September 1, 2020, 12:00 AM

You might be surprised to discover, the Bible has a plethora of stories about sorcerers, mediums, necromancers, witches, diviners, practitioners of the magical arts. Throughout the Bible, they’re never seen in a positive light. Never, ever.

“You must not allow a sorceress to live.” -Exodus 22:18

“Kehshef” is the Hebrew word for sorcery. It’s an all-encompassing and “broad-spectrum” term. Sorcery conveys any means of manipulation; both manipulation of the natural or the supernatural.

At the heart of “kehshef” (sorcery) is the rejection of God as Sovereign. Sorcerers seek to manipulate, exploit, influence, employ and wield in an effort to seize control and circumvent God for personal profit or gain. Sorcery accesses and uses God’s creation without recognition, thanksgiving, praise, or credit the Creator. It is any version, variety, or permutation of self-directed self-help for personal benefit rather than the glorification of Jesus Christ.

"In these last days God has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed Heir of all things, and through whom He made the universe.The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His nature, upholding all things by His powerful word. After Christ had provided purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high." -Hebrews 1:2-3

Throughout Scripture, there are nefarious characters like Pharaoh’s magicians (Exodus 7-9), soothsayers like Balaam (Numbers 22-24), mediums and spiritists (such as the Witch of Endor 1 Samuel 28), necromancers (Daniel 2), false prophets (like Hananiah Jeremiah 28), and sorcerers like Simon (Acts 8) and Bar-Jesus (Acts 13).

In the New Testament, the Greek word “pharmekos” is used numerous times to describe “sorcerers,” those who “poison” minds, hearts, and lives - not only referring to herbal cocktails and mind-altering drugs, but philosophies, false religions, or any means of leading people astray. Sorcerers choose for themselves, and entice others as the crafty serpent did, to stray from the Way, the Truth, and the Life - King Jesus. Their illusions and persuasions are crafty and tempting traps, which seduce fools into pitfalls and eternal destruction.

The final book of Scripture, Revelation, is very clear about the permanent residence of sorcerers.

“But... 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." -Revelation 22:8

"...thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur... tormented day and night forever and ever." -Revelation 20:10

When we envision sorcerers, false prophets, witches, mediums, fortune tellers, necromancers, soothsayers, and those who practice magic arts, our minds don’t typically picture the likes of Oprah, Tony Robbins, Osteen, Stephen Hawking, Isaac Asimov, L. Ron Hubbard, or Steven Covey. Instead, we conjure up fantastical images of Merlin, Zoltar, Harry Potter, Gandalf, Maleficent, Queen Grimhilde, or Dr. Strange.

When we don’t see a Hollywood variety of “sorcerer” in our mirrors glancing back, we subconsciously surmise, “I’m nothing like those characters.” The catastrophic and erroneous conclusion of our misguided perception and motives, self-help, self-promotion, and self-glorification, finagling, maneuvering, and manipulation? We convince ourselves they have nothing to do with literal sorcery.

But what does Scripture say?

When we attend church services or Bible studies, listen to sermons or dive into the Scripture, the what determines sorcery or surrender? Is it truly for God’s glory? Is it for intimacy with God, for wisdom in Christ, and for correction from our misguided ways to expand Christ's kingdom? Or, are we seeking topical warm-fuzzies and “spiritual positivity?” Are we excavating bits and pieces of divine treasure for an “emotional boost” like junkies chasing the next drug-induced high? For many, it's virtually inconceivable to imagine our inherently self-serving motives as a sinful plight and abomination unto God.

Because we never bother to examine the "Why?"

In his abandon unto King Jesus, the Apostle Paul endured prison, beatings, starvation, persecution, and countless sufferings. Paul planted numerous churches across the Middle East, Asia, and into modern-day Europe. He demonstrated the surrender, obedience, and fidelity of a bondservant of Christ. Paul didn’t want followers of King Jesus to be deceived. In one of his letters to the church in Corinth Paul wrote, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Can’t you see for yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you—unless you actually fail the test?” The test is living and sharing the reality of the Gospel for Christ's glory.

Are we surrendered, obedient, and faithfully living the truth and grace for the glory of King Jesus?

Peter had a superficial relationship with Jesus prior to Christ’s resurrection. Then Jesus told him, “Feed my sheep.” Peter didn’t want Christians to be consumed by superficial religious garbage or misguided spiritual endeavors. Peter had a first-hand awareness of the adversary’s schemes; schemes that would have completely devoured him had it not been for the unrelenting and extravagant love of Jesus. Therefore, Peter wrote, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion ever seeking someone to devour!” The test is surrender, obedience, and fidelity that serves others via the Gospel.

When King Jesus explained the parable of the soils He said, “Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop-- a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” The evidence of Christ alive in us is our harvest. The fruit of the Spirit to supply nutrition and sustenance to the lost, deluded, and disillusioned.

Are we expanding the kingdom of Christ with the Gospel or just making ourselves feel better with a "personal" or "private" religious experience? Are you the end-user or does the Gospel cause you to consider others more important than self?

The point of Paul, Peter, King Jesus, and the whole of Scripture, is this: if we are the end-users of Scripture... if it’s nothing more than a self-centered, self-serving religion... if the Gospel never radiates grace and truth out from us... if our lives aren’t producing a tangible harvest of leading the lost, deluded, and disillusioned from the darkness of gloom and iron into the light of Christ… then we fail the test! We’re caught in the jaws of the enemy! The seed of the Gospel has fallen on useless soil of stone hearts if no concrete harvest is produced in our lives.

Paul died spreading the Gospel. Peter died spreading the Gospel. King Jesus died as the Gospel. Jesus arose on the third day and sent the Spirit of God to empower us, regular people redeemed, gathered, and delivered from the adversary, to serve as His ambassadors, evangelists, heralds - joyful witnesses of His redemption!

Are you living the reality of the Gospel or are you merely gleaning, extracting, excavating, milking, and consuming the Word for some self-confidence, self-esteem, or self-worth? Is the point personal bliss, positivity, or a spiritual boost for today? If so, we have far more in common with the selfish spiritists, narcissistic necromancers, manipulating mediums and magicians, warped witches, and scheming sorcerers than we do with Jesus and those surrendered, obedient, and joyfully abandon unto Him.

“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it pierces even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It judges the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” -Hebrews 4:12

What does the King see when He examines the intentions of your heart? Sorcery or Surrender?

Kevin M. Kelley
Pastor, PBC