Do You Believe in Magic? Pt. 2: Faith or Formula

Do You Believe in Magic? Pt. 2: Faith or Formula [TRANSCRIPT]

Romans 3:20a says,
because by the works of the Law none of mankind will be justified in His sight;

Ephesians 2:8,9 says,
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Romans 3:27-28 says,
Where then is boasting? It has been excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.
 
Galatians 3:2 tells us,
This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?

It continues in Galatians 3:5-6 when it says,
So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Just as Abraham BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.

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

Hebrews 11:6 says it plainly,
And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for the one who comes to God must believe that He exists, and that He proves to be One who rewards those who seek Him.

I think I understand why it’s easier for people to turn to or rely on magic or formulas to try and make sense of the world. When the burden of figuring out life falls on you individually, you suddenly find yourself feeling inadequate. And then along comes someone with a plan, Five Steps to Happiness and Fulfillment. Or maybe it’s “The Hidden Secrets to Life Now Revealed,” just follow these simple steps. It’s certainly easier than trusting God and believing what He said without knowing what direction it will take. So, will it be Faith or Formula that directs our lives? Let’s look again at the question, “Do You Believe in Magic?”

***

This is Part 2 of what I’ve called, “Do You Believe in Magic?”  Now, remember how I defined magic? It wasn’t the work of illusion or trickery that I’m talking about. Neither did I narrow the definition to witchcraft or hocus-pocus. I said that magic is, “Having or creating a formula whereby a person can have or achieve the results that they desire.” It can come in the form of magical rites or incantations like you would expect in some occultic context for those seeking to move natural or supernatural forces toward their purpose. But also, in the context of the topic of Deception, in can come in any kind of formula which seeks to move or manipulate reality for one’s own purpose. Today, this can be seen in many forms. The thing that all of these have in common is that they believe that they control the outcome through their following the formula whatever it may be.

What I want to do now is delve into some forms that we can see where this idea of magic, as I’ve mentioned, is applied and deceives individuals today. The deceptive aspects comes into play because they turn people’s lives away from God. You see, although we live in a very scientific age where science is seen as the premier source of truth and information, science doesn’t have answer the mankind’s deepest questions.

I mean, have you ever pondered why people on occasions and in certain settings have or express a sense of wonder? Whether it’s gasping in awe at something in nature or staring into the eyes of a newborn, a moment grabs you and you have this sudden sense of wonder. It’s a feeling that there is more than what can see or touch. This need for a sense of wonder is in us. It was placed there by the Creator. But the enemy twists and distorts this sense in order to deceive mankind by turning them away from the Creator. Just like in the Garden, the liar points away from God. He tempts humanity to believe that secrets and meaning are found in themselves or in nature, that greater destinies await them.

And so, the enemy has birthed a host of deceptive alternatives to lead mankind away from God. He advocates pathways to fulfillment in religious philosophies, lifestyles and methodologies. But, what they all share in common is that they all lead away from the True and the Living God while promising freedom, enlightenment, and fulfillment. And they also each have their formulas of how to reach their stated goals. What I want to do now is look at some specific examples. I also want to see if we can spot what they share in common.

I remember someone saying that there were all basically only two religions in the world, Christianity or Hinduism. The atheist Aldous Huxley is quoted as saying, “Hinduism is the perennial philosophy at is core of all religions.” Huxley of course rejected God and Christianity and the gods of Hinduism don’t exist or resemble the God revealed in Scripture. Nut, what all this together implies is that there are two distinct and opposite directions of reaching divine realities. One is based on faith while the other is based on achievement.

Another way to express that is to say that there is the way of Faith or the way of achievement in Works. Let me explain. In Hinduism, enlightenment or Nirvana is attained through works. This would include meditative methodologies, dealing with karma in the payment of past lives, knowledge and progressive steps towards oneness with the universe. Simplified, you work your way up the ladder. It’s up to you. Personal individual achievement is the way to freedom. Follow the steps, do the required works. You make it. You do the magic.

Animistic religions believe that there are spirits in things, places and creatures that must be placated through offerings and works in order to receive blessings, good luck and good things. There is no one God. Instead, there are many deities who must be satisfied along the way.

Add to that Ancestor worship where the departed are both revered and feared and they aide and provide guidance in this life and our journey into the next. These practices sometimes are combined with animistic practices in order to answer the questions of the afterlife and such realities. Again, specified works and steps must be followed in order to have or achieve the goal. The mystical and the magical is clearly in view.

Of course, in the area of the mystical, the mythologies of all of them point back to the well-head which is Babylon. Here the mystery religions gave birth to a plethora of branches that are as varied as the nations where they were found. From the secretive mystery religions to the open symbols that we see, idols and gods of Babylon, Sumer, Assyria, Egypt, Greece, and Rome, the demonic rebranded the details but kept the basic cast. Whether it was Baal, Molech, Chesmosh, Tammuz, Asther, Zeus, or Aphrodite, the gods were petty, wicked, monstrous and demanding. Adherents had to follow the steps, provide the sacrifices, propitiate the gods. Do the things that the gods demanded and you’ll get the desired results…. maybe. (i.e. the prophets of Baal and Elijah)

Today, the shadows for instance of Islam, the demands of Al-lah equally shout out the commands of the Five Pillars in order to avoid hell fire… maybe.

Have you seen the pattern yet? Do or follow required steps and you get there.

But there’s more. For instance, today we have the New Age Movement. Here we have an amalgamation of ancient paganism, eastern religions and pseudo-scientific evolutionary positivism. Now, that’s a mouthful. With a mixture of reincarnation, auras, crystals, nature powers, avatars and evolutionary progression, the New Age promises oneness and personal godhood. There are no singular instructive steps, but each of the many New Age branches do have their steps. And all of them rely on the individual adherent doing the steps, you follow the path and then they can achieve the evolutionary enlightenment, oneness or godhood.

Now understand something, New Age ideas springing up from the mind-sciences and Eastern religions have even crept their way into Christian practices and ideologies. The concept that individuals have the ability to alter reality through concerted effort, meditations, spoken positive confessions and visualizations have found their way into current church practices. I mention them because any ideas or practices that speak contrary to trusting in the sovereign Work and Word of God has no place in the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Having said that, I hope you see that the enemy has worked very hard to find ways to tap into mankind’s desire to encounter the supernatural while at the same time capture their hearts and point them away from the True and the Living God. Where all of these I have mentioned and many more I haven’t, all of them rely on the works of man to attain the spiritual desires and goals of mankind. To put it simply, the enemy wants humanity to turn to themselves away from the One who can really affect their life and affect their personal salvation. To them it’s salvation by works.

But what does the Word of God tell us? With God our deeds, our works are insufficient to make us right with God. Romans 3:20a says, “because by the works of the Law none of mankind will be justified in His sight;” The deception of the enemy is to convince people that they can be made right by doing things. He then presents them with steps to occupy them in that path. But it won’t do. That’s why God had to intervene. Christ came to provide the way. That way is a gift of grace. As Ephesians 2:8,9 says,
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Before God, no one can boast and say that they earned their way into His presence. If anyone could have earned their way to God, then it would have been unnecessary for Jesus to come and to die. But He did come and He did provide a way. And those who devise or accept some method or some formula to earn God’s favor are wrong. What God alone provides comes by faith not through some formula or the keeping a set of rules. As God in Romans 3:27-28 says,
Where then is boasting? It has been excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.

God has told us how we can come to Him. It is by faith. It’s not a formula of how much faith you have. It a simple matter of believing Him, believing what He said. We are to reject all the lies that demand us providing something beyond what God has provided in Christ. Paul asked the people of Galatia a great question on this in Galatians 3:2.
This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?
He continues in Galatians 3:5-6.
So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Just as Abraham BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.

From the beginning, the enemy has worked hard to deceive mankind not to accept what God has said. He has spread his deceptive lies to direct people to work hard and religiously diverted their attention from what God has provided. He mocks at the idea that someone can simply believe what God says. He takes the idea that we are responsible for our decisions and he morphs it something else. He makes people believe that we are responsible, that we can control the outcome. In fact, it was because we were unable to change our outcome that God became involved and provided a way. And He has revealed to us with His promises and His provision. We simply need to turn from our way and trust / believe what He said. Romans 10:17 says it simply, “So, faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” Believe, trust the words, the promises and the provisions of God.

Even in the area of faith there is confusion and possible deception from the enemy. There are those who for instance teach that it involves the amount of faith that you are to have. They even offer steps to strengthen the resolve of your faith. They say, “Well, speak it. Declare it and it will be so.” But faith is not a self-created unction. It is not a feverous zeal stirred up so that if there is failure then it’s your fault. This too can become a form of magic, relying on formulas of a sort to gain a desired result.

No, faith is simple trust. It’s a heart and mind that has surrendered to a sovereign God. The truth is, every aspect of our relationship with God is based in and exists on the basis of faith. I believe in someone I have never seen and I call Him my Lord and my Master. I trust that what He has said is true and rely on Him to provide what only He can provide. He made promises and I believe them. When you trust someone, you not only believe what they say. You also believe in the persons themselves. I believe God.

Hebrews 11:6 says.
And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for the one who comes to God must believe that He exists, and that He proves to be One who rewards those who seek Him.

I believe Him. And you know what? He’s proven His faithfulness. The enemy wants us to question God, to doubt God. He has erected countless alternatives and counterfeits to deceive us. But I know that the Devil is a liar and a theft. And I know that God is true to His Word and His character.

My search for wonder is answered in God. He alone is able to amaze at every step of the way. He truly “proves to be the One who rewards those who seek Him.

It is in faith and not in formula that you will find life, truth and the Living God. Trusting God is not magic, but marveling in God’s reality, it’s a bit magically wonderous.

And so, once again we see that Truth Matters.

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