Monday, 12 February 2018

Freedom from the Occult 1 of 5

Speaker: Mike Connell

We’re going to carry on today on a topic – Freedom from the Occult. The pastor’s asked me to share on three specific topics over three days, so we’re able to develop it a bit more. Yesterday we looked at Generational Issues, Iniquity, and Curses – recognising their impact, and how to deal with them.

Today we want to talk about the occult. We want you to understand what it is, and what it’s doing to young people today. I want you to understand what divination and sorcery are, and to understand how you set people free from these things. I’m not claiming to be an expert at it, but I have some understanding because we’ve dealt with a lot of people in this area. So, we’re going to share today about this whole area, and give you an understanding of it.

The first thing to realise is that God has created us to be bonded. God’s design has created us to be bonded - to be attached. We are a spirit being, with a soul living in the body; and we have the capacity, by God, to attach. We have yearnings inside our heart that only really God can meet. So God’s design is that we become attached to Him; and that out of that attachment to Him, His nature, His life, flows.

For example, in 1 Corinthians 6:17, the Bible says: “He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit.” So, God has designed us to become attached to Him, bonded spirit to spirit; and from that bonding, a life would flow into the world. In other words, we’re designed to bring His kingdom into the world. So God’s design includes: 1) Relationship – intimate connection and bonding to Him; and 2) to Exercise Authority as His Representative - to advance His kingdom.

His original mandate to Adam and Eve, one part of the assignment He gave them was, He gave them a garden and He said: “I want you to guard and keep the garden”. So He gave them a Territory to rule over. He gave them Authority in that territory. So Adam was given Spiritual Authority to represent God.

He was given two commands related to the Garden of Eden. 1) Cultivate it; develop it, so it produces fruit. So God has called us to cultivate our territory - make it fruit-bearing for the kingdom. 2) Also to guard the territory - to protect it from an invader with destructive intent. So right at the very beginning, God designed us for relationship, for bonding with Him; and gave man authority to represent Him, and advance His kingdom in the earth. He gave a mandate to cultivate the garden, and protect it from invaders. We know what happened – Adam broke his relationship with God, and then lost his authority.
When he broke his relationship with God, he became vulnerable to living differently. We won’t track all of this, but we’ll just say this: that over the course of the first century or so of human history, demonic spirits began to invade the Earth and corrupt the culture. I won’t go into how this has happened, and how it affected the nations of the Earth. We’ll just focus on the occult, and what that’s about.

You need to understand that Jesus came to restore intimacy with God, and to give us back our authority; and give us a mandate again – be fruitful and go advance in the Earth. So becoming a Christian is actually about the connection to Christ and following Him; and it’s about being able to bring kingdom influence back into the Earth again. To act as God’s ambassador, and have authority over demonic spirits, and over the creation. We see that when we look at Jesus’ ministry, that He trained His disciples for authority over the demonic. Let me give you a couple of scriptures on that, and then we’ll start teaching about the occult.

First of all, we see in Mark 3:14-15 – “Then He appointed the twelve, that they might be with Him, and that He might send them out to: preach; and to have power to heal sicknesses; and to cast out demons.” So the great commission includes preaching the gospel, healing the sick, and authority over the evil spirits.

Have a look in Luke 10:17 - Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” Verse 19, notice this: “Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” So, that word ‘Authority’, is the word ‘Exusia’ in Greek. It means: a legal delegated right to speak and act on behalf of God. Notice that Jesus is saying: I give you authority. He has the authority; we just act as His representative. The authority is not yours; it’s yours as a delegated authority. So we have an authority to represent Christ. Our authority comes out of connection with Christ.

Notice what He gives authority: He says: authority to trample, or literally crush under your feet, serpents and scorpions, and all the power of the enemy. So He uses two pictures to describe demonic spirits: the serpent; and the scorpion. They both inhabit the wilderness. The serpent bites, it releases toxins into the body to poison it. The scorpion has a sting that causes tremendous torment. It’s not clear, but it’s possible that He’s referring to two specific types of demonic entity. The serpent - demonic spirits; and the scorpions – angels, or angelic beings.

He says He gives you authority over all the power – that’s the word ‘Dunamis’. So, ‘Dunamis’ is the same word that’s used when it says “you shall receive power”. That word means ‘supernatural ability’. I think it’s important to realise this: that you have legal right over the supernatural ability and demonstrations of the devil; and nothing shall by any means hurt you. That’s a very good scripture to memorise - if you ever get into a deliverance situation which is a little bit intimidating, always remember – nothing shall in any way harm me.

We’re going to look now at the Occult. We’re going to refer to Deuteronomy 18. The Bible is not exactly clear where demonic spirits come from. So, it’s a little bit open to ideas or opinions about this. Some people think that they may be angels who fell. I’m not so sure about that, there’s nothing quite clear on it. The Bible’s not clear where they originate. They’re called ‘evil spirits’. So they’re definitely spirit beings, and they’re definitely evil in their intention.

As an aside, the Bible does tell us, it refers that in Genesis 6, that a certain group of angels abandoned the positioning God gave them, took on a human form, had sexual relationships with women, and that there were offspring off that called Nephilim. The Nephilim were extremely wild and fierce beings. It would seem that they corrupted the Earth. You may wish to search on the internet and find more information about these. Eventually, the destruction was so great that God destroyed the Earth with the flood. If these beings were part angel and part human, it’s quite possible these are the evil spirits that are actually in the Earth now, continuing to attack humans. So, I won’t go down that, it’s a very interesting area to explore. It helps you understand the whole number of things that remain otherwise hidden. So, we won’t worry about that, we’ll just say: there are evil spirits called demons.

What happens is that people in every culture are aware of the spirit world. It appears when you read books apart from the Bible, for example the book of Enoch, that there were a group of angels called watcher-angels who were assigned to instruct men. But the whole group of them abandoned their positions, corrupted the role God gave them, had sexual relationships with women, and began to teach people about the whole occult spirit dimension.

These angels God has held in judgment until the last days. It seems that it’s from the influence of these angels, that all of this teaching around the occult came into the nations, and spread through the Earth. One particular nation that had been filled with all this Occult activity was the land of Canaan. The nations that were in the land of Canaan were deeply involved in the occult; and with it, a whole range of perverse practices.

So in Deuteronomy 18:9, it says: “When you come into the land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations.” So God is warning the people that the nation they’re about to go into, the nation of Canaan, was full of activities God calls ‘an abomination’. He’s referring to occult activities. The word occult means this: secret, covered, hidden.

So occult activity is: seeking knowledge or information from the spirit world; or seeking power from the spirit world; or protection from the spirit world. The two main streams of the occult are what’s called divination – seeking information from the spirit world; and sorcery – seeking power from the spirit world. Connected to this, of course, is idolatry. They are all integrated together, although each one is quite distinct.

The problem that people of God had was: the whole of the nations they came into were perverted by this demonic activity. In those days, there was no deliverance. So they needed to destroy the nations, because the people were demonically filled. So the word occult means to be covered or hidden; because usually, the power is secret. The source of the information or power is hidden.

People involved in the occult may be aware that they’re connecting with evil spirits. But they are deceived – they think they have power over the spirit, but the spirit has power over them. When people engage in the occult, they think the spirits are helping them; but in fact, now they’re gaining power over them. Eventually, they extract a price - all magic exacts a price - there is a price to be paid!

In the kingdom of God, the price is always upfront: pay first, benefits later. In the kingdom of darkness, it’s the other way round: benefit now, pay later - and you pay more than you think! That’s how the system works.

We see here that God lists a whole number of practices. These are associated either with idolatry or with the occult. One of the problems with the occult is that it is progressive, and it is addictive; and once people are in it, they find it extremely difficult to get out of it. It’s progressive; and it’s addictive.

Let’s have a look at some of the things that are in here. When the people of God went into the nations, they found them involved in idolatry and Spiritism. Let’s have a look at what it says (Deuteronomy 18:10 - 14): “There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, nor one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the LORD, and because of these abominations, the LORD your God drives them out from before you. You shall be blameless before the LORD your God. For these nations, which you will dispossess, listened to soothsayers and diviners; but as for you, the LORD your God has not appointed such for you.”

This list here is not comprehensive; it’s just a list of some of the things they were doing. Every culture has their own variations of this, and every one of them has a spirit power behind it. As we look at these, we see a number of things. The first one they talk about was offering their children to idols. There was a particular god called Molech. He was a big brass god with arms reaching out. They would ignite fire on it, and heat it up until it was very hot. Then there would be drums playing and people shouting, and they would throw their children into Molech, where they’d be burned up. You’d understand this is a horrendous thing in God’s eyes. It indicates the nature of the demonic spirit that operates behind it. The desire is to steal the children. The activity today most like that is abortion - the same spirit operates behind it.

Notice there’ll not be anyone who practises witchcraft, soothsayer, interprets omens, or a sorcerer. So people were involved in a number or range of activities. For example, many of them were into astrology – looking at star signs. Let me give you just a brief explanation of that. There’s a book that explains the background to this: The Witness of the Stars by E. W. Bullinger. Let me just explain the whole issue of astrology.

The Bible says: the heavens declare his glory. So in Psalm 19 it talks about the heavens, and it talks about the word of God. Before the word of God was written, God revealed or spoke to... maybe it was Enoch, and He showed him a pattern for recording God’s history by looking at the stars. So they divided the stars into 12 different constellations or groups. And they ascribed to various star groups, a particular picture so it’s easier to remember. The stars were all given names, and each section of this described a part of God’s redemptive plan.

Starting with the woman; and the serpent; and then the fall of man, going right through to the coming of Jesus Christ overcoming the serpent, and establishing a rule. So each of the constellations, and even the names of the stars in it, were given as a message of encouragement; and a way of understanding the bigger picture - from creation to the return of Christ. The question is, where do you start? You notice the Sphinx has a picture of the woman’s head, and lion’s body. The story starts with the woman, starts with Virgo, and goes right through to Leo. It describes in the stars, God’s story of history, and the coming of the Son of man to redeem His death on the cross - everything is in that story.

So the stars have no power over people. It’s just God gave a way for people to pass on to their generations, the hope of the coming redeemer. Of course, over time, it became corrupted; and people began to believe that stars influenced the course of our lives - it’s a corruption of the truth. The truth is: God laid out some patterns, so people could know His plan for redemption. The message of the stars is the most amazing message! Many of the names of the stars have been forgotten. But those that have remained, all in them have a message - the heavens declare.

So, the whole area of astrology opens the door for people into the occult realm. It becomes addictive, because people are looking to some spiritual source in order to direct their lives. They are attaching to the wrong thing. God directs our lives. It’s God who has a plan for our lives, not the stars. I encourage you to read up on that and become equipped, because it will quite stun you how the message of the gospel is in the stars. At Psalm 19, it starts off ‘the heavens’, now we have the Bible, ‘the Word’. So the Word now gives us the plan of salvation.

You notice here that it talks about the whole realm of all of these areas. Notice divination or fortune telling, and magic - various kinds of magic. Overall, you can summarise the occult activity into two groups. The first one is divination.

Let’s have a look in Acts 16:16-18. We read here an example of a woman involved in divination. “Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling. This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.” And this she did for many days. But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” - and he came out that very hour.”

So here is a woman who has a spirit of divination. Today you would call her a psychic – a person who tells things about your life, and foretells your future. Psychics are extremely popular today, but they operate in way counterfeit to the word of knowledge. The second thing you realise, is that this woman extracted money, in order for doing the fortune-telling; meaning that people paid to get their fortune told. When people paid to get their fortune told, they were entering into an agreement to trade with a demon - they were prostituting themselves.

The Bible tells us in Leviticus 20:2-6, God warns his people not to prostitute themselves with these demonic spirits. Let me read it for you, Leviticus 20:5-6, He said: “I will set My face against that man and against his family; and I will cut him off from his people, and all who prostitute themselves with him to commit harlotry with Molech. ‘And the person who turns to mediums and familiar spirits, to prostitute themselves with them, I will set My face against that person and cut him off from his people.”

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