(Photo by Sarah Komisky)
By Jacqueline Napoli
Try as we might, we couldn’t get it to burn. We shivered in our dorm’s parking lot on a brisk September night, trying to ignite an Ouija board that had grimly obsessed us for the better part of a week. No matter our tactic, it wouldn’t catch- at all. Eventually I remembered the name of Jesus, even though I hadn’t exactly turned to Him for a bit. But we all were so freaked out by whatever we’d unwittingly summoned, we would have invoked the Easter bunny if we thought it was going to help.
So my agnostic friends and I renounced witchcraft and Ouija and Satan in the name of Jesus. And right away it burned. Witchcraft and the occult are neither fairy tales nor imaginary. Forces lie behind them- and innocuous as they may appear, they are anything but friendly.
Witchcraft comes naturally to us humans. In Galatians, witchcraft and sorcery are named as “works of the flesh,” or things that come naturally, like rage, jealousy, and deceit. It comes in many forms, some overt, some very subtle. But what it has in common is a power play, a control, or hidden knowledge. Witchcraft is the obtaining of illicit powers from a source other than the true God. God gives us His power according to our fitness to wield it responsibly, in order to bring life and wholeness and the knowledge of God. Occult (meaning secret or hidden) power is obtained apart from the will of God for personal gain and it, as a rule, ultimately yields serious pain, destruction and darkness.
Overt forms of witchcraft include Satanism, Wicca, and white witchcraft; mediums, psychics, tarot, Ouija, astrology, and palm reading; astral projection, New Age channelling; trance, rave, and EDM experiences; seances and summoning the dead, and voodoo, to name a few. Psychotropic (mind-altering) drugs equal witchcraft- the root word of “pharmaceutical” is the Greek word, “pharmakos,” which stands for both drugs and sorcery. Any spiritual encounter rooted apart from faith and obedience to the God of Israel through Jesus Christ is by default a transaction with spirits of darkness.
It delights Satan to cough up for us a zing of power or thrilling experience, because the spiritual realm shackles us by such willing consent. The occult is the very best way we could hand total control of our lives right over to the worst imaginable kind of evil. I know this by experience. And Satan is one guest that doesn’t leave nicely. For good reason, God forbids every form of witchcraft and divination. Jesus came to give life overflowing. Satan is the father of lies and comes to destroy. Steer clear at all costs.
Some subtler forms of witchcraft include acupuncture, Eastern meditation and yoga. The empty clearing and wide opening of the mind, and the physical postures intended for spiritual connection (think of folded hands and kneeling in prayer- the spirit and body are linked) open doors to entrance of deceptive spirits masquerading as chi, energy, whatever. I loved yoga for years as a Christian, but by experience, learning, and prayer I had to come to terms with this and let it go.
The subtlest form is rebellion against God. Israel’s first king, Saul, was more about image and popularity than substance, and repeatedly did what people wanted instead of what God commanded. Finally, God rebuked him, saying, “Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and breaking the word of the Lord is as sin and idolatry.” And soon thereafter, Saul desperately consulted a medium to conduct a séance summoning the dead, in order to win a battle. Saul’s refusal to obey God’s word, seeking power and guidance his own way, led him straight to a medium’s doorstep. Like it says in Galatians 5:19-20, witchcraft just comes naturally.
God offers us empowerment the likes of which we can’t even dream of. But He is also pure goodness. Like a responsible dad, He’s not going to hand the keys of the Lamborghini to a nine-year-old. If we grow up in Him as obedient children, He will astonish us with a humbling power and wisdom, as we become fit for it. His purposes bring life, wholeness, love, truth, and salvation to an oppressed, dark, and radically hurting world. This is the true power.
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