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…”
We need to consider suggestions of how witchcraft may have been repackaged to appeal to the rebellious hearts of Christians.
“The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions.” (Galatians 5:19-20)
“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.” (Isaiah 47:12)
“There are those who rebel against the light, who do not know its ways or stay in its paths.” (Job 24:13)
Basically, witchcraft is an attempt to control in three steps:
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?
“For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft…” (1 Samuel 15:23)
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? “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” (Exodus 22:18)
How Witchcraft Works
“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!” (John 8:44-45)
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.
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.
“Such ‘wisdom’ does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil.” (James 3:15)
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.
“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…” (1 Samuel 15:23)
“For they had rebelled against the words of God and despised the counsel of the Most High.” (Psalms 107:11)
“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.” (Nehemiah 9:26)
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.
“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 7:22)
“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.” (Exodus 8:7)
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…
Witchcraft In The Church
“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.” (Deuteronomy 18:14)
“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.” (Acts 8:9-11)
“But these people have stubborn and rebellious hearts; they have turned aside and gone away.” (Jeremiah 5:23)
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?
“These are rebellious people, deceitful children, children unwilling to listen to the Lord’s instruction.” (Isaiah 30:9)
“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.” (Deuteronomy 18:10-11)
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.
“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.” (Isaiah 2:6)
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”.
“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!'” (Matthew 7:22)
“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” (Exodus 20:7)
“Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.” (Revelation 22:15)
“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.” (Revelation 21:8)
Are We Getting Away With This?
“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 57:7-8)
“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.” (Isaiah 57:10-12)
“I will destroy your witchcraft, and you will no longer cast spells.” (Micah 5:12)
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.
“They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Beor, who loved the wages of wickedness.” (2 Peter 2:15)
“Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error.” (Jude 11)
“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.” (Jeremiah 14:14)
“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.” (Deuteronomy 13:5)
“In addition to those slain in battle, the Israelites had put to the sword Balaam son of Beor, who practiced divination.” (Joshua 13:22)
“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.” (2 Chronicles 33:6)
“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.” (Jeremiah 27:9-10)
“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.” (Isaiah 1:23)
“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 13:6)
“Have you not seen false visions and uttered lying divinations when you say, ‘The Lord declares,’ though I have not spoken?” (Ezekiel 13:7)
“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.” (Ezekiel 13:9)
“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.” (Isaiah 47:9)
“So I will come near to you for judgment. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers… says the Lord Almighty.” (Malachi 3:5)
Witchcraft in Christianity
This is present when obedience to what you hear and see:
- demands its own way
- demands others to conform
- uses force to change another’s opinion
- uses manipulation to change another’s opinion
- uses control to change another’s opinion
- creates laws in which to govern ones life bypassing love for God, for others and for self
- uses soul power, control, power struggles, domination, intimidation, argument, debate to change another person
- contains a stronghold of control, over the listener or his behaviour
- causes someone else condemnation for not obeying
- promotes dominating rather than loving the weaker brother
- places the following of rules over relationships with people
- causes a baby Christian to stumble
- says rules are more important than offending people
- changes the rules midstream
- does not recognize or yield, or respect or honor another’s free will or freedom of choice
- speaks of master and slave relationship with the Lord in place of husband and wife
- defies your own discernment, instinct, wisdom
- places seeking a title, ambition, or leadership over servanthood and graciousness in sitting at the feet of others
- places seeking one’s own personal will and decision over the will of the group
- has no mercy when exposing the truth
- accuses when exposing the truth
And God’s love is not present or applied.
The related articles “Spirits of Witchcraft” and “Jezebel and Ahab” and especially “The Occult and Cursed Objects List” contain more information about witchcraft specifically in Christianity.
“For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.” (1 Samuel 15:23)
This is a very important subject, as a Google search will show the extent of Christian witchcraft these days which is at the core of the fight that Paul talked about when he said:
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Eph 6:12)
And as Derek Prince said, it is usually the fifth column that wins the war.
[Related articles: “The Spirits of Jezebel and Ahab” and “The Occult and Cursed Objects”.]