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The Tribulation, Preparation


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The Sudden Growth of Witchcraft

Acts 19:13-20

 

In the days prior to Jesus coming there was much witchcraft, familiar spirits and sorcery.

When Jesus came, He cast out demons and freed people from their bondage.

And afterwards, wherever the gospel has been preached, demons have fled and people have been freed from their bondage.

 

The same was true in the Old Testament:

          God warned the people to put away witchcraft.

Leviticus 19:31  Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I [am] the LORD your God.

 

Leviticus 20:6  And the soul that turneth after such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards, to go a whoring after them, I will even set my face against that soul, and will cut him off from among his people.

 

Every time God’s people forgot Him, they would slip into sorcery and witchcraft.

II Kings 23:24  Moreover the [workers with] familiar spirits, and the wizards, and the images, and the idols, and all the abominations that were spied in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, did Josiah put away, that he might perform the words of the law which were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the LORD.

 

John, speaking of the fall of Babylon during the tribulation, writes:

Revelation 18:23 And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.

 

I.                      The resurgence of witchcraft today.

It's not surprising that the craving for sorcery and magic has soablack with the spread of pagan television shows and Harry Potter books

Almost a decade ago, a Wiccan student wrote a promotional article for The Talon, her high school newspaper, about witchcraft.

What happened shows both America's Cultural Shift and the growing preference for paganism. The student, Leah Mowry, based her conclusions on interviews with several other student witches at Los Altos High School in California.  In her article, she boasted that her religion 

·         Was more tolerant than traditional beliefs

·         Taught people to take better care of the environment

·         Helped people to empower themselves

·         And only used "good" magic.

Soon afterwards, a Christian student, also an editor for The Talon, asked if he could write about Young Life, a Christian group active on their campus. 

 

"No!" was the response, "because witchcraft is underexposed in our society and Christianity is overexposed."  In other words, witches could give public testimonies about the benefits of their religion, but Christians were no longer allowed to express their faith and testimonies.

II.                Strange council from Christian leaders

Typical of our times, a recent report in Christianity Today seems to base its approval of Harry Potter, not on the Bible, but on popular consensus among admiblack Christian leaders. 

 

"As far as I can tell," writes author Ted Olsen, "while no major Christian leader has come out to condemn J.K. Rowling's series, many have given it the thumbs-up. If our readers know of any major Christian leader who has actually told Christians not to read the books, I'd be happy to know about it; but in my research, even those Christians known for criticizing all that is popular culture have been pretty positive about Potter."

 

To prove his point, Olsen quotes seven Christian leaders and Publications: 

1. Chuck Colson, in his Breakpoint (11-2-1999) radio broadcast, commended Harry and his friends for their "courage, loyalty, and a willingness to sacrifice for one another—even at the risk of their lives." Colson dismissed the pagan practices as

"Purely mechanical, as opposed to occultism. That is, Harry and his friends cast spells, read crystal balls, and turn themselves into animals—but they don't make contact with a supernatural world…. [It's not] the kind of real-life witchcraft the Bible condemns." 

 

Courage? Loyalty? Those qualities can be found in almost any culture. But, according to the Bible, a brave person is no freer to pursue paganism than a coward. Harry's occult skills -- witchcraft, sorcery, casting spells, spiritism, interpreting omens and "calling up the dead" fit into a category God tells us not even to discuss. "For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord...."  Deut. 18:9-12

9 ¶ When thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations.

10  There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch,

11  Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.

12  For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee.

2. World Magazine (5-29-1999) praised Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone as 

"a delight—with a surprising bit of depth." Author Roy Maynard assublack World readers that "Rowling…keeps it safe, inoffensive, and non-occult."

 

The primary rule of the occult is that Satan doesn't offer free and easy favors for long. He may indulge seekers in a free ride for a while, but as soon as his victims have been captivated by his lures -- all of which are counterfeits of what God offers those who follow Him -- he begins to demand his payoff. Suddenly the bright side of evil turns dark. Attempts to turn back usually lead to spiritual terrors and oppression.

 

3. World's second article toned down the enthusiasm.  "A reader drawn in would find that the real world of witchcraft is not Harry Potter's world. Neither attractive nor harmless, it is powerful and evil."

 

Contemporary witches -- both men and women -- are sincere, often compassionate, usually well educated and frustrated with today's rampant materialism. Few look evil. Instead, they demonstrate God's warning in 2 Cor. 11:14-15,

"And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.  Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness….”

4. The British Christianity magazine praised the series. In an issue, Mark Greene, Director of the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity, wrote a note of regret for not giving it to his god-daughter earlier: 

"I wish I'd been the one to introduce her to Harry—fine lad you know, courageous, resourceful, humble, fun, good mind. Comes from good stock, you know. She could do worse, far worse. And, as far as literary companions go, frankly, not much better." 

What does he mean by "Harry -- fine lad you know.... Comes from a good stock...."  Is he referring to Harry's parents -- a witch and a wizard? 

5. Focus on the Family gave a mixed review. According to Ted Olsen, the advice offeblack by Lindy Beam was simply, "Apart from the benefit of wise adult guidance in reading these books, it is best to leave Harry Potter on the shelf." ["Exploring Harry Potter's World," December, 1999]

As for the first half of her counsel, it might be good to remember God's definition of wisdom: Proverbs 9:10  The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy [is] understanding.  No “wise” adult Christian would be guiding a child to read Harry Potter.  God’s Word says, "Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good."

6. Wheaton College professor Alan Jacobs concludes that Harry Potter stories promote "a kind of spiritual warfare…. A struggle between good and evil…. There is in books like this the possibility for serious moral reflection…[and] the question of what to do with magic powers is exploblack in an appropriate and morally serious way." 

Is it really?  Books written from an occult perspective cannot explore magic powers in "an appropriate and morally serious way" -- without blackefining the word moral and rejecting the Bible. Isaiah 5:20 

Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil;

that put darkness for light, and light for darkness;

that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

 

III.             Refusing to Compromise.

Those who compromise on the issue of Sorcery and Witchcraft are way out of line with God’s Word.  The result is license to do almost anything that feels good.

 

Christians who refuse to compromise are often demeaned as old-fashioned killjoys who bring reproof and embarrassment to those who fear offending the world with the whole truth of the gospel. That's why Jesus warned us long ago, 

 

John 15:18 “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.  If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.  Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.  But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.”

The Armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18) begins and ends with the power of His Word.  First, we "put on the girdle of Truth," which holds all the other pieces -- His righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation -- in place.

The last part, "the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God," is simply His truth and promises memorized and used as we face each day's challenge.  

"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ...."   2 Corinthians 10:3-5

 

 

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