Sorcery! At the very sound of the word your mind rushes to thoughts of darkened rooms, occult rituals, voodoo, black magic, evil spirits, and poor, unsuspecting victims entranced by supernatural powers. All very true, but there is a kind of sorcery that few people are aware of, one that has deceived many, many people, myself included.
This sorcery is an entanglement that has more far-reaching consequences than mere voodoo. It deeply damages the personality of anyone it touches. So detestable is this practice in the eyes of God that He warns that sorcerers will spend eternity in the fiery sea of burning sulfur. I was cruising down this broad road of self destruction, ignorant of what lay ahead.
You may ask where, how, and why I ever got involved in such things. Well, my training in this realm came in an environment that the common person would hardly suspect, unless he really knew what sorcery was all about. And it is precisely because most people do not understand or recognize sorcery that the evil I was ensnared in had such widespread and deadly consequences.
Simply defined, sorcery is the use of power gained from the assistance or control of evil spirits. Man has been given abilities to speak, write, make music, and do many wonderful things. Under the control of God's Spirit these gifts can be a great blessing. But these gifts can also come under the power of another spirit which is not the Holy Spirit of the one true God. In fact, a person can operate under that other spirit's power while thinking that he is doing the work of God. Yet what he is truly doing comes from another source and is far from what God has commanded or desired. This is sorcery.
I learned to operate this way in Bible college. Most people would be totally surprised to hear that in such a seemingly innocent environment someone would be trained in the art of sorcery. Yet it was there that I learned to do many things in the power of another spirit which was not the Holy Spirit.
How is a man able to stand before a congregation, or even an entire stadium full of people, and deliver a sermon that captivates his audience and moves them deeply? There is certainly spiritual power involved. But what power is it, and by which spirit is he being controlled? How does someone learn to exert such a powerful influence over so many people?
In Bible college I was trained to be a preacher of the gospel, able to speak to multitudes of people through the use of video cameras, tapes, and practiced sermons. I was even in a class called, "Ministry of Preaching" where we were taught to carefully and cleverly introduce our subject and smoothly proceed into the body of the sermon and its various points. Then we were taught to tie everything together in a conclusion followed by an altar call. The call would be for those who wanted to receive Jesus into their heart, or for those who wished to rededicate their lives, or for those who desired to receive the Holy Spirit, all depending on the subject of the sermon and to whom it was directed.
We were placed before video cameras and taped so we could see ourselves preach. We would take notice of our posture, our looks, our composure, and gestures. All had to be impeccable. The use of gestures had to be precisely timed with the words we were emphasizing. Our three-piece suits had to be immaculate, our faces cleanly shaven, and not one hair out of place.
We listened carefully to the tape of our voices, scrutinizing every flaw in our speech. Did we elevate our voices at important points? Did we stutter or repeat too much? Did we sound convincing enough at the altar call? All of this was analyzed by our teacher and the rest of the class, and we were graded on our performance.
At this point you might ask, "What does all this have to do with sorcery?" But just consider the Master's disciples, who preached His word. Imagine what they were like when the Holy Spirit came upon them. These were men who had no formal education. The sorcerers of their day, the scribes, Pharisees, and high priests, recognized this fact, as it says in Acts 4:13,
Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John, and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were marveling, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus.
Their confidence to speak did not come from years of schooling in scripture analysis and speaking techniques. Their power came from what had happened in their hearts as a result of being disciples of the Son of God.
So what spirit and power is moving men today to sit through a semester or two of training in producing eloquent speech that will tickle men's ears and move their emotions and lead them to a superficial commitment to Christ? What a sharp contrast there is between such sorcery and walking as our Master walked. "The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked." (1 John 2:6 )
The Son of God never did anything on his own initiative but only what He heard from His Father. He spoke what His Father put into His mouth through the power of the Holy Spirit. By His obedience and communion He spoke words with authority that pierced men's souls and revealed the thoughts and intentions of men's hearts.
These abilities were given to Him by His Father, with whom He was completely one, and not by some degree from Bible college. And this is the way he trained His disciples. For three and a half years He poured His life into those men and raised them up to be completely trusting and obedient. They were trained to lean their entire personality upon Him, and depend on Him for everything, even the words they would speak.
Peter was disciplined in this way. He had surrendered his life and given up all his possessions to follow the Son of God. His sins and shortcomings had been exposed, and he had been brought to a humble place of utter dependence on his Master. He didn't practice his sermon in front of the Master and the other eleven apostles for a semester before he spoke on the day of Pentecost. He didn't operate according to that spirit; but being filled with the Holy Spirit, he was inspired to speak words that cut men to the heart and caused them to repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of their sins (2 Corinthians 2:17). It was a message that transferred them out of a wicked and perverse generation, a kingdom of darkness, and into the kingdom of God's Beloved Son.
Those who received Peter's words didn't just accept Jesus into their hearts and then go home when the Jerusalem Crusade was over and find themselves a Bible-believing synagogue. They were baptized into His Body, a community of disciples who...
...were together and had all things in common. And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. (Acts 2:44,42)
They were of one heart and soul, one mind, one baptism, one spirit. This was the fruit of God's Spirit coming to live in men's hearts. This was the fruit of the good tree that had sprouted when the Son of God gave up His life, a seed which fell into the ground and died in order to bear much fruit.
But what about the manipulative methods that men learn in order to convince people they are receiving salvation, even though they continue on in the same basic lifestyle and merely go to church on Sunday? What do you call the fruit of that tree, compared to the life of the early church? And what is the root of the countless sermons, endless revivals, and books of sermon guidelines?
What kind of spirit leads a man to speak the words of the Master with great confidence but does not lead him or his hearers to give up everything and become His disciples? What can we call it when such a person refuses to present the Master's words in Luke 14:33, "No one of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions," as the first essential requirement of becoming a disciple?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. (1 Samuel 15:22-23)
What power is controlling a man who can move millions to tears, even bring them to their knees, but can't deliver them out of the dominion of the spirit that controls the whole world (1 John 5:19) and into the life that our Master's disciples experienced after Pentecost? (Acts 4:32-36). As it says in 1 John 5:12, "He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life." So why doesn't the spirit of preachers today, trained in Bible school to present a Jesus and a gospel, produce the same life that the Spirit and preaching at Pentecost produced? Is the life of the Son different today than it was 2000 years ago?
Neither the Son of God nor His disciples ever came in cleverness of speech, which only makes the cross void (1 Corinthians 1:17). Nor was their preaching in persuasive words of men's wisdom, but it was in the demonstration of the Spirit and power (1 Corinthians 2:4). Their message, when received, radically transformed men's lives and brought them into the unity that our Savior prayed for in John 17:21-23, the same unity that He had with His Father.
It is clear that many preachers today are operating in the power of another spirit, for their message is not bringing about what He promised. Instead of bringing forth a holy nation and royal priesthood who dwell together in unity as the first church did, all that their sorcery has produced is the countless denominations of Christianity with its Sunday services. They have even bewitched their flocks into thinking that they are in unity, in spite of all their irreconcilable differences. They may all be of the same spirit, but which spirit is it?
A disciple once described our present society, saying that a time would come when men would not endure sound teaching but, wanting to have their ears tickled, would accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance with their own desires. Today this disorder is at its height with a teaching for every temperament and a denomination for every inclination.
It was from this confusion and sorcery that I was rescued one day when I met the true Son of God, Yahshua. He has truly set me free and delivered me from all the spirits that ruled my life. Now I am learning to be a disciple who totally trusts and obeys the Son of God — in unity with others who are experiencing the same salvation. I am no longer a sorcerer, but a son who hears the commands of our Father and acts upon them by the power of His Spirit.