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THE OCCULT

Morris Cerullo

There are numerous Satanic practices grouped under the heading of the occult. Many of these practices are used to determine guidance. Occult practices vary from nation to nation but they include such methods as witches, shamen, sorcerers, magicians, fortune tellers, astrology, horoscopes, the reading of tea leaves, crystals, cards, and the palm of the hand. Occult practices include any form of supernatural involvement which is not of God. Such practices are motivated by Satan.

God warned His people not to deal with occult practices. You can read these warnings in Deuteronomy 18:9-14 and Exodus 22:18. Witchcraft is the practice of witches including white and black magic, sorcery, astrology, voodoo, use of potions, spells, enchantments, and drugs. It includes all similar Satanic practices and worship. Witchcraft and other such Satanic practices are spiritual rebellion against God: For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft... 1 Samuel 15:23

The Bible records that sorcerers tried to turn people away from the Gospel: But Elymas the sorcerer...withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith. (Acts 13:8)

Witchcraft is a major method of satanic deception: ...for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived. (Revelation 18:23)

The book of Revelation reveals the end of those who use such Satanic practices: But...sorcerers...shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone... (Revelation 21:8)

No true child of God should be involved in any way with occult practices for purposes of guidance or any other reason. 

METHODS OF CHANCE:
Casting lots was a method of seeking guidance used in the Old Testament. You can read about the use of this method in Leviticus 16:7-10; Numbers 26:55; 27:21; and Joshua 18:10. The casting of lots was a method of chance. The belief was that God controlled the outcome of the lot which was cast. 

This method of seeking guidance from God was acceptable in the Old Testament, but the only New Testament use of casting of lots by believers was prior to the coming of the Holy Spirit. The Apostles were seeking to fill the vacancy left by Judas who had betrayed Jesus and later committed suicide. Two candidates were nominated for the position: And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles. Acts 1:26

Matthias, the man picked to replace Judas, is never again mentioned in the New Testament record. It is the Apostle Paul who actually fills the vacancy among the Apostles. Matthias was man's choice by casting lots. The Apostle Paul was God's choice by the Holy Spirit.

After the coming of the Holy Spirit (recorded in Acts chapter 2), casting of lots was never again used by believers as a means of determining direction. The guidance of the Holy Spirit replaced this Old Testament method. 

As a New Testament believer, you should not use any method of chance to determine God's will. You must come to know God's voice and be led by the Holy Spirit.

FLEECES:
There is one Old Testament record of the use of something called a "fleece" to determine God's will. You can read the story of Gideon's fleece in Judges 6:36-40.

God spoke to Gideon and revealed His will. To confirm what God said, Gideon put out a fleece of skin on the ground. One day he asked God to let the dew fall all around but not on the fleece. On another day He asked God for dew on the fleece and for the surrounding ground to remain dry. 

There is no verse in the Bible that instructs believers to do as Gideon did during this terrible national crisis when great responsibility rested upon him. This event occurred only once in the Bible and, as casting of lots, was used only before the New Testament outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

We are not to seek God's will by putting out a fleece-by saying, "If a certain thing happens, then I will know it is God's will." For one thing, our fleeces are often events that could occur naturally. 

In the one case of a "fleece" recorded in the Bible, Gideon already knew God's will. He had heard the voice of God. The fleece was used as confirmation, not for direction. It was also something that could be answered only by supernatural means.

Remember this, in New Testament days when Zacharias asked for a sign to confirm God's message about the birth of John the Baptist, he was stricken dumb. This was because he did not believe the voice of God and sought a sign (Luke 1:18-20).

On occasion, God has mercifully answered those who have asked for some indication of what they should do by a fleece or sign. This practice, however, has been the exception rather than the rule for seeking guidance in the lives of great saints of God. Remember-God wants men of faith, not men of fleeces. He wants men and women who know His voice when He speaks and have no need to test it by confirming signs. The secret is to know the voice of God.

FALSE PROPHETS:
The Bible records the stories of many prophets of God, reveals how God sets leaders in the church known as prophets, and explains the spiritual gift of the Holy Spirit known as prophecy (Ephesians 4:11 and 1 Corinthians 12:10).

To "prophesy" is to speak under the special inspiration of God. It is a special ability to receive and communicate an immediate message of God to His people through a divinely-anointed utterance. The words spoken by a prophet under divine inspiration are called prophecies. To prophesy means to declare openly words from God that exhort, edify, and comfort: But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification and exhortation, and comfort. (1 Corinthians 14:3)

Prophecy never replaces the written Word of God. The Bible says prophecy will cease, (because we will not need them anymore) but the Word of God abides forever (1 Corinthians 13:8 and 1 Peter 1:25).

In the Old Testament, people went to prophets for guidance because the gift of the Holy Spirit was not yet given. Now, it is no longer necessary to go to a prophet to receive spiritual guidance. This is one of the functions of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. Each believer should learn to be led by God's Spirit. 

The New Testament gives no record of believers seeking guidance from prophets after the gift of the Holy Spirit was given, but God still uses this gift to confirm and foretell the future. You can study such an example in Acts 21:1-14. Agabus gave Paul a personal prophecy. Paul already knew what awaited him in Jerusalem. The prophecy confirmed what would happen there. It was not a prophecy of guidance telling Paul whether or not to go to Jerusalem. 

The Bible warns of false prophets (Matthew 24:11,24: Mark 13:22) and God has provided ways to identify true prophecies. The Bible states: Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith. (Romans 12:6)

The phrase "in proportion to faith" means in right relation to the faith. The way to recognize true prophecies is by whether or not they are in harmony with the Bible. The Bible states: Let the prophets speak, two or three, and let the others judge. (I Corinthians 14;29)

We are told to judge prophecies and the standard for judgment is the Word of God. God has provided many ways to recognize false prophets. The following references explain other ways to recognize false prophets: False prophets do not confess the deity of Jesus Christ: (1 John 4:1-3) False prophets teach false doctrine: 2 Peter 2:1-3 False prophets lead people away from obedience to God's Word: Deuteronomy 13:1-5

False prophets deceive people with miraculous signs: Matthew 24:11-24
Their fruit reveals their error: One of the best ways to distinguish false prophets from true prophets is to observe their lives. The Bible says that by their "fruits" you will know them. False prophets do not have evidence of spiritual fruit in their lives: Matthew 7:16

Because there are false prophets in the world, you must exercise caution in accepting prophecies. Prophecy often has been misused to direct and control believers. When personal prophecy is given it should be examined in relation to the Scriptures and it should agree with the written Word of God. In regards to guidance, prophecy should be confirming, not directing or controlling. 

WRONG COUNSEL:
When the Apostle Paul decided to go to Jerusalem, his friends at Caesarea tried to prevent him from doing so. They warned of the serious trouble which might befall him there. When Paul rejected their counsel and went on to Jerusalem, they accepted his decision stating, "The will of the Lord be done" (Acts 21:14). They realized that even though it was their personal desire that he should not go and God had warned of the problems that awaited him, Paul must determine God's will for himself.

It is important that you come to know God's voice for yourself. You cannot trust others to guide your life because there are evil spirits in the world whose intent is to deceive. We are warned: Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God. (1 John 4:1)

When you receive counsel from another person, that guidance should be tested against other methods of determining God's will which we will discuss in Lesson Three.

YOU NEED GOD'S DIRECTION
From the beginning of time in the Garden of Eden, God walked with and talked to His children. The death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ restored our ability to enter into intimate communion with our Father.

God still wants to walk with you, talk to you, and to hear His voice as clearly as if He was standing right by your side!

Beloved, in this end-time hour, you must be led and directed by His voice. Are you ready to enter into this new spiritual realm?

In the next lesson we will continue our study on knowing God's voice and His will as we journey through the Old and New Testament to see the various ways God spoke to men and women during Bible times.