This post is going to upset some people. Others will think it’s much ado about nothing, and with a few it will resonate. Such is the message of our Master, falling like sowers seed on different types of ground. Oh, and there will be other who think I’m crazy, I don’t want to leave them out. I forget them because I think it’s crazy not to believe Scripture, so I find their response more ironic than valid.
It has to do with the validity of magic. I don’t think it’s valid as a practice, but valid as a demonic activity. What I mean by that is that magic is supposed to give control over the spirit world to those who can say the right things while doing the right things. It’s a formulary practice to circumvent our Creator, and gain spiritual benefits without Him.
So, this isn’t about prestidigitation. It isn’t about fringe or cutting edge lab-science. It’s about stuff like astrology, psychic, animism, and related practices, like necromancy. These practices are permitted in our society at large, but also ignored by churches at large. Some who attend church, and refer to themselves as followers of Jesus, practice such things. And that, to me, is crazy, frightening, and dangerous to an enormous degree. Here’s one example of why:
You shall not permit a sorceress to live.Exodus 22:18 NASB
This sounds a bit extreme to us, and we may wonder what the fuss is about. Yet, before we look at such a practice in Moses’ day, let me remind you that Paul had some strong words for the practice as well:
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.Galatians 5:19-21 NASB
Right up there with idolatry and jealousy, two things we never struggle with in modern church-going Christianity…surely you see the problem? The list of Paul in Galatians are all things we find in modern churches, and yet none of those practicing such things will inherit the Kingdom of God. That’s a problem.
When God calls His people to not permit a sorceress to live, He is clearly taking the practice seriously. It isn’t the only practice of magic He takes seriously, but it is clearly one of them. What would it look like today though? What was sorcery then?
Sorcery seems to be the practice of divination through one of the following methods:
- “familiar spirits” (Leviticus 20:27),
- Entrails (Ezekiel 21:21)
- Images (Ezekiel 21:21, 2 Kings 23:24)
- Rods (Hosea 4:12)
There are specific terms for each of these, like necromancy for divining through the dead (familiar spirits), and so on. In Paul’s day, the practice included drugs and/or potions. The problem is best described by Isaiah:
When they say to you, “Consult the mediums and the spiritists who whisper and mutter,” should not a people consult their God? Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living?Isaiah 8:19 NASB
The problem is that some considering themselves Christians will seek other things besides prayer, communing with spirits or stars instead of their Creator. And please notice, it’s not the desire to know, or to commune, that is denounced, but that we would seek to know or commune with anyone (or anything) other than our Creator and Savior.
In fact, in the law, Yahweh provides for communing through lots, and the umim and thumim used by the priest. David uses the priestly ephod, but he seeks Yahweh. The point is who we seek, not that we believe in “superstitions”. The problem is that we discount these superstitions as meaningless when they are actually demonic:
Look at the nation Israel; are not those who eat the sacrifices sharers in the altar? What do I mean then? That a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? We are not stronger than He, are we?1 Corinthians 10:18-22 NASB
Paul connects the worship of gods to demons. I have theories about this, but the point is that the spirit-world is both real, and really dangerous. To dabble in anything spiritual that is not of our Creator and Savior is to side with His enemies in the spiritual conflict. It’s not a minor thing. It is a big deal. You can relegate it to superstition, but when you do, you go further than Paul, accepting a scientific cultural perspective over the warnings of Scripture.
Even so, denouncing these practices certainly is not the main point of Scripture. The main point remains our focus on our Creator and Savior. Such focus will protect us from deviating into these other methods of communing without worry or bother. But, seek to lead back those who accept these distractions. October is around the corner, and celebration of the dead is one of those things our culture is embracing way to thoroughly. Be an agent for life, “unlike” sorcery on social media. Encourage other believers to do the same.
Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Copyright by The Lockman Foundation