Speaker: Mike Connell
Notice what God says in this verse: that anyone who’s involved with a medium or familiar spirits is prostituting themselves with them. What does that mean? They are paying money; and they are becoming bonded or attached. He uses the imagery of a prostitute, just as Paul did in 1 Corinthian 6. What it means is that you are selling yourself. You think you’re buying information; but actually you’re selling yourself! You’re being sold into bondage to the demonic spirit. So you need to understand then, that all involvement with the occult realm is a form of prostitution; and the person becomes joined to the demonic spirit. It has a right to access their lives.
A medium is someone who is a channel for a spirit. They usually go into a trance, and then spirit speaks through them, and gives information. In Leviticus 20:27, the Bible is very clear that a person who is involved with these demonic powers, there’s a death penalty for them.
Let’s go back to Acts 16 and now there’s a woman who has a spirit of divination. The region was a place known for divination and fortune-telling. It was a region where people came to get their fortune told – the whole area was filled with this. It was in a place in Greece, where what was called an oracle, was situated at Delphi. An oracle is a psychic. People would go and consult her to get information, and they would pay money. So the whole area was filled with psychic activity – divination.
It said this woman, a slave girl, was possessed with a spirit of divination. Again, the word possessed is a very bad translation. If you look up the original meaning, it means “to wear like a garment”. She was wearing the spirit like a garment. In other words, instead of being filled or clothed with the Holy Spirit, she’s clothed with the demonic spirit. The word there – spirit of divination - the word divination means literally ‘python’. That was the name of the area where the people worked – Putho I think it was called. So there was a spirit of a python wrapped around her, whispering in her ear. That spirit is called a familiar spirit. So a person operating as a medium or in fortune-telling or divination has a familiar spirit - a spirit that communicates with the person, speaks into their ear.
So what do these spirits know? Do they know your future? Again, the Bible’s not clear, but my conclusion is that they do not know your future - your future is hidden in God’s hands. I do believe they see what God is bringing to you - because they operate in the spirit world, they can see things. For example, when Daniel in Daniel 10 prayed, the angel was sent to him, but demonic spirits resisted it.
So demonic spirits are aware of you; they observe you and watch you. I believe it’s like a demonic internet, where everything is all connected. A familiar spirit can communicate information about you, because spirits have been watching you, and watching your family. It’s hard for us to get a hold of that, but we are under observation all the time. The spirits observe your behaviour and notice how predictable you are; and a demonic spirit can pass on information to the psychic, which may be quite correct, and counterfeit of the word of knowledge.
Many of these psychics operate in quite a strong and accurate word of knowledge, but the source of the information is a demonic spirit. I believe they give you information so you start to believe in them; and then when they begin to ascribe a future to you, if you agree with it, they are now empowered to bring or manipulate your life for that to happen. So involvement with the demonic realm will open the doorway for spirits to enter you. You literally give a legal right for the demon to control your life.
Notice there that the girl had a spirit of divination. Notice in verse 17, she cried out saying: these men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaimed to us the way of salvation. Was this correct? Yes it was. Did most people realise that? No they didn’t.
So she’s calling this out, and the effect of it was that Paul felt quite grieved, or irritated, or there was a struggle in his ministry because of her. So this spirit was actually creating difficulties for him. It said: she did this for many days, until finally he confronted the spirit. Once he confronted the spirit, it triggered off a riot in the area, and he was thrown in jail!
So divination means: consulting evil spirits for hidden knowledge. There are a whole range of practices of divination. It seems that Chinese people are addicted to it - just want to know about the future; and rather than walk by faith with God and trust him, they try to find out information from evil spirits. Now I know there are heaps of different activities, so I’ll just give a few of them: Consulting the fortune-telling or a psychic; Consulting an Ouija board, where they have letters around and they put a glass in the centre and they ask questions - that’s consulting a familiar spirit. Going to a medium – that’s a person who goes into a trance, and the spirit begins to speak through them. Astrology; Tarot cards; Numerology; Horoscopes; some people go into pendulum-swinging. Every culture has their own forms of these things - the water divination.
The key question to ask is: what is the source of the power. If a spiritual power is operating, there’s a spiritual source. What is the source of the power? Another type of divination is séances – calling up spirits. I’m sure that in your culture, you’ve got all manner of different kinds of ways this is done; but in the end, the key question is this – what is the source of the information?
If the source is evil, the influence will be evil also, and God forbids us to be involved in these things. So sometimes people reach out into this realm of divination - just curious, but then that opens up a whole realm. Unfortunately, many of the movies recently, have been filled with all kinds of things of divination. The Harry Potter movies, for example, are full of divination – all kinds of different forms of it. I think you’ll find, when you look, that many of these are drawn from some things which actually exist; and they can be very seductive, because you have the thought of getting secret information- find out about your future – will I be blessed, will I prosper? People want to know those things; but if we consult with the demon, he has a legal right to access our lives.
The Bible says: when you’re involved in divination, you prostitute yourself with an evil spirit, and you defile yourself. So any person involved in fortune-telling has become defiled; and they would need to renounce the words spoken over them, and the evil spirits behind them. You can’t walk with God, and hold on to what the demons have been saying.
So core foundations to being set free from divination would be: Repentance – turning away from it; Confession of sin – because it’s a sin, an abomination to God. It would also involved renouncing attachment to the spirit, and any words they had been given from these demonic spirits. You can’t serve two masters. There’s no ground for holding on. We’re either going to put our life in the Lord’s hands, and respond to His leadership, and His promise of guiding us; or we consult these others. If we consult the demonic realm, we’re slowly drawn into darkness. People get quite addicted, and they can’t make decisions, or begin a day, without consulting their horoscope, or reaching out to these diviners.
The last thing you notice is that, when the demon came out, the girl had no power to do this again - the source of the information was an evil spirit. I remember someone coming up to me after church one day, and they said: can you pray for my friend? I said: “Why’s that?” She said “Well, he’s in a bit of a mess, and he’s going to see a fortune-teller”. I said, “Yes, bring him to me”. I said, “I understand you’re going to see a fortune-teller”. He said: “Yes”. I said: “Well, God knows your future. You should learn to look to Him.” I said, “Let me pray for you”, and I asked God to give me a clear, sharp, accurate prophetic word, and I delivered this to him. And he left, saying thank you. I knew he was going to go to the fortune-teller, so I prayed a simple prayer: “Lord I know he’s going to the fortune-teller - turn her counsel to confusion.” So he comes back a week later, came up, and gave his heart to Christ. He said, “Oh you know, I went to that fortune-teller”. I said: “Yeah, how did it go?” He said: “That was a waste of money”. I said: “How much did you pay?” He said: “I paid 50 dollars! What she told me was a lot of nonsense - very confusing.” And he came to Christ.
So, you must learn to lean into the flow of revelation yourself. We cannot abandon the supernatural realm, and leave it for the psychics. We need to press in, and develop the flow of revelation in our own life - words of knowledge and prophetic flow. These are gifts God has given the church. The psychics are substitutes. The real thing, is the gift of the Holy Spirit. It’s a reproach to the church that some of these psychics have become so good, and so influential; but the church struggles to just embrace simple things of the spirit world.
The next area we want to look into is the area of Sorcery. Sorcery is a major aspect of the whole occult dimension. Let’s have a look in the Old Testament – Exodus 7:11. Sorcery is the pursuit of power - power obtained from evil spirits. Sorcery is the pursuit of power from evil spirits - power over people or circumstances. So it’s a pursuit of power; and sorcery involves engaging evil spirits, and drawing supernatural power into the Earth. We’re going to look at an example in the Old Testament, then in the New Testament.
Exodus 7:10: “So Moses and Aaron went in to Pharaoh; and did just as the LORD commanded. Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh and his servants, and it became a serpent.”
Now that is pretty spectacular! Imagine if I brought a stick in here, threw it on the ground, and it turned into a snake - you’d all be screaming and yelling and jumping for that door. That is really scary! But look at what these sorcerers did - Exodus 7:11 – “But Pharaoh also called the wise men and the Sorcerers, the magicians of Egypt, and they also did the same with their rods.” It says: they did in the same manner with their enchantments, or their secret arts. Notice that term for the occult: Secret Arts.
Exodus 7:12 – “For every man threw down his rod and they became serpents.” So, you notice now, Aaron has thrown down Moses’ rod, and now there’s a serpent. The Pharaoh isn’t fazed, he says: “Hey”, brings in his own sorcerers, and they threw down their rods, which turned into serpents. Now that is really scary stuff. Now we’ve got God’s serpent, and the other serpents. I think at this stage, we’d all be running out the door, but Moses’ serpent ate up the other serpents. Then he picked it up, and it became a stick again.
Now this is a display of supernatural power. Notice that God’s power in this area was copied - the Sorcerers were also able to do this. They did it because of the connection they had to the occult realm. So when we’re talking about sorcerers, we’re talking about real power, demonic power. People connected to evil spirits, who have a range of powers. When you go to many cultures, you will experience and see those things. Especially if you go to primitive areas, because you’ll see in a moment, sorcerers want power; not only over people, but also control over areas.
So there are three times when the magicians of Egypt copied the miracles of God. Verse 22: The magicians of Egypt did the same with their enchantments or secret arts; they caused the water to become blood. Verse 7 of chapter 8, the magicians did so with their secret arts, and brought up frogs on the lands of Egypt.
I want you to get the picture here, what they did. God’s battle was with the gods of Egypt. The real conflict was between who the real God is; and who are the false gods. All of these plagues were to confront the gods the Egyptians worshipped. These sorcerers were able to copy the first three miracles. Notice what they were able to do – change a stick into a snake - that’s quite scary. They were able to change water into blood - that’s scary. They were able to call frogs up onto the land. So they had power over objects; and over animals - they could transform them.
So when you begin to look at what goes on in the occult realm in many parts of the world, you find in cultures, people are terrified of the sorcerers, because of the power that they have; which is not their power, it is demonic power. So in some cultures, they can make themselves invisible. They can change their shape – turn into an animal.
Now you start to look at some of these movies that are coming out – this is all putting into a Hollywood-form, what actually is just sorcery. So many of the things that come out of those movies find their origins in the realms of sorcery - people able to transport themselves from one place to another – just vanish and turn up somewhere else - or change and become an animal. The forms that these people have are quite significant. So when you are looking in some of the movies, they’re drawn from some real things. They just put them in a Hollywood form that makes it attractive to people. The powers are very real, and people get seduced by them, controlled by them, and then destroyed by them.
Have a look in Acts 13. Sorcerers like to get near people who have power. So in Acts 13:6 it says: “when they had gone through the island of Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew whose name was Bar-Jesus, or son of Jesus.” He’s literally an open gate into hell. Acts 13:7 – 8: “He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man. This man called for Barnabas and Saul, and sought to hear the word of God. But Elymas the sorcerer (for so his name is translated) withstood them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith.”
So this sorcerer is like an open gate of hell. He is exercising demonic power, trying to influence the roman proconsul. He’s operating in magic, operating in sorcery, and he was trying to resist the gospel spreading. Paul’s way of dealing with it, was to bring the power of God around the mind, and put him into darkness. Notice in verse 11: “the hand of the Lord will be on you, you shall be blind not seeing the sun. Immediately a mist fell of him and he could not see”. It was the demonstration of the power of God that broke the hold of that sorcerer, and opened up the proconsul to believe. Paul demonstrated as Moses did, the power of God is superior to all of these powers.
Let’s have another look at another scripture in Acts 8:9-11 – “But there was a certain man called Simon, who previously practiced sorcery in the city, and astonished the people of Samaria, claiming that he was someone great, to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying: “This man is the great power of God.” And they heeded him, because he had astonished them with his sorceries for a long time.”
You notice here, that here is a man who is practicing sorcery, and he has a huge influence over people. Literally, people have come under his spell. They’ve come under his influence, and his influence is demonic.
Notice an interesting thing that the Bible uses the language like this: ‘he projected that he was a very important person’. So you’ll find people involved in sorcery are very self-oriented, and they project out their own importance - there’s a huge issue of self-importance.
Of course, when Paul came, he was converted and baptised, and then he saw the power the apostles had, and he wanted that power. So he offered them money to get the power, because that’s how he thought: you use money to get power. See, verse 19: “Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” So he had a passion for power, most likely driven by bitterness inside him. You notice there, he’s seeking power.
Peter said: “Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God may forgive the thought of your heart; for I see that you are poisoned by bitterness, and bound by iniquity.”
You see that Simon is still thinking in the old way. He understood spiritual trading – you pay a price to get the power. You always pay a price to get the power. So he thought: I can pay a price, and you’ll give me the power. Peter refuses to be bought, and confronts the root issue, which is this: bitterness in his heart. He was a very rejected and bitter person - that’s why he sought the power. Not only that, there was a selfish ambition – he said: “you’re full or bound by iniquity”, which means there’s crookedness in your life that you’re twisted up in.
So, sorcery is very real, the power behind it is demonic. People who are involved in that prostitute themselves with evil spirits. We notice it’s addictive and it’s progressive.
So what are some of the ways that people are involved in sorcery today? One of them is the practicing of magic – casting spells. Anyone who enters into any kind of arrangement with evil spirits, in order to gain power, is opening themselves up to evil spirits. Now, inevitably, in the occult, spiritual trading takes place. In other words, there is a sacrifice of something.
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