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By Richard Gunther
serpent, or Satan, is the first antagonist in the Bible. His first words are a
question: “Has God said . . .? He questions God’s Word. His main aim
throughout history has been to take our attention away from what God has said,
or written. He used this strategy with Adam and Eve, and he wasted his time by
trying it on Jesus, and he is using it today.
For example, God says that the dead will one day be raised for either
rewards or punishments.
says a variety of things to lead us away from what God has said.
we die we shed our mortal body and continue to live on as spirits.”
is an illusion. There is no such thing as death.”
is merely the passing from one plane of existence to another.”
we die we return to continue being perfected.”
is final and there is no consciousness for ever after that.”
did not mean a literal resurrection – he was speaking in an idiom which was
Bible cannot be taken in a strictly literal way because it is full of errors.”
and death are both illusions.”
God of love would never punish people.”
Satan also supplies ‘special effects’ to try to substantiate his
lies. For example, in order to ‘prove’ that ghosts and poltergeists are
real, he supplies visions and objects being thrown about or moved. He supplies
eerie sounds, and unnatural events. People say, “See? Ghosts must be real
because so-and-so SAW one!”
If Satan wants to give credibility to one of his false prophets, he mixes
some truth in with what they say. False religions always contain a fair amount
of Bible truth to make them attractive, but the most crucial part is always
wrong – the salvation part, or the identity of Jesus, or the Gospel. For
example Islam, which teaches many Christian concepts, but gives glory to some
false god called Allah, instead of the true God, our Heavenly Father.
Because Satan has a certain amount of power, he is able, and permitted by
God, to do certain ‘tricks’ in order to gain a following. God seems
to be weak in this area, because He seems to be unable to stop Satan from
deceiving people, but the correct view is that God allows people to make a
choice – between trusting God’s Word, or following their own senses. Adam
and Eve were given this choice too – would they adhere to what God SAID or
would they wander away to what Satan SUGGESTED? They chose to follow Satan’s
suggestions and brought misery into the world.
The first civilization mentioned in the Bible was the pre-Flood city of
Enoch. This city was full of very intelligent people, and it was from here that
the first industries were born. The Bible mentions several of these:
tent-making, farming, music, and metalwork. It was because Mankind was so
intelligent right from the very beginning that such things as Noah’s Ark and
the tower of Babel could be built. And because the people who lived in the city
of Enoch were already intent on turning away from God, they were influenced by
Satan, which is why God had to destroy the pre-flood civilization. “Every
intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” Gen. 6:5. But
here we must pause and reflect, because it is a common assumption that where
there is such evil there will be an easily seen public display of debauchery and
immorality. This is not necessarily the case. It was the “thoughts of the
heart” which God saw - so the
world that then was, was destroyed because of people’s thought-life, as
well as their behavior – which means that we have a picture of a society which
in many trades
with an expanding commerce
well-fed and reasonably happy
dressed and busy with fashion and cosmetics
in well-furnished and comfortable houses
But despite all this outward appearance of prosperity, the people were
involved in Satan’s lies. Astrology, mediums, ‘crystal balls’ and so on
were probably common in this society, because they were people who had rejected
Because God instituted the sacrificial system, we can assume that Satan
would have corrupted it into sacrifices of the wrong things to the wrong
entities. This practice would have been carried over into the post-Flood world
and still exists today all round the world.
Instances where Satan’s tricks are most obvious:
Divination is the practice of finding secret knowledge. It usually
panders to people’s desire to know the future, and comes in many forms, from
astrology, séances, rolling dice, drawing tarot cards, using a ouija board, and
consulting a medium through to something as trivial as fortune cookies or
People turn to divination because they refuse to listen to God’s Word.
The prophets of the Old Testament gave clear and precise predictions about the
future, but people who reject these prophecies often turn instead to the
ambiguous ramblings of people such as Edgar Cayce and Nostradamus. Some
divination is the work of an astute imagination, some is fanciful, but some is
inspired by Satan, or by demons. Why would he want to give false predictions, or
half-true predictions? To gain a following. If there is any way he can encourage
people to distrust God’s Word, or turn people’s attention away from the sure
words of God’s prophets, Satan will do it.
21:21 For the king of Babylon stood
at the parting of the way, at the head of the two ways, to use divination: he
made his arrows bright, he consulted with images, he looked in the liver.
Here is what God says about diviners:
There shall not be found among you any one that makes his son or
his daughter to pass through the fire, or that uses divination, or
an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch,
Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a
For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and
because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before
You shall be perfect with the LORD thy God.
For these nations, which thou shall possess, hearkened unto observers of
times, and unto diviners: but as for thee, the LORD thy God hath not suffered
thee so to do.” Deut.18:10-14
In the Law, God had strict rules about those who worked for Satan:
22:18 Thou shall not suffer a witch
18:10 There shall not be found
among you any one that makes his son or his daughter to pass through the
fire, or that uses divination, or an observer of times, or an
enchanter, or a witch,
Balaam was a false prophet, though much respected and considered
very powerful. When he was called on to curse the nation of Israel he was keen
to do so, but God prevented him from speaking against the people and instead
gave him a prophecy of great blessing. See Num.22-24.
¶ For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Let not your prophets and
your diviners, that be in the midst of you, deceive you, neither hearken
to your dreams which ye cause to be dreamed.
they prophesy falsely unto you in my name: I have not sent them, says the LORD.
Ez.22:28 : 28
And her prophets have daubed them with untempered mortar, seeing
vanity, and divining lies unto them, saying, Thus says the Lord GOD, when the
LORD hath not spoken.
the diviner is classed with the prophet but this does not mean they were on
equal footing. In these examples, the diviners had become corrupted.
Seeking knowledge of the future from any source other than God is an
insult to Him. It is also risky because no other source is as reliable.
Another aspect of the practice of divination is the fact that people give
power to some random occurrence, such as flipping a coin, rather than make a
decision themselves. For example, pulling a person may pull the petals off a
flower and say, “She loves me, she loves me not . . .” is it really sensible
to give the petals on a flower such authority? And what if that person
eventually marries, and bases their decision on the petals of a flower? It may
sound absurd, but there are people who consider such things as the astrological
chart in the newspaper or some other similar future prediction of equal status
and binding on them as some great, wise oracle’s speech. Some will not venture
out the door if they see a black cat. Some expect bad luck if they break a
mirror, or pass under a ladder. Such things are foolish, but human nature is
inherently biased away from God’s Word, so these superstitions are quite
appealing to many.
20:27 A man also or woman that hath
a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard,
shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood shall
be upon them.
19:31 Regard not them that have
familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards,
to be defiled by them: I am the LORD your God.
20:6 And the soul that turns after
such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards,
to go a whoring after them, I will even set my face against that soul, and will
cut him off from among his people.
Samuel 28:3 Now Samuel was dead,
and all Israel had lamented him, and buried him in Ramah, even in his own city.
And Saul had put away those that had familiar spirits, and the wizards,
out of the land.
Samuel 28:9 And the woman said unto
him, Behold, thou know what Saul hath done, how he hath cut off those that have
familiar spirits, and the wizards,
out of the land: wherefore then lay thou a snare for my life, to cause me to
Kings 21:6 And he made his son pass
through the fire, and observed times, and used enchantments, and dealt with
familiar spirits and wizards:
he wrought much wickedness in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to
Kings 23:24 Moreover the workers
with familiar spirits, and the wizards,
and the images, and the idols, and all the abominations that were spied in the
land of Judah and in Jerusalem, did Josiah put away, that he might perform the
words of the law which were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in
the house of the LORD.
Chronicles 33:6 And he caused his
children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom: also he
observed times, and used enchantments, and used witchcraft, and dealt with a
familiar spirit, and with wizards:
he wrought much evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger.
8:19 And when they shall say unto
you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards
that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the
living to the dead?
19:3 And the spirit of Egypt shall
fail in the midst thereof; and I will destroy the counsel thereof: and they
shall seek to the idols, and to the charmers, and to them that have familiar
spirits, and to the wizards.
Satanism, demons and the occult and all the ‘attractive’ things which
these dark, sinister beings tempt Man with, are not just realities, but actually
indicate something very important. If we were given a counterfeit bank note, the
only way we could know it was a counterfeit would be to compare it with a real
bank note. In the same way, because there are so many different forms of
spiritual deceptions, it is logical to suppose that there just might be some
essential and true form of spiritual practice. The Bible supplies this true and
essential practice, and challenges Mankind to find fault with it – well of
course Man cannot find fault with God’s prophecy. In fact, if a prophet who
claimed to be speaking from God made even one mistake, he was to be disregarded.
18:22 When a prophet
speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is
the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet
hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shall not be afraid of him.
There is a widespread interest in the occult throughout the world at
present, perhaps more so as the dark arts are being popularized more and more by
the entertainment industry. At the same time the study of the occult has been
legitimized by many educational institutions – there are course in Polytechnic
and University on witchcraft and New Age subjects.
Young women quite happily declare themselves to be witches today, and the
fashion of dressing as if dead is popular among a few.
Along with the practice of the occult there is also an upsurge of
interest in generally connected things, such as body piercing, tattooing and the
wearing of amulets, crystals and eastern symbols.
In the music world many groups and individual singers are including
religious symbols into their music and album art. Satan is used as a decoration,
a drawcard and a selling point because millions of people are interested in
But the occult is like the kiss of death. It may seem interesting and
attractive at first, but once pursued far enough it will kill.
Biblical examples of Satan’s power to deceive.
Moses and Pharaoh.
Exodus, Moses and Aaron approached Pharaoh the king of Egypt and demonstrated
several miracles to him, in order to persuade him to let the people of Israel
7:10 And Moses and Aaron
went in unto Pharaoh, and they did so as the LORD had commanded: and Aaron
cast down his rod before Pharaoh, and before his servants, and it became a
7:12 For they cast down every man
his rod, and they became serpents: but Aaron’s
rod swallowed up their rods.”
Here we see that while God’s miracle was amazing indeed, the men who
served Pharaoh had sufficient power from Satan to transform their sticks into
living snakes too. This gives us an indication of the sort of power Satan has.
The names of the 2 men who resisted Moses and Aaron are given in the New
Timothy 3:8 “Now as Jannes and Jambres
withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds,
reprobate concerning the faith.”
It is interesting to note that the warning in the N.T. is to beware of
people who “resist the truth”. Apparently Jannes and Jambres were men who
rejected what was obviously true and chose instead to follow Satan’s
deceptions – exactly as people do today.
The second miracle which Moses performed was to turn the water of the
Nile into blood, but the Bible says:
7:22 And the magicians
of Egypt did so with their enchantments: and Pharaoh’s heart was hardened,
neither did he hearken unto them; as the LORD had said.
Moses returned and performed a third miracle – by God’s power he
produced frogs, but:
8:7 And the magicians
did so with their enchantments, and brought up frogs upon the land of Egypt.
Moses performed yet another miracle, but:
8:18 And the magicians
did so with their enchantments to bring forth lice, but they could not: so there
were lice upon man, and upon beast.
8:19 Then the magicians
said unto Pharaoh, This is the finger of God: and Pharaoh’s heart was
hardened, and he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said.
Finally the threshold of Satan’s power was reached, when the plague of
boils was inflicted on Egypt:
9:11 And the magicians
could not stand before Moses because of the boils; for the boil was upon the magicians,
and upon all the Egyptians.
witch of Endor.
¶ Then said Saul unto his servants, Seek me a woman that has a familiar spirit,
that I may go to her, and enquire of her. And his servants said to him, Behold, there
is a woman that has a familiar spirit at Endor.
And Saul disguised himself, and put on other raiment, and he went, and
two men with him, and they came to the woman by night: and he said, I pray thee,
divine unto me by the familiar spirit, and bring me him up, whom I shall
name unto thee.
And the woman said unto him, Behold, you know what Saul hath done, how he
has cut off those that have familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land:
wherefore then lay a snare for my life, to cause me to die?
And Saul swore to her by the LORD, saying, As the LORD lives,
there shall no punishment happen to thee for this thing.
Then said the woman, Whom shall I bring up unto you? And he said, Bring
me up Samuel.
And when the woman saw Samuel, she cried with a loud voice: and the woman
spoke to Saul, saying, Why have you deceived me? for you are Saul.
And the king said unto her, Be not afraid: for what saw you? And the
woman said to Saul, I saw gods ascending out of the earth.
And he said unto her, What form is he of? And she said, An old man
cometh up; and he is covered with a mantle. And Saul perceived that it was
Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the ground, and bowed himself.
¶ And Samuel said to Saul, Why have you disquieted me, to bring me up? And Saul
answered, I am sore distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God
is departed from me, and answered me no more, neither by prophets, nor by
dreams: therefore I have called thee, that you may make known to me what I shall
said Samuel, Wherefore then dost thou ask of me, seeing the LORD is departed
from thee, and is become thine enemy?”
There are several points about this séance which make it very similar to
modern-day attempts to talk to the dead. First, Saul was so rebellious God
refused to answer him when he called : 1 Sam.28:6 says “when Saul enquired of
the Lord, the Lord did not answer him, either by dreams, or by Urim, or by
So Saul turned to a medium and asked her to call Samuel from the grave
– something she was totally unable to do, since God is the only one powerful
enough to raise the dead. However, when Saul arrived (disguised) she
attempted to bring up Samuel, and instead got a demonic deception. Saul
asked her what she could see and she told him “I see a spirit ascending out of
the earth.” Her description of this ghostly apparition was “An old man . . .
covered with a mantle.” And Saul jumped (predictably but wrongly) to
the conclusion that it was Samuel.
This is so typical of a séance. The demon appears in such a way as to
deceive, often providing the ‘proof’ needed to convince those attending that
the person they are trying to contact has in fact arrived.
Having convinced Saul that Samuel was there, the demon proceeded to tell
Saul what was already well known, and Saul, in great consternation, departed.
8:9 But there was a certain man,
which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of
Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one:”
In these few words we find a very rounded picture of someone who follows
the occult. Simon used sorcery for the purpose of “bewitching” the people.
When someone “bewitches” someone else, they tend to do things which
surprise, amaze, astound, and astonish. Ordinary conjurors, or stage magicians
do this kind of thing without needing the supernatural, but there are some who
use occult or demonic powers to achieve wonders, and Simon was one of these
He enjoyed using his powers too, and felt important and valuable because
he had something which most other people did not have.
In a similar way, most of the action-heroes on TV and in movies are
supernaturally powered or specially-gifted people – they have powers which
separate them from others.
Currently there are a number of supernatural programs on TV, all of which
have some element of the occult, either strongly, or dressed up as trivial. In
just one week’s TV viewing on 4 channels we have such programs as:
Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century,
Young Hercules, Demon
in the Bottle, Farscape,
Star Trek Voyager, Earth:
Final Conflict, PSI
Factor: Chronicles of the paranormal,
The Mystic Knights of Tir Na Nog,
Sliders, Death Becomes her,
the animated series, Cardcaptors,
Dragonball Z, Xena:
Warrior Princess, Starla
and the Jewel Riders, Sabrina
the Teenage Witch, Stargate
SG-1, The X-Files,
Buffy the Vampire Slayer,
David Blaine: Magic Man,
belief: fact or fiction, Ripley’s
believe it or Not.
Why do people turn to the occult?
There are many reasons.
some it is the fascination of the weird and strange. The occult promises
out-of-the ordinary experiences. To some it is an exciting world, where the
unexpected may happen, thus livening up the day or night with an interesting
some it is a genuine desire to find out more about life. The big questions need
to be answered: Why am I here? Where am I going? What happens when I die? Is
there life after death? The occult seems like a place where there are some
some it is a deliberate choice to follow Satan and reject the Bible. Satan can
appear as “an angel of light” (2Cor.11:14). This means that his works or
“tricks” appear harmless, helpful, attractive, useful, even wonderful.
People are fooled by Satan’s deceptions and follow him until they are so
enmeshed in his snare they cannot escape. Like an addiction to cigarettes, Satan
uses his wiles to addict people, blinding and binding them until they are
some it is the promise of wisdom and power. God wants us to depend on Him for
wisdom and power, but Satan offers to people individual wisdom and personal
power, This is why so many of Satan’s tricks involve some secret knowledge,
such as mantras, or esoteric insights. This is why many of Satan’s followers
belong to secret societies, or hold beliefs which seem crazy to the average
person. (For example the Mormon belief that God was once a man!)
for some it is a case of wanting to know the truth but not wanting it enough to
bother with the dross. God’s Word takes some effort to read and many people
settle for the easy road, the occult or New Age path, which promises quick and
easy answers. Not for them is the difficult task of reading the Bible and
thinking, and studying the passages. Not for them the bright light of God’s
Word as it reveals their thoughts and sins. Satan never tries to expose a sinner
– he smoothes over the sense of sin and makes the poor sucker think
everything’s OK between him and God.
In conclusion, it is clear that God has set before people two distinct
paths. One is the Word of God, and the absolute authority of that Word. The
other path is made of many hundreds of little paths, but they all lead the same
way – through a wide, attractive gate and down a sloping hill to a cliff. Once
people fall off that cliff they never return, but while they are descending
there is always a chance that they might turn and go to the one path, which
leads to truth and everlasting life.
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