Gospel Insights

by Michael Smith

 

Chapter Thirty Six

FALSE RELIGION
AND THE TRAP AND DANGERS OF THE OCCULT

 

False religions and the occult are closely related.  They both seem to promise things that appeal to us: knowledge, power, peace, access to God.  Hallucinogenic drugs promise similar 'highs', and there are many other doors also that lead into the realm of the supernatural.  All claim to direct us to the light, but in reality every one of them tragically only entices us into spiritual darkness.


False Religions

The Scriptures describe turning from the one true God to false gods as spiritual adultery [1].  There is one door alone that leads us to God and that door is Jesus Christ [2].  Those who go through any other door enter a realm that leads away from God and into death.

Here are five of the main features characterising false religions:

(1)   A religion is false if it acknowledges a plurality of gods.  The early church was surrounded by a polytheistic culture [3],

(2)   A religion is false if it practices idol worship.  This is an abomination to God [4],

(3)   A religion is false if it teaches that human beings can become gods, or "as gods".  This was the original temptation offered by Satan to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden [5].  It appeals to our pride, but the created can never become the uncreated, and men shall never become "as gods",

(4)   A religion is false if it teaches that we can achieve righteousness by our own efforts.  This too appeals to our pride as it states we are basically good.  The Bible, in contrast, tells us in no uncertain terms that we are a fallen race needing God's salvation [6],

(5)   A religion is false if it offers esoteric knowledge to a privileged few.  Freemasonry, Mormonism, and Scientology are examples of religions whose secrets are revealed only to those who have passed a process of initiation [7].

All false religions break the first two of the Ten Commandments [8].  Time and again in the Old Testament, God warned the Israelites not to worship or follow after other gods, and in the wilderness Jesus soundly rejected this temptation to give His worship to the devil.  False religions always appeal to human pride, whereas the gospel reminds us we can only be saved by God's loving grace which is received by a humble faith in what He has done for us [9].  The only way out of the snare of false religion and the occult is to repent, ask God for His forgiveness, (deliverance from the demons inherent in false religions and the occult may also be needed), and to be filled with God's Holy Spirit from then on [10].


The Occult

Many occult practices can seem harmless or just a bit of fun, or maybe even a help in some way, but the truth is that those who get involved in the occult are putting themselves in great spiritual danger.  The numbers of people turning to the occult are on the increase these days and it is extremely disturbing that so many have forsaken the ways of God and rejected His Truth and Light for the lies and darkness of Satan.  For a Christian who dabbles in the occult, even if only slightly, the result will be separation from God and heaven's door locked to them unless they repent, because God has said these practices are an abomination to Him [11].

Why do so many folk become entangled in the occult?  Quite often it's because they don't know the one true God who cares for them, and so when troubles come into their lives they seek help or comfort or meaning from all the wrong sources.  In times of bereavement some will try to contact their loved one and are deceived by spirits (demons) impersonating the deceased person.

Below are five reasons to reject the occult:

(1)   The occult is one of Satan's traps to blind folk to God's spiritual truth as found in the Holy Scriptures.  As few people today know or read the Bible they are easily open to being deceived, especially when vulnerable in some way; perhaps through the loss of a loved one [12],

(2)   For a believer to turn to the occult instead of to God in a time of need or sorrow [13] suggests a backsliding heart as it did with King Saul [14], which will soon lead to love for God grown cold, and finally unbelief,

(3)   In Galatians 5:19-20 the occult is described as the "works of the flesh" and is therefore contrary to the fruit of the Holy Spirit.  At our baptism we renounced all the works of the world and ways of the flesh and the devil,

(4)   God hates all occult ways, and all such practices are described in numerous places in His Word as an abomination to Him [15],

(5)   The occult is an enemy of the Christian faith.  Satan is a defeated foe but he has not yet been cast into hell and, until the Lord Jesus returns to this earth, the occult is one of the means Satan is using to try to drag as many unsuspecting folk as possible with him when he is finally cast into the Lake of Fire [16].

Occultists reject all Scriptural authority.  They have a false view of God and of the Church.  They don't accept that God became flesh and lived amongst us; in their view there is no Emmanuel and so they refuse the saving work of Christ upon the cross.  They minimise sin and deny evil, hell, and the Day of Judgement.  They believe Satan's lie about himself as being an "angel of light" [17] and they believe his lie that they can earn their salvation through their own good works.  Sadly the practice of the occult leads to despair and final destruction - the very things occultists deny [18].

If we know of anyone trapped in occult practices, we should pray earnestly for them because the consequences are so awful and serious.  How many millions of our children stayed up all night to buy and read the Harry Potter books?  These books sold upwards of 300 million copies.  They are not just harmless fun or a way to encourage our children to read, but rather they are a subtle tool with which the enemy can introduce occult practices to children and young people.  Likewise some pop or rock music and computer games are easy ways to trap the younger generations in the snare of the occult [19].

The following are some of the symptoms of someone involved in occult practices:

(1)   An inability to read the Bible or pray in Jesus' Name,

(2)   An aversion to the Name of Jesus and the blood of Christ (with the exception of them being used as swear words),

(3)   Uncontrollable evil or blasphemous thoughts or desires or speech,

(4)   Religious delusions, or compulsive addictions, habits, or ways,

(5)   The mocking of Christians and Christian beliefs,

(6)   Uncontrollable temper, hatred, lusts, or fears.

Some occult practices to be avoided are:

Tarot cards, fortune telling, undergoing hypnosis, participation in a seance or spiritualist meeting, playing an Ouija board, all religious cults, New Age beliefs, astrology, all drug taking, psychic experiences, reading occult (and supernatural/horror) literature or watching occult (and supernatural/horror) films, divination, making spells and curses, contacting the dead, wizardry and witchcraft (which tries to dominate and control others), idolatry, and rebelliousness (which God counts as the sin of witchcraft).  We are clearly warned against all these ways in the Scriptures.  They are an absolute abomination to God and lead only to destruction and an eternity spent in hell.

Why is all this so important to the Christian believer?  It is important because even if we know not to do such things ourselves, we may have a friend or relative who is hooked into a false religion or an area of the occult, and it is only the Christian who has the means in Jesus Christ to really help them and bring them freedom.  When Jesus hung upon the cross of Calvary He destroyed all the works of the devil, and this included every false religious or occult belief and practice.  As with all of God's blessings to us, freedom from false religions and the occult must be claimed by the person in need, by repenting of all involvement, asking God for His forgiveness for all sins, and starting a new life in Christ as He sanctifies every part of their lives by the power of His Holy Spirit from that day onwards.

 

Footnotes

[1]  Jeremiah 3:6-9;  Revelation 2:20-23.          [2]  John 10:1-9.          [3]  1 Corinthians 8:5-6.          [4]  Romans 1:18-23;  2 Corinthians 6:16-18.          [5]  Genesis 3:1-5; 22-24.          [6]  Psalm 14:3;  Romans 3:23.          [7]  Genesis 10:8-10;  Ezekiel 8:14-16;  Revelation 17:5.          [8]  Deuteronomy 5:7-9.          [9]  Ephesians 2:8-9.          [10]  2 Chronicles 7:14.          [11]  Deuteronomy 18:9-14.          [12]  See 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12.          [13]  2 Corinthians 1:2-4.          [14]  1 Samuel 28:3-25.          [15]  Deuteronomy 18:9-14;  2 Chronicles 33:1-7;  Acts 16:16-18;  Acts 17:16-31.          [16]  Revelation 20:10-15.          [17]  2 Corinthians 11:14.          [18]  Revelation 21:8;  Revelation 22:15.          [19]  See 1 Chronicles 10:13-14.

 

 

 

Chapter Thirty Five   |   Chapter Thirty Seven   |   Back to Contents

 

 

Michael Smith 2013