Horoscopes and Other Such Nonsense

The revival of interest in the occult – of wizards and witches and their craft and such – is testimony to the spiritual bankruptcy of men. Astrology, crystal-gazing, fortune-telling, palmistry, and divination have become proportionally more popular. Most papers carry a horoscope section daily. There are those people who speak seriously about their zodiac sign. In 1972, Time magazine said of the new wave of occultism: “Yet for all its trivial manifestations in tea-leaf readings and ritual gewgaws, for all the outright nuts and charlatans it attracts, occultism cannot be dismissed as mere fakery or faddishness. Clearly, it is born of a religious impulse; and in many cases, it becomes in effect a substitute faith.” (June 19, 1972, p. 65). This trend has not abated. A review of movies, internet sites, and popular book titles will sustain the contention that an unusual interest in occult themes continues to prevail.

Meanwhile, for centuries, the Creator has warned his creatures to not dabble in the occult. In the Law He gave Moses, He codified death as the penalty for any who involved themselves in sorcery (Exodus 22:18; Leviticus 20:27). Of any person who referred to mediums, astrologers, fortune-tellers, and wizards, God said, “I will set my face against the person who turns to mediums and spiritists to prostitute himself by following them, and I will cut him off from his people” (Leviticus 20:6). As they prepared to enter the promised land, God said to the Israelites, “The nations you will dispossess listen to those who practice sorcery and divination. But as for you, the Lord your God has not permitted you to do so” (Deuteronomy 18:14). The Christian should note that such interest and practice is inconsistent with claiming to be a Christian. Idolatry and witchcraft and the occult arts are “acts of the sinful nature” that shut people out of “the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9; Acts 19:18-19; Galatians 5:20).

Occultism in all its forms presumes that there are influences upon human life that are better than God’s providence. It is altogether antagonistic to faith in God. God controls this universe by the word of His power (Hebrews 1:3). Occultism is a denial of the providence of God in the affairs of men. It is a form of idolatry in that it substitutes the worship of things or ‘powers’ for that of God, the Creator.

An inclination that appears to be brought to view by the interest in occultism is this: that, despite their denial of God, men possess an innate disposition to seek spiritual help, or to believe in a world beyond themselves. A ‘world’ from which they hope to attain something, either help, or empowerment. In denying God, they fill the void with astrology, witchcraft, and the dark arts of such. God has spoken about this inclination to substitute reliance on the influences of the created rather than on the Creator. He has said that we can expect it to happen. For “those who do not love the truth” follow after “every sort of evil that deceives” (cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:9-10). The sad thing about this is if people insist on not “turning to God from idolatry” (cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:9). For then, in “believing the lie,” they will be subject to “the powerful delusion God sends them” and they will “be condemned” because they “delighted in wickedness” (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12).

A spirit world exists (Ephesians 6:12; 1 Thessalonians 2:9) with Satan leading the pack. Those who give themselves to dabbling in occultism are playing in Satan’s ballpark. Conflict is the norm between these two ‘worlds’. And the prize is the souls of men. All the trappings of occultism are instruments of Satan. In fact, anything that de-emphasizes or discounts God’s influence in the lives of men and women is a form of idolatry. Horoscopes and all other such nonsense are not substitutes for the word of truth. Faith in the ‘spirit’ world is no substitute for faith in God.

Those who “love the truth” will want to “distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:14). So, they will pay attention to the source of faith: “faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). Thus, they will heed the instruction: “Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings” (Hebrews 13:9). The truth is, God is in charge (Colossians 1:17; Acts 17:24). There is no substitute. For we depend upon Him for life (Acts 17:25-28).

• Frank J Daniels, pulpit minister & teacher

Light Up the World Where You Live

“God needs our light where the world is the darkest. The blacker the night, the greater the need for a light bulb. If the bulb does not shine, it’s not because of the darkness. Darkness cannot put out a light. If the darkness increases until it is black as a cave, it is still not dark enough to extinguish a light. No one has yet smothered a light by increasing the darkness. Darkness gets darker because the light fails. When we fail to reflect Christ’s light, we let the darkness win.”

– Haddon Robinson

If darkness prevails in our world, during our generation, then some of the blame lies with us, if our lights did not shine. Perhaps we could reason that our lights were lit, therefore we did indeed shine. But consider that there is a difference between being lit and shining. Auto headlamps smeared with mud can be lit, but do not shine. A candle flame concealed inside a container is lit, but the effect of its illuminative power is muted. The glass on the old coal oil lamp had to be kept clean for its flame to shine; if the glass was covered with soot, the effect of the flame was diminished.

The Lord did not just ask us to be merely lit. … He said that we were to shine! “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). He has the expectation that Hid people will “shine like stars in the universe” (Philippians 2:15).

In the context of this latter reference, it is obvious that “complaining and arguing” diminish the effect of our ability to reflect His light. Also, a failure to “hold out the word of life” is another way in which our being lit (knowing the word ourselves) did not issue in an effective diffusion of His light. And the context in Matthew 5 leaves us plenty of scope to understand that our own behavior could be like a “bowl or basket” concealing the light that should be radiating forth in our world; whatever that behavior be, i.e., failure to learn, apathy, failure to keep on laboring at the task we were able to do, surrendering to the negative criticism of others (It is by the Lord’s directives we serve, not the opinions of others.), failure to change in accord with the Spirit’s fruit, excessive humility, which is nothing more than another form of idolatry.

(When you say that you cannot do it, and the Lord has asked you to do it, and you do not even attempt to gain whatever is necessary to equip you for the task, or you are hindered by a fear of what others might say, or you allow a spirit of timidity to prevail, you are putting yourself in the place of God. – That is idolatry!) (You may have convinced yourself that you are subject to God; but until you are willing to put aside whatever keeps you from doing all that He has set before you to do, He has not been granted dominion in your life.)

His light can shine brightly only in the lives of those who have surrendered. So, unless you are SHINING, stop complaining about the state of the world. And unless you are helping the church to SHINE, you can continue to expect the world to be unaffected, and simply to increase in its darkness. And in being able to recognize and acknowledge the terrible state of affairs which prevails in the world, you recognize and acknowledge the need for the people who claim to belong to the Lord to SHINE, therefore you are without excuse, for you are recognizing and acknowledging the need for you to SHINE. A better world does start with you.

Supposedly, Christians are transformed people: “Once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.” The proof of transformation (change) is in the living: “Live as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8). But if all we do is reflect the philosophies, opinions, and negativism of the world, we contribute to the darkness, not diminish it. It is time for Christians to be aflame with the fervor of the Lord for righteousness, upholding, in behavior and speech, all His goodness for the world to see.

• Frank J Daniels, pulpit minister & teacher

“Let your light shine before others.”

– Matthew 5:16