The Top Three Dangerous Ways The Occult Influences Us Today

Title: The Top Three Dangerous Ways the Occult Influences Us Today

Text: 1 Timothy 4:1

Time: October 26th, 2012

I’ve been talking about the world of the occult, and warning everyone about the dangers therein. The word “occult” means “hidden or secret,” and so in conjunction with the world of the spirit, it means “hidden or secret spiritual reality.” And more and more people are fascinated with the secret world of the occult today, especially since more and more people are turning away from historic Christianity and the traditional church. In order to fill the spiritual vacuum left by their fleeing Christianity, more people turn to the world of the occult for answers. It’s hardly possible to live in modern, 21st century America and avoid the occult world. We’ll run into it in one form or another almost every day. Now that may be hard to believe for some people because they aren’t conscious of the hidden, spiritual world around them. But the occult is everywhere, literally, whether we know it or not, or whether we want to admit it or not. Take for example the perfectly harmless act of visiting the neighborhood Wal-Mart store. What could be as safe as going shopping in a national family discount chain? It’s as far away from the spiritual world of the occult as anything could be, right? Wrong. Walk past the Halloween costume aisle and observe all manner of occult objects, ranging from ghost and witch outfits, to crystal balls and other occult tools. The same things can be found in Target, K-Mart, and other stores. It’s hard to avoid the occult influence today. Or consider the many movies and television shows that deal with occult topics. You’d be surprised by how many television series devote at least some time to the world of the occult, especially around the season of Halloween. Of course, the movies theaters are filled with occult related themes – it seems that script writers, producers and directors are obsessed with the occult, based on the number of movies that come out on the various dark spiritual topics. And on and on we could go through our modern, contemporary world. It’s truly amazing how often our daily lives are touched by the world of the occult. Of course, someone might object and say, “Yes, I admit that occult themes are commonplace in the modern world, but it’s mostly the harmless kind, not the serious spiritual type.” That’s true, most of the occult encounters we have during our daily lives aren’t the heavy duty, serious type, but even the small, seemingly insignificant brushes with the world of the occult have influence on us, on all of us, on all of society. So today, as I continue in the series on the occult during the month of October, I’d like to simply review some of the top three ways the dark world of the occult influences us today, in order that we might be aware and beware. If we know how we are being influenced, then we don’t have to fall prey to the damaging spiritual effects. It’s when we aren’t aware of the dangers of the occult that we run the risk of getting injured. If we can stay aware of common occult influences around us, then we can resist them, and help others resist them as well. So with that, let’s review the top three ways the occult influences today.

First, the world of the occult influences us through the media. 1 Timothy 4:1, “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.” I mentioned the observation that as true Christian faith wanes, interest and participation in the occult world increases. That’s what we are seeing today. Why does Hollywood produce so many occult theme movies? As of right now the big craze is zombies. It seems that people, especially young people, can’t get enough of zombies. What are zombies? Soulless corpses that wander the earth in search of victims to kill or eat. Now how does this tie into the world of the occult? Because some occult religions believe in and teach about zombies as real; and some, for example, Voodoo, not only teach about it but practice it! This is all occultic because in Haiti people really do go into voodoo trances and really do wander about like lifeless souls. It’s part of the Voodoo religion. But Hollywood produces movies because that’s what people seem to be interested in. The same with vampires and werewolves. How do these connect with occultism? Because supposedly in Europe centuries ago, these kinds of creatures were encountered. But that’s just fiction, right? No, not necessarily. The world of the occult is vast and complex. People think it’s just about encountering spirits and spirit creatures, but it’s more. It’s about, at core, dealing with demon spirits – and these evil spirits can manifest themselves in all sorts of ways. What are ghosts? Probably demonic spirits trying to pass themselves off as the souls of the departed. What are vampires and werewolves? Superstition? Perhaps, perhaps not. They could be demonic spirits appearing in different forms. Perhaps in the case of vampires, demons manifest and convince people they are immortal, soulless humans caught between the world of the living and the dead – a sort of ghost with flesh. In the case of werewolves, demon spirits could take on the form of hairy humans with supernatural strength, convincing people of the existence of these kinds of creatures. What’s the goal? Perhaps to cause fear and anxiety. Perhaps to motivate ignorant people to pursue power and protection by going deeper into occult practices. The point being, these are occult themes. As are things such as witches and the more well known occult figures. Now what is the effect of the occult in popular movies? Doesn’t it wet the interest and appetite in many of us to explore occultism more? Doesn’t it serve as a gateway into the world of the occult for many? As Christians we have God and his spiritual reality to satisfy our need for the mysterious, but for those who live without a close faith relationship with Jesus Christ, the world of the occult offers them some form of spirituality. The occult themes found in movies and television programming only encourage further dabbling. We must be aware of occult related themes and be wise in how much we expose ourselves to them. I’m not saying never watch anything that includes anything spooky or magical; I’m saying beware of it and decide whether it’s something helpful or harmful. Be wise. It’s out there and we are being exposed to it. It is influencing all of us whether we know it or not.

Second, the world of the occult influences us through literature and education. 1 Timothy 4:1, “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.” As our culture abandons its Christian heritage occult themes rush in to fill the spiritual vacuum. The Bible used to be the most read book in the colonial period here in America, but that’s not the case today. A few years back there was the Harry Potter craze, with kids lining up for blocks in order to purchase a first edition copy of the latest episode of this occult-filled fictional series. Now I’m not one of these pastors who is on a crusade against Harry Potter. I didn’t see a demon under every Potter book, but I did let people know that the series was filled with themes taken from the world of the occult. I warned parents that encouraging their children too aggressively in reading all the latest Harry Potter books is encouraging them to take an interest in and enjoy occult literature. I told people that there are a lot better books out there to encourage children to read. Why push kids in the direction of the occult? But again, with parents not taking their children to Sunday school anymore, with many families not even attending Sunday church, substitute spiritualities are bound to rush in to fill the void. It’s common knowledge that mankind has a hunger for the spiritual, for something beyond the material world. Religion, particularly Christianity, meets this most fundamental need. But when the faith is rejected and the Christian church is neglected, then people will find other paths to take in order to pursue what is spiritual; it’s human nature. Today, the world of the occult and New Age spirituality is filling the void. It’s everywhere, and especially in literature, in books. Visit the nearest bookstore and you’ll find shelves or even entire sections of occult and New Age books to rival Christian books. Occult authors are often the most popular, especially famous psychic mediums.  But it’s not just literature where the occult influences us, it’s also education. Children learn about the occult in school! Yes, I said in school, grade school, junior high and high school, not to mention college and university, later on. Young people are particularly interested in occult themes, like I said, having had their appetites wetted through the media, movies and television. They then visit libraries and bookstores, reading up on what interests them. There are occult clubs in some schools where students gather to talk about occult topics. Colleges offer courses in the world of the occult, from a sympathetic perspective. Of course, there are campus groups that meet and practice various occult activities. The point being, these things are no longer kept hidden or confined to secret meetings; now they are right out in the open. The average person is influenced more than they know in occultism. It’s everywhere. We need to be aware of it.

Third, the world of the occult influences us through religion. 1 Timothy 4:1, “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.” Believe it or not, some main-line denominations are actually promoting the world of the occult through literature and Sunday school material! Yes, it’s true. Now I have nothing against teaching and discussing the occult in the church in order to understand its harmful effects on human lives. In fact, I encourage all churches to educate people about the real dangers of the occult. But there are some Christian groups that seem to follow every fad that comes along, including the occult bandwagon. The movie Twilight is popular, so some Christian groups put out positive information about werewolves and vampires in an effort to attraction attention and participation in church, especially youth groups. Is there a critique of the occult? Not necessarily, because they say just getting people together discussing is enough. Well, it’s not. In this case, religion becomes the instrument for the advancement of the occult. It’s a shame. Besides this, many of the most popular occult teachers and practitioners are church people, members in good standing in Christian churches! It’s a common approach for members of occult groups to claim compatibility with Christianity. For example, the late world famous psychic Edgar Casey was a Presbyterian. The late occult prophetess Jean Dixon was a practicing Catholic. The list goes on. Many famous occult leaders actually maintain a connection with Christianity either through church or by trying to use Christian symbols and vocabulary in their occult practices. For example, spiritualist communities often meet in churches and sing familiar Christian hymns. They pray the “Our Father” and read from the Bible. Often their services look very similar to traditional Christian church services, yet they substitute occult practices for genuine Christianity. Hardly any occult practitioner or teacher outright contradicts Christianity. They usually claim they are perfectly compatible with the Bible and the church, although the claim is entire false. I’ve even seen Christian church pastors defending occult practices in the local community under the guise of religious tolerance. It seems that some pastors refuse to criticize any kind of spiritual error; they’re afraid of being accused of being narrow-minded. Couple the lack of solid teaching against the occult in the typical Christian church with the generally positive and sympathetic reception in society, is it any wonder that dark spirituality is on the rise? We might laugh at Miss Cleo and her psychic hot line on television, but millions of people called in to have their fortunes told, so that means there are lots and lots of people who take it seriously enough to spend money!

One of the most obvious ways in which religion and churches encourage the occult is in their failure to speak out against it and warn people. Every pastor in every pulpit in every church should be teaching at least a little bit about the dangers of the occult. If Christians don’t warn people of the spiritual dangers of the occult, who will? Are we to leave all negative criticisms of the world of the occult to the skeptics who attempt to debunk not only the world of the occult but all spirituality of all kind? No. we must carefully teach and make people aware of the distinction between the good, healthy spiritual world of God and angels, in contrast with the world of the devil and demons. The world of the occult is a world of demonic spirits and activity. It’s a cheap substitute for real spirituality. The Bible outlines what real spirituality is, and it includes prayer, faith in God’s Word, church participation, and inspiration by the Holy Spirit. The occult world is the opposite. It is populated by the devil and demon spirits that attempt to enslave people in their dark spiritual reality. But in our modern, secular society anyone who puts forth any kind of criticism of any kind of spirituality is labeled narrow minded and bigoted. It’s fashionable today to tolerate or even promote all kinds of spiritualities, because after all, we’re told, religion is a personal and private thing. Who’s to say what another man believes? Now I’m all for religious liberty and tolerance, but that shouldn’t stop us from warning people of the dangers of the occult. Sure, people can believe what they want – and suffer the consequences too. But we as Christians don’t have to sit back and watch them fall off the cliff without doing something. At least we should warn people of the dangers of the world of the occult. At least we should educate ourselves about the different forms of occultism in society today. At least we should be aware how the occult influences people in society today, so that we can beware ourselves and warn others. There is a lot of ignorance about the occult today, especially among Christians who should know better. Without being fanatical, we need to at least know what we are talking about in spiritual matters, and we need to be able to explain to others what is and what isn’t spiritually safe. Do you know the difference between what is spiritually healthy and what is spiritually dangerous? Can you properly and correctly identify an occult theme? Let’s be informed about such things, and then, let’s warn others about the dangers of the occult. If we do, we might just be able to save people from ruining their lives in the process. Let’s let people know of the reality of Jesus and how Christian salvation meets all our needs. Why would anyone need the occult in the first place?

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