by Bill Rudge
Occult beliefs and practices, under the guise of being benevolent and scientific, are infiltrating virtually every aspect of society: education, media, games, cartoons, movies, music, medicine, the holistic health movement, mental health, science and even the Church. Visualization and meditative techniques, mystical experiences, manipulation of energy forces and encounters with supernatural entities promise hidden knowledge, healing, health and power, apart from the God of the Bible.
The apostle Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus (a city steeped in mysticism and sorcery): “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them” (Ephesians 5:11).
After coming to faith in Jesus Christ, and during the early part of my ministry, I spent many years researching and lecturing on the cults, the occult, the New Age movement and Eastern mysticism, as well as sharing Christ with those involved. I traveled across the U.S. – from Greenwich Village in New York to Venice Beach in California and throughout the world – Canada, Haiti, Africa, South America, India, the West Indies, Europe and the Orient, visiting occult and New Age centers. I met with leaders and devotees on their turf, proclaiming the Gospel and sharing the claims of Jesus Christ and His superior power with psychics, mediums, trance channelers, hypnotists, fortune-tellers, witches, satanists, sorcerers, shamans, voodoo witch doctors, yogis and high ranking martial artists.
Several of these people came to faith in Jesus Christ and discontinued their former practices. Yet, I am amazed at how many Christians have been infiltrated by the very beliefs and practices from which these people turned away! Obviously lacking discernment and the knowledge of God’s Word many “Christians” defend practices and philosophies that deny or distort Scripture as they develop an allegiance to someone or something other than Jesus Christ and His Word.
Who Is In Control?
Participants often start with seemingly innocent practices, postures or techniques. Many begin to develop powers they think are latent within them and learn to manipulate supposed energy forces. Some have encounters with entities or disembodied spirits which manifest as masters of wisdom – usually proclaiming a loving message of sinlessness (no need for a Savior) and unity of all religions (except Biblical Christianity).
In the beginning they believe they control these powers and spirit beings, but eventually they discover they are being controlled. These entities, which they initially thought were benevolent spirit guides, aliens, angels, departed loved ones, or even Jesus, begin to control and interfere with their lives and ultimately enslave them. You would be astonished at how many young people and adults – many claiming to be Christian – have told me about such encounters and phenomena they have experienced.
Incantation and Possession
The Canaanites were permeated with idolatry and occultism (supernatural, mystical or magical beliefs, practices or phenomena). God spoke through Moses to warn the Israelites who were about to enter the land of Canaan not to imitate the detestable practices of those nations. They were forbidden to practice divination, witchcraft, sorcery, interpret omens, cast spells or communicate with the dead (Deuteronomy 18:9-11).
In these ancient Canaanite religions and various pagan and shamanistic practices, priests and priestesses, as well as worshippers and devotees, invoked and often became possessed by what they considered to be gods or goddesses.
There is a trend today of meditation and mysticism (experiencing god), incantation (a series of words said as a magic spell, charm or prayer), invocation (the summoning of a deity or the supernatural) and possession (by what Scripture defines as demonic entities). Many such as superstar, Beyonce, want and ask to be possessed – then flaunt it before a frenzied, impressionable audience of young people and adults.
End Times Occultism
It is interesting to note that prophetic Scripture reveals an increase of demonic activity and phenomena in the end times. People will not repent of their sorceries, idolatry and worship of demons (Revelation 9:20, 21). No wonder God allows the release of demonic beings from the abyss (bottomless pit) who reveal their true nature by tormenting humans for five months. Revelation 9:1-11 provides a vivid description of unrestrained demonic activity on earth during the Tribulation.
Those involved or dabbling in New Age spirituality, magic arts, sorcery, idolatry, mysticism and occultism would do well to consider this account of demonic beings released from the abyss. The true intent of Satan and his cohorts is to inflict harm, torture and destruction on human beings – even those in allegiance with them.
Confessed Occult Practices
In the first century A.D., Ephesus was a center for magical beliefs and practices, worship of Artemis and a variety of other mystery and astrological beliefs. Many of the Ephesian converts to Christianity came from this background of magic and mysticism. Acts 19:17-20 records the following account:
…and fear fell upon them all and the name of the Lord Jesus was being magnified. Many also of those who had believed kept coming, confessing and disclosing their practices. And many of those who practiced magic brought their books together and began burning them in the sight of everyone; and they counted up the price of them and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing.
These converts had trusted in magic for protection from, and power over evil spirits, or to gain an advantage over others and to control the forces of nature. In contrast, the apostle Paul taught them that the power of God was far superior to the powers of darkness. This power of God was not received through learning techniques and rituals or invoking and manipulating spirits (by reciting magical words and names), but through faith in, and authority from, Jesus Christ.
Intense Spiritual Warfare
When people turn to the LORD the forces of darkness recede and demonic phenomena diminish. But when people turn from the ways of the LORD He “hides” His face and demonic phenomena increase – as is happening today. Many Christians wonder why God seems so distant. It would be wise for them to consider what practices and beliefs they have opened their minds and lives to, and to whom or what is the true allegiance of their hearts.
The church today has been taught to be non-judgmental, tolerant of all, to focus on love and unity and to create one’s own encounters with God. As a result, “Christians” are easy prey for the angel of light to seduce them by imitation and counterfeit experiences and phenomena –deceiving them with “another Jesus” who is not the Jesus of the Bible (2 Corinthians 11:4).
There is a growing spirit of rebellion, wickedness and uninhibited greed and immorality in the world today, and apostasy in the church, as prophesied in Scripture. Satan knows his time is short and is intensifying his efforts to seduce the world and wage war (seeking to destroy in any way possible) believers in Jesus Christ.
We are in the midst of the most intense spiritual warfare in history as Satan attempts to wear out the saints and orchestrate his master plan of world dominance through the Antichrist. Nevertheless, true believers in Jesus will overcome and ultimately be victorious!
The satanic principalities and powers were defeated at the cross (John 12:31; 16:11; Colossians 2:15), but they continue their evil deception and influences in the present age (Ephesians 2:2; 1 Thessalonians 3:5; 1 Peter 5:8, 9; Revelation 2:10), until they are stripped of all power at Christ’s return.
It is an assured fact that one day everyone who has ever lived on this planet, as well as all the angelic beings, each and every demon and even Satan himself, will bow before Jesus Christ and confess (acknowledge) that He is Lord (Philippians 2:9-11).
Never Too Late
You may have been told by people or spirits that once you went through the initiation ritual, signed in blood and “sold your soul” or renounced Jesus Christ, you can never be forgiven or set free. That is a lie. Many people have come out of witchcraft and various other forms of occultism and been set free by Jesus Christ.
Instead of being deluded by New Age spirituality and occult philosophies, practices, phenomena and possession, walk in the light and truth of God’s Word, be filled with the Holy Spirit, stay faithful to Jesus Christ and show His love, courage and power. Instead of being conformed to the standards and ways of this world (Romans 12:2) be conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29). Instead of being deceived by the “great delusion” (2 Thessalonians 2: 9-12), influence and impact your world for Jesus Christ.