Fighting the Works of the Flesh: Witchcraft
In the sixth post in this series covering the works of the flesh, we look at what sorcery means today and several strategies for combating it.
If you ask most professing Christians if they are involved in witchcraft, sorcery or the occult, the most common answer would likely be “No, of course not!”
The word sorcery in Galatians 5:20 comes from the Greek word pharmakeia, which is derived from a word that means drug (where we get the English word pharmacy). Pharmakeia “means the occult, sorcery, witchcraft, illicit pharmaceuticals, trance, magical incantation with drugs” (Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary, New Testament, 1992).
Sorcery can have many forms. It is commonly associated with the occult, the dead and worship of the earth and elements of nature. These dark ideas seem to be gaining acceptance even in countries with a supposedly Christian majority, such as America. (We will cover the aspect of illicit pharmaceuticals and altered states of consciousness when we get to the work of the flesh listed as drunkenness.)
Even without considering the Wiccan groups springing up all over the Western world, Americans would be naïve not to recognize that their commonly accepted holiday of Halloween celebrates the occult, darkness and black magic. Halloween leads many people, often unwittingly, to involve themselves in the occult and celebration of Satan and demons.
Lies about sorcery
Lie No. 1: “Satan and demons aren’t real. They are just fun fantasies that make for good fiction.”
Satan has been using this lie for centuries, luring people into the idea that both he and his angels are figments of overactive imaginations. Pretending that there aren’t any dark forces with supernatural powers who want to draw people away from God leads people to think that black magic and the occult are just harmless fantasies.
For example, many professing Christians would flinch in horror at seeing an R-rated movie depicting elements of the occult in all its raw, dark glory. However, those same Christians don’t seem to blink when dressing their child up in a wizard’s outfit and sending him off to celebrate Halloween, a widely accepted holiday that makes no excuse for its blatant theme of darkness and the occult.
Lie No. 2: “There are good dark forces (good witches) and there are bad dark forces (bad witches).”
This lie has been around in popular culture for many years. For example, the classic Wizard of Oz story portrays the good witch battling the wicked witch. No one seems to stop and ask the question: “If the power of the good witch is not coming from God, then where is it coming from?” Works of fiction have tried to attribute moral goodness to some dark forces, while attributing evil to others, in order to fit the classic good versus evil motif.
Many forms of media promote the idea of “good” witchcraft. This is a very sly attempt to deceive the world about the true source of all power apart from God: demonic darkness.But the Bible is clear—light (God’s way) and darkness (Satan’s way) have no commonalities (2 Corinthians 6:14). The same power fuels the magic that goes “bibbidi-bobbidi-boo” in Cinderella (from a fairy godmother—a “good” witch) and the darkly prophetic “double, double toil and trouble” in Macbeth (from the evil witches). The power behind all witchcraft is Satan the devil.
It is important to remember that many forms of media, even children’s entertainment, promote the idea of “good” witchcraft. This is a very sly attempt to deceive the world about the true source of all power apart from God: demonic darkness.
Many people occasionally see this deception in movies and simply ignore it. Millions of others, however, believe the blatant lie that there is “good” apart from God. Many even go so far as to become a Wiccan or become obsessed with the spirit world and the occult. Sorcery is, by its very nature, deceptive (Revelation 18:23), because it spreads the lie that demonic influence is interesting and can even be “good.”
Strategies to combat sorcery
1. Beware of attempts to desensitize your mind to the reality of the occult.
Kids having a great time in Halloween costumes on a TV commercial do not really send the message that “the occult is bad; don’t get involved in it.” Entertainment that specifically, and entirely, focuses its message on a positive view of the occult in any of its forms—use of magic, sorcery, witchcraft, dark spirits, etc.—can have a desensitizing effect that can lead us to either have a tacit acceptance of the occult or to become directly involved with it.
As Christians, we need to use wisdom and righteous judgment in what we allow to enter our minds through the media. If we believe the Bible, then we must accept that the occult (in all its forms) is “evil in the sight of the LORD” (2 Chronicles 33:6).
2. Actively flee any witchcraft, sorcery or obsession with the occult that you encounter.
We need to always be ready to “head for the hills” if our entertainment or conversations turn to the glorification of the occult. Anything that actively promotes or engages dark forces—such as haunted houses, Ouija boards, communing with the dead—should be avoided at all costs. The Bible tells us to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them” (Ephesians 5:11). This blog post was written to fulfill this admonition—to expose these works of darkness!
God labeled sorcery as one of the “works of the flesh” because He knows that Satan and his demons are real and they want to influence the minds of people. The law of God specifically prohibits dabbling in any aspect of the occult: “There shall not be found among you … one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord” (Deuteronomy 18:10-12).
3. Learn to hate witchcraft.
Sorcery and witchcraft are all about making people respect elements, the earth and satanic forces more than the true God. None of this benefits anybody. Instead, it confuses and leads people away from the true God of light.
From the darkest R-rated movie completely focused on an aspect of the occult to the cutest witch costume for Halloween, the occult is despicable. These things are a trick and ploy to give more attention to the father of lies and murder and his minions (John 8:44).
We should be free from the dark and earthly power of Satan and his demons. Acceptance of the occult causes people to unwittingly worship evil. Let’s not rebel against the unlimited power of the Creator God by being suckered by the very limited power of the adversary—Satan the devil.
This is the sixth in a seventeen part series on Fighting the Works of the Flesh. To read part 5, see “Idolatry.” To continue the series, see part 7 “Hatred.”
Topics Covered: Social Issues, Overcoming