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Life of Paul Part 31 - The Reality of the Occult

So What? / Lon Solomon
The Truth Network Radio
May 28, 2020 7:00 am

Life of Paul Part 31 - The Reality of the Occult

So What? / Lon Solomon

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May 28, 2020 7:00 am

The Occult.

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Oh, thank you guys so much. Hey, we want you to take a Bible and let's open it together. We're going to be studying today in the life of the great man, the apostle Paul. Acts chapter 16, if you'll open there, we'll be coming there in just a moment. Acts chapter 16. But I'd like to begin today by giving you a list of movies and seeing if you can tell me what one common thread ties all these movies together.

Here we go. Here's our list. Rosemary's Baby, Poltergeist, Carrie, The Amityville Horror, Devil's Advocate, The Witches of Eastwick, Bedazzled, The Omen, one, two and three, and The Exorcist. Now, with the exception of Rosemary's Baby, which I saw as a college student before I was a follower of Christ, I've never seen any of these other movies. But I know just as you do what it is that ties them all together. What ties them all together is that they all deal with the issue of the devil, demons, and the occult. Now, our question for this morning is, is there anything really to this?

Is the devil and the demons and the occult, is that just a topic for making scary movies? Or is there some reality here that you and I as followers of Jesus Christ need to take stock of in our lives here in the 21st century? Well, that's what we're going to talk about because we're going to watch the Apostle Paul confront this very issue in our passage for today, chapter 16, verse 16. And once while we were going to the place of prayer, let's stop for a second, remember there were not enough Jewish people here in the town of Philippi to make a synagogue. And so as a result, they would meet down by the river that flowed through town, the Jewish people who were there, and every Sabbath they would have prayer, Sabbath prayer down by the river. Well, Paul, this is where he went and preached first. This is where he met Lydia. This is where he led Lydia to Christ. And now this verse tells us that this was his habit. Every Sabbath, he would apparently go back to this place and continue sharing with them.

That's where he's on his way to. Rest of verse 16, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. Now the Roman writer Plutarch refers to these people as belly talkers. And the way this term came about is that these folks would go into trances. And while they were in these trances, the voice that was coming out of them sounded like it was coming out of their belly.

And so he called them belly talkers. The Greeks of this time believe that actually people like this were filled by the god Apollo. Apollo was the god of the Delphic Oracle. And they believed that Apollo would fill the life of these people and talk through them, giving oracles, giving prophecies that it was Apollo who was doing the talking.

But interestingly, this word Plutarch uses for belly talkers is the same word that the Greek Old Testament uses for people in the Bible that are possessed by demons, that are demonized, who have familiar spirits. And so therefore the short and the simple answer is this lady was a lady who had a demon. She was demon possessed.

She was demonized. And that's who was talking through her in terms of doing this prediction of the future. Now verse 16, she earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune telling. And this girl began following Paul and the rest of us and shouting, these men are servants of the most high God who are telling you the way to be saved.

And she kept this up for many days. And finally, Paul became irked. Paul became literally fed up. Now you say, well, you know, Lon, if I understand correctly, this girl was walking through the city and wherever Paul would go, this girl would go along with him and would say, these men are proclaiming the most high God, right? Why would Paul get mad about that? Seems to me if somebody who was supposed to have the God Apollo inside of them walks along and says, hey, a greater God than Apollo has now shown up. It seems to me Paul should have been excited about that. Well, not exactly.

And I'll tell you why. First of all, this term, the most high God is a term that was used for a variety of deities at this time, not just the God of the universe like we think. For example, we know that Zeus, the Greek God, and Isis, the Egyptian goddess, and Baal, the Phoenician God were all gods for whom this term was used, the most high God. Therefore, this gal walking through town and proclaiming that the most high God has representatives in town, it doesn't automatically mean to them back there what it means to us.

You understand? It could have meant a number of different things. Also, by having her do this, Paul ran the risk of everybody in town thinking that he was connected with this lady and all of her demonic stuff. And so Paul didn't really want to be connected with this lady. Finally, the Bible says he got fed up.

He said, hey, enough is enough. And he turned to this lady, verse 18, and he said to the demon in the name of Jesus Christ, I command you to come out of her. And at that moment, the demon left her. Paul dealt with this demon very authoritatively, just like the Lord Jesus Christ dealt with demons when he was here.

However, there is one difference that we should note. When the Lord Jesus dealt with a demon, his authority was personal and direct. He would turn to a demon and he would say, I command you, the Lord Jesus would. Now when the Apostle Paul deals with this demon, he doesn't have authority that's direct and personal like this. The Apostle Paul can't turn to a demon and say, I command you anything. Rather, he turns to the demon with delegated authority and says, in the name of Jesus Christ, I command you to come out.

Why? Because Paul didn't have any authority over this demon. He didn't have any authority over this demon just because he was an apostle. He didn't have any authority over this demon just because he was a missionary or a good guy. He only had authority over this demon because it was authority that was in the name of Jesus Christ.

Remember what Jesus said, Matthew 28, 18. He said, all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me, not to you as my followers, not to apostles, not to missionaries. The authority is mine. And in order to exercise this kind of authority, the Apostle Paul had to come with the delegated authority of Jesus.

He didn't have any authority all by himself. Well, as you can imagine, this raised quite a stir in town, particularly with the owners of this girl who couldn't make any money off of her anymore. We're going to talk about that next week. But we want to stop right here and right now and ask the most important question. And everybody knows what that question is. So here we go. Nice and loud.

One, two, three. So what? Right. You say, Lon, so what? Say, I'm really glad for this girl. And I'm really glad that, you know, Paul cast a demon out of this girl. But frankly, big whoop.

I mean, what difference does this make to my life? Well, let's see if we can answer that question. I don't know if you're watching a few years ago, the Bay Hill Invitational Golf Tournament down in Orlando. PGA golfer John Daly was there and he had a pretty amazing experience. He stepped up on the sixth hole, par five, and he took his driver off the tee and he hit the ball and it went right into the water hazard on the right of the hole. So according to PGA rules, he's allowed to drop another ball 30 yards in front of the tee box and hit it again.

Takes a penalty stroke. So he stepped up, got his three wood out of his bag, and he shwacked the ball with his three wood. Guess where the ball went? Right in the water. So he dropped another ball, took another penalty stroke, hit it with his three wood again. Guess where the ball went?

Right in the water. He hit five consecutive shots with his three wood and all five shots went into water. Finally, on the sixth shot with his three wood, he hits the ball over the water, yay, and right in the sand trap. He got an 18 on the hole. Now, this is not you and me playing golf. We could get an 18 on a hole like this. This is John Daly, professional golfer, 13 over par. They don't even have a name for 13 over par. It's not, there is no bogey that goes that high.

You can't do it. 13 over par. And one of the commentators on television made this comment. He said, maybe his problem is that his three wood is demon possessed. Well, you know, it's kind of funny because we all know three woods can't be demon possessed.

But really, is this a joke? I mean, it really is this just a scary movie topic? Or is there some reality to all of this stuff about Satan and demons in the occult? Time magazine had an article several years ago entitled angels among us. And they asked the question, they took a poll and they asked the question, do you believe in the existence of fallen angels or devils?

45% of Americans said no. What that means is that one out of every two Americans you meet will think you are nuts. If you tell them you believe in the devil, if you tell them you believe demons are real, they'll think you're crazy. And yet listen to what Time magazine said. Time magazine noted that when we look at the Nazi Holocaust, when we look at the purges of Joseph Stalin, when we look at the genocide of recent years in Africa and in Eastern Europe, when we look at the Charles Manson's and the Jeffrey Dahmer's that have been in our world, Time said, and I quote, we're hard pressed not to recognize that there is some kind of supra human evil present in our world, end of quote. In other words, you can't just explain the evil in the world by looking at human beings. Something else bigger than that is going on in our world.

Well, congratulations to Time magazine. They have finally come around to seeing what God has been trying to tell the human race for thousands of years. That yes, there is a supra human evil in our world. And I want in the next five minutes give you the fastest course on biblical demonology in history. We're going to teach you everything the Bible has to say about this supra human force in the next five minutes.

So here we go. The Bible calls this supernatural being that leads this force Satan. Satan literally means in Hebrew adversary. Satan is an adversary primarily of Almighty God. Second Thessalonians two says that his mission statement Satan's is to oppose and exalt himself against everything that has to do with God. But you know, in that same regard, Satan is the adversary of every single one of us who's a follower of Jesus Christ, because we love this God and we worship this God and we serve this God that he Satan hates so vehemently. Now Satan is a finite being, he can only be one place at one time, but he extends his influence around the world by having a group of henchmen that the Bible calls demons. The Bible does not tell us where these demons came from, simply that they exist and that they're real. And together Satan and his demons have a two fold goal.

Goal number one is to convince every person alive to reject God and to go his or her own way with their life. You know, before I was a follower of Christ and I would hear the word sinner, I would think of people who were rapists and murderers and armed robbers and kidnappers. This is what I thought sinners were. And then I got I became a follower of Christ and I suddenly realized that's not what the Bible says at all. In fact, the definition in the Bible is this Isaiah 53 six, all of us like sheep have gone astray.

Each one of us has turned to his or her own way. The core of sin is simply deciding to live life our own way. I mean, that's all Adam and Eve really did in the garden.

The fruit had nothing to do with it. God simply said with regard to the fruit, I want you to live this way. And Adam and Eve said, Oh, we want to do it our way. That's all there is to it.

And they put us on the course where we find ourselves today. Friends, Satan understands that all he's got to do to cause people to be alienated from God in this life, and to be separated from God for all eternity, all he has to do is not convince people to be murderers or rapists or kidnappers. All he's got to do is convince people to go their own way their whole lives. That's all he's got to do.

And frankly, he's got a fairly easy job, because every one of us is wired to want to go our own way. Now there's a fight therefore going on for the souls of men and women in every city in every nation in every culture in every school in every college, the battle is raging for the souls of men and women. And if you're here today, and you've never trusted Christ as your real impersonal Savior, there's a battle raging for your soul. Satan and his forces want to win that battle in your life. They want to convince you just to keep going your own way.

That's all you got to do without remedy, because they understand how catastrophic the consequences of doing that will be in your life, both in this world and in the world to come. Now, God wants to also win that battle in your life. And our goal, what we're doing here is McLean Bible Church, our goal is to help God win that battle in your life. Our goal is to bring you to the place where you decide to surrender your life and your will to the will of God for your life.

And we'll help you if you'll just let us. That's what Christianity 101 is all about, giving you the information to help you understand what the battle is about and how God can win in your life. But if you sometimes sense and feel there's a tug of war going on inside of you, my friends, the reason you feel that's because that's true. There's a fight going on for your soul. And remember to win, all Satan has to do is just convince you to go your own way.

That's all he's got to do. Well, you say, Lon, but what if I give my life to Christ? What if I surrender my will to God? What if he loses this first goal because I become a follower of Christ?

Well, that's wonderful if he loses it. He then moves on to his secondary goal. And Satan's secondary goal once we become followers of Jesus Christ is to nullify our effectiveness and take away our impact for Jesus Christ.

You say, how does he do this? He does this by getting us to make choices in our life that ruin our credibility, that undermine our authenticity, bringing us to the place where we ruin all platform that we have with people to reach them for Christ, and by even getting us to make life choices that will actually hinder the work of God here on this earth. He can't get our soul, but he can certainly use us to keep the work of God from getting other people's souls.

And that's what he's up to in your life today. If you're a follower of Jesus Christ today, the enemy is out through Madison Avenue, through every newspaper you read, through every magazine you read, through the radio and television you watch, through the friends at work you have that aren't followers of Christ. He is out to get you and me to make choices that will nullify our impact for Christ and maybe even make a choice so bad that we can actually hinder the work of God in other people's lives. Now we need to understand that Satan and his henchmen are absolutely ruthless in the pursuit of these two goals. First Peter chapter 5 verse 8. Be alert, God says, for your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

Do you hear the strong language in this verse? Your enemy prowling around like a roaring lion looking to devour people. Friends, Satan is not just out to hurt us. He is not just out to wound us. He is out to devour us. And we're not used to dealing with a beast like this. Someone who has no mercy, no compassion, no pity, no forbearance, no grace. When he's got you down, he'll step on your face.

When he's got the knife in your back, he'll turn it to do more damage. I mean, we're not used to dealing with people who have no pity at all. I mean, even the worst human beings love their mother, you know. Because God doesn't love anybody or anything. His unapologetic goal is to destroy you, your friends, your children, your grandchildren and everything you cherish and to do it without mercy.

You say, what a horrible beast. Why would God make something like this? Well, the answer is God didn't make him like this.

He didn't start like this. Isaiah 14 tells us that Satan started off as an angel, a good angel. His name was Lucifer.

Ezekiel 28 tells us that Lucifer was the most magnificent angel in all of creation. But then the problem is Lucifer began believing his own PR. He decided he didn't want to serve God anymore. He wanted to be in charge. As Milton has him say in Paradise Lost, better to reign in hell than to serve in heaven.

And you know what? He led a revolt against God. He enlisted some other angels, the Bible says, to cooperate with him.

They lost. They got thrown out of heaven. And at the end of the age, God has a big surprise for Satan. Here, Revelation chapter 20 says, the devil who deceived the nations will be thrown into the lake of fire along with all of his henchmen, where they will be tormented day and night forever. You say, well, that's good news, right?

It is. But the bad news is this isn't the end of the age. The bad news is that Satan is still alive and well on planet earth. The bad news is for reasons God never explains in the Bible, he has chosen to leave Satan and his demonic friends free to circulate and try to cause trouble here on earth. Now, friends, that's it. That is the fastest course on demonology you will ever get. That is a summary of every single thing the Bible says about Satan and demons.

Okay, you got it? Good. Now, here is the last question to answer this morning. In light of the fact that Satan is alive and well on planet earth, how do you and I as followers of Jesus Christ keep from being devoured? How do we defend ourselves? So we're not one of these people that he chews up and completely nullifies in our service to God. Well, I got four suggestions from the Bible to give you. And then we're done.

Number one, question number one is don't despair. After all we've said about Satan, it'd be easy for us to feel intimidated, a little unnerved, a little helpless. But you know, the Bible reassures us over and over that even though Satan's power is great, God's power is greater.

First John four, greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world. And would you notice in the gospel accounts here in the Bible, every single time Jesus met a demon, guess who won? Every single time Jesus met Satan himself, guess who won?

And Jesus just didn't win. He dominated the devil and the forces of evil. Greater is he who's in us friends than he was in the world. And you know, Job chapters one and two tell us that God has actually put a spiritual fence, a spiritual hedge around every single follower of Christ, and that Satan is only permitted to do to us what God allows him to do. The point is we are not at the mercy of Satan. He does not have free and unlimited access to us as followers of Christ. We are under the protection of Almighty God. We are inside the fence of Almighty God. We have nothing to fear from this being.

Don't despair. Number two, my second suggestion is that if we're going to survive and not be devoured by this being, we're going to have to learn to use God's weaponry in resisting him. The reason this is so important is because of what Ephesians six says. Ephesians six says our struggle is not against flesh and blood.

Hey, you know what? If we were fighting flesh and blood, we could use hand grenades. We could use mustard gas. We could use any human weapon around, but our fights not against flesh and blood. Our fight is against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. We have a supernatural foe, and therefore we need supernatural weapons.

James Chapter four, verse seven says, Resist the devil and he will flee from you. But we've got to resist him using the right weapons. You guys all remember Superman, right? Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leave tall buildings at a single bound. Wow, what a powerful guy. But you know, there was one thing that when Superman was in the presence of this thing, all his power was gone.

He was as impotent as could be. You remember what it was? Kryptonite. You remember that green stuff?

Yeah. Well, what the Bible is telling us is that God has given us spiritual Kryptonite to use against the enemy. When he's in its presence, his power is gone.

Listen to what it says. Second Corinthians Chapter 10. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of this world. On the contrary, our weapons have divine power to demolish Satan's strongholds. And what is this weapon that God has given us?

Ephesians six tells us it is the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God. Do you remember when Jesus and the devil faced off Matthew Chapter four, three times the devil tried to tempt the Lord Jesus into doing things that would have not only made him sin, but robbed him of his messiahship and ruined the plan of salvation for the human race. And all three times, what did Jesus say to him?

He said, No, I'm not doing those things. It is written. It is written. It is written. How did Jesus fight off the enemy and leave an example for us?

He fought him by quoting to him from the written word of God. It is written. It is written.

It is written. And the Bible says Satan left him. Resist the devil and he will flee from you if you're using the right weapon. And dear friends, this is the weapon God has given us to fight back with.

The problem is so many of us fight back against the enemy with the wrong weapon. He's out there tempting us to do things we know we got no business doing. We know we'll hurt our platform for Christ.

We know we'll ruin our authenticity in other people's eyes for Christ. And yet the way we try to fight him back is in our own energy and in our own strength. And we kind of go, no, we'll not do that. And we can't. We lose. Why?

Because you and I don't have the energy or the power to beat him. But ah, it is written. No, I'm not going to do that because it is written. And what I have found is when we quote the word of God back to him or to any temptation he's throwing at us the way the Lord Jesus did, that temptation melts away like broken glass.

The appeal just leaves. This is the weapon. And friends, going out without the word of God is like going out to shoot without any bullets. This is why we encourage you here to read the word of God, to study the word of God, to memorize the word of God. So when you're in combat, you've got it right there at your fingertips and you can use it to say it is written.

It is written. I'm not going there. I'm not doing that. Don't go out every day with an empty clip. You're going to get shot. Go out there with some bullets in the gun. And the bullets that work, the kryptonite that works is it is written.

That's our weapon. Number three, if we're going to survive, number three, don't fixate, don't get focused on Satan and demons. You know, I've had believers who come up to me, followers of Christ, so could you give me a tape? Could you suggest some books where I could become an expert on Satanology? And my answer is no, because Hebrews 12 2 says, let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and the finisher of our faith.

It doesn't say let us fix our eyes on Satan, the opposer and the enemy of our faith. Friends, I've just told you everything you'll ever need to know about Satan on this earth. You don't need to know anymore.

You shouldn't even want to know anymore. God's told us everything we need to know. Let's leave it at that. God wants our focus to be on getting to know him, his power, his character, his person. He doesn't want us to have a Ph.D. in Satan.

He wants us to have a Ph.D. in the person, the work and the character of Almighty God. And believe me, if we know God and we know truth, you won't have a bit of problem picking Satan out when he brings air along. Number four, and finally, is don't dabble in the diabolical. You know, in spite of all the protection of God we've talked about, God still says to us, Ephesians 4 27, Do not give the devil a foothold in your life. God still warns us that we dare not underestimate the maniacal power, the harmfulness of Satan's schemes in our lives. And how do we give Satan a foothold in our life?

Well, one of the key ways is by messing with, dabbling with, experimenting with things of the occult. Remember who Satan is. You give him a foothold, he's going to try to turn it into a stronghold. You give him a beachhead, he's going to try to take the whole island.

Remember who he is. And God says, Don't give him a beachhead. Don't give him a foothold. Don't get anywhere near some of this diabolical stuff. You say, Well, Lon, but aren't all these things bogus anyway?

I mean, fortune tellers and palm readers and Miss Cleo on television, you know, would hurt to roll cards. By the way, did you read in the paper that the federal government recently ran a sting operation against Miss Cleo and they found that she was cheating people by putting them on hold for a half an hour to an hour at a time and charging them $9 a minute while they were on hold. She's under federal indictment. Now, you know, it doesn't it seem strange to you that she didn't see it coming? That seem strange to you?

Well, okay. Well, the point is, of course, she's bogus. And so is half all this other stuff that goes on.

But you know, not all of it is bogus. Ouija boards and seances and tarot cards and fortune tellers and mediums who are going to connect you with dead people and crystals and palm readers, Dungeons and Dragons, demonic movies, friends, these are not harmless things. These are things that open our life up to the occult and give the enemy an opportunity to establish a foothold in our life.

And God says, We have no business messing around with this stuff. We need to guard our lives like a hawk from exposure to this stuff. And we need to guard our children. And we need to guard our grandchildren's lives. Don't underestimate this guy. Are we safe as followers of Christ?

Yes, we are. Unless we step outside of God's guidelines and start playing around with this guy, don't underestimate our enemy. He said, Well, I got this friend at work on who's in the New Age movement. What about this New Age movement thing? And I have a friend who told me they went to see a psychic and this psychic predicted exactly all about them stuff. The psychic could never have known.

How do I explain that? Well, let me respond and say two quick things. Number one, remember the New Age movement is nothing but a sanitized version of the occult. That's all it is. Don't get duped into thinking is anything new. It's just the occult rebaked for the 21st century.

That's all it is. And number two, remember that as a follower of Jesus Christ, I don't have to explain every spiritual phenomenon in the universe. My job is not to figure out what this psychic did or said.

I don't care. My job is to know the Word of God backwards and forwards. And when something doesn't meet up, any experience doesn't meet up with what the Word of God says is truth to reject it. And it doesn't matter, frankly, whether I can explain it or not.

What difference does that make? God never promised that you and I, as his followers, we're going to be able to explain every spiritual phenomenon in the universe. All he simply said is if it doesn't square with the Word of God, stay away from it. And don't you let some friend in the office back you into a corner and intimidate you because you can't explain their spiritual experience. God never told you you'd be able to and never entrusted you with that responsibility. But friends, if it doesn't square with the Word of God, you stay away from it.

You don't want anything to do with it. Well, let's summarize. What have we learned today? We've learned that God wants you and me to be one of the 50% of Americans who believe without a doubt there is a devil, who believe without a doubt there are demons, who believe without a doubt that the occult really does exist.

And God wants us to know how to protect ourselves as followers of Christ from being devoured by this being. How do we do it? Number one, by not despairing. We're not intimidated by this guy because greater is he who is in us than he was in the world.

Number two, by using the weaponry that God has given us to resist the devil with, by using the spiritual kryptonite God has given us, using the Word of God, it is written, it is written, it is written. Number three, by not getting obsessed with this guy. We don't care about this guy. He is irrelevant.

His doom is already settled and he can't bother us unless we let him. Why are we even worried about him? Why do we even care about him? Why do we even want to focus on him? We don't. He's irrelevant.

What is relevant is the person, the nature and the character of Almighty God. That's where our focus needs to be. And fourth and finally, don't dabble in the diabolical. Friends, stay away from this stuff. It is not harmless.

It is dangerous. Don't underestimate the power of the enemy if we open our lives up voluntarily and we let him in. Don't underestimate him. Remember who he is and he's out to ruin us.

Don't play around with this guy. Let's pray together. Lord Jesus, thanks for talking to us today about truth. Now it doesn't really matter to us, Lord, if half of America doesn't believe in the devil. We don't care. It doesn't matter to us if 80% of America didn't believe in the devil. We don't care. Those of us who are followers of Jesus Christ and who believe the Bible, we believe in him because you say he's real, Lord.

And we certainly don't think that we know more than you do. And so thanks for reminding us today that the occult is real, that this demon stuff is real, that there is some dangerous stuff in our world and that we need to follow these four principles if we want to make it through our world and not get devoured. Now thank you, Lord, for the wonderful good news that if we follow these four principles, there is no way in the world that we can become the victim of Satan.

It is impossible. So granted, if our lifestyle doesn't line up with these four principles, then we'll make the lifestyle change as we need to. If we're not giving enough time to the study and the memorization of the Word of God, if we're not using it in the fight, change our habit pattern. And if we're involved in things like tarot cards and seances and movies and other things that we got no business being involved in, Lord, change our behavior patterns. And grant that we might live out these four principles because if we do, there is no way we can be a victim of the enemy. So thanks for speaking to us today, Lord. Protect and change our lives because we were here, we pray, in Jesus' name. Amen. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-10 04:38:23 / 2023-06-10 04:51:33 / 13

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