The Spell Of The Occult

Ephesians 2:2 – Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: (KJV)

Maybe that should be "prince of the powers on the air". There's a new television show running this season, about a coven of witches. Charmed is running on the WB network in the United States, and the CTV network has picked up the show in Canada. Charmed is about three twenty-something sisters, who have moved into their grandmother's old house in San Francisco. One moonlit night, they find out that they are "good" witches. It's the latest television offering from Aaron Spelling, the same man who brought us Charlie's Angels.

Charmed is not the first show about witchcraft, nor will it be the last. By my count, there are three "supernatural" series on the air now — and I don't catch much television. It could be this is all a reflection of the times we live in. People in these days may be wanting a supernatural helping hand to assist them with life.

But there may be a deeper issue here than that. As we come to the brink of the third millennium, I've noticed a lot more on the occult and paganism recently. The Christian faith began with a handful of believers in an obscure corner of the Roman Empire. It took three hundred years before the Roman Empire became Christian, and said "Jesus is Lord" rather than "Caesar is Lord". During those years and after that, the Gospel spread into the farthest part of the Empire, and the lands beyond, lands we know today as northern Europe and the British Isles. Convert by convert, the Christian faith won over the pagan masses. Now, if you look at some of the Internet sites I've seen, it looks like paganism and the occult are making a big comeback. People are looking for something new they can believe in and practice, and having been more or less out of sight for 1,500 years, the occult looks fresh and new. In much of North America, the Gospel is seen as being old and stale, and not the fresh, Good News that it is. Some beliefs that have been dormant for 15 centuries are beginning to stir again, and they are finding receptive ears at the end of this century. It might be that people wish there were something out there, beyond the nine to five drudgery.

There are all kinds of seductive things in this world that want us to "bow down" to them. Money, power, sex, and all manner of cults would be master over us. Followers of Jesus in the early church were called to reject them all and follow their crucified Lord. In Acts 8:9-25, we read how Simon, the sorcerer of Samaria believed in Jesus and was baptized when he saw the superior power of the Holy Spirit. Paul's dealings with the demonic in Ephesus brought fear on all the people, "and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honour. A number who had practised sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly" (Acts 19:13-19). Twenty centuries later, believers are still having to make those same choices.

One of the current "sorcery scrolls" (and a story element on this new TV show) is called "The Book of Shadows". If some of the web sites I've seen are correct, it's a magical "cookbook" of spells and such, that is a long-time part of pagan belief. My reaction: how aptly named! Have the "shadows" if you want to. I want reality. I want to walk in the "Son-light", and follow the one who said "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. (John 14:6)

Prayer: Lord, those who followed you faced a thousand different seductive calls to give their loyalty to everything except you. Nothing is different today. Lord, I pray, give us all the flaming courage of those first followers of You who cast aside everything and responded when you said, "Follow Me!" Give us that courage, and help us respond the same way. Amen.