Paganism 35

(NOTE: Some of the themes of these articles may not be appropriate for young readers. Please keep that in mind when sharing this information).

It is written:

“False messiahs and false prophets will come and do great miracles and wonders, trying to fool the people God has chosen, if that is possible.” (Matthew 24:24)

As we learned in our last study, the Old Testament teaches that pagans have some limited access to supernatural power which are provided by demonic forces. The New Testament also repeatedly teaches us about this same fact.

The Book of Acts records an encounter between the Gospel preacher Philip and Simon the Sorcerer:

Acts 8:9-13-Now there was a man named Simon who lived in that city. Before Philip came there, Simon had been doing magic and amazing all the people of Samaria. He bragged and called himself a great man. 10  All the people—the least important and the most important—believed what he said. They said, “This man has the power of God that is called ‘the Great Power.'” 11  Simon amazed the people with his magic for so long that the people became his followers. 12  But Philip told the people the Good News about God’s kingdom and the power of Jesus Christ. Men and women believed Philip and were baptized. 13  Simon himself also believed, and after he was baptized, he stayed close to Philip. When he saw the miraculous signs and powerful things Philip did, he was amazed.

Early Christian writers tell us a great deal about Simon.

“There was a Samaritan, Simon, a native of the village called Gitto, who in the reign of Claudius Caesar, and in your royal city of Rome, did mighty acts of magic. . . . He was considered a god, and as a god was honored by you with a statue. This statue was erected on the Tiber River, between the two bridges. It bore the following inscription in the language of Rome: “To Simon, the holy God.” . . . And almost all the Samaritans, and a few even of other nations, worship him. They acknowledge him as the first god.” (Justin Martyr (c. 160, E), 1.171.)

“The Samaritans, Simon and Menander, did many mighty works by magic and deceived many. They remain deceived. Even among yourselves [i.e., the pagan Romans], as I said before, Simon was in the royal city of Rome in the reign of Claudius Caesar. He so greatly astonished the sacred Senate and the Roman people that he was considered a god. He was honored with a statue, just like the others whom you honor as gods. . . . I advise you to destroy that statue.” (Justin Martyr (c. 160, E), 1.182.)

“Simon the Samaritan was the magician of whom Luke, the disciple and follower of the apostles, [writes]. . . . He set himself eagerly to contend against the apostles, in order that he himself might seem to have been a supernatural being. So he applied himself with still greater zeal to the study of the entirety of magic arts, so he could bewilder and overpower multitudes of men. This was his method during the reign of Claudius Caesar, who honored Simon with a statue because of his magical power, according to what is said. This man, then, was glorified by many persons as if he were a god. And he taught that it was himself who appeared among the Jews as the Son. . . . All sorts of heresies derive their origin from this Simon of Samaria. He formed his sect in the following manner: At Tyre, a city of Phoenicia, he redeemed from slavery a certain woman named Helena. He used to take her along with him. He declared that this woman was the first conception of his mind.” (Irenaeus (c. 180, E/W), 1.347, 348)

“God will also judge the vain speeches of the perverse Gnostics, by showing that they are the disciples of Simon Magus.” (Irenaeus (c. 180, E/ W), 1.507)

“At this very time, even the heretical dupes of this same Simon are so much elated by the extravagant pretension of their art, that they try to bring up from Hades the souls of the prophets themselves.” (Tertullian (c. 210, W), 3.234.)

“The disciples, then, of this [Simon Magus] celebrate magical rites, and they resort to incantations. They transmit both love spells and charms. . . . This Simon, deceiving many in Samaria by his sorceries, was reproved by the apostles, and he was put under a curse. All of this has been written in the Acts. But Simon afterwards renounced the faith. . . . And journeying as far as Rome, he came in conflict with the apostles. Peter offered repeated opposition to him, for Simon was deceiving many by his sorceries.” (Hippolytus (c. 225, W), 5.80, 81)

“Simon the magician, . . . as he flew in the air in an unnatural manner, was dashed against the earth.” (Apostolic Constitutions (compiled c. 390, E), 7.401)

The early Christians ascribe the following occult abilities to Simon the Sorcerer: incantations; love spells and curses; transmogrification (the changing of one form to another-shapeshifting); and levitation. Furthermore, Simon had a great following and was well-known, even being recognized as a powerful wizard by several nations. Despite his alleged powers, notice that several of his followers were able to see a clear difference between Christianity and paganism, and ended up becoming Christians. Even Simon himself became a Christian for a time!

Amazingly, there is even strong evidence that the religion of Wicca had its’ origin with Simon the Sorcerer.

“Wicca is a modern derivative of ancient Witchcraft that willingly claims the actual label of “religion.” It can be traced directly to the influence of famous occultist Aleister Crowley (1875–1947) and one of his followers, Gerald Gardner (1884–1964), and is centered around the worship of the Lord and Lady, although it includes many other goddesses and gods. 15 It is here, interestingly enough, that the influence of Simon Magus—the sorcerer rebuked by the apostle Peter in Acts 8: 9—can be found, indicating a possible ancient source for the roots of Wicca. The Roman historian and bishop Hippolytus (c. 170 AD) described the doctrine of Magus in detail in his Philosophumena: The disciples, then, of this (Magus), celebrate magical rites, and resort to incantations. And (they profess to) transmit both love-spells and charms, and the demons said to be senders of dreams, for the purpose of distracting whomsoever they please. . . . “And they have an image of Simon (fashioned) into the figure of Jupiter, and (an image) of Helen [Simon’s paramour] in the form of Minerva; and they pay adoration to these.” But they call the one Lord and the other Lady. And if any one amongst them, on seeing the images of either Simon or Helen, would call them by name, he is cast off, as being ignorant of the mysteries. 16 Wiccans usually practice herbal magic and abide by the Rede doctrine, “An it harm none, do what ye will,” and the Threefold Law, which dictates that whatever Wiccans do (whether good or “evil”) will return to them at three times the force. 17 This is the Wiccan version of Hindu karma. All Wiccans do not claim to be Witches, and all Witches do not claim to be Wiccan. This is the elusive nature of Neopaganism. Some Wiccans maintain that they do not practice any magick, stating that their focus is only on the Wheel of the Year (observing the eight holidays or sabbats), and personal spirituality. Witches who are not Wiccan abide by the basic creed “Do what you will,” minus the “harm none” clause.” (Walter Martin, Jill Martin, Rische Kurt Van Gorden, The Kingdom Of The Occult, 9103-9108 (Kindle Edition); Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers)

There is more testimony in the New Testament which testifies of the demonic roots of occult power.

Speaking of the Man of Sin, Paul writes:

2 Thessalonians 2:9-When that Man of Evil comes, it will be the work of Satan. He will come with great power, and he will do all kinds of false miracles, signs, and wonders.

Writing of how the Christian Age will grow worse and worse as we approach the Second Coming of Christ, Paul tells us:

2 Timothy 3:1, 8-9-Remember this: There are some terrible times coming in the last days….Just as Jannes and Jambres fought against Moses, these people fight against the truth. Their thinking has been confused. The faith they have and teach is worthless. 9  But they will not succeed in what they are trying to do. Everyone will see how foolish they are. That is what happened to Jannes and Jambres.

Jannes and Jambres, as we have learned, drew on demonic power through their paganism. The Apostle teaches us that we can expect to see more and more people doing the same during the Church Age.

The Book of Revelation especially teaches that this will be the case.

John, the author of Revelation, provides a series of seven visions, each beginning with the First Coming and Christ’s triumph over the forces of darkness, progressing through the Christian Age, and ending with the Second Coming. In each of these visions, demonic activity is shown to increase during the Christian Age and before the Second Coming.

Revelation 9:1-11-1  Then the fifth angel sounded: And I saw a star fallen from heaven to the earth. To him was given the key to the bottomless pit. 2  And he opened the bottomless pit, and smoke arose out of the pit like the smoke of a great furnace. So the sun and the air were darkened because of the smoke of the pit. 3  Then out of the smoke locusts came upon the earth. And to them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. 4  They were commanded not to harm the grass of the earth, or any green thing, or any tree, but only those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. 5  And they were not given authority to kill them, but to torment them for five months. Their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it strikes a man. 6  In those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will desire to die, and death will flee from them. 7  The shape of the locusts was like horses prepared for battle. On their heads were crowns of something like gold, and their faces were like the faces of men. 8  They had hair like women’s hair, and their teeth were like lions’ teeth. 9  And they had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was like the sound of chariots with many horses running into battle. 10  They had tails like scorpions, and there were stings in their tails. Their power was to hurt men five months. 11  And they had as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, but in Greek he has the name Apollyon.

Revelation 12:9-So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

Revelation 16:14-For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.

Several things should be noted from all of these facts.

First, pagans may at times have access to supernatural forces that go beyond the materialistic world of man. These powers are derived from demonic beings.

Second, when the pagans demonstrate these abilities, the power of the Holy Spirit is shown to be stronger.

Third, in all of these accounts from the New Testament we are reminded that children of God need not live in fear of the power of Satan. God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). Even if the devil has some power in this world, we do not need to live in fear of him (Revelation 2:10). We can test those who claim to be apostles (Revelation 2:2), and we are to test all things and hold fast to that which is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Even today, the power of Christ and His Cross give us victory over the principalities and powers (Colossians 2:15).

Recently, while in a Bible study with a young man incarcerated in the local jail, I was told by some of his friends that he is a worshiper of Satan, and that he enthusiastically attempts to convert others to that system. He himself acknowledged the same to me.

While at one point praying for him and ministering to him by quoting the Word of God, he became increasingly hostile and told me not to mention Jesus. I told him I would continue to mention the name of Christ, and he threatened to sic fifteen demons upon me if I did not stop. I told him that I was not afraid, and that I cared for his soul and wanted him to be saved. Unfortunately, he ended our Bible studies after trying to speak in tongues over me.

(Important note: the practice of speaking in tongues that is often manifested in modern day churches is not the gift of tongues practiced in the New Testament. The Bible gift of tongues was the miraculous ability of a person to speak fluently in the dialect of another nation of men which he had not previously studied. See Acts 2:1-13. What is practiced today in modern denominations and identified as the gift of tongues-speaking in gibberish-was actually practiced by the pagans of the first century, and continues to be seen today with great frequency).

Thanks to Jesus Christ, we do not have to live in fear of Satan.

Through Jesus, we have the victory.

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