Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. Occult influence is very real, enshrined in modern philosophies as well as the media, music, TV, the movies. As believers running the race of life, we must understand what we're facing and how to deal with it.
Stay with us. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, many of us don't think much about that very real dark side out there, do we? Dave, not only do we not think about it, but oftentimes we don't recognize that neo-paganism can even infiltrate churches. The Apostle Paul makes it very clear that false teachers are actually controlled by evil, and I might emphasize that paganism is on the rise here in America. That's why I'm so passionate in helping people to understand the difference between Bible doctrine and that which actually is satanic and deceptive. I want to thank the many of you who support the ministry of Running to Win.
It's because of people just like you that Running to Win is continuing to expand. Would you consider becoming an endurance partner? That's someone who stands with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts. At the end of this broadcast, I'm going to be giving you some info as to how you can contact us, how you can find out more about what we are doing, because together we're making a difference. My topic today is judging neo-paganism.
When does fantasy become reality? Would you bow with me one more time in prayer? Father, I ask in the name of Jesus that you will give ears to all who hear. I pray that you might grant me wisdom as we speak about the occult. I pray that people shall be delivered from it and from its snares. And I pray that you shall grant, O God, a revelation of your power that would remind us that you are stronger than our enemy, but oh, how he seeks to destroy us. Help us, Father. We bind ourselves to you today and to your promises.
In Jesus' name, Amen. It's been my experience that for the most part, Christians today do not fear the devil. There was a time when people believed that the devil existed and that he could not be trusted to abide by the rules.
But Christians today think that he's a gentleman and that he won't show up unless he's specifically invited. And so they don't fear horoscopes, tarot cards, hypnotism, witches, ghosts, and the like. Why is it that Christians aren't afraid of these things in our generation?
I think that there are a number of reasons, and I'd very quickly like to give you five reasons why the fear is no longer there. First of all, there's the belief that if the occult is accepted as fantasy, then it's not dangerous. As long as you don't really believe that a Ouija board can be a point of contact with the devil, then there's nothing to fear. It's a game.
And if you read horoscopes for fun, there's nothing wrong with it. And if you believe that Harry Potter's world is just a fantasy world anyway, it can't be dangerous. And if you play Dungeons and Dragons and other occult games and realize that it's just a game, why then indeed there's nothing to fear. But I need to begin by saying that we have to realize that fantasy is often the bridge that leads to reality, and there is a spirit world out there.
Let me give you a second reason. It's because many Christians think that if the devil does show up, they would know it. As long as things don't get bounced around the room and glasses break, and as long as the levitation isn't successful, Satan did not show up, they think.
They don't realize that he uses lures and he wants to be hidden as long as he possibly can be. And many people who are in contact with the devil simply do not know it. There's a third reason, and that is that if we know someone who has not been hurt by involvement, then it must not be dangerous. So I've heard people say, well, you know, I know someone who went to a fortune teller and they weren't hurt. I mean, it didn't hurt them.
It's just a game. There's people who say, well, you know, I know somebody who saw the movie The Exorcist, and they're okay. In fact, they're Christians, and they weren't bothered by it, and perhaps they weren't, though I personally know someone who saw the movie The Exorcist and later on needed an exorcism because of a demon that was picked up in the theater. And so there are those who say, well, and here's one, I know a Christian who does hypnosis. Well, if a Christian does hypnosis, then obviously it must be okay.
In the Bible, hypnosis is called enchantments. But the problem is that there are many people who don't realize that what Satan really wants from us is an inability to read the Bible, an inability to latch onto the promises of God. And so just because there are some people who aren't hurt by certain aspects of the occult, that does not mean that it is dangerous. Now, if you ask the question, well, why is it that some people have a demonic affliction when they're involved and others aren't, I can't answer. It's like asking why is it that some people eat in the same restaurant, maybe even have the same menu, and some get food poisoning and others don't. I don't know.
I don't have an explanation for it. Then there are Christians who say, well, you know, we have special protection because we are in Christ. Well, that protection is there, thank God, but it's there when we walk in paths of righteousness and we'd better not presume protection if we begin to dabble in what God has condemned.
And then here's another one. If they seem to have some immediate good, a particular practice or an activity, they think that it might be okay. You know, I've met people who said, well, you know, you're against hypnotism, but it helped me quit smoking or lose weight or whatever. Or when I visited a psychic, my life was turned around and miracles started to happen. We're going to talk about the miracles that Satan is able to do and our need to be able to distinguish the works of the devil from the works of God.
Incredibly important. I want you to know today, though, that Satan does not play by the rules. He's not a gentleman. He doesn't say, well, you know, I don't come to the party unless I'm invited. No, he's there.
He shows up uninvited. It's very interesting that in the thirteenth chapter of John's gospel, we discovered that Satan entered into Judas while Judas was sitting next to Jesus at the table. I've read that many times, but this week as I reread it, I was impressed with that, that he showed up and he wasn't invited. Judas didn't say, now, Satan, I want you to enter me. All that Judas was doing was contemplating some sin, a great sin to be sure, but he had not yet even done the sin. And Satan entered into him uninvited, but he was there.
Wow. Folks, I hope you're with me so far, and this is going to be a strong message on the occult, but you know, my responsibility as your shepherd is to warn you. And I don't want to stand in God's presence someday and God say, you know, you preached all those nice truths, but you never warned the people of their culture and what was happening. So I want you to listen carefully. I hope you agree with me. If you disagree, come up later and confess your sins.
We're just joking. And during the next 20 or 25 minutes, we're going to talk very plainly. I don't want anyone leaving and saying, what did he believe?
I don't want to be like a politician who left a political rally in Chicago recently and whispered to one of his aides. I hope that in the excitement, I didn't happen to make myself clear about anything. Let's take our Bibles and find out what God has to say about the occult. The passage of scripture is Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy chapter 18, where God has some things to say. Now, this is just one passage among many. There are at least 20 different occultic practices that are condemned in the Bible.
And here we have maybe five or six. Verse nine of chapter 18, when you enter the land which the Lord your God gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those other nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For whoever does these things is detestable to the Lord. And because of these detestable things, the Lord your God will drive them out before you.
You shall be blameless before the Lord your God. Divination, that's the ability to see into the future just by inspiration, the ability to look into a person's eyes and even before you meet them to tell them what sickness they already have. Sorcery, means magic with the aid of evil spirits.
Omens, where an object, an event, is a portent or a prediction regarding good or evil in the future. Witchcraft, the ability and the power to have influence and strength through the spirit world. Spells, another word for spells might be curses. You say, are there curses?
Yes, there are. This week I spoke to a woman from another church and from another area who definitely, it seems to me, has been cursed by a member of her family who's deeply involved in the occult and the demonic activity cannot be explained in any other way, so far as I know, is a curse. And then you have mediums that contact the dead and spiritists. Why does God hate these things?
Why are they so detestable? Well, just look at the list. First of all, they involve hidden knowledge that God has not revealed. That's why God hates astrology, as we shall see particularly, because what you're trying to do is to get into areas that God has not revealed and what you're saying is, I want that hidden knowledge at any cost, even if it comes from the devil. Secondly, hidden power.
Look at the list. Almonds, spells, sorcery, magic that has a demonic base. What people want to do is to manipulate and to control the destiny of their own lives and the occult is out there to reach into the deepest part of us because we are spiritual beings and we want to connect with a power that is greater than we are and if that power is not God, we will find another power that's out there. And I do need to tell you that the occult is basically a form of self-government and self-empowerment when we turn from God to ourselves. Listen to the words of a Satanist.
This is very important. He says, we do not worship Satan, we worship ourselves, but when we worship ourselves, Satan turns up. All that you need to do is to worship yourself. Now what are some of the doorways of the occult and here I'm going to list them very quickly because what I really want to get to is five principles that is going to help us. As you know, this is a series of messages on discernment and today we're talking about neo-paganism. What are some of the ways of the occult and the doorways? First of all, new age healing. Health industry is full of it, full of the occult.
That is where you have the practice of thinking that an object has the power to heal or a practice that does not have a basis in science has the ability to heal such as crystals, psychic therapies, healing guides, Eastern notions of spirituality, books like awakening the healer within and the therapeutic touch, psychoimmunity and the healing process. You have prayers for those who are sick. Well, doesn't prayer work? Yeah, but it doesn't matter what name you pray it in, what God you're praying to, just pray. And so what you have in the healthcare industry is a lot of this, this attempt to unify mind and body.
And there's some truth to that, isn't it? Because your mind does have a tremendous amount of power over the body, but this is combined with pantheistic notions about health and our spirituality and our basic goodness and you find many writers and many books that purport that. Oftentimes some good, some bad because the occult is mixed up with the scientific part. Secondly, you have psychedelic drugs and transcendental meditation. Well, what's wrong with meditation? We're supposed to meditate.
Yes, we're to meditate in the law of the Lord during the night and during the day. That means we are to have content in our minds, but transcendental meditation, you're supposed to empty your mind to something that is very dangerous for you to do. The same thing happens in psychedelic drugs.
That's why when Marilyn Ferguson wrote her book on the Aquarian conspiracy, she said that drugs and transcendental meditation are the ways into quote the transformation of consciousness. You see, the devil has a counterpart for everything that God has. God has the new birth. We are to be born again of the spirit and that's our opportunity to be in contact with God. He also has the new birth.
This is his most dazzling deception. It is the the ritual that brings about the transformation of consciousness that is found in almost all non-Christian religions. People are in touch with the higher powers and emptying the mind becomes the way to bring that about.
Oh yes, there may be some good to yoga physically, but combined with religious notions of emptying the mind can be very dangerous. In fact, when I was at the Parliament of World Religions, I just remembered, I said that I was talking to those who were into transcendental meditation and I said, you know, of course, that demons sometimes appear and they said, oh yes, we know that. It's surprisingly, they did not argue that, but they said that's why you need a good guru to take you through those tunnels of evil so that you come out on the other side. Number three, television programs, movies. We think this is, by the way, the greatest recruitment tool of the occult that one could possibly imagine. Programs like Buffy the Vampire, charmed or practical magic. They emphasize witchcraft, pantheistic notions, power of levitation, prognostication, powers are used to quote even the score.
I could go into more detail, but that's enough. What about ghosts? Do ghosts exist? You see, what happens is this, when a person lives with demonic spirits, maybe these spirits have inhabited him or controlled him to some extent, the Bible calls these spirits familiar spirits and the reason they're familiar spirits is because they're familiar with the person to whom they have followed and attached themselves.
The person dies, what's going to happen to the spirits? So happens that in my Bible reading today I read that the fifth chapter of Mark this morning where Jesus cast out some spirits and they said let us go into the pigs and Jesus accommodated them because if they don't have a body to inhabit they sometimes become listless and aimlessly wander around and we call those ghosts. Number of years ago I was in Calgary in a wonderful beautiful hotel there and when I was there the Calgary Herald ran a story that this hotel in which I was staying was haunted, that certain rooms were haunted. During that period of time this was a Baptist group that we were together with, some of us accepted the opportunity to get a tour of the hotel by a young woman perhaps 21 or 22 years old and when we were in the basement she said you notice that there are these potted plants on these marble stairs and she says no one is allowed to go up the stairs because she said a spirit lives on these stairs.
A young woman when the hotel was first built on her wedding day trip down the stairs, hit her head and died at the base of the stairs and now she keeps showing up said this young lady and she said you can ask the people who work in the kitchen, they see her and this is in addition to the two other rooms that are haunted. I didn't know whether or not I should do this you know I did it with a smile on my face because you don't want to just hurt people but I said to her I said would you like me to give you a biblical interpretation of ghosts and she said sure. I said I want you to know that the person who shows up in this kitchen is not the young lady, her soul has gone to wherever but it's not her but it's a demon that knew her who takes her characteristics and that's what we're really up against and this young lady smiled back and she said well she said I like the word ghost better than the word demon.
She said remember Casper the friendly ghost. Yeah there are these spirits, there are haunted houses, there are haunted buildings, same characteristics as demons they run in family lines and the whole bit and what we need to understand is all these ghost stories you know that make you scared but isn't it wonderful that they don't really exist? They do exist. There is a spirit world out there. Well this is Pastor Lutzer.
I want to ask you a simple question. Do you believe that the message that you have just heard would be of benefit to others? You may even know some people who need to be warned about paganism and about demons. We here at Running to Win are committed to help people not only come to saving faith in Jesus Christ but to live out their lives for the glory of God with a sense of discernment.
Would you help us? I'm holding in my hands a letter from someone who wrote Jesus wondrously saved me while I was contemplating suicide. Your sermons provided me with the spiritual food I so desperately needed. I love how you cover sensitive topics in a godly manner. Would you consider my friend becoming an endurance partner?
That's someone who stands with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts. Of course you need more info. Hope that you have a pencil handy. Here's what you can do. Go to rtwoffer.com. That's rtwoffer.com. When you're there click on the endurance partner button or if you prefer you can call us at 1-888-218-9337. Endurance partners enable us to think about the future, the growth of Running to Win and you can become a part of what I like to call the Running to Win family. Go to rtwoffer.com.
When you're there click on the endurance partner button. Time now for another chance for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life. Goblins, ghosts and witches always fly around in late October when carved pumpkins sit on many porches.
Judy listens to Running to Win and has this question. I already know the history of Halloween. What I need to know is why Christians should not celebrate Halloween. Well Judy if you know the history of Halloween then you probably should know why I believe Christians should not celebrate it. Some time ago I did a study of the history of Halloween, evidently you did that as well, and discovered that it is deeply rooted in occultism. Even the symbols of Halloween have occultic meanings and because of that we should stay away from Halloween.
It is indeed a time of increased demonic activity. If you've ever dealt with people who perhaps are troubled by evil spirits you know how much they fear Halloween. So I believe that we should not celebrate it. I think that we should think creatively as parents to have an alternative. Here at the Moody Church we have a special fall celebration that takes the place of Halloween and we give it an entirely different meaning. Now many of you who are listening you probably will have your children go out and participate, tricks or treats.
That may be okay but I strongly caution you. Do not have any associations with the occult. Dress your children up not as witches so that they understand that that is not to be a part of their lives but rather with an entirely different costume.
And in this way separate yourself at least some way from Halloween and all of its intended interpretations. Some wise counsel once again from Dr. Erwin Lutzer. Thank you Pastor Lutzer. If you'd like to hear your question answered go to our website at rtwoffer.com and click on Ask Pastor Lutzer or you can call us at 1-888-218-9337.
That's 1-888-218-9337. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. As we run our daily race there's an unseen spirit world running as well. Demons try to subvert the purposes of God in the life of every believer. Our task, to discern the danger and avoid opening the many doors that can lead us there. Next time on Running to Win, Erwin Lutzer speaks further on judging neo-paganism, showing how Satan imitates the experiences God gives to believers. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
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