Hollywood knows it–there is an undeniable appetite for supernatural content. And since it has long abandoned the God of Scripture, media-creators have rushed to fill the vacuum with endless books, movies, and media featuring other supernatural beings. The recent explosion in media focusing on vampires, dragons, ghosts, fairies, witches, and sorcerers meets such a demand.
Our children are being educated about, enchanted by and encouraged to develop “friendships” with other-worldly spirit beings. If not God or his holy angels, who are these spirit beings?
First, spirits are real.
Before God created the world and mankind, He created angels. God asked Job, “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation … and all the angels shouted for joy?” (Job 38:4,7).
When the angel Lucifer grew prideful in his own splendor and refused to worship God, he and 1/3 of the heavenly beings were cast down to earth. “Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor” (Ezekiel 28:17). “Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him” (Revelation 12:7-9).
Demonic forces or evil spirits are Satan’s fallen angels. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12).
What do we know of evil spirits from Scripture?
The demons continue to follow their leader, Satan, as they war against God. Their goals are to influence, seduce, entrap, depress, cripple, distract, frustrate, confuse, and deceive men so that they will not follow after God and His Son Jesus Christ.
Christ spent much of his ministry on earth casting out demons. “The Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil” (I John 3:8). Whether freeing people from addictions, healing their bodies, or freeing them from fearful demonic presences tormenting them, Jesus came to do battle for man.
“Even while the boy was coming, the demon threw him to the ground in a convulsion. But Jesus rebuked the evil spirit, healed the boy and gave him back to his father.”
“Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute. When the demon left, the man who had been mute spoke, and the crowd was amazed.”
“The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching–and with authority! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him” (Luke 9:42, 11:14, Mark 1:27).
Jesus prepared his disciples to do spiritual battle as He did.
“Calling the twelve to him, he sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits.”
He commissioned his disciples to “heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.”
“The seventy-two returned with joy and said, ‘Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.’ ” (Mark 6:7, Matthew 10:8, Luke 10:17)
2. Believers are forbidden from participating in sorcery of any kind.
In Deuteronomy 8:9-15, God gives specific instructions to his people as they prepared to enter the Promised Land.
Spiritism Forbidden (Sorcery, Occult Forbidden)
“When you enter the land which the LORD your God gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations. “There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. “For whoever does these things is detestable to the LORD; and because of these detestable things the LORD your God will drive them out before you. “You shall be blameless before the LORD your God. “For those nations, which you shall dispossess, listen to those who practice witchcraft and to diviners, but as for you, the LORD your God has not allowed you to do so.”
Occult is defined as “supernatural, mystical, or magical beliefs, practices, or phenomena.”
Respected pastor and theologian, John Piper writes:
“I would like to begin with a definition of the term occult. I designate anything as belonging to the occult that involves dealings with the world of spirits or of supra-normal forces which (dealings) are not oriented on Jesus as he is revealed in the Bible. With this definition I am assuming the reality of a spirit world and of mysterious supra-normal forces. I am assuming that the church makes a grave mistake when it says that supra-natural phenomena are restricted to another age or that only godly people can work miracles. Such a mistake lays the church open to the power of evil precisely because it refuses to recognize the presence of that power. The definition is also intentionally very broad. I mean to include everything from the most blatant Satan worship to the most commonly accepted use of horoscopes. As examples I would mention séances, necromancy, and all forms of communicating with the dead, PSI, ESP, and all forms of supra-natural psychic phenomena, real magic (as opposed to simple sleight-of-hand tricks), fortune telling, the casting of spells, wearing of charms, the use of ouija boards, astrology, etc., etc.”
Satan looks for entryways into our lives and homes. Any of these practices is an open invitation to demonic influence and oppression. The result may not be muteness or seizures as described above. It may be more subtle, yet always the goal is to hold us back in our relationship with Christ.
Jesus wants to shield us from the Enemy’s attacks on our lives. Do we want to walk free of depression, confusion, temptations? Do we want a home that is pure and not an easy target for Satan’s attacks? We must avoid sorcery in all its forms.
Easy, you say, I am a believer in Christ. I do not participate in any of these activities. But, are we deriving entertainment from them?
3. Many Christians are welcoming dark spiritual influence into their minds and homes through books, shows, and media that portray sorcery as entertainment.
As believers in Christ, we know not to participate in casting spells or summoning the spirits of the dead. But many have been allured by the culture and media to consume a steady diet of dark supernatural content. There is a widespread fascination with witchcraft, fantasy, and the spirit world in television and movies for both adults and children.
“I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons. Are we trying to arouse the Lord’s jealousy? Are we stronger than he?” (I Corinthians 10:20-22).
When entering the children’s section of a large bookstore chain recently, I was greeted with shelves filled with ominous covers and plot lines revolving around witchcraft, spells, plagues, vampires, dragons, horror, zombies, ghosts, and darkness. They were featured as “favorite” literature for children of all ages.
SPIRIT-FOCUSED SHOWS FOR CHILDREN
Yo-kai Watch – Disney XD’s new animated show for children boldly centers around consulting and summoning evil spirits. This description is from Yo-Kai Watch’s Wikipedia page:
“The Yo-kai [which means “spirit”] Whisper gives Nate a special device known as the Yo-kai Watch. Using this, Nate is able to identify and see various different Yo-kai (spirits) that are haunting people and causing mischief…Nate and Whisper start befriending all sorts of Yo-kai which Nate can summon to battle against more ill-intentioned Yo-kai that happen to live in his town, causing terrible trouble. He also goes on adventures around the town with his Yo-kai partners to help his human friends deal with their various problems often caused by other Yo-kai.”
And the Yo-kai video game: “Yo-kai Watch is a role-playing video game where the player searches…for Yo-kai using the 3DS’s touchscreen. Players befriend Yo-kai by giving them a food that they like before, beginning, and/or during battle, and after defeating the Yo-kai it approaches the player character and gives them its Yo-kai Medal, allowing it to be summoned at will.”
To befriend an evil spirit clearly meets the definition of sorcery and spiritism, and we must steer clear of allowing our children the mindset of “seeking spirits.”
Sophia the First – Disney Channel’s popular Sofia the First: Once Upon a Princess premiered on Disney Channel in 2012 and became the #1 cable TV telecast of all time for kids 2-5 years old.
Wikipedia offers this overview of the series: “As she adjusts to her new role [as princess], with the magical Amulet of Avalor, Sofia works to live amongst the royal family while having different adventures along the way.”
What exactly is an amulet? A beautiful jewel necklace, right?
Amulet – a small object worn as a charm against evil spirits; a charm often inscribed with a magic incantation or symbol to aid the wearer or protect against evil (as disease or witchcraft)
This is not the type of jewelry I want my little girls to be wearing! But now the youngest of toddlers are being introduced to and allured by the basics of witchcraft through this charming animated character.
Elena of Avalor – Also on the Disney Channel, Elena of Avalor is the new spinoff of Sophia the First.
“Elena of Avalor is an animated series that follows the story of Elena, a brave and adventurous teenager who saves her kingdom from an evil sorceress and must now learn to rule as crown princess until she is old enough to be queen…Elena also looks to a spirit animal named Zuzo, and a trio of magical flying creatures called Jaquins (a race of winged jaguars) for guidance and support. Zuzo, a mysterious and wily spirit animal acts as a link between the human and spirit world…” (Disney Channel)
Many think that reading novels such as Harry Potter are purely explorations in fantasy and imagination, a captivating ride into a mysterious world. But what if, as shown from Scripture, the fantasy or “imagined impossible reality” is actually an expression of the real spiritual world in which we live?
Demonic struggle with people is real, and man’s desire to control his surroundings through knowledge, manipulation or power obtained from a higher supernatural source is sorcery. Think tarot cards, levitation, spells, crystal balls, astrology, psychic powers, and crystals.
To indulge our minds in the world of Potter’s wizardry is to be entertained by those who are practicing sorcery–sorcery which the Lord calls “detestable, an abomination.”
I ask, Shall we feast our minds on the forbidden spells, chants, and powers of the dark world? Is this what we want our children to delight in, to ponder, to imagine, to explore, to enjoy? In the name of literature, we can and must select stories glorifying light rather than darkness.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).
One other note on Harry Potter: In many tales throughout history, such as The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, the antagonist is a witch. She represents our Ultimate Enemy, Satan, and embodies the forces of evil to be overcome. An important distinction to be made is that, in this new body of sorcery-based literature, the protagonists and the heroes are engaging in witchcraft. Whether called “good” or “white magic,” there is no such thing according to Scripture and those engaged in witchcraft. All are a means to contact the spiritual world apart from God and therefore is of dark origin.
4. Our response is to make a clean break from all supernatural content that is not of Christ.
“Be very careful not to imitate the detestable customs of the nations.”
“And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily” (Acts 19:19-20).
Just as the early Christians took drastic measures, we need to likewise clean house. Clean out your child’s bookshelves and viewing queue, as well as the family DVR of dark supernatural content. We must be discerning and willing to purify our homes as we seek Christ.
5. The cure for our children’s spiritual hunger is to know and engage the Living Christ through his Holy Spirit.
The desire to connect with the supernatural is evidence of our creation by a relational God. We were made by Him, for Him and to know Him. The challenge is far more than simply guarding our children from indulging their young minds in sorcery-based entertainment. Our role as parents is to lead them to fill their hungry hearts (like our own) on the spiritual feast of Christ and his kingdom.
*Share beautiful worship music with them. Whether at home or while driving, model what it means to sing our praise to God. It lifts and fills the heart.
*Invite them to pray as a family. In moments of family stress or concern, in moments of celebration, and in the routine everyday moments of mealtimes and bedtimes, teach them that prayer is like breathing. “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (I Thessalonians 5:16).
*As a family, create opportunities to extend hospitality to friends and neighbors. Allow your children to participate in inviting, planning, decorating, and serving your guests. Build Christ’s kingdom together through opening your home and feasting together with others.
*Offer God’s truths in many formats. To capture the hearts and imaginations of your children, choose beautifully illustrated Bible story books and teach them stories of character and courage throughout history. Give your children the gift of memorizing life-giving Scriptures as a family.
“Taste and see that the Lord is good” in front of and with your children. Share your connection with Christ, lead them in personal prayers, invite them into your own faith struggles and triumphs. We must fill our souls full of Christ and His Spirit each day and give our children the gift of this lifelong practice. Then there will be no room for the darkness the world has to offer.
“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24).
Resources: I highly recommend reading John Piper’s full message on this topic here.