or any misgivings about doing so. They are likely just out to make a profit off of those they are deceiving. They themselves have taken on the nature of the demons whose doctrines they teach.

Paul then continues by laying out some of the particulars of the latter day’s deception. It will involve an attack on holy matrimony and we have definitely seen that in the last few years (4:3a). It will involve diet and foods and that is what we see, an emphasis on diet whether it is eating too much or prohibiting certain types of food (4:3b-5, e.g. vegans; keto diet; etc.).

Latter Days priorities. In this context, the Apostle Paul follows with a set of priorities to be followed in these Latter Days. He continues:

If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed.

Paul points out the end product that Timothy can look forward to, the purpose and reason he should follow Paul’s advice. “If you instruct the brethren in these things,” Timothy will fulfill his mission of being “a good minister of Jesus Christ.” “Instruct” (Greek hupotithemi) means literally laying before, to make known, to place under one’s feet as a foundation.

What Paul has shared with Timothy is foundational and should be laid before “the brethren” he oversees. The product or spiritual fruit of laying out these foundational words to his flock is twofold. First, “the brethren” will be “nourished in the words of faith and of good doctrine which you have carefully followed.” This is a ministry objective and would glorify God in the spiritual fruitfulness that would be produced in those Timothy instructed. Secondly, by laying these foundational teachings before the brethren “you [Timothy] will be a good minister of Jesus Christ.” This is the standard for those seeking to be “a good minister of Jesus Christ.” This is a healthy exhortation from Paul that all of us should take to heart in our day. If Pastors or servants of the Lord want to be “a good minister of Jesus Christ” then what the Spirit has shared through Paul in the preceding five verses should be passed on to the flock of God.

But what’s interesting here is what Paul points to next as something a “good minister” should attend to. He is inspired to write:

But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness.

There are things we need to “reject” if we are to be prepared for the latter days. “Reject” (Greek paraiteomai) means to reject, refuse, avoid. The things we are to reject and avoid are “profane” (Greek bebelos) or worldly rooted, common, things unsanctified by being based on God’s word. Paul also speaks of “old wives fables” (“fables” – Greek muthos) or stories, myths, legends, fictitious things not based on God’s word. Such “fables” were concocted by “old wives” who sat around doing nothing but coming up with stories based on their own imaginations rather than God’s word. This seems to be relevant to the Halloween tales and occult practices of our day. I don’t know about you, but when I read, “Old wives fables,” I’m immediately beset by images of witches. Paul instructs Timothy to “reject” such things. Maybe we should take pause before we indulge in such Halloween regalia and all of the dark themed practices.

Paul states to Timothy that the alternative to such “profane and old wives tales,” is to “exercise yourself toward godliness.

Exercise” (Greek gumnadzo) means to exercise, train, do that which prepares one to compete. We get the English word gymnasium from this Greek word. The history of this word is:

This verb is related to the term gumnos (1125), “naked,” or “not covered.” It is used in     secular Greek literature to refer to an athlete training in the nude, as was done in the          Greek games, and to refer to training in general. New Testament usage is both positive            and negative in connotation, referring to those who by continual practice had trained themselves to a particular way of life (1 Timothy 4:7; Hebrews 5:14; 12:11; 2 Peter    2:14).[3]

Rather than getting caught up in unscriptural sound fictitious legends and myths we should train ourselves “toward godliness” (Greek pros eusebian) or toward the things that make you godlier in your character and more mindful and closer to God. Rather than getting caught up in ungodly empty and fictitious prefabrications we should seek to train ourselves to walk closer with God.

Paul then uses the word “exercise” to point to something else that is prominent in our day, “bodily exercise”:

For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.

Maybe you justify taking the kids out for Trick or Treating by thinking, “well, it’ll be good exercise to walk around.” There is benefit to physical bodily exercise, BUT IT SHOULD NEVER BE A PRIORITY OVER ANYTHING YOU MIGHT DO TO CULTIVATE YOUR WALK WITH GOD. This is so important in our age of self benefit. Our world and some in the church are consumed and addicted to the way they look and feel. Nearly every other commercial on television and online are in some way related to a person’s physical condition. And if you are going to maintain a healthy physical condition it does require a certain amount of regular working out or exercise.

Physical exercise is beneficial because physical health, mental health and spiritual health are all related. If you are sick physically it is going to affect your thinking and may hinder your stamina to train spiritually, e.g. to fear and study God’s word and pray and serve Him. But there is something very wrong and out of kilter for the one who can get up at sunrise to run or workout and train but has little to no time to meet with God and study His word and pray. That situation is one where priorities are out of alignment with Paul’s stated scriptural priorities in this verse. Beware of this! It is very easy to be lured away from exercises to godliness by physical exercise.

As far as Paul is concerned bodily exercise profits “a little” (Greek oligos) or a short time, a small amount, a little bit. Exercising toward godliness on the other hand is “is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.” A healthy godliness is “profitable” (Greek ophelimos) is useful, and beneficial “for all things.” When you are healthy in a godly way there is a trickledown effect in every area of your life. If you are godly you will feel better physically, think better psychologically and be strong spiritually for whatever comes your way. Plus being in good godly health prepares you for eternal life with the Lord. You may have pumped up Pecs and bulging biceps now, you may have strong thighs and can squat press 400 pounds now, but when you meet Jesus will you know Him, will you be familiar and excited to build on your relationship with Him?

This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance.

The statement that physical exercise is worth a little where healthy godliness has eternal worth is a “faithful saying” (Greek pistos) or saying that is full of faith, reliable, credible, trustworthy, dripping and oozing with faith saying. It’s a statement that is “worthy” (Greek axios) or fit, deserving, good and worthy of “all acceptance” (Greek apodoche) or is good and approved for everyone. In other words that training to be godly is more beneficial than merely training for physical health is a sure fire trustworthy and reliable truth. You can count on it.

10 For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe. 11 These things command and teach.

Paul punctuates his statement on how to exercise to prepare for the latter times by refer to his own example of how he and Timothy live their lives. He says “we both” which draws Timothy next to him as though he were putting his arm around the shoulder of Timothy as he says these words. They both “labor” (Greek kopiao) or continuously (Present tense verb) labor, become weary, work hard, fatigue, work to exhaustion pointing out to people and emphasizing the need to train up to be godly in preparation for the times that lay ahead. Paul and Timothy are the ultimate spiritual trainers who work to exhaustion to help people be in good godly health.

But more than their exertion to train Paul and Timothy “suffer reproach” for what they do. “Suffer” (Greek agonidzomai) means agonize, contend, strive and this they did continually (due to the Present Tense verbal form). Reproach” (Greek oneidizo) means scold, reproach, revile and this they did continually (due to the Present Tense verbal form). These trainers seeking to help people to be godlier and grow in their faith strained to the max and did so while being continually scolded, reviled and reproached for their efforts. Paul said it was agonizing labor.

How was Paul and Timothy able to sustain such arduous labor? How could they stay the course in spite of such opposition? How could they keep training and training others to godliness? Paul’s simple yet profound basis and sustaining truth was, “because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.” They trusted in Jesus. The word “trust” (Greek elpikamen from elpidzo) means hope for, trust in, expect. It is faith for the future; faith for a good outcome. They loved the “living God.” God was alive for them. They weren’t a part of a dead religion or dead religious system. They had a relationship with a living God who was always there for them. They lived for Jesus. They knew Jesus and wanted to make Him known. It was the faith found in the faith Paul mentioned earlier that sustained them and enabled them to press on.

And so, Paul simply but profoundly comments to Timothy – “These things command and teach.” Command” (Greek parengello) is a military term to command, give orders, instruct. “Teach” (Greek didasko) means to instruct and explain. Paul tells Timothy that what he has laid out for him here about the priority of training for godliness is something he needs, as the leader of the church, to command and explain clearly to his troops in the church.

What else does the Bible say about the practices so prevalent during Halloween?

Seven Reasons to Stay Away from the Occult, Witchcraft and Sorcery

Below are seven reasons from the Bible that we should refrain from the occult, witchcraft and sorcery. We will let the Lord speak through His word on this account. There are seven reasons God gives in His word to not take the occult, witchcraft or sorcery lightly and indeed to stay away from such things.

 First, occult, witchcraft and sorcery are forbidden by God.  

    • Exodus 22:18 – “You shall not permit a sorceress to live.
    • Leviticus 19:26 – 26 ‘You shall not eat anything with the blood, nor shall you practice divination or soothsaying.
    • Deuteronomy 18:9-14 – 9 “When you come into the land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations. 10 There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, 11 or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. 12 For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord, and because of these abominations the Lord your God drives them out from before you. 13 You shall be blameless before the Lord your God. 14 For these nations which you will dispossess listened to soothsayers and diviners; but as for you, the Lord your God has not appointed such for you.

God loves us and like the holy Parent He is, He wants what is best for His children. If our Holy loving Father forbids our involvement in something we should be obedient children and obey what He says and trust that He knows what is best for us. When my children were very young they used to enjoy watching me shave. I’d put some shaving cream on their noses (and toes at times) and we had some fun. But when they asked to use the shaver that had a very sharp razor blade in it, I drew the line and forbid them to use it. Why? Because I didn’t want them to have any fun? No, but because I knew they could cut the soft beautiful skin on their face if I let them use the shaver. The occult, witchcraft and sorcery are like sharp razorblades that will cut us if we play with them.

Second, occult, witchcraft and sorcery are EVIL in the sight of God.

  • 2 Kings 21:1-6 – Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Hephzibah. 2 And he did evil in the sight of the Lord, according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord had cast out before the children of Israel. 3 For he rebuilt the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed; he raised up altars for Baal, and made a wooden image, as Ahab king of Israel had done; and he worshiped all the host of heaven and served them. 4 He also built altars in the house of the Lord, of which the Lord had said, “In Jerusalem I will put My name.” 5 And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the Lord. 6 Also he made his son pass through the fire, practiced soothsaying, used witchcraft, and consulted spiritists and mediums. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him to anger.
  • 2 Chronicles 33:6 – 6 Also he caused his sons to pass through the fire in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom; he practiced soothsaying, used witchcraft and sorcery, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him to anger.

Manasseh, like many other kings of God’s people, “did evil in the sight of the LORD” and that evil was directly associated with “imitating the detestable practices of the pagan nations” which led to practicing, “sorcery and divination, and he consulted with mediums and psychics. He did much that was evil in the Lord’s sight, arousing his anger.” His downfall began with taking the occult lightly, with considering it, with dabbling in it, with disobeying God’s clear forbidding of it. And why did he do this? Maybe because his relationship with the Lord was casual, superficial and he had no sensitivity to the holiness and spiritual life of God. Maybe he thought to himself, “This isn’t so bad, I don’t know why God has forbidden it.” Maybe he thought he could handle the occult. But he couldn’t and he fell and failed terribly before God. Don’t lower your standards! Don’t let your guard down!

Third, occult, witchcraft and sorcery are an act of REBELLION against God because it is an attempt to control the world (by spells and curses) putting the practitioner in the place godhood. God is in control, not people.

  • 1 Samuel 15:23 – For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.  Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,  He also has rejected you from being king.”
  • 2 Kings 17:14-17 – 14 Nevertheless they would not hear, but stiffened their necks, like the necks of their fathers, who did not believe in the Lord their God. 15 And they rejected His statutes and His covenant that He had made with their fathers, and His testimonies which He had testified against them; they followed idols, became idolaters, and went after the nations who were all around them, concerning whom the Lord had charged them that they should not do like them. 16 So they left all the commandments of the Lord their God, made for themselves a molded image and two calves, made a wooden image and worshiped all the host of heaven, and served Baal. 17 And they caused their sons and daughters to pass through the fire, practiced witchcraft and soothsaying, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him to anger.

Ask yourself, “Why do I have such an allure to Halloween and such scary dark things?” It may be the excitement of it or the thrill, but because God forbids such things, the deeper reason for your attraction is rebellion toward God. Where will you draw the line? How much will be enough until you say, “Okay, I’ll stop now.” If you rebel and ignore God’s warnings in His word, you will find that as you lower your standards and give in to the worldly pressure to go along with the crowd, you will become more and more insensitive to the Spirit’s voice and you will become more and weaker in your walk with the Lord. You’ll become like King Saul who ignored the instructions of God thinking he knew a better way only to find God put him on the shelf because of his rebellion against His word.

Fourth, occult, witchcraft and sorcery will ROB YOU of your peace.

  • 2 Kings 9:22 – 22 Now it happened, when Joram saw Jehu, that he said, “Is it peace, Jehu?” So he answered, “What peace, as long as the harlotries of your mother Jezebel and her witchcraft are so many?”

Nothing will rob you of your peace with God more than the static of Satan. Involvement with the occult will fog your mind, callous your heart, and cloud your lines of communication with God. It will ultimately rob you of your peace with God. Is it worth it; is your peace with God worth dabbling in the occult, no matter how harmless you think it may be? No never!

Fifth, occult, witchcraft and sorcery are WORKS OF THE FLESH (Flesh = sinful nature; man’s efforts to manipulate and control their own fate).

  • Galatians 5:19-21 – “ Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness,20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies,21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

 

Whether it is the scantily dressed Morticia or Buffy the Vampire Slayer; whether it is the temptation to your sweet tooth; or the thrill you get from being frightened or frightening others, it is all an incitement of your flesh, an allure to self and spiritually deadening. Walk in the Spirit, seek the Spirit’s direction and fullness and you will not fulfill the lusts of your flesh (Galatians 5:16, 24-25).

Sixth, occult, witchcraft and sorcery can give SATAN A FOOTHOLD (a beach head; a hold on you; his foot is in the door) in your life.

    • 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1 – Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them and walk among them.  I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”7 Therefore “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.”  “I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the Lord Almighty.”7     Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
    • Ephesians 4:27 – “nor give place to the devil.”
    • Ephesians 6:10-18 – 10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—
    • 1 Peter 5:8-9 – 8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.
    • 2 John 8-11 – 8 Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward. 9 Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; 11 for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.

Satan is powerful and smarter than you. He’s quick and cunning. He’s not someone you want to mess with friend. Playing with him or on his field will lead to great loss. When Satan comes knocking, don’t even open the door a little, don’t give him a foothold, ask Jesus to answer your door.

Seventh, occult, witchcraft and sorcery can keep you out of heaven.

  • Revelation 21:8 – 8 But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

Why risk being drawn into something that keeps people out of heaven and that can greatly hinder and disrupt the spiritual life of the believer? Don’t have an exalted view of yourself and assume you are spiritually strong enough to handle dabbling in and associating with the occult, witchcraft and sorcery types of things. Steer clear of such things and speak out against them.

In light of these verses it doesn’t seem as though the occult, witchcraft, and sorcery are things that God takes lightly. Therefore, do you think those who follow God should take the occult, witchcraft, and sorcery more lightly than God does? God doesn’t seem to think that the occult, witchcraft and sorcery are harmless, should we?

Many get into witchcraft and sorcery because they want power over their lives and other people in their lives. But where is the real power?

Where’s the Real Power and Why Does God Give It to Us?

People have a desire and lust for power, a desire to control their lives and destinies. Is there such a power? Is such power found in the occult, witchcraft and sorcery? There is power in the occult; no one denies that. But the power that is found in the occult is like the power of the ring in Lord of the Rings, it destroys you, it destroys your soul as you use it. Jesus said:

  • Matthew 16:26 – “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (See also Luke 9:25).

There is nothing in this world worth your eternal soul. No power is worth giving up your eternal soul. And that is exactly the price Satan is seeking when he draws and lures people into the occult. To gain the power to manipulate and misuse people in the occult, you have to pay with your soul as you disobediently and rebelliously turn from God to Satan in the process. That is what we have seen God’s word bear witness to in the above verses.

Is there a power greater than the power found in the occult? Yes, indeed there is. There is a greater power provided by God and what is gloriously great about the power of God is that it builds and blesses your eternal soul rather than rob you of it. God does not give us power to manipulate people according to our will, but He does give us power to do His will. He knows all and is all-powerful, and the wise person submits and surrenders to Him rather than rebels against Him.

Occult, witchcraft and sorcery are powerless against God. The Bible says:

  • Isaiah 47:8-11 – “Therefore hear this now, you who are given to pleasures,  Who dwell securely,  Who say in your heart, ‘I am, and there is no one else besides me;  I shall not sit as a widow,  Nor shall I know the loss of children’;9     But these two things shall come to you  In a moment, in one day: The loss of children, and widowhood. They shall come upon you in their fullness Because of the multitude of your sorceries, For the great abundance of your enchantments.10  “For you have trusted in your wickedness; You have said, ‘No one sees me’; Your wisdom and your knowledge have warped you; And you have said in your heart, ‘I am, and there is no one else besides me.’11  Therefore evil shall come upon you;  You shall not know from where it arises. And trouble shall fall upon you; You will not be able to put it off.  And desolation shall come upon you suddenly, which you shall not know.   

There is no power in this world or the netherworld that can match up or even be in the same ballpark with the power of God Almighty!

Occult, witchcraft and sorcery are powerless against the holy disciple of God.

    • Numbers 23:23 – “For there is no sorcery against Jacob, Nor any divination against Israel.     It now must be said of Jacob And of Israel, ‘Oh, what God has done!’     
    • Romans 16:20 – And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.
    • James 4:7 – 7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
    • 1 John 4:4 – 4 You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

There is no power in this world or the netherworld that can match up or even be in the same ballpark with the power of God that is manifested and worked in and through the disciple of God.

The Holy Spirit, Not spirits?

Let’s look again at 1 Timothy 4:1-2:

  • 1 Timothy 4:1-2 – “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons,2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron,”

It is the expressed definite warning of the Holy Spirit that as we draw closer to the return of Christ we will see a rise in people departing from the truth of God’s word (i.e. “the faith”) and a succumbing to the lure of demonically authored teachings that are opposed to God and His word. That is what we are called to watch out for in the “latter times.” Is that what we are seeing today? Yes, indeed we are. We need to make a decision. We need to decide whether or not we are going to pay heed to and obey accordingly the warning of the Holy Spirit, or to disregard and follow dark ways to our own peril. What are you going to do?

Now are we being prudish in our denunciation of Halloween and related occultic things? If taking God’s word seriously is “prudish” then let me be prudish to the max! I would rather err on the side of safely living within Biblical boundaries than recklessly cross the lines of God’s word and warnings. Is it wrong to associate with what some call “harmless” (e.g. Halloween) when the Bible associates it with, “doctrines of demons”? The answer to that should be obvious. We know that Satan is a liar. According to Jesus He is the Father of lies and those who follow him or are used by him are liars and deceivers as well (John 8:44). We are told in the Bible that Satan and his agents present themselves as “angels of light,” in other words as harmless and helpful (2 Corinthians 11:14-15). What more insidious and deceptive strategy is there to get a foothold in people’s lives than to present the occult, witchcraft and sorcery in a way that is associated with yummy candy (an appeal to our body and flesh), and fun (an appeal to our carnal nature to disregard God’s word and think we know better)? There is nothing wrong with “fun.” Jesus frequently had children around Him. Children do not gravitate to prudes or fun-less people; they gravitate to fun-loving people. I believe Jesus was fun loving, but His fun was holy loving fun, not dark and devilish fun. Could Halloween and other things such as occultic oriented movies and TV programs be a Satanic Trojan Horse in these latter days? Hmmm, that’s something to consider prayerfully in the Spirit.

Our Responsibility to be a Restraining Force

In 2 Thessalonians 2 it states:

2 Thessalonians 2:5–10 (NKJV) – Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

The restrainer mentioned here is the Holy Spirit restraining evil through the Church. The Holy Spirit is in us and empowers us for the express purpose of retraining evil in this world. That is our responsibility and calling until Jesus raptures us out of this world. When the Church is raptured out of this world by Jesus, then the Antichrist will be revealed.

Paul tells us that “the mystery of lawlessness is already at work.” There are forces of evil in the world that are already at work, preparing for the revealing of Satan’s evil counterfeit incarnation of Antichrist. This Antichrist is destined for defeat. “The Lord will consume [him] with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.” But right now in the world, the “lawless one,” who is powered by Satan, if he is in the world, is paving the way for his darkness to flood into the world, “with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.”

In light of that, can you see how wrong it is to associate and partake in things God so clearly in scripture describes as evil? Indeed, the Bible speaks with crystal clarity when it warns, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship had righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14). The path to pleasing God in this area couldn’t be clearer.

Today more and more the occult and darkness, lies and deception are being presented as light. How? There are television programs portraying “Lucifer” in a favorable light. Vampirism is a popular them. It’s not so long ago that movies like Harry Potter and others that present the occult in a positive light were readily accepted and promoted by secular as well as “sacred” or church groups. There are TV programs on almost every channel that present the occult and ghosts as a fascinating frightfully fun things to play with. There are unholy days like Halloween which present the gory, dark, and occult in a fun and happy way. All of these things are a means to bring sorcery, witchcraft and the occult into our lives. They serve to desensitize us from what God calls evil. (Do people even see anything as inherently evil today, other than people with an alternative political view?) All of this lowers our defenses against Satan’s dark devices and is a supreme setup for evil infiltration in the Last Days. To some it seems harmless, but God’s word says different (Romans 13:11-2). To others it all seems overwhelming. But God has given us a promise:

  • Isaiah 59:19 – “So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, And His glory from the rising of the sun; When the enemy comes in like a flood, The Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him.”

God promises that when the enemy comes flooding in, He will raise up a standard, a banner, and a wall that will thwart the enemy. That standard is you and me empowered by God’s Spirit. God is in control and none of this has taken Him by surprise. Trust Him, follow Him, walk in the Spirit and leave Halloween, the occult, witchcraft, sorcery and all things related to them, including the demonic spirits behind such activities, leave it behind.

Instead, draw close to Jesus. Focus on getting to know Him better, Live your life in a way that pleases and glorifies Him. And, if you haven’t already done so, consider a personal eternal saving relationship with Jesus. Jesus said it was possible to know Him and His Father personally, eternally (John 17:3). Sin has separated humanity from Him (Isaiah 59:1-2). On our own we are helpless to remove the barrier of sin between us and God (Romans 3:10-23). But God, because He loves us and is rich in mercy, has made a way for the sin barrier between us and Him to be removed (Ephesians 2:1-9). The consequence, the penalty for our sins is death. But Jesus has paid our death penalty on the cross (Romans 6:23). And God offers forgiveness for our sins, freely, to anyone who is willing to turn from their sins and ask His forgiveness based on believing in what Jesus has done for us on the cross (John 1:12; Romans 3:21-26; cf. also Isaiah 53). Jesus took all our sin and unrighteousness on Himself on the cross. And when we believe in Him, He transfers His righteousness to us. It’s a wonderful, freely offered, gracious loving gift of God to the sinner. This beautiful transaction is summed up in the words, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). God does this all because He loves us (John 3:16; Romans 5:8). And when you do this, God will give you spiritual life, a second spiritual birth, you will be born again and suited for eternal life with Him (cf. John 3; Romans 8).

If that is something you would like to do, if you would like your sins to be forgiven and to enter into an eternal personal relationship with God in Christ, you can pray to God from your heart and ask Him just for that to happen in you. Here’s a suggested prayer for you to have that happen:

Father in heaven, I come to You in Jesus’ name. I admit and confess my sin. I want to leave my sins behind. Please forgiven my sins. I ask You not because of any efforts of my own, but because I believe Jesus died for me on the cross, to pay my debt of sin, and so that my sins could be forgiven. I believe in Him as My Savior. Please fill me Holy Spirit. Help me to live a holy life that is pleasing for You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

If you’ve done that or would like to share some experience or opinion related to this article, I welcome and encourage you to add your comments in the comment section. And I’d love to pray for you. May God fill you with the Holy Spirit. And may you leave the spirits behind. In Jesus’ name. Amen!

 

[1] Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary, The – The Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary – Alpha-Gamma.

 

[2] Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary, The – The Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary – Delta-Epsilon.

 

[3] Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary, The – The Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary – Alpha-Gamma.

 

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