Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Can Witchcraft Work in Church?
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.
Isaiah 2:6 (NIV) You have abandoned your people, the house of Jacob. They are full of superstitions from the East; they practice divination like the Philistines and clasp hands with pagans.
When we start relying on technique and not God, then we are flirting with witchcraft. Miracles may be done, supernatural power may come into play. But if the soul doing these works is not yielded to God's will, then it is an act of rebellion. The witch in all of us wants God "on a leash". God must perform a trick for us when we jerk His chain. Like Satan, we twist Scripture: "But doesn't God say...?" (Matthew 4:5-6, Genesis 3:1)
The destiny of those who continue to practice witchcraft as "free agents" from God is certain, even if their miracles are "good works".
Matthew 7:22 (NEB) "Many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, cast out devils in your name, and in your name perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them to their face, 'I never knew you; out of my sight, you and your wicked ways!'"
Exodus 20:7 (NIV) "You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name."
Revelation 22:15 (NIV) Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
Revelation 21:8 (NIV) But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars--their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.
Are We Getting Away With This?
Isaiah 57:1-5 (NIV) "The righteous perish, and no one ponders it in his heart; devout men are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death. But you--come here, you sons of a sorceress, you offspring of adulterers and prostitutes! Whom are you mocking? At whom do you sneer and stick out your tongue? Are you not a brood of rebels, the offspring of liars? You burn with lust among the oaks and under every spreading tree..."
Isaiah 57:7-8 (NIV) "You have made your bed on a high and lofty hill; there you went up to offer your sacrifices. Behind your doors and your doorposts you have put your pagan symbols. Forsaking me, you uncovered your bed, you climbed into it and opened it wide; you made a pact with those whose beds you love, and you looked on their nakedness."
Isaiah 57:10-12 (NIV) "You were wearied by all your ways, but you would not say, 'It is hopeless.' You found renewal of your strength, and so you did not faint. Whom have you so dreaded and feared that you have been false to me, and have neither remembered me nor pondered this in your hearts? Is it not because I have long been silent that you do not fear me? I will expose your righteousness and your works, and they will not benefit you."
Micah 5:12 (NIV) I will destroy your witchcraft, and you will no longer cast spells.
Balaam was a prophet for hire, a "prophet for profit". We would never do such a thing, at least not for so large a bribe. Instead, we sell out for much less: To look good, to come off as "really spiritual", to have people believe in us. But it is still the spirit of Balaam which sells out to gain, even if the wage we get for our rebellion is cheap and brief.
2 Peter 2:15 (NIV) They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Beor, who loved the wages of wickedness.
Jude 11 (NIV) Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam's error.
Jeremiah 14:14 (NIV) Then the Lord said to me, "The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries and the delusions of their own minds."
Deuteronomy 13:5 (NIV) That prophet or dreamer must be put to death, because he preached rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery; he has tried to turn you from the way the Lord your God commanded you to follow. You must purge the evil from among you.
Joshua 13:22 (NIV) In addition to those slain in battle, the Israelites had put to the sword Balaam son of Beor, who practiced divination.
2 Chronicles 33:6 (NIV) He... practiced sorcery, divination and witchcraft, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the eyes of the Lord, provoking him to anger.
Jeremiah 27:9-10 (NIV) "So do not listen to your prophets, your diviners, your interpreters of dreams, your mediums or your sorcerers... Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have."
Isaiah 1:23 (NIV) Your rulers are rebels, companions of thieves; they all love bribes and chase after gifts. They do not defend the cause of the fatherless; the widow's case does not come before them.
Ezekiel 13:6 (NIV) Their visions are false and their divinations a lie. They say, "The Lord declares," when the Lord has not sent them; yet they expect their words to be fulfilled.
Ezekiel 13:7 (NIV) Have you not seen false visions and uttered lying divinations when you say, "The Lord declares," though I have not spoken?
Ezekiel 13:9 (NIV) My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and utter lying divinations. They will not belong to the council of my people or be listed in the records of the house of Israel, nor will they enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Sovereign Lord.
Isaiah 47:9 (NIV) Both of these will overtake you in a moment, on a single day: loss of children and widowhood. They will come upon you in full measure, in spite of your much sorcery and all your potent spells.
Malachi 3:5 (NIV) "So I will come near to you for judgment. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers..." says the Lord Almighty.
• True prophets and prophetess will condemn sin and preach the truth, even to their own hurt and distress. False prophets preach to line their pockets, and in doing so they LIE and tell people what they want to hear. (Itching Ears)
• The motive of a true spokesperson for God is ALWAYS centered around SOULS, winnings souls and helping people draw nigh to God!
• Being a TRUE man or woman of God COST you your LIFE, you will NOT have many friends and even other saints will treat you different because YOU CANNOT be BOUGHT with filthy lucre!