In Africa, witchcraft is not always as subtle as spiritual exploitation, rebellion, divination or deception. It is often in your face, and a bold declaration of mockery just as Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, mocked God by flaunting his human but frail power. It is becoming a greater reality as we witness how African pastors are engaging in the occult to acquire “power” for self-benefit and enrichment. Such pastors abandon all godliness and the path of the Lord to dance with the devil, yet they proclaim themselves servants of God! They then actually “minister” in the power of the devil to be famous or rich.
But witchcraft is nothing new in the midst of God’s people. We read in Ezekiel 8 when Ezekiel was taken by the Lord into the Temple: 5 Then he said to me, “Son of man, look toward the north.” So I looked, and in the entrance north of the gate of the altar I saw this idol of jealousy. 6 And he said to me, “Son of man, do you see what they are doing—the utterly detestable things the Israelites are doing here, things that will drive me far from my sanctuary? But you will see things that are even more detestable.” 7 Then he brought me to the entrance to the court. I looked, and I saw a hole in the wall. 8 He said to me, “Son of man, now dig into the wall.” So I dug into the wall and saw a doorway there. 9 And he said to me, “Go in and see the wicked and detestable things they are doing here.” 10 So I went in and looked, and I saw portrayed all over the walls all kinds of crawling things and unclean animals and all the idols of Israel. 11 In front of them stood seventy elders of Israel, and Jaazaniah son of Shaphan was standing among them. Each had a censer in his hand, and a fragrant cloud of incense was rising. 12 He said to me, “Son of man, have you seen what the elders of Israel are doing in the darkness, each at the shrine of his own idol? They say, ‘The Lord does not see us; the Lord has forsaken the land.’” 13 Again, he said, “You will see them doing things that are even more detestable.” 14 Then he brought me to the entrance of the north gate of the house of the Lord, and I saw women sitting there, mourning the god Tammuz. 15 He said to me, “Do you see this, son of man? You will see things that are even more detestable than this.” 16 He then brought me into the inner court of the house of the Lord, and there at the entrance to the temple, between the portico and the altar, were about twenty-five men. With their backs toward the temple of the Lord and their faces toward the east, they were bowing down to the sun in the east. 17 He said to me, “Have you seen this, son of man? Is it a trivial matter for the people of Judah to do the detestable things they are doing here? Must they also fill the land with violence and continually arouse my anger? Look at them putting the branch to their nose! 18 Therefore I will deal with them in anger; I will not look on them with pity or spare them. Although they shout in my ears, I will not listen to them.”
Israel suffered judgment because of her idolatry and witchcraft, especially flirting with Baal worship. The revival in the time of Josiah (2 Kings 22) clearly exposes the deep level of witchcraft among Israelites. Thus from the days of the old to the church under the New Covenant, nothing has changed. We still struggle with such diabolical worship, all the while mocking God. Yes, even the devil can and does perform works of great wonder, and yes, a lot of people in churches have been fooled. People have even been fooled by people pretending to be speaking in the Holy Spirit’s tongue, but they are speaking a demonic language! How we need God’s discernment and wisdom to stand against such blatant deception in the church! All supernatural power comes ultimately, from either God or Satan. God gives power to those who believe the truth. But it is the opposite with Satan, whose nature is deception. Satan gives power to those who believe a lie.
Witchcraft bolsters the devil’s lies with mystery, pseudo-science, ancient knowledge, new knowledge and so on. This is the sad reality of the time we live in. There are thus those who are operating on the platform of the church by operating intentionally, or maybe intentionally, in a deceptive spirit that also seeks to destroy, to steal and to kill. This is the reality and we can no longer turn a blind eye. At the end of the day, we think we can fool people, which may be so, but we will never fool God. If we play with profane fire while mocking God, we shall indeed be burned by such fire.
One of the greatest allures that draws the crowd is money. It is thus no wonder that the occult and money are often connected, because just as the devil promised Jesus plenty of wealth and glory, just so the devil promises treasures of the world. In churches you hear of how magic money appears out of nowhere, and how people’s bank accounts are suddenly and magically filled with funds. Do we really think for a moment this is how God operates, when Jesus how many times taught to seek the treasures in heaven and not the riches on earth? Do we really think God has become so cheap to resort to parlour tricks of making money appear and for people’s bank accounts to fill up? This is yet another cheap trick from the devil, yet it is also coupled with dangerous occult power for the intention is to use the magical appearance of money, for example, to draw people away from the light and into the dark.
Indeed, we cannot serve God and mammon (Matthew 6:24), for it is like following God and the world. It is no wonder that during the Middle Ages, mammon was commonly personified as the demon of wealth and greed. After all, it says in “1 Timothy 6:10: For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” And this is exactly what is happening in churches these days. The devil draws people away from the faith through occult power, or simple trickery or eye foolery, by seducing them with promises of riches, wealth and fortune.
Another drawing card is healings. People after all love signs and wonders and miracles. And yes, Jesus healed many and so did His followers. And God still heals today. But let us not be so naïve as not to consider how many healings taking place these days in churches is mostly fake, thus a set-up to deceive people to believe something which is not authentic. And if not fake and if God is not involved, then the third alternative is the final and real possibility: demonic power. And for this reason some in churches do resort to connect with demonic powers in the hope of having the power of healing. As mentioned, healing signs and wonders and miracles certainly draws the crowds, and with a crowd so often comes money and even fame. We need to really test every spirit, and every healing to see if it is God, or if it is a demon involved or if it is simply fake.
Remember, there are many people in the Bible other than Jesus that had the gift of healing. The point to note here is that it wasn’t actually them doing the healing, but the Holy Spirit in them. They, alone, had no power. God used them to perform these miracles for His glory. In each instance, God gets all the glory. Just so, if people do perform real healings yet without God, then another spirit must be involved. Just like another spirit being involved when it comes to fortune telling for example. Thus witchcraft in action.
In conclusion, the Bible mentions in many places that we are not to dabble in witchcraft, sorcery, or consult with those that do, such as mediums and witches. Sure, there are a lot of fakers out there just trying to get money, but there is a contingent of people that really do have access to these dark things. The danger here is that when we consult with them (psychics, witches, medium), we are going outside of God’s kingdom and trying to get answers from a source that is not from God. Demonic or not, this is not a wise choice. Demons, being supernatural beings, have supernatural abilities that they can use to lead us astray. A demon will never have your best in mind for you.
We may think we do not practice witchcraft, but are we sure? If we operate in any other spirit except the Holy Spirit we move in witchcraft. If we operate in any other spirit expect the Spirit of God then we dabble in a different spirit which is the occult! Make no mistake. The Spirit of God is against witchcraft in whatever form it takes, from divination to magic to rebellion to word curses and even works of the flesh. Again, remember the works of the flesh which according to Galatians 5 are as follows (19-21): adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like.
Notice that witchcraft is listed right alongside adultery and fornication. Witchcraft is a serious offense in any manifestation. As a work of the flesh, witchcraft violates the First Commandment: “You shall have no other gods before me” (for one engages in other powers). The flesh opposes the move of the Spirit and resists all things spiritual. This is a serious struggle because Paul assures us that those who practice witchcraft will not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:21).
There is indeed a wrath coming again those who continually seek to dabble in the ways of the devil, as Paul mentioned in Roman 1. We also read in “Revelations 9: 20 But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk. 21 And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.” We need to understand over the years there has been a definite push for the occult to flood the earth. The devil pushes to get more people involved in the occult or to study occultism, because you then open a barn door through which you can first be oppressed by demons and then to be possessed. It is not just the occult, but to get people, including Christians, interested even in Eastern mysticism such as yoga and Reiki.
Through such practises of witchcraft, once the demons have seduced their way into someone’s life, they can begin their work of deception and manipulation. This allows for the rottenness of the spirit, resulting in greater submission to demonic forces. This will lead to greater demonic powers taking possession of a person for the purpose of wicket influence. And if someone operates demonically, they then can manipulate others demonically to become slaves and pawns to the devils’ work. Indeed, the earth is being flooded with occult knowledge, resulting in more people being drawn into this dark spiritual world. They are getting involved not only in the occult such as witchcraft and Satanism but also into the sects, cults and secret societies.
It is even sad how people are being exploited and manipulated in churches to do something, or to act in a certain way, or to believe in something, which is contrary to the Word or God or the move of the Holy Spirit. Spiritual exploitation and manipulation are also forms of spiritual witchcraft. We even commit spiritual murder when we lead someone away from Jesus, just like the Pharisees and Sadducees who had shut the heavens (read of the Lord’s seven woes in Matthew 23). Indeed, over the years there has been plenty of talk about how pastors, especially in Africa, use demonic forces to influence and oppress people. And yes, they will even curse people. And then we also find churches preaching and advocating New Age teachings and beliefs (such as the law of attraction), coupled with humanism, self-enlightenment and Eastern mysticism. This is all a form of spiritual deception which is pagan by nature and witchcraft by intent.
Yet, the Lord has said that He will break this branch of witchcraft in the churches. For the rod of Moses will devour the rod of the sorcerer, just as Paul confronted Elymas the sorcerer. The Lord is all-consuming fire and He is a jealous God. He is calling for a Bride without spot or wrinkle. He is calling for a Bride that is full of glory and not witchcraft. He is calling for a Bride that will serve Him and not rebel and who moves in the Spirit and not the flesh. It is time to repent of our witchcraft, and if we are uncertain if we are truly moving in God’s Spirit and Truth, then we need to seek Him, and we need to do so right now. We are called to speak life, truth and holiness, and not to speak with the forked tongue of the great deceiver, or act by any other power of spirit except the Holy Spirit.