1 Samuel 15:23 (KJV) “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft…”
Those Nasty Witches
• With all the warnings in Scriptures about witchcraft, you would think it was a major problem in life. But “witchcraft”, as we generally think about it, is hardly appealing to most people, so why the emphasis? Is God “out of touch” with what we are really tempted with? Or are we deceived about what witchcraft really is? Do our ideas come from Hollywood or Scripture?
Isaiah 1:2 (NIV) Hear, O heavens! Listen, O earth! For the Lord has spoken: “I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me.”
• Has Satan repackaged witchcraft to fit our modern Christian tastes, but left the essence the same? Are we practicing witchcraft? Are we the witches Scripture is addressing? Is it not the witch instinct in us that must die?
Exodus 22:18 (KJV) “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.”
What Is Witchcraft?
1 Samuel 15:23 (NAS) “For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry…”
• Witchcraft: Wanting to be a spiritual “mover and shaker” without submitting to God. Witchcraft is rebellion coupled with a desire to “stay in the game”, to be a spiritual player.
How Witchcraft Works
John 8:44-45 (NIV) “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire… When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me!”
• All supernatural power comes, ultimately, from either God or Satan.
God gives power to those who believe the truth. To approach God, truth is the cost of entry.
• But it is the opposite with Satan, whose nature is deception. Satan gives power to those who believe a lie. Believing the lie is the cost of entry to access Satan’s power. Witchcraft bolsters up the lie with: mystery, pseudo-science, ancient knowledge, new knowledge, etc…. The more absurd the lie, the better. The lie acts as a distracter.
• If we mix certain ingredients in a drink… If we eat a special herb… If we arrange candles in a certain configuration… If we stare into a crystal ball… If we turn over Tarot cards… If we “read” the stars… If we speak a certain phrase, or mantra… If we have secret knowledge… If we draw certain symbols… then spiritual forces will come into play.
James 3:15 (NIV) Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil.
• Witchcraft starts with a heart of rebellion and works by focusing on a distracter, a lie, which is some technique purported to release power. It is important to have “faith”, to trust in the technique and not God. Believing in lies is an “acceptable sacrifice” to Satan, the father of lies, who honors his children with real power. The irony is, that due to the inherent deceptive basis of witchcraft, the practitioners of it often think they are serving God, while accessing a power from below (earth)–not from above.
• For the purpose of this study, we are defining witchcraft as a desire to be a spiritual free agent without submission to God or regard for His word.
1 Samuel 15:23 (NIV) “For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has rejected you…”
Psalms 107:11 (NIV) For they had rebelled against the words of God and despised the counsel of the Most High.
Nehemiah 9:26 (NIV) “But they were disobedient and rebelled against you; they put your law behind their backs. They killed your prophets, who had admonished them in order to turn them back to you; they committed awful blasphemies.”
Does Witchcraft Work?
• Even though Satan is usually the furthest thing from the mind, the “father of lies” honors the self-delusion inherent in witchcraft by occasionally releasing power, even doing supernatural miracles for those who have rebelled against God and yet still want to be spiritually effective. By this means, real power can be exerted to achieve health, beauty, enchantment, supernatural sensitivity, “insight” through drugs and experiences, oracles and visions, and the like. In this sense, witchcraft works.
Exodus 7:22 (NIV) But the Egyptian magicians did the same things by their secret arts, and Pharaoh’s heart became hard; he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said.
Exodus 8:7 (NIV) But the magicians [Jannes and Jambres] did the same things by their secret arts; they also made frogs come up on the land of Egypt.
• Witchcraft is characterized by belief in “knowledge from below”, and rejection of “knowledge from above”. In it’s more advanced and powerful stages, delusion and belief in what is clearly not of God is key. Satan’s tacit “deal” is: if you sacrifice truth on his altar, he will give you power for what you want now. But lies are flimsy things to put your trust in…
Exodus 8:18 (NIV) But when the magicians tried to produce gnats by their secret arts, they could not. And the gnats were on men and animals.
Isaiah 47:12 (NIV) “Keep on, then, with your magic spells and with your many sorceries, which you have labored at since childhood. Perhaps you will succeed, perhaps you will cause terror.”
Witchcraft In The Church
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?
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 ephemeral.
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 many sorceries 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.
It Is The Witch In Us… That Must Die!
Job 24:13 (NIV) “There are those who rebel against the light, who do not know its ways or stay in its paths.”
• A.W. Tozer: “Christianity is so entangled with the world that millions never guess how radically they have missed the New Testament pattern. Compromise is everywhere. The world is whitewashed just enough to pass inspection by blind men posing as believers…”
• Consider and discuss these provocative suggestions of how witchcraft may have been repackaged to appeal to the rebellious hearts of Christians:
Spells Name it Claim it Eze 13:6, Lam 3:37
Readings False Prophecies Jer 23:25-38, Isa 28:7-22
Incantations, Mantras Repetitive Prayers Mat 6:7, Ecc 5:7
Potions Health Food? 1 Tim 4:1-5, Mat 15:8-17
Tarot Cards Scripture Flipping 2 Tim 2:15, Mic 3:6
Horoscopes Temperaments Jam 3:13-15, Isa 47:14-15
Oracles, Spirit Guides False Teachers 2 Tim 4:2-4, Acts 13:10-11
• Do we trust in God, or in our favorite “distracter”? Will we follow Satan’s seductive siren song to spiritual power and become His possession, or will we follow the Holy Spirit into truth?
• Some simple questions to ask in discerning witchcraft: Is it based on the truth, or a distracter or outright lie? Is it “power of suggestion” or God’s power? Are we blind not to see how similar it is to traditional witchcraft? Is it born out of waiting upon the Lord in faith, or out of impatience? Who is in control? Who gets the glory? In whom, or in what, are we trusting?
2 Kings 17:17 (NIV) …They practiced divination and sorcery and sold themselves to do evil in the eyes of the Lord, provoking him to anger.
Deuteronomy 18:14 (NIV) “The nations you will dispossess listen to those who practice sorcery or divination. But as for you, the Lord your God has not permitted you to do so.”
• While some revel in witchcraft under a “Christian” banner, others see through this and are so disgusted that they are suspicious of real gifts of the Spirit. We need to be careful not to be spiritual prostitutes… or to become spiritually frigid.
Jeremiah 3:13 (NIV) “Only acknowledge your guilt–you have rebelled against the Lord your God, you have scattered your favors to foreign gods under every spreading tree, and have not obeyed me,” declares the Lord.
Acts 19:19 (Jer) Some believers, too, came forward to admit in detail how they had used spells and a number of them who had practiced magic collected their books and made a bonfire of them in public. The value of these was calculated to be fifty thousand silver pieces.
Hosea 14:9 (NIV) Who is wise? He will realize these things. Who is discerning? He will understand them. The ways of the Lord are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.
Leviticus 19:26 (NIV) … “Do not practice divination or sorcery.”
Quick study on witchcraft
I. All forms of the occult – divination, necromancy, astrology, hypnotism,
fortune-telling, magic, etc. – are forbidden by God.
Leviticus 19:26-28, 31; 20:6, 27
2 Kings 23:24
II. Interest in the occult is not a recent development.
A. Witchcraft was openly and widely practiced in Old Testament times.
Isaiah 8:19; 19:3; 29:4
Micah 3:6-7; 5:12
B. It was still rampant in the early church.
1. Simon the magician. Acts 8:9, 11
2. Elymas the sorcerer. Acts 13:8
3. The girl at Philippi. Acts 16:16
4. The city of Ephesus. Acts 19:19
C. The Word of God testifies that there will be an increased curiosity
in the occult in the latter days.
1 Timothy 4:1, etc.
III. What force or power is at work in the supernatural manifestations of
A. The teachings of spiritism are doctrines of demons!
1 Timothy 4:1
B. Not all miracles are of God. Satan can also perform lying signs
Exodus 7:9-12; 8:7, 17-19
2 Thessalonians 2:9
Revelation 13:13-14,16:14; 19:20
C. Occult involvement may lead to demon possession.
Acts 13:8, 10 (Paul called the magician a “child of the devil!”)
D. Scripture says that they “sold their souls” to the devil by their
2 Kings 17:17
IV. The Bible clearly states that it is in the realm of deception that these
workers of iniquity operate.
Jeremiah 14:14; 27:9-10; 29:8-9
2 Corinthians 11:13-15
2 Thessalonians 2:7-12
A. It is true that fortune-tellers can reveal much (see Exodus 7:9-12; 8:7;
Daniel 1:20); but their power is limited (Exodus 8:17-19; Daniel 2:2,
10, 27; 4:7; 5:7-8, 15).
B. God challenged the people to see if the power of their astrologers was
greater than that of God.
V. What are the consequences for involvement in the occult?
A. Under the Law (Old Testament), the punishment was death by stoning.
B. Saul died because he participated in a seance (1 Samuel chapter 28),
and the kingdom was taken from him (1 Chronicles 10:13-14).
C. Those guilty of practicing witchcraft shall have no peace (2 Kings 9:22;
Isaiah 57:20-21), and they shall not escape judgment (Malachi 3:5).
D. Their souls shall be rejected by God.
2 Kings 17:17
E. They shall be refused entrance into the kingdom (Galatians 5:19-21),
and their end shall be the lake of fire (Revelation 21:8; 22:14-15).
VI. Is it really that serious an offense?
A. In scripture, witchcraft is paralleled to rebellion (disobedience)
1 Samuel 15:23
B. God says it is an abomination in His sight.
C. God says they “sold their souls” to the devil by their divination.
2 Kings 17:17
D. It is not only spiritually defiling (Leviticus 19:31); but it has a bad
influence on others as well (Nahum 3:4-7, 19).
E. It greatly displeases and angers God.
2 Kings 21:5-6
2 Chronicles 33:6
VII. Christians must separate themselves from black magic, and they must
destroy all evidence of their former involvement in the occult.
A. In faithfulness to God, the land was ridded of all mediums and spiritists.
1 Samuel 28:3, 9
2 Kings 23:24
B. Those who “repented not” of their sorceries will be subjected to further
torment in judgment.
Revelation 9:20; 16:9