A few weeks ago I sat down to watch one of my favorite news programs. (Yes, I’m a nerd with a favorite news program—sorry). Ordinarily, I love this show because it presents the news with a healthy dose of humor, snark, and sarcasm. (Sarcasm is my love language.) Settling in to watch the show, I expected an enjoyable hour. For the most part, it was. There was just one segment that disturbed me. The discussion topic was about a Catholic school that removed the Harry Potter books from their library because they believed the books conjured up evil spirits. The story was undisputed—-it happened. (No fake news here). What bothered me was the way the hosts laughed and mocked the school, acting as if it was the most ridiculous thing they had ever heard. For the entire segment, they ridiculed anyone who could ever believe there was anything harmful in this reading material and that it would ever harm those who read it. As we watched, I turned to Jamie and said, “You realize they are mocking us.” Because, yes, I am a strong believer that books, movies, televisions shows, and really any avenue of entertainment about magic, spells, witchcraft, or the occult are harmful and demonic. I believe that especially as Christians, these are things that we need to avoid. Yes, I am well aware that many Christians echo the sentiments of the people on my favorite show. (I know because I sat in a church service while a young missionary said from the pulpit that anyone who believes these types of entertainment are harmful or demonic is old-fashioned and misguided. I was actually more upset when he said it then when the newscaster said it.). Because on this topic, more than any other, I promise you that my mind will not be changed. Here are a few reasons: First, the Bible is clear that as Christians, we are to avoid witchcraft. Galatians 5:19-21 says, “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God” The word “witchcraft” used here is “pharmakeia” in Greek refers to "magic potions, drug-related sorcery, magical arts, and spells." (Just like in the books!) Revelations 21:8 says, “But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” For me, these Scriptures alone are enough to stay away from magic and sorcery. However, they are not the only reason that I feel so strongly about this issue. No, for me it is far more personal. One part of our family’s testimony involves spending years in spiritual deliverance sessions working through the painful consequences of relatives who allowed occult influences into their lives. You see, growing up, my great-grandmother lived next to a woman who earned extra money performing what they called “Pow-wowing” (a form of folk magic designed to heal diseases and help with other issues). When my Dad was young, this was one of the techniques that my grandmother used to control his behavior issues (basically he was an energetic young boy). Combining this with other forms of magic and mind control techniques, her choice to entertain magic, spells, and sorcery caused an incredible amount of damage to my Dad. It opened the door for demonic influences in his heart and mind. It wasn’t until years later when our family was going through intensive counseling that we discovered that so much of the pain, heartache, and abuse that we suffered was a direct result of the demonic influences that started in my Dad’s childhood. After years (literally years) of counseling working to overcome these issues, I am a firm believer that magic, spells, sorcery, fortune-telling, and any other form of the occult should be avoided at all costs. It simply is not worth the pain that it will cause in your life or the lives of those around you. “Uh, interesting story ‘Des, but it’s a little too freaky for me. I’m not going to live my life looking for a demon around every corner.” Good. Neither am I. I am absolutely not going to spend my life walking around afraid of the power of Satan or demons. I believe that Jesus is stronger, more powerful, and in control of the life of a believer. However, just because I’m not afraid of demons doesn’t mean that I’m going to invite them into my house for a party. That’s exactly what we do every time entertain books, magazines, movies, television shows, or any other form of magic. We invite demonic influences to come into our hearts and minds and spend time with us. Why would we do that when we can simply watch, read, or participate in another activity?
You see, the truth that we need to face is that there is more to this world than the tangible things that we can see, hear, touch, smell, and taste. These things belong to the physical world. However, beyond that world is the spiritual world. In the spirit world, there is a constant and ongoing battle between the forces of good and evil—God’s kingdom and Satan’s kingdom. Even though God has ultimately won the battle and Satan is ultimately defeated, the Prince of Evil is not content to be defeated alone. No, his mission is to destroy as many human lives as possible, keeping men and women under his control, hindering their relationship with God, and keeping them from living the abundant, victorious life God intends for us both on this earth and throughout eternity. Using every means at His disposal, Satan’s goal is to control people, destroy them, and eventually cause them to spend eternity in Hell with him. These are the orders he gives to demons each day: “Rob, kill, and destroy.” (John 10:10)
Living in the last days, demonic influences are rampant. These things are no longer on the fringes of our society but are now pervasive in every area---including our playgrounds, our schools, our colleges, even our nurseries. As our society has shifted to accept these things as normal, we’ve opened the door for a flood of demonic influences to influence, bind, and ultimately control people who either unknowingly or unknowingly involved themselves in things that were far more dangerous than they ever expected. Like a hunter traps an animal, the enemy sets a trap using the bait of “entertainment, peace through false religion, or unprohibited pleasure” to lure his victims into sin and bondage from which they cannot escape.
As Christians, we are called to walk in freedom. One of the ways that we express this freedom is by choosing to avoid anything that would try to trap us in demonic influences. Then, as we walk in freedom, we can reach out and help people who are trapped find their own freedom from bondage, sin, and demonic attacks.
It doesn’t matter if this stand seems ridiculous to the world or even to other Christians—the truth is that we are called to help people overcome evil, not participate in it ourselves.
So practically, what does this mean?
Well, for Jamie and I, it means that we don’t read books that contain magic. This includes both Harry Potter, the Lord of the Rings, or any books like them. We also don’t watch movies or television shows with magic in them. If we are watching a variety show and a magician comes on, we fast-forward to the next act.
We don’t watch shows with fortune-telling, ouija boards, witches or warlocks, mediums, or psychics.
Jamie doesn’t play video games (or any games) that contain magic arts or occult role play (like Dungeons and Dragons).
If anything has a hint of the occult in it, we stay away.
Why do we do this, and encourage others to follow our example?
Again, it isn’t because we are afraid, backward, old-fashioned, or uninformed. It’s because we want to live our best life possible. We want to experience everything that God has for us and be available for the Holy Spirit to do all that He can through us. I don’t want to waste any more time overcoming the consequences of demonic influences. Instead, I want to be a victorious Christian who is under the control of the Holy Spirit and free from all bondage in my life.
If that seems weird or strange to the world, then so be it.
In the immortal words of the greatest Christian group of all time D.C. Talk, “What will people think when they hear that I’m a Jesus Freak? I don’t really care.”
I encourage you to adopt the same attitude. Especially this time of year when horror films, witchcraft, and all forms of the occult are celebrated, I encourage you to choose to say “No. I don’t need this.”
It isn’t just harmless fun—no matter what anyone says.