THE OCCULT (LESSON 1)

October is a time when people think of Halloween. People dress their children up in costumes and go trick-or-treating, and people go to Halloween parties. People think it is cute or fun to put ghosts and witches and other supposedly scary, fun stuff in their windows and on their lawn. People set up "haunted houses." As a matter of fact, next to Christmas, Halloween is the time when stores make the most money out of the entire year.

Well, throughout these lessons, we will be talking about the different, strange things that people welcome into their lives and embrace as so-called harmless fun -- things such as Halloween traditions, astrology, palm reading, psychic hotlines, and scary movies. And we are going to see how the Bible warns you against these things, and we will also see how Satan uses these things.

Let's start by taking a look at our number one enemy, the devil. The devil has one goal, and that is to take as many of us as he can to hell. In John 10:10 Jesus said this of Satan:"The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy." And 1 Peter 5:8 warns us, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour."

Now, you might be thinking, "Well, I know that Satan is a bad dude, and I don't want to have anything to do with him. So what does he have to do with all that other stuff?"

To that I would say that most of us would not willingly seek Satan out. And if Satan came knocking on your door saying, "I am Satan. I want to destroy you," he knows that most of us wouldn't let him into our lives. But Satan is slicker than that. He finds other ways to creep into our lives. From the time we are children, he is trying to make himself seem harmless to us. And this world plays right into his plan. Think about it. From the time you are a child, you see cartoons and movies with witches and ghosts, and it all seems innocent. Then when you get older, you see all of the scary movies like Friday the 13th and Scream. You pay good money to be entertained by watching people being killed because now you figure "it's only a movie." Satan uses movies, music, cartoons, videogames, whatever he can to introduce us to things that can take us farther and farther away from God and desensitize us.

And now that you've been primed and the world has gotten even more godless, Satan has gotten even bolder. This sinful world that we live in is embracing the previously mentioned things and other bizarre practices more and more. You can't turn on the TV without seeing a commercial for the psychic hotline. And all over the city are places where you can get your palm read for $5. And, of course, it is all under the heading of "for entertainment purposes only," but how entertaining is something that God strictly forbids?

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Let's start with astrology. How many people here at one time or another have read their horoscope? Maybe you read it regularly, but you really don't believe in it. You just read it for fun. Does anyone know exactly what astrology is and what it is all about?

Astrology is all about the stars. The signs, Cancer, Libra, etc., are all different constellations. In Astrology you are looking to the stars for answers. You are observing the date and time of something (your birthday) and trying to tell the future by the stars up above.

But God does not want us to go to the stars for answers. And when you do that, it is a form of idolatry. You are in a sense worshipping the stars. Let's read what God's word says on this: Deuteronomy 4:19, "Take heed, lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, you shouldest be driven to worship them and serve them, which the Lord thy God hath divided unto all nations under heaven." God is saying that when you put your trust in the stars, which is what astrology is doing, you are worshipping them instead of him. And His Word tells us there is severe punishment for those who continue in this practice and do not repent:

Deuteronomy 17:2-6, "If there be found among you, within any of thy gates which the Lord thy God giveth thee, man or woman, that hath wrought wickedness in the sight of the Lord thy God, in transgressing His covenant, and hath gone and served other gods and worshipped them, either the sun, or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded; and it be told thee, and thou hast heard of it, and inquired diligently, and, behold, it be true, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought in Israel, then shalt thou bring forth that man or that woman, which have committed the wicked thing, unto thy gates, even that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones, till they die."

Back in the Old Testament times, we read that people who were involved in astrology would be stoned to death. God was that displeased with this practice. Today you won't be stoned, but God is still displeased when you do it. So if you've ever wondered, "What's the harm in astrology?" the answer is why would you want to do anything that God's Word tells you is against God's wishes? Why would you worship or seek counsel with the created thing and not God our Creator?

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Now, maybe you don't read your horoscope, but has anyone here ever been tempted to call the psychic hotline or have their palm read or a tarot card reading? Has anyone here ever played with a Ouija board? Whenever you try to learn the future, whether it be by your horoscope or viewing tarot cards or going to a psychic or a palm reader, that is called divination, and it is strictly forbidden by God. As a matter of fact, it is equal to witchcraft.

Let's read how God feels when we seek answers from men and women who claim to have some kind of power to tell our future. Leviticus 20:6, "And the soul that turneth after such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards, to go a whoring after them, I will even set my face against that soul, and will cut him off from among his people."

Leviticus 19:31, "Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God."

And in 2 Corinthians 33:6, a king named Manasseh made God angry when he did these things: "And he (Manasseh) caused his children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom: also he observed times, and used enchantments, and used witchcraft, and dealt with a familiar spirit, and with wizards: he wrought much evil in the sight of the Lord to provoke him to anger."

Leviticus 20:27, "A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones; their blood shall be upon them."

These people who invite you to come to them to learn the future are either scam artists who are just trying to trick you out of your money, or agents of Satan who are trying to entrap you and steal you from God and send you to hell. Either way, you should not be involved with them.

The Bible warns us in Ephesians 6:12, "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." The world makes it into a big joke, but that's just what Satan wants. And we are so stupid that not only do we not fight against our enemy Satan. We go right to his door and pay him to take over our lives. You have read God's warning against those who claim to know the future.

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Lastly, we wanted to talk about the dangers of using a Ouija board or participating in some other activity where you are trying to call forth a spirit. When people use a Ouija board, they are unknowingly calling forth demonic spirits. These devils will pretend to be someone who is a friend or someone you know who died. And when you partake in this kind of activity, you are opening yourself up to possible possession by a demon or demonic influences. In the Bible there are many stories of people who were possessed by evil spirits. We don't know how they became possessed, but I think it is safe to say that demon possession is not something that just happened back then and can't happen today.

In Matthew 4:24, when Jesus was ministering to a great multitude it says, "And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatic..." And Matthew 7:16, "When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils; and he cast out the spirits with his word..." And in Mark 5:1-9, we read of a man who was possessed with thousands of demons.

Now, that is some pretty scary stuff. Why would you want to ever toy with powers of darkness? There is nothing "fun" about inviting devils, who are pretending to be your grandmother or whoever, into your living room.

In conclusion, I know that some of you maybe don't believe that demons exist. You might think still that all of this stuff is just in fun. That only proves that Satan's plan is working. The best way to conquer and destroy someone is to get that person to believe that you aren't a threat. 2 Corinthians 11:14 warns us that Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.

Throughout these lessons on the occult, you will see that there are a lot of things that this world calls entertainment that God calls evil. And if you are a Christian, you should not want to have anything to do with things that in God's eyes are wicked. Psalm 101:3 reads, "I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes." And Psalm 97:10 "Ye that love the Lord hate evil."

Ask yourself, "Am I participating in anything in my life that is inviting this kind of evil in?" "Am I introducing my children to witches and ghosts and other things that are an abomination to God?" Be careful about what you place before your eyes. And be careful about what you let your children watch. No one wants their son or daughter to be involved in witchcraft or black magic. But when you let your son or daughter watch certain movies or cartoons or play certain kinds of games or read certain kinds of books, you could unknowingly be introducing them to that type of element.

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