Summary: In this sermon you’ll learn about the far reaching influence the occult has had on our society, it’s background, three major categories of the occult and what the Bible says about occult practices.
The Occult And The Bible
Galatians 5:19-20, “What human nature does is quite plain. It shows itself in immoral, filthy, and indecent actions; 20in worship of idols and witchcraft.” (TEV)
1 Timothy 4:1, “God’s Spirit clearly says that in the last days many people will turn from their faith. They will be fooled by evil spirits and by teachings that come from demons.” (TEV)
Interest in the occult is a rising phenomenon in America. It is an especially growing interest among teenagers. Many times teens get into the occult through such games as Dungeon and Dragons or the Ouija Board. Sometimes it is also, through rock groups, music and videos which have occult overtones.
In 1970 McCall’s magazine did a 32 page article titled "The Occult Explosion" detailing the way astrology, magick, tarot, satan worship are affecting our society.
In 1991 Geraldo Rivera, did a television special on the occult and Satanism in America. He documented the fact that it is a rising phenomenon in America.
It is often said that the term “cult” and “occult” are two sides of the same coin. The term “cult” refers to groups that claim to be Christian, but when their theology and practices are examined they are found to be in error. Frequently, cults exploit their members through the abuse of religious authority, forms of mind control, or psychological abuse, in the name of Jesus.
The word “occult” on the other hand is normally not associated with Christianity. Occult organizations seldom claim to be Christian. The word “occult” comes from the Latin word “occultus” which means, “hidden.”
While it is true that there are some common aspects or crossing-over between cults and the occult, they should not be confused with one another. Some cults might not have occult practices, but both are connected by teachings that are in opposition to the Bible.
The Development of the Occult
The occult depends upon the belief that all things - stars, planets, people, nature and events are all connected to one another. Those who believe in the occult think they can change events and predict the future.
Occultism also includes a belief in beings, such as angels, or spirits who can be contacted and used to change people and events.
Occult practices have existed for millennia. Western occultism has its roots in ancient Babylonian and Egyptian practices. One form of Egyptian occultism that still exists today is the Fraternal Order known as Rosicrucians.
Occultism was also practiced during the Medieval period and was assumed to be real by 13th century scholars like Italian theologian Thomas Aquinas.
During the Renaissance (15th to 17th century) occultism experienced explosive growth. However, in the late medieval and early Renaissance period, occultism was regarded by the church as connected with the worship of Satan.
This resulted in thousands of women being tortured and killed during the Renaissance because they were accused (sometimes falsely) of practicing occultism. During the so-called Burning Times of A.D. 1300-1600, an estimated nine million people were killed because they were accused of witchcraft. Despite this, occultism continued in Europe during the 18th and 19th centuries.
During this time occultism was reinvented as the Spiritualist movement. One main group that contributed to this was the Theosophical Society (1875) which included many members of the symbolist movement, in addition to other artists, poets and thinkers.
In the 20th century, occultism experienced another rebirth basically due to the counterculture movement of the 1960s which emphasized an interest in astrology, divination and magick. Another influence on modern day occultism is the New Age Movement of the 1980s and 1990s.
Today, the tentacles of occultism has affected every area of our society. Police departments are using psychics to solve crimes. Children are addicted to fantasy games like Dungeons and Dragons which introduces them to the world of the occult through role-playing. Occult shows like Angel; Charmed, Forever Knight; Millennium; Pokemon; Sabrina- The Teenage Witch; Buffy, the Vampire Slayer; The Sentinel; and Dark Angel; to name just a few can be seen on TV.
On the big screen, movies like Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings have broken box office records. Dr. Ted Beahr, a renowned Christian expert on the entertainment media with more than 20 years of experience stated, “Occult movies last year were almost as successful as family-friendly movies.”
Even college today offe classes on various aspects of the occult.
In an article titled TV shows fuel children’s interest in witchcraft”, Ananova News stated, "The Pagan Federation is claiming that TV programs Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Sabrina the Teenage Witch have fueled a rapidly growing interest in witchcraft among children. The organization says it deals with an average of 100 inquiries a month from youngsters who want to become witches, and claims it has occasionally been ’swamped’ with calls. Media officer Andy Norfolk says the Federation is to appoint its first youth officer in September after receiving calls following recent articles about paganism in teenage magazines." Ananova News, August 2000