God and Harry Potter
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SCRIPTURE ROUNDLY CONDEMNS THE DARK ARTS OF SORCERY. But does anybody have the power to produce genuine wonders? Probably all Christians would agree with the sentiment expressed in the article in the Illustrated Bible Dictionary on the subject of magic, when it says:
There is no doubt that magic and sorcery are not always mere superstitions, but have a reality behind them.
The reality is the demon world, which we should avoid like the plague. Indeed, those who dabble in the occult are putting themselves in grave danger. But the theological question (as distinct from ethical considerations) we are concerned with here is whether or not demons actually empower some people to perform signs and wonders.
The Bible provides a fascinating glimpse into the realm of sorcery. In the days of the early apostles, a man named Simon, later called the "Magus", claimed to have psychic powers. If ever there was a "genuine" sorcerer, Simon was it.
But there was a man named Simon who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the nation of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great. They all gave heed to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, "This man is that power of God which is called Great." And they gave heed to him, because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles performed, he was amazed (Acts 8:9-13).
Simon, evidently, was a charlatan, a practitioner of trickery. If sorcery is merely trickery, why, then, does Scripture condemn it in such dramatic terms?
There are two reasons why God utterly condemns such practices. First, people who indulge in such behavior are hurting themselves drastically through seeking unto evil spirits for assistance. They are rebelling against God (see 1 Samuel 15:23), who alone is the helper of Israel (Ps. 146:5). And second, because their motivation is to deceive (see Rev. 18:23). They deceive people so that they can control them and rob them. They are liars and thieves.
The Power of Evil Spirits
Do demons even have power to tamper with nature? Two passages show that demons do seem to have power to work miracles. In the first, an astounding scene is developed. God is seen holding a heavenly happening, in which angels "presented themselves before the Lord". Satan sneaks in (as if God didn't know) and crows loudly that God is losing the struggle to gain converts. (God was not seeking converts then.) God reminds Satan of His mighty servant Job. Satan rebuts by suggesting that Job was a fair weather servant. Strike him where it hurts, and he would quickly curse God. Note God's response:
And the Lord said to Satan, "Behold, all that he has is in your power; only upon himself do not put forth your hand." So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord (Job 1:12).
There can be no doubt about it. Satan had power to do great things. The second passage of note is found in the book of Revelation:
.for they are demonic spirits, performing signs, who go abroad to the kings of the whole world, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty (16:14).
These passages are often taken to prove that Satan has great power over nature. But a study of the meaning of "signs" shows that they can be performed by the power of deceit as much as by the possession of supernatural power.
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