Giving Place to the Devil – Witchcraft6 min read
Witchcraft may not be a huge threat in many or most of our lives; nevertheless, we understand from our list that our flesh veers, at least in very minute forms, toward some sort of witchcraft. While true believers cannot be demon possessed and will not immerse themselves in metaphysical cults, there are dangers that come with giving place to the Devil. All too often we forget his reality and the truth of his threat. We need to prepare against this, because our flesh will not naturally incline to rejecting those things which the Devil is behind.
A Few Thoughts on Witchcraft
The Greek word for witchcraft is pharmakeia, from which we derive our word “pharmacy,” referring to drugs. It denoted magic and sorcery, or, by extension, the accessing of supernatural power apart from God. When Samuel said “rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft,” his focus was rebellion, but we can also see an implication here that witchcraft is rooted in direct rebellion of God and His sanctified power, replacing Him with a counterfeit of God’s true standards. God had prophets; the Devil produced false prophets. God created astronomy, showing His power over and in the heavens; the Devil created astrology, which is the rule of the heavens over and in our lives. God is light; the Devil transforms himself into a deceptive angel of light. God has power over death; Satan uses his demons to deceive those who would attempt to contact the dead. He is the master of disguise and the father of lies, which is why drugs (pharmakeia) can well be related to magic and sorcery, since both cause hallucination and darkness in many aspects.
In the ministry of Christ, we see a large activity in the spirit world. We notice the man called Legion, possessed with many demons. We can also notice the son in Mark 9 who was “cast into the fire (by a devil)… to destroy [the boy].” In Matthew 15 there is also an incident of a woman’s daughter “grievously vexed with a devil.” These were situations in which demons were at work. But consider where the Devil’s focus was. He entered into Judas. He desired to “sift Peter as wheat.” And, of course, he also dealt specifically with Christ. In the gospels at least, it seems that the Devil mainly dealt with those identified with Christ, while demons desired to hinder the unsaved from coming to Him.
As for the application to God’s people, consider these words from Deuteronomy 18:9-14. “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. 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, Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. 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. Thou shalt be perfect with the LORD thy God. For these nations, which thou shalt possess, hearkened unto observers of times, and unto diviners: but as for thee, the LORD thy God hath not suffered thee so to do.”
Where do we see these things today? Well, there are actually be many who are active in metaphysics and astrology. But these are not the only two things marked by the occult. Rock music, for instance, has very close ties with witchcraft and demon possession. Also, the Charismatic movement in Africa is linked with occultism with so-called “men of God” actually being witchdoctors. In the Charismatic movement in the western world, we also see much spiritual activity that cannot be attributed to the Spirit of God and can only be attributed to demon trickery and Satan’s transformation into a false angel of light. This would account for the so-called visible encounters with “Jesus,” the uncontrolled dancing, the visions, etc. God does not work in this way presently, and yet there is certainly spiritual power behind much of it. The question is, what kind of spirit is behind it?
Resisting the Devil
For the average Christian who is not involved in any way with hints of occultism, there is still the danger of giving place to the Devil. That is why Paul exhorts us to “put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand the wiles of the Devil.” He (that is, Satan) desires to devour God’s people, mostly in subtle ways. Too often we are guilty of forgetting his reality and our true weakness. Some would speak lightly of him, as if he was a harmless child without wits. They readily call him a “punk” and would claim to be ready for rebuking him if he appeared. This attitude is foreign in Scripture. Of course there is power over Satan through God’s Spirit, but this does not make him a non-issue. Even Michael the Archangel in Jude “dared not to bring a railing accusation, but said ‘The Lord rebuke thee.’” Let us remember that. We were subject to his power in unconverted days, and the safety we have now is still not in ourselves, but in Christ. Even so, there is still a responsibility on our part, not to rebuke, but to resist. What can we do? Consider Scripture:
- “Put on the whole armor of God…” (Eph. 6:11). Truly only His armor can shield against Satan’s merciless attacks. Don’t neglect any aspect of your spiritual life: let it be “the whole…” We need balanced, focused Christian lives to successfully do warfare.
- “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7) Certainly the submission and the resistance go hand in hand, for when one submits to God he simultaneously resists the temptation of the Devil to rebel.
- “Be sober; be vigilant…” (1 Peter 5:8). It does us no good to disregard spiritual warfare as if menial. We must be watchful and ready to defend.
- “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold the Devil shall cast some of you into prison, that you may be tried…” (Rev. 2:10). We can avoid sin amidst temptation, but often the temptation/trial itself will not go away. Based on our text, one thing we can do to overcome the Devil is to simply endure the trial, grueling as it may be.
- “We are not ignorant of his devices (tactics)…” (2 Cor. 2:11). It also helps to predict the nature of his attack that we can appropriately prepare.
In conclusion, it would be helpful for each reader to know that it is difficult to write about the subject of witchcraft while making applications to the believer, because true witchcraft is not a practice of God’s people. In spite of the difficulty, hopefully as God’s people we understand, not only more about the topic, but the importance of examining places in our lives which may be tied with spiritual forces which are contrary to our Saviour’s desire that we be more like Him. If we are zealous for God, it can be said “Satan has desired to have you,” and we must beware of his influences – whether in the world, in the occult, or in our hearts. But even if this battle we can take confidence in this: “the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” (Romans 16:20).