Ask The Chaplain

Ask The Chaplain

Monday, November 19, 2007

Witchcraft in The Pulpit

Witchcraft in the Pulpit

The key ingredients of witchcraft are MANIPULATION and CONTROL. In my twenty-five years of ministry (five of those years serving as a Pastor), I have seen enough witchcraft operating behind the safe walls of churches than possibly any practices of witchcraft that Christians would normally ever encounter. Most of us recognize blatant elements of witchcraft and the occult and would never become involved; but what about the practices that we are unaware of just because they are done in the church? It is amazing how many self appointed “prophets” and “apostles” are in churches today. Many of these men and women function unchallenged because they have convinced the hearers that they have “a Word from God”.
It amazes me how easily saints are deceived. We hear a “new teaching” and we NEVER challenge it with the Word of God. The Bereans were so into hearing the truth of scripture that they even went back to the Word to see if the Apostle Paul was telling the truth (Acts 17:11).
Deuteronomy 18:14 (NAS) "For those nations, which you will dispossess, listen to those who practice witchcraft and to diviners, but as for you, the Lord your God has not allowed you to do so."
Acts 8:9-11 (NIV) Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great, and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, "This man is the divine power known as the Great Power." They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his magic.
Jeremiah 5:23 (NIV) But these people have stubborn and rebellious hearts; they have turned aside and gone away.
· It is sobering to see how similar modern witchcraft (Wicca, or "white witchcraft") is to modern Christianity. Self-aware witches bless as well as curse, 'bind and loose', prophesy, pray, lay hands on, anoint with oil, etc. Some even consider themselves Christians with a superior understanding and power. A few even worship Jesus--along with a pantheon of other gods and goddesses--but totally reject the reality of Satan.
· This should not surprise us, it was the same in Jesus' day; nor should it poison our desire to practice real spiritual gifts. But given the similarity, how does one tell the difference? More importantly, are we dabbling with witchcraft? When people misuse and abuse the Gifts of the Spirit for personal gain and promotional purposes THAT is Witchcraft. Men and women in many of our churches are merchandising the Gifts of the Spirit. (Study the life of Balaam)
Isaiah 30:9 (NIV) These are rebellious people, deceitful children, children unwilling to listen to the Lord's instruction.
2 Timothy 3:6-8 (RSV) For among them are those who make their way into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and swayed by various impulses, who will listen to anybody and can never arrive at a knowledge of the truth. As Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of corrupt mind and counterfeit faith.
Deuteronomy 18:10-11 (NIV) Let no one be found among you... who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or cast spells, or who is a medium or spiritist.
Jesus, Miracles, and Technique
In one situation, Jesus spits in the dirt and rubs it in someone's eye (John 9:6). In another, He touches the person (Luke 5:13), or from a distance speaks a condition of obedience (Luke 17:12-14). Sometimes He speaks calmly (John 4:50), sometimes He yells (John 11:43). Jesus was not relying on technique; He was relying on, and submissive to, His Father (John 8:28-29). The specifics of how the miracles were performed varied. It is almost as if God was trying to make the point: trust in Me, not the procedure.
Are we relying on God or technique? If God, then the technique may change. In one case the Spirit may lead us to help someone believe with some physical act, like anointing with oil. In another, the Spirit may lead us to do something which may make it harder to believe, like rubbing dirt in someone's eye. Clearly, the technique is not the important thing; it is more like a Spirit-inspired sermon that accompanies the miracle.
Jesus' miracles were done out of love in obedience to the Father. He did not do "miracles on demand" (see the temptation of Jesus in Mark 4:1-12. The temptation to "do a miracle" without God's leading is apparently for advanced, not carnal souls.) or boast of great power. He even told many He healed to "keep it secret" to thwart the adulterous spirit of fascination with "signs and wonders" of which He warned. But heal He did, and told us to do likewise.
To be sure, some common techniques do emerge from Scripture: like the laying on of hands or anointing with oil. But these are meant to be symbolic of where the power really comes from, not to be believed in superstitiously as a power unto themselves. These techniques, even if "authorized" by Scriptural precept and example, will never work--by God's power anyway--if done by rebellious "free agent" human and not Divine will. They are not needed for God to move, except as an act of obedience when the Spirit leads. For the Holy Spirit never leads us into superstition, indifference to God's will, or self-glory.

No comments: