Witchcraft: The Enemy Within
As the church we face opposition to fulfilling our role and commission. This opposition can come from either within or without. Those doing the opposing from without are those spiritual forces that we sometimes refer to as “powers of darkness” that operate at Satan’s direction. The opposition that comes from within originates in what we know as the flesh, that is, our fallen sinful nature.
When reading through the works of the flesh listed in Galatians 5:19-21, the one work that at first glance seems to a bit out of place is witchcraft. Why would something that appears to do with the messing around with the dark side of the spiritual world be listed with things that spring right out of nasty fallen human nature? It appears to be mixing something that originates in the spiritual zone with things that originate from the zone of the human heart.
It is plain that it is from the heart that evil springs. In Mark 15:20-23 Jesus itemizes a list of nasties that originate in the heart that is similar to Paul’s list in Galatians. So we can be reasonably satisfied that that witchcraft originates in the flesh and any other spiritual dimension is activated later e.g. occult, sorcery. Being a work of the flesh, witchcraft is therefore something that Christians are not immune from.
Witchcraft can be defined as the use of an illegitimate spiritual power, either human or demonic in origin. The idea that humans can be a source of spiritual power is alien to the western mindset. It should be remembered however that our spirits are a supernatural thing, not a physical thing. Witchcraft can be a subtle, intangible thing. It is not usually obvious as such to our senses. Not many people would get up in the morning and say “I think I’ll practice witchcraft today.”
Witchcraft can be motivated by a desire of the flesh to get its own way, or to control people, circumstances or events, or by inferiority, or by a hunger for power, or by the belief that the perpetrator should have power over others, or by a sense of infallibility.
Witchcraft power is outworked primarily through illegitimate authority in the form of either rebellion or control. Control is about having power over people as just mentioned. Rebellion is the attitude that self should have all final say for itself and rejects any other authority such as parents, government or pastors. Control and rebellion are similar in that they always want the final say, be it for others with control or for self with rebellion. Witchcraft says “I have power therefore nobody tells me what to do (rebellion), I tell others what to do (control).”
Witchcraft control motivates others by fear and guilt. It is usually expressed as manipulation (fear of missing out or offending others) or intimidation (fear of consequences). Control treats others as an extension of self. It is the projection of the will of one person onto another. It is the counterfeit of leadership. It can often be conveyed in the tone of voice used. In both Greek and Hebrew the same word is used for “breath” and “spirit” which would indicate some connection between what is in a person’s spirit and what proceeds out of the mouth. Some people have even tried using witchcraft in this way against God. Occasionally a farmer can be heard on the news during a dry spell saying in a harsh, intimidating voice “If we don’t get some rain soon our crops will fail.” Only God can give rain so that harshness is therefore directed against God.
The prophet Samuel told King Saul that “Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft...” I Samuel 15:23 The “as” is in italics in the Kings James version which means it does not exist in the original Hebrew so it really reads “Rebellion is the sin of witchcraft…”
Some signs that witchcraft is in operation are bossiness, empire building, sharpness, fierceness, harshness, anger, accusation, aggressiveness, self willfulness, argumentiveness and a detectable heaviness or coolness without anything being needed to be said. Witchcraft also produces an obsession with getting its own way. Obsession with its own way is therefore a product of witchcraft and a motivation for witchcraft. In a church setting this can be expressed as counterfeit prophesies, visions or words of knowledge. Those who take up overt witchcraft practices such as astrology or sorcery will end up obsessed with their own way if they were not already.
Witchcraft is an occupational hazard to those in positions of authority e.g. police, supervisors, military, teachers etc. The flesh can corrupt genuine authority and turn into witchcraft through control if the wrong motivations take over.
Witchcraft reflects the nature of Satan. Just refer to the five “I wills” of Satan in Isaiah 14:13-14. At its extreme witchcraft can gravitate into an alliance with Satan or even the worship of Satan. It has been said that the heart of Satanism is not that Satan is the highest authority but self is. Satanists have summed up Satanism as “Do as THOU wilt” (emphasis added).
So how does all this relate to the church and to Christians individually?
First of all, witchcraft in a person, Christians included, makes that person vulnerable to the witchcraft activity of others and to the activity of the prevailing local demonic powers. The following example might clarify this point.
Some years back there commenced regular New Age fairs and workshops in Bendigo. Whenever they were held Ruth and I would come under serious attack despite much prayer and spiritual warfare. Then on one of these fair days, the day passed peacefully without incident. So what made the difference? After the previous fair when we had been attacked, we did some serious confronting, not against the spirit powers of darkness behind the fair, but against the witchcraft residing in us. That had many times more effect than all the spiritual warfare we had done previously.
In the wider church witchcraft has gotten a foothold, probably more so in Pentecostal churches than in mainstream or strictly evangelical churches. This would be due to the fact that witchcraft is the counterfeit of the anointing and where there has been no conspicuous anointing there has been nothing to counterfeit.
The book “Unmasking the Jezebel Spirit” by John Paul Jackson (Kingsway Publications) gives a number of examples of this counterfeit anointing at work. Typically someone, or sometimes a married couple, move into a church and impress everyone with their spirituality and the supposed “anointing” on their lives. Subtly they undermine the authority of the legitimate leadership then one day announce that God has anointed them to take over that church. After they do the church promptly dies.
So what motivates people to act like that? Tracing things from the fall the sequence would be:-
- Satan tells Adam and Eve, amongst other things, that “…you shall be as God…”
- Adam and Eve believe that lie and that belief (i.e. self worship) becomes a permanent component of fallen human nature.
- The human heart’s belief in that lie gives rise to sense of infallibility and the belief that self should have power over people, circumstances and events
That is the heart of witchcraft and the source of the control problem. Control is the ever present, telltale sign of witchcraft.
The perceived power of the flesh that self worship produces is misinterpreted as the true anointing and the rest, as they say, is history. Many of those labeled as the “movers and shakers” in the world and in the church are actually operating in witchcraft. The world sometimes refers to them as “control freaks.”
Is there witchcraft in Australian churches? The answer to that question is the same as to the question “is there control in Australian churches? The answer to that question is a resounding “Yes!” Overseas visitors have commented on the amount of control in some Australian churches.
It is no coincidence that the level of witchcraft control in churches is usually in direct proportion to the use of rock music. Rock music is used to “sow to the flesh”. (Galatians 6:8) That is, it is used to stimulate and stir up the flesh in an attempt to bring forth those perceived “as God” qualities such as life and power that the heart of fallen man subconsciously believes are within the natural man. And what happens when we stir up the flesh? We get more of the works of the flesh including witchcraft.
Witchcraft obsession with getting its own way is very destructive to unity. We have seen dozens of divorces in churches where witchcraft is operating as well as a few church splits. It is also the basis of churches that operate in cult mode. It also seems that those in the world who are heavily into overt forms of witchcraft usually end up living on their own.
Witchcraft also operates through feminism, sometimes blatantly. In the church that can result in men being reluctant to be involved in church life or taking any leadership role.
Witchcraft produces a reluctance to pray because prayer acknowledges a high power than that contained in self. It also hates the true prophetic for similar reasons. Jezebel was a classic example of this.
Witchcraft puts its faith in the power of self. That makes it very difficult for those operating in witchcraft to operate by faith in God or to trust God. The result for a Christian is the folly of an unsurrendered will and life. Lack of faith and trust also result in fear and suspicion.
There is currently a drought in the land and in the church at large. The Bible links drought with rebellion (Psalms 68:6) which in turn it links with witchcraft. This drought could turn out to be the worst ever. I suspect God may choose to prolong the drought just to prove the pagan rain dances are useless. Galatians 3:1 also links witchcraft with disobedience to the truth.
The main effect of witchcraft on others is discouragement. Elijah received a major hit of discouragement when Jezebel sent him a threatening message. It can also produce in others frustration, dullness of mind, poor concentration, indecisiveness, depression, moodiness, confusion and restlessness. Witchcraft is having a stifling, choking effect on the church and on individuals
Witchcraft is a sin the church needs to deal with in itself before it can tackle it in the world. If it does not it will be a sitting duck for any attacks the enemy throws against it if it goes into battle. Like all sin witchcraft does not just exist in a person at the time of its operation but it is something that resides in each of us long term and occasionally (or frequently) reveals itself in some way. (Romans 7:17)
But what about witchcraft individually? James 2:10 indicates that sin is a package deal and it is a case of guilty of one, guilty of all. Notice that the New Testament usually talks about sin singular rather than sin plural. Witchcraft is one more sin that resides in each one of us to some extent.
For the church in this nation to break free and move forward in the purposes of God, witchcraft is one sin that it must in humility confront within itself. If it tries it skirt around it, the church will also skirt around the mountain as Israel did in the wilderness for forty years.
(C) 2003 Laurence Webb