Playing with Fire
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Playing with Fire

Main Bible Passage: Acts 19:11-20

Secondary Bible Passage: Deuteronomy 18:9-14 NIV

Focus Verse: 1 Peter 5:8 NIV

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

My oldest child was always a flurry of activity. He acted without considering the consequences for his age. When he was a preschooler he continued to play around the stove while I dinner was cooking. I warned him to be careful around the stove because he could be burned. I took the pan off the burner and shut off the stove. As I continued with dinner preparations, I suddenly heard a scream and saw him crying as he held his hand. He put his hand on the glowing electric burner. Of course, first-aid followed along with hugs and an explanation about the importance of leaving hot things alone. Now I get to watch him go through the same parenting issues with his children that I went through with him. God blessed him with kids like him! Being a grandparent has it's privileges.

Halloween is coming soon, with all the spooky or silly costumes with it's decorations. Christians and non-Christians alike pay good money for this stuff. It even seems that Halloween crowds out Thanksgiving in the stores. But it is around this time people with a morbid sense of curiosity play around with the occult.They watch the horror movies at the theater or on Netflix just to be scared out of their wits.Youth groups from churches gather together to venture through haunted houses and scary corn mazes to get the thrilling adrenalin rush of being scared to death for a short moment. While others play around with Calling Charlie, seances, Ouija boards, and many other occult practices. Is this safe entertainment for Christians to enjoy or a dangerous charade of the devil? Are Christians playing with fire?

In our main passage, some Jewish attention seekers were trying to imitate Paul and the other apostles by attempting to drive out demons. A priest and his seven sons joined in on the "carnival act". Remember, entertainers traveled around during that time doing magic tricks to for money. It would be like walking down the streets of Chicago or San Francisco with the street performers entertaining passersby, a can or hat set out for people to toss money in. It's a way to earn money. What these guys didn't understand was how the apostles did the miracles. If they kept trying, eventually, they would figure it out. As long as money came their way, they kept up the act. Well, the demons evidently played along until one day.This priest and his sons had a rude awakening: they were messing around with real demons.They did not know Jesus as Savior, nor did they have the spiritual authority to drive out demons. A demon inside the man they were trying to "exorcise" worked through his physical body to beat them senseless. Well, they were senseless to begin with. They didn't pay attention to the Word of God in the law as spelled out in the Torah, nor what Jesus taught. Jesus clearly told the Pharisees that demons cannot cast out demons. A house divided against itself cannot stand. Whoever is not with Him is against Him (Matthew 12:24-30). These guys played with fire and got burned.

Although occult activity is at it's highest during this time in the United States, people play around with demons all year. I really cringe when Christians play around with tarot cards, consulting the dead, astrology, Wicca witchcraft (supposedly white magic) guised as natural healing, Zen, New Age meditation, yoga, and other pantheistic religious practices having no scientific base of support. I am certainly am not suggesting there is not value in some of the healing properties of essential oils or value in the exercise part of yoga. Many Christians have laid hold of the scientific principles, extracting it from it's religious garb surrounding it. I believe I shared with you before about a chiropractic therapy which supposedly re-sets the immune system. When I looked it up, it was couched in scientific jargon, but there was no base of truth for it. It was essentially witchcraft dressed up in a tidy package this chiropractor used to charge a patients a small fortune. Some of occult practices are subtle while others are blatant.It only takes a match to start a blaze.

One I recently saw online is the ancient art of smudging to clear your space of negative energies. It is an ancient Indian religious ritual. Grandma Wapagea, a Native American on the Chopra Center's website, said, “My family uses sage and cedar to purify, tobacco to send our prayers to the Chihowa, and sweet grass to attract angels and sweet-spirited ancestors. We also use sweet grass to bring ease to a space when we need to discuss something that is difficult to say”.  I read on it supposedly has a scientific foundation of ridding the air of bacteria and other harmful elements, and is a folk remedy for unspecified health issues. Honestly, put house plants around your house, air out your home by opening the windows for a few minutes (the German practice of Ausluftung, or airing out), and set up some potpourri or wax melting pots with scents you love. New Age is infiltrating homes of Christians and non-Christians with practices like these.There are better, healthier ways than to play with fire like this.

The people who saw and heard what happened to these men in Acts 19 were scared out of their wits. Many confessed their sin of practicing sorcery.They burned the paraphernalia connected to the sorcery they practiced. Essentially, they burned a boat load of cash! One drachma was one day's wages, meaning that 50,000 drachmas was worth what someone at that time could earn in 50,000 days. How much does the average person earn for a day, then multiply that by 50,000? I figured at $10 per hour, 8 hours a day, times 50,000 equals $4,000,000 in today's economy. They paid huge sums of money to play magic tricks on people. Demons were attached to these items and practices. Yes, there are territorial spirits and spirits assigned to occult items. God's Word clearly shows the need for us to repent and burn anything attached to an occult practice.

So, coming back to the original thought: should Christians get involved with Halloween and all that goes with it? Think about the well and poorly cited history of Halloween and things like ghost and goblin- type costumes or Jack-o-Lanterns as ways to scare off evil spirits. Demons cannot drive out demons (Matthew 12:26) I don't know about you, but I envision demons rolling around on the floor howling with laughter at us for doing these things. If you play with fire you will eventually get burned.

Just as my son was burned on the hot stove after being warned, if you play around with occult practices, overt or subtle, you will eventually get burned. You will eventually come face to face with demons.Just as the priest and his sons were warned in the Torah, we are also warned to avoid these practices in the Bible (Leviticus 19:26b, 31, Deuteronomy 18:10-13, Isaiah 47:12-14, Isaiah 8:19). We are also told today in the New Testament we can't take the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons (1 Corinthians 10:21) We are told to leave old practices behind when we accept accept Jesus as Savior (Ephesians 4:17-24). Satan roams around waiting to devour us (1 Peter 5:8), but God is greater (1 John 4:4) Resist the devil and he will flee (James 4:7). Don't let him devour you by willingly involving yourself in occult practices. Don't play with fire. You will get burned.

May God bless you!

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