Top Three Movies That Warn Of Occult Dangers

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Title: The Top Three Movies That Warn About Occult Dangers

 

Text: Luke 8:30-33, 1 Samuel 28:7-25, Hebrews 1:14

 

Time: October 24th, 2013

 

 

As a Christian pastor I always take the opportunity around the Halloween season to warn people about the world of the occult, although my warnings go largely ignored, I’m sad to say. The world just doesn’t listen to spiritual leaders like it once did, but especially it doesn’t listen to warnings about spiritual dangers. Why not? Because our modern, secular world mostly rejects spiritual reality, and instead embraces materialism. Therefore, it pays no heed to warnings about spiritual danger coming from the occult world.  But ever once in a while people, even worldly people, do listen, do think about and consider spiritual reality – and that’s usually after they’ve seen a realistic movie depicting it. They say “a picture’s better than a thousand words.” Well, that’s usually true, and it’s particularly true in trying to teach people about spiritual reality. A couple of movies have come out that really got people thinking about the spirit world and have had a lasting impact on how people view the hidden, unseen spiritual reality. These movies are, first, The Exorcists, which described a person possessed of the devil; second, Ghost, which illustrated the reality and dangers of occult spiritualism; and third, City of Angels, which showed the reality of angels. Now all three of these popular, big-budget Hollywood productions got some things right and some things wrong as far as accurate theological correctness. If I were to review each movie in detail I’d have to point out both what each movie showed that was true, and also what each movie showed that was false – because each one has a mixed bad of true theology and bad theology. Theology, of course is thinking about God, or correct thinking about spiritual subjects. According to the Bible, all three movies got it right sometimes, and got it wrong other times. But what all three popular movies did was raised people’s awareness of the reality of the spiritual realm. It showed secular people that there is more to this world than meets the eye, that there is an invisible spiritual reality that affects us all and in which we interact, whether we know it or not, every day. So what I’d like to do today is simply outline how each of these Hollywood movies help get people thinking about the spiritual world. Now I’m not endorsing these movies, or even recommending them for viewing, I’m simply using them as tools to teach a secular world that doesn’t normally take spirituality seriously. I’m trying to use the popular images and languages of pop culture to teach modern people how to think about spirituality and teach it true Christianity. So let me start.

 

 

First, the Exorcist teaches the real dangers of the occult. Luke 8:30-33, “Jesus asked him, ‘What is your name?’ ‘Legion,’ he replied, because many demons had gone into him. And they begged him repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss. A large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside. The demons begged Jesus to let them go into them, and he gave them permission. When the demons came out of the man, they went into the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.” Here’s a short description of Jesus performing an exorcism, or casting out a demon. Now the Bible teaches the reality of demon possession, but like I said before, modern, secular and materialistic people usually don’t consider the Bible as the ultimate authority anymore. They’ll trust their own instincts or reasoning ability. They’ll turn to modern science for answers about everything. Modern people usually dismiss what the Bible says about demon possession as primitive superstition. But when the movie The Exorcist came out decades ago, people paid attention. Why? Because for the first time on film, a realistic and believable depiction of what the Bible describes as demon possession was presented. Now, granted, the movie took artistic liberty with a lot of scenes. For example, it showed the demon possessed girl’s head spin a full 360 degrees around, which in reality would have broken her neck. But as far as many or even most of the scenes of possession in the movie, they were fairly accurate biblically and entirely plausible rationally. Now what is often overlooked in The Exorcist is the teenage girl who was shown to be demon possessed is also shown to play around with a Ojai board early on in the movie. A Ojai board is a device used to communicate with the spirit world used by occult mediums around the world. Unfortunately, a toy maker in the United States decided to market it as a parlor game and so far has sold millions and millions to unsuspecting consumers. Kids even get Ojai boards for Christmas under the tree! Little do parents realize that they are giving their children a tool of the occult to contact evil spirits! But The Exorcist movie accurately links playing around with the Ojai board and spiritual danger – in this case, full demonic possession. Now I’m not saying that everyone who plays with a Ojai board will eventually become possessed by the devil, but I’m saying it’s a doorway into the world of the occult that shouldn’t be played with by children or adults. If The Exorcist movie didn’t do anything but scare people away from playing with the occult it would have accomplished much. The occult is dangerous.

 

 

Second, Ghost teaches the real dangers of the occult in a different way. 1 Samuel 28:7-25, “Saul then said to his attendants, ‘Find me a woman who is a medium, so I may go and inquire of her.’ ‘There is one in Endor,’ they said. .  . .” This is the famous passage in the Old Testament where the famous King Saul goes and consults a witch or spirit medium in order to receive advice from the dead prophet Samuel. Even though it was expressly forbidden by God to consult the dead on behalf of living. In fact, Saul himself had banished all witches and spirit mediums from the land at the command of God. But here, Saul is trying to consult one himself. Nevertheless, he finds one and visits her and asks for a reading. At first the witch declines but eventually consents, but is quickly startled to find the real prophet Samuel speaking. The prophet ends up rebuking Saul for yet another foolish act and predicts the king’s death in battle. The whole scene is one, sad and tragic event in the pathetic life of Saul. Again, most people have never even heard of this Bible passage, but even if they’ve heard it, they probably wouldn’t heed its warning, because most people today dismiss biblical spiritual reality, like I said before, as primitive superstition. But when a movie comes along that really grabs their attention and presents the same or similar material, they listen. The move Ghost is one of the best movies for showing people the reality of the spiritual world. Now again, much of what Ghost presents in not accurate biblically and theologically, but it’s main point about the reality of the spiritual realm is correct. The medium in the movie Ghost is played by actress Whoppi Goldberg, who at first runs a typical and fake fortune telling storefront business with her sisters. They show how she cons people out of their money by giving them false but hopeful information that supposedly comes from the other side, but it’s really all fake. Then, during one of her fake séance sessions a real “ghost” shows up and scares her nearly to death. That’s where the story line of the movie starts. But this one scene reminds us of the biblical story where the Witch of Endor is surprised to see the real Samuel communicate. Evidently the medium was used to either faking it or dealing with some other spirit impersonating the departed soul. It’s unclear in the biblical passage which is the case. But either way, it shows the reality of the occult spirit world, and it warns us never to play around with it because it always ends badly. The world of demons is not fake; it’s real. Demons will try to communicate through spirit mediums, but they’ll deceive people in the process. Nobody should ever try to contact a departed spirit; God forbids it.

 

 

Third, City of Angels teaches the reality of good angels. Hebrews 1:14, “Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?” City of Angels is a movie that shows how angels are all around us helping us, assisting us, and protecting us from unseen dangers. Again, the movie isn’t totally accurate according to the Bible, but it’s close enough to teach some important spiritual truth. It shows angels trying to be helpful and useful to humans that are totally unaware of their presence. Now this is a very profound point, because as the passage I just read shows, it’s a reality. We are surrounded by angels whose sole job is to “minister” or help us in our spiritual journey through life. Although we have to take this by faith because angels are invisible, oddly enough, most people do believe in angels either because of the remnant of Christian teaching in our culture, or because it’s just a nice and comforting thing to believe. In either case, angels are still popular after thousands of years, while other Christian doctrines are dismissed, disbelieved or discarded. Now the benefit of a Hollywood movie like City of Angels has today in helping people seriously consider the reality of the spiritual world is that it not only reinforces belief in angels, but in a backhanded way, it also persuades belief in demons or fallen angels. Here’s the logic: if one believes in good angels, one must, logically, believe in bad angels also. The Bible teaches both. How can we consistently believe in one without believing in the other? We can’t. If we take comfort in the fact that there are good angels from God assigned to protect us, then we must also face up to the reality that there are bad angels assigned from the devil to oppose us. A strong belief in angels also reinforces a belief in demons. And by believing in the spirit world of angels and demons, we can prepare ourselves to be on guard against any hidden spiritual powers. Of course, God’s angels are powerful agents for good, but the devils demons are powerful agents for evil that we must be aware of and on guard against. Yet most people aren’t prepared or ready for a spiritual attack by evil spirits. Most people are totally unprepared, in fact, which explains a lot of what we see happening around us in the modern world today. Why are teens committing suicide in record numbers? Why are marriages just as likely to end in divorce as survive intact? Why are terrorists so full of hate? Why are people suffering under so many different psychological ailments? Spiritual evil is the only full explanation we can give for these and many of the ills of society today. City of Angels makes us thankful for good angels, but then makes us be consistent in admitting the reality of bad angels as well. That’s important.

 

 

I could name other movies that Hollywood has produced that force us to think about spiritual reality. Most Hollywood movies depart from the Bible in its theology; most get some things right and some things wrong. But the point is that any time a movie can get secular, modern, and materialistic people thinking of the spiritual world, that’s good. We can’t expect Hollywood to carry out the spiritual teaching ministry of the church. The church needs to do its own work and teach people the truth about God and the spiritual world. But we can thank Hollywood for raising the important issues and calling people’s attention to the fact that reality is a lot larger than just what we can see, taste, touch, hear, and smell. There’s a world of the spirit out there, that’s a mix bag of good and bad, holy and evil. Everything that’s spiritual isn’t necessarily from God. The devil and demons are out there also, and they can cause a lot of damage to men and women in the twenty-first century, even though they are invisible and behind the scenes. We need to be aware that they are out there in order to protect ourselves against their evil activity in our lives. Yet like I said before, most people are ignorant of demons, although they may affirm good angels. Let me ask you this question, “Are you fully informed about evil spirits? Are you prepared for an attack by the devil upon your life? Are you fully equipped to withstand a spiritual attack? Do you know the dangers of the occult?” Not only do we have to ask ourselves these questions, we need to warn others to get informed as well. As Christians we need to read our Bibles and take what we learn seriously because it can literally mean life or death. But we also need to warn our family and friends about the dangers of the occult and demonic activity in the world today. That doesn’t mean we “see a demon under every bush,” as they say, but it means we don’t underestimate the power of evil either. When is the last time you warned someone about the dangers of spiritual evil? When we see what might possibly be signs of demonic activity, are we ready to help people deal with it? Are we successful in dealing with it in our own life? As Christians we need to have the answers not only for ourselves, but also for those around us. Our main message is the gospel of Jesus Christ, but along life’s journey we might also be called to help others fight some spiritual battles. Are you ready for such a challenge?

 

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