Do You Believe in Magic? Pt. 1: Faith or Formula

Do You Believe in Magic? Pt. 1: Faith or Formula [TRANSCRIPT]

Deuteronomy 18:10-12a says,
There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, a soothsayer, one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who consults the dead.
For whoever does these things is detestable to the LORD;

Jesus said in Matthew 6:7,
And when you are praying, do not use thoughtless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard because of their many words.

Acts 8:9-11 says,
Now a man named Simon had previously been practicing magic in the city and astonishing the people of Samaria, claiming to be someone great; and all the people, from small to great, were paying attention to him, saying, “This man is the Power of God that is called Great.” And they were paying attention to him because for a long time he had astounded them with his magic arts.

Later in Acts 8:18-21 it says concerning this same magician,
Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, “Give this authority to me as well, so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could acquire the gift of God with money! “You have no part or share in this matter, for your heart is not right before God.

In Acts 13:6-10 Paul encounters another magician,
When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they found a magician, a Jewish false prophet whose name was Bar-Jesus, who was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence. This man summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. But Elymas the magician (for so his name is translated) was opposing them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. But Saul, who was also known as Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, stared at him, and said, “You who are full of all deceit and fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not stop making crooked the straight ways of the Lord?

1 John 4:1 says,
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

Romans 10:17 says,
So, faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

When I say the word, Magic, what comes to mind?  Do you think of the magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat? Or maybe you think of some performer who saws a woman in half or pulls an object out of thin air? Or, what about a calculating scheme to get what I want? In our next step of looking at deception, I’m asking a simple question, “Do You Believe in Magic?” And why does it matter?

***

Now, to begin with I want to clarify some terminology. When I use the word magic, I’m not talking about an illusionist. An illusionist is a person who through skillful trickery can make you believe that you’re seeing one thing when what is really happening is a trick, it’s a slight of hand. I’ve done some tricks like this before. I have a trick bag and using this bag I can make it appear as if I’m pulling objects out of what appears to be an empty bag. But it’s all a trick. The bag only appears to be empty. And with the proper manipulation and diversion, I can produce something to appear from an empty bag. It’s a trick.

Now, don’t get me wrong, such trickery can and has been used by deceitful persons to make them believe that they have powers which really, they don’t have. And if the person’s motives are to lie and to deceive, they should be avoided and called out. Now, we’ll be looking at some of this today.

But what I mean by the term magic is different. The dictionary defines magic as: the use of means such as charms, spells believed to have supernatural power over natural forces, using magical rites or incantations. That’s the dictionary.

I want to get more basic than that. Remember, what we’ve been looking is the subject of Deception. And more specifically the deception of the enemy the devil. Remember, he works to turn people away from God and towards a situation where instead of believing and obeying God, they forge another path, a way where they can supposedly be in control.

So, the view of magic I want to see, basically comes down to a having or creating a formula whereby a person can have or achieve the results that they desire. Even in the most extreme examples of the occult, magic breaks down to going through a ritual, which is a formula, in order to get the results that I want. You do certain things and you get certain results. There are various levels of formulas like I mentioned from the dark rituals of the occult all the way to simple formulas of just doing certain steps and expecting certain results.

Now, on some level this sounds very pragmatic and practical. I mean, I takes certain steps and then I should get certain results. I work hard so I should expect certain results. But when talking about magic I’m not talking about reaching achieved goals. I’m not talking about training for a race and then finishing well, due to the training and the discipline.

No, magic is a way of by-passing prescribed methods of achievement. It’s taking a short-cut from the right path in order to get and control the outcome. The operative word in magic is control. I take these steps, follow this formula and by-pass the way that I should go in order to get what I want. I have the formula. I do the steps. I should get what I want. Every step along the way, I’m in control. I control the present. I control the future.

Do you understand how this applies to deception? The lie of the enemy is right down this lane. The lie questions what God says. That’s where it starts. The lie then substitutes or provides an alternative or an alternate lie or so-called truth. And then the lie tempts with the offer to control. You get to decide.

Now, contrast that with the truth of God and you can see the deception. God’s Word alone is truth. Any substitute is prohibited. Control is an illusion. He alone is God. He commands us to trust Him, to obey Him and to follow Him. This is the way of life.

Now, the Bible speaks to the subject both in commands and examples of how this plays out. The children of God were to trust and obey God alone. Any alternatives were prohibited, especially those that touched the spiritual realm. In Deuteronomy 18:10-12a it says this:
There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, a soothsayer, one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who consults the dead. For whoever does these things is detestable to the LORD;

In these verses we hear the direct command from the God that they were to completely stay away from any form of spiritism. This most certainly was in the area where devilish involvement was evident. Also understand this. In all spiritist forms, there are directed formulations that the adherents had to follow. In spiritism, the follower must do certain things in prescribed manners if they were to expect that they wanted. There were techniques. There were incantations and designated manners of getting desired information or results. The draw of course was that if the follower did them, the spirits would deliver.

God was adamant in His words concerning these practices. The Lord knows the devilish dangers and deceptions that are present when people become involved in demonic practices. He also knows that turning to such practices puts a person in direct opposition to Him. A person who goes in this direction has turned away from the Living God for truth, for help and for guidance. Instead, anyone doing such things are trusting in other so-called gods and their practices in order to get what they want.

For Instance in the New Testament we also see examples of how this can be expressed.  For instance, Jesus made it clear that getting attention of God is not accessed by some religious formula. Doing certain steps or quoting certain words are not guarantors of God hearing you and responding to your requests. In the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6:7, He said,
And when you are praying, do not use thoughtless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard because of their many words.

Jesus made it clear. The world has formulas, repetitions, mantras, or whatever name they go by. God doesn’t respond because you say the magic words in the right order and the prescribed number of times. God wants to hear from you, from your heart, not some empty repetitive formula. Don’t expect to push certain buttons and get either God’s attention or His response.

Also, it’s no secret in human history that people have sought to take a short-cut in a route to power and control. There are a couple of incidents in the New Testament where persons have sought to use magic as a way to provide power and positions for themselves. In Acts 8:9-11 we see one of them:
Now a man named Simon had previously been practicing magic in the city and astonishing the people of Samaria, claiming to be someone great; and all the people, from small to great, were paying attention to him, saying, “This man is the Power of God that is called Great.” And they were paying attention to him because for a long time he had astounded them with his magic arts.

Here we are told that a man named Simon used magic and he loved the attention he received in the eyes of the people. The verses continue to tells us that when he saw the Apostles displaying power, the power of God, he wanted in on it. Acts 8:18-21 says,
Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, “Give this authority to me as well, so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could acquire the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this matter, for your heart is not right before God.”

The Bible said that Simon thought that what the Apostles were doing was like what he had done. He wanted access. He basically asked the Apostles, “Hey, sell me the trick. Let me buy the formula. I want to have it.”

And what does Peter do? Well, he responds very firmly. He says, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could acquire the gift of God with money!” Listen, the power of God is not for sale. No one owns the power of God, but God alone. And God and His power are not for sale or manipulation. He does not share His glory with anyone. He alone is God. And God only dispenses His power through His humble servants who follow and obey Him.

Later in Acts 13:6-10 the Apostle Paul encounters a similar situation.
When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they found a magician, a Jewish false prophet whose name was Bar-Jesus, who was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence. This man summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. But Elymas the magician (for so his name is translated) was opposing them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. But Saul, who was also known as Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, stared at him, and said, “You who are full of all deceit and fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not stop making crooked the straight ways of the Lord?

Right there in the halls of power, this magician sees his position being threatened because of the testimony of Paul and Barnabas. He had used his magic to gain his place and now he saw it slipping away. So, what does he do? He seeks to use his influence undermine the testimony of God that’s been given to proconsul. Paul minces no words in condemning this false prophet. “You who are full of all deceit and fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not stop making crooked the straight ways of the Lord?

Listen, God’s Words are true and mighty. The enemy comes in to distort the ways and Words of God. Next week we’re going to look at specific examples of how the enemy has influenced and deceived the world with his deceptive methods, his formulas to power. These can be seen in philosophies, religions and they have even crept into forms of Christian practices. We’ll look at that next week.

But for now, know this. Hear what God has told us. 1 John 4:1 says,
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

The way of the believer is not in false ways or creative formulas. Access to God does not come by means of some incantations, repetitious wordings or recitations. No! God tells us that we come to Him in faith not by formulas. God has spoken and we are to turn and believe in Him. Romans 10:17 says, “So, faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

We believe Him, not ourselves, not any magical methods. We trust what He has told us. We surrender any notion of control and we place ourselves in the loving trustworthy hands of His desire and His will. Knowing Him we know that it’s the safest place we can be.

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus. But to trust and obey.
That’s the truth.
And the Truth Matters.

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