I will admit… this one talks about some cultural sacred cows… (#sorrynotsorry)
It can be so easy to accept things for face value and sometimes we do things out of ignorance simply because we don’t know and other times we just don’t want to know. I know I’ve been in both camps and maybe you have too! I understand some people could be offended at the suggestion that some of these things could be wrong and that’s certainly not my goal. My goal is to give you information that empowers you. I will obviously share my own opinions but I certainly would encourage you to do your own research also. And at the end of the day the Holy Spirit is the one who guides us into all truth and we all have to establish our own convictions.
In 2 Corinthians 11:14 we are informed that Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Not everything is as harmless or innocent as it can appear. Many of us have developed a naivety that has made us vulnerable to attack… simply because we haven’t been taught how to protect ourselves or haven’t even known that we needed to. This is not meant to produce a fear of the devil, instead I would hope that we would all walk in new wisdom, not giving him permission to affect our lives. Once we accept Christ the only authority satan has in our life is what we give over to him. We are no longer rightfully under his authority, yet he will still attempt to maintain influence if possible through ignorance or deception. The great news is you can always take back any authority from him and close any door that you’ve opened in the past.
The Bible says in Ephesians 4:27 that we are to keep from giving the enemy a foothold. This means literally a place to “hold on” and influence our life. Paul writes these word to the church at Ephesus. The very reason this letter was written to them was their fear and lack of knowledge concerning the supernatural realm. Ephesus was the world leader at the time in magic arts, sorcery and paganism. The Ephesian church didn’t know how to function as Christians in such a high-charged spiritual environment. They didn’t understand the authority that they had through Christ over all of the enemies schemes and tactics to ensnare them. Spiritual warfare is an active thing we must do and it’s absolutely possible for demons to torment or afflict Christians who have not taken away their permission to do so.
When I used to hear the word “occult” I thought of witches and satanists but I just didn’t understand the definition. Of course it refers to a broad spectrum of things but the basic definition is anything that you place your faith or trust in outside of Jesus. It’s the seeking of spiritual insight or revelation outside of God’s Spirit. This certainly places much more in this category than would fit at first glance. This could be as simple as reading horoscopes to direct your decisions or as complicated as engaging in satanic rituals. I understand that for some this could sound like an “extreme” thought and occult involvement must mean you’ve joined a coven, yet we need to realize this is not the way that satan typically operates. Yes, some people will go “all the way” so-to-speak, but most people are drawn into bondage through seemingly innocent doorways. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 2:11 that satan can’t outsmart us if we are familiar with his schemes. This, by suggestion means that he can outsmart us when we are unfamiliar with the way he works. To win any battle one must understand the way their enemy operates. No army would engage in a war without studying the patterns and tactics of their opponent. Satan’s primary tools are deception and subtlety. He doesn’t shout from the rooftop, he leaves a breadcrumb trail and gets you deeper… sometimes out of nothing more than curiosity or a mask of innocence. I know I have had to be much more intentional over the last few years about what I watch, read and participate in because I want to protect my spirit and the atmosphere of my life. Also my own experiences with personal deliverance and ministering deliverance to others has certainly changed my understanding of what I would have previously thought was “no big deal”.
Our calling as Christians is to be salt (preserving and flavoring) and light (bearers of truth and God’s spirit) in our world… but if we are not wise, instead of influencers, we can become blind consumers of our environments and cultures.
Psychics, Mediums & Spiritual Healers
I have had many questions regarding this topic. I’ve also heard people say they “don’t believe in this kind of stuff”. The reality is these people are often legitimate in that they have real access to the supernatural realm through spiritual sensitivity given to them by God. We have a choice of how we use our gifts and which “spirit” we choose to empower and operate through us. Most often they themselves don’t understand that their information is demonically attained through “spirit guides” and demons presenting themselves as “angels”. Their information is not necessarily incorrect. The problem is that the information is manipulated to conform to the same objective as satan: to steal, to kill and to destroy. Satan absolutely hates you and will do anything to entrap you. Spiritual insight derived from his sources will lead you into further bondage and toward more pain, while information from the Spirit of God leads to life and freedom. When we accept and act on demonic information as truth we are actively giving authority to demonic strongholds in our lives and giving spiritual authority to people or ideas that have a goal of leading us away from truth and ultimately away from Jesus.
Here’s an example. (Name has been changed) Linda became a Christian a few years back and had previously been very involved with a specific psychic advisor. She told me that she had become involved in an affair with a married man and was feeling like it was wrong but she wanted to know my opinion. Of course I told her that this was not God’s best and that she needed to end this relationship. I helped her understand what the Bible says about adultery and also that she was much too valuable to behave in that way. Well… she also decided to ask her psychic for advise concerning the situation. Before she could say what was going on the psychic told her that she could see that she had met a man recently and although there were warnings to end the relationship this person was her soul mate and she would always regret it if she let him go. She used correct basic information but twisted it…more pain, more bondage. This situation became much more complicated as she choose to remain in this unhealthy relationship and eventually left church for a while until everything fell apart again with yet another painful unhealthy relationship.
We have access to everything we need to know about our lives, our futures and the mysteries of God through the Spirit, which has been freely given to us. We have no need to defer to the devil for tainted or manipulated information. Our line is directly to God himself!
It says in 1 Corinthians 2:9-16:
…“What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”—the things God has prepared for those who love him— 10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.[!!!] The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us…14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit…16 for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?”…But we have the mind of Christ.
The Holy Spirit is our unlimited source of spiritual insight, revelation and healing.
Harry Potter and Other “Innocent” Childhood Magic
I know some people have different thoughts on this one and I can only share my personal opinion based on what I believe. Again we all need to ask God specifically for our own conviction on things like this.
I am personally not on board with the argument that Harry Potter is just pretend and no big deal. Cinderella is just pretend- I can not actually find a magic slipper and marry a prince. It’s a fairytale. Movies and books like Harry Potter on the other hand are not just fairytales, they demonstrate magic and sorcery, which are not “make believe” practices. While the storyline may be fake, the reality behind it isn’t. Children are full of curiosity and these kinds of stories easily teach that witchcraft is innocent and fun, which couldn’t be further than the truth. Spells and curses from the movies themselves include things like “a killing curse” producing instant death in a person and even a curse that causes someone’s intestines to be ejected from their body…. Really? Even the supplementary material teaches children spells and one book even invites children to ask for a personal spirit guide. Supernatural control over people and circumstances belongs to God, not to people. This wouldn’t even be a debate if the story wasn’t entertaining and well-made. Satan isn’t bad at what he does or he wouldn’t be effective. I would also add that “innocent” childhood games like Light as a feather, Stiff as a board, Quiji boards, Dungeons and Dragons… all of these things are an introduction to the spiritual realm… Breadcrumbs.
Yoga & Meditation
Sorry friends…I’m gonna go there….Yoga.
I used to think Yoga was no big deal and participated in it on a weekly basis. I always felt slightly weird about it but I didn’t know why so I just ignored it not wanting to be like all the “weird” Christians who “super-spiritualize” everything. I have since come to different opinion as I’ve begun to understand more about the roots of the yoga practice and the reality of the spiritual realm. Yoga is from a root word meaning to “to yoke”. Yoke means to merge, connect or unite with something. Yoga has a meditative and spiritual core- the ultimate goal being “liberation”, though the way this liberation is attained will depend on the various forms and practices that can be found in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jain Philosophy.
Although at first glance it could seem that Yoga is practiced in a variety of religions, all of these belief systems have the same origins. Hinduism is not exactly a religion as we would understand it. When the British conquered India they were overwhelmed with the variety of religious beliefs and practices and assigned “Hinduism” as a term to encompass all of the vast religious activity in India. Buddhism is an offshoot of Hinduism started in the 5th century B.C. in India, eventually spreading to Asia. Jain Philosophy is an ancient set of principles from India that is interwoven throughout both Hinduism and Buddhism. This is why there is overlap in many core beliefs such as karma and reincarnation.
The time that Yoga originated is unknown but was at least prior to 500 BC and could be as far back as 3000BC. Yoga philosophy started it’s introduction into western thinking in the 1850’s and over time has shifted from the emphasis being on mental esoteric concepts of attaining spiritual transcendence to being presented as merely exercise to the mainstream. It’s important to understand a key difference in Eastern and Western thinking when we approach eastern-originated philosophy. Eastern understanding is in the unity of the whole being— body, soul, spirit, in all aspects of life. Life is religion, worship is life. The concept of the separation of church and state has no where to fit in this worldview. Here in the west we think of ourselves differently. In our worldview it is not difficult to separate our mind, body and spirit. We can easily accept that doing something with our bodies can be divorced from our spirit. While this may be western, it’s not biblical. Your body is an instrument for worship.
There are many different forms of Yoga, yet at the root they all share the same core. Yoga is not exercise to be equated with using an elliptical. It’s a spiritual practice that assumes the worshipful poses of various Hindi gods. The first textual mention of Yoga is found in the Rigveda as a part of the hymn to the rising sun god (the sun salutation). While it may be physically challenging, the origin is Indian philosophy and worship, not exercise. Within this practice is the inclusion of all types of thought and perspective completely contrary to Christian belief. Throughout history Yoga has been used in various religious rituals including sexual and ascetic practices. Vedic priests were also known to practice a series of poses and postures during sacrifice rituals that are believed to have developed into the modern day asanas, or progressive series of movements.
Closely linked to Yoga is meditation with the goal of finding self, peace and rest…all sourced outside of God. Instead you’re meant to find these things within yourself. The concept of attaining peace through a process of internal enlightenment is not Christian thought. Our understanding is the opposite, in that we find our peace through our union with Christ and spiritual revelation can only be obtained through His Holy Spirit. We actually need something outside of ourselves to achieve true peace and knowledge. I’ve seen Transcendental Meditation course advertisements aimed at Christians offering the use of meditation to hear God and find your true self. It’s not until you visit the website and read the philosophy that it clearly says that it is Vedic (Hindu based). The Bible also makes reference to meditation with the encouragement to meditate on the things of God and on His words. This reference means to “chew” on them in the same way that a cow chews it’s food over and over again to draw all the nutrients from it. Eastern meditation has a goal of emptying the mind of everything to go deeper inside ones self, while Christian meditation has the goal of filling one’s mind with God and drawing life from Him.
While the practice of yoga continues to rise in contemporary American culture, sufficient and adequate knowledge of the practice’s origins does not…Yoga is undoubtedly a Hindu movement for spiritual meditation, yet is now being marketed as a supplement to a cardio routine. This scope “dilutes its Hindu identity.” Contemporaries of the Hindu faith argue that the more popular yoga gets, the less concerned people become about its origins in history. – Andrea R. Jain
The practices of Yoga and Transcendental Meditation find their roots completely in Hinduism, so I have personally chosen to refrain. I know some people believe that you can redeem something and use it for God. For example I’ve heard someone say that when they do yoga they meditate on scripture. For me, this comes down to the separation of what the body is doing from what the spirit is engaging with. I don’t believe that there is a separation, especially in the case of an ancient form of physical pagan worship.
How are we supposed to know what information we can trust and whether supernatural information is from God or another source?
Here’s some important questions to ask yourself when you are considering what sources to trust and spiritual practices to engage in. If the answer is correct then move to the next question. If any answer is off it should be a giant red flag to slow down or just stop:
1. Does the source of this information acknowledge that Jesus is Lord and that he is their medium?– YES (example- a psychic or reiki healer would not confess Jesus as Lord)
2. Does this information or concept contradict anything that has already been revealed in scripture?– NO (such as the example above that a married man was Linda’s soul mate and that she should pursue an adulterous relationship)
3. Do I feel peace about this when I pray about it?– YES
4. Have other spiritually-mature Christians told me that they feel something is off or warned me about this?– NO
What to do if you realize you’ve engaged in occult activity whether purposefully or in ignorance:
Repent (ask for forgiveness and leave it behind)
Renounce (acknowledge it was wrong whether known or unknown)
Replace (break off the spiritual ties and influence that it has had in your life, replacing with God’s authority)
Here’s an easy prayer that you can insert the appropriate information into. Pray this for each individual thing that you already know of or things the Holy Spirit highlights to you:
Father God I ask for your forgiveness for (participating in blank or accepting blank as truth). I acknowledge that (blank) was wrong and I leave this behind. I believe that you are the only source of spiritual truth and revelation. I place all of my faith in you. I ask you Father to break off any ties to the source of (this way of thinking/this philosophy/this spiritual leader). I also ask that you break off any demonic influence that has been given permission or access to affect my life as a result of my prior choices. Father, is there anything you want to give me? (Listen and write down what you feel him say in your spirit). I receive (the things God has told you) and I thank you for your forgiveness and freedom.
If you are finding it difficult to get through this prayer or you realize you’re involvement has been long-term or relatively deeply rooted it may be necessary to seek the help of pastoral care/inner healing/deliverance ministry. If you need a reference please contact me and I would be happy to help you find a reputable ministry.
Image by Ryan McGuire