Not Everything Called “Christian” Is

There has always been a great temptation to append the adjective Christian to whatever one favors in order to justify it. Recently we have seen the phenomenon of so-called “Gay Christians” in an apparent attempt to synthesize homosexuality and Christianity. This attempt is made in sheer defiance of the plain teaching of God’s Word. Like heterosexual sin (e.g., adultery, fornication etc) homosexuality is a sin (1 Cor 6:9; 1 Tim 1:10). The nomenclature Gay Christian makes about as much sense as “thieving Christian.” God’s Word says, “You shall not steal” (Ex 20:15; Matt 19:18; Rom 13:9). If someone said, “I have an orientation toward stealing and you need to accept me as I am” we should reply, “Yes, we understand that you have an orientation toward stealing. We all do. Scripture calls it sin. No, we need to love you enough to call you to recognize theft for what it is, to call you to repent of it. and to embrace Christ alone by faith alone for your salvation, and to stop stealing.” Paul says exactly that: “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need” (Eph 4:8; ESV). He says the same thing about homosexual and heterosexual sin. Indeed, this is especially true about sexual sin since the Apostle Paul clearly says that it belongs to a distinct class of sins. All other sins are “outside the body but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body” (1 Cor 6:9; ESV).

In those cases we see the danger of taking what has become a socially acceptable, even socially favored orientation and/or behavior (homosexuality) and, in effect, baptizing it—i.e., making what Scripture calls sin into a virtue—which is perverse. It turns the truth and godliness on its head. It is calling good evil and evil good. The prophet Isaiah spoke to this directly: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” (Isa 5:20; ESV). We are obligated by God’s Word, because of the grace of God toward us sinners in Christ, to name things what they are.

It is in light of this biblical pattern of thinking and speaking that we must evaluate an attempt recently brought to light in The Christian Post to establish so-called Christian witchcraft.  Valerie Love is a self-proclaimed sorceress and a witch. She is organizing a conference featuring a speaker who claims that Jesus was a sorcerer, an ironic claim since that was one of the earliest attacks upon Christianity by the pagan critics. They argued that Jesus was not God the Son incarnate, as the Christians confessed, but rather a sophisticated magician who played tricks and used magic. That this sort of nonsense finds a hearing tells us how desperately ignorant of Scripture we have become in our time.

In 1 Samuel 15:21 witchcraft (or divination) is expressly called sin. 2 Kings 9:22 characterizes wicked queen Jezebel as a “witch” and not in a good way. In Micah 5:12 the Lord promises to cut off witchcraft (the ESV has “sorceries”) from Israel’s hands. Witchcraft is listed as one of the manifestations of paganism. The American Standard Version of Nahum 3:4 accuses Israel of being like a “mistress of witchcrafts” and who has corrupted the nation through her “witchcrafts.”

It is not as if witchcraft and sorcery are purely Old Testament concerns. Among the “works of the flesh” he contrasts with the fruit of the Holy Spirit are: “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God (Gal 5:19–21; ESV; emphasis added). Paul uses the very same language about sorcery (witchcraft) that he used about sexual immorality and other gross sins. Those who practice these things, who do them impenitently and who lead others to do them have placed themselves in grave spiritual jeopardy. There is no such thing as a Christian idolater, a Christian prostitute, etc. There are things to which the adjective Christian may not be added. There is no reconciling Christianity and witchcraft. They are inimical. They are utterly contradictory.

There are two aspects of witchcraft that make it utterly incompatible and abhorrent to Christianity. First, divination is an attempt to gain knowledge of things that God has not revealed. Deuteronomy 29:29 says that the “secret things belong to Yahweh our God but the revealed things belong to us and to our children.” Scripture is the place where God has revealed his moral will and his grace. We are not to go beyond Scripture to find his moral will. There is natural revelation of God’s existence and his righteousness and even of his moral law (love God and love your neighbor) but divination is an attempt to learn more than that, to contact the dead, to see into God’s secrets. It is diabolical. The second aspect is the attempt to gain power or control over the course of things in this life. That power belongs to God. He arranges. He disposes. Witchcraft is an attempt to steal from God divine control over things. It is idolatry.

The ancient world was rife with witchcraft and idolatry and in our post-Christian world we should not be surprised to see it making a comeback. The Apostle John had a Revelation from the living Christ, who spoke to the Seven Churches of Asia Minor (c. 93 AD) and warned them of the dangers of the same sorts of sins that Paul listed in Galatians 5: “The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death” (Rev 21:7–8; ESV; emphasis added). We need not guess what our Lord Jesus thinks about sorcerers and blasphemers who describe the holy Son of God as a magician or sorcerer. One shudders even to see or say such words. May the Lord Jesus have mercy on Valerie Love and the others who teach such things by opening her eyes and theirs (as he has graciously opened our blind eyes) and grant to them a true and saving knowledge of Christ the Lord. The Word who was with God and who is God has no need of tricks or sorcery. He has already dispatched the Evil One and the lake of fire awaits him at the judgment and all those who practice his dark arts.

One final note. There are strains of modern evangelical, charismatic, and Pentecostal Christianity that are not far distant from witchcraft. This is almost certainly why some Christians are deceived and seek to merge sorcery and Christianity. They are forever seeking secret knowledge from God and seeking to exercise quasi-divine power (e.g., naming and claiming things). They call themselves “gods” and “Christs” and the like. They sell magic handkerchiefs and trinkets to the gullible.

Jesus died for charlatans and sinners of all sorts and he was raised for our justification but now is the time to repent and flee to him. The wrath of God is relentless and his Word is clear. Choose this day whom you will serve, the Jesus who was raised from the dead or an idol fabricated in the minds of liars and shamans. You may not have both. The one leads to live and fellowship with God. The other to an endless lake of torment.

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