The Not-So-Wonderful Wizard of Sarx. Before you blame spirits of wickedness for your woes, consider the role the fleshly workings of witchcraft plays in your suffering. Born again or lost, Pentecostal or Presbyterian, most people have some sense of what witchcraft is. Some equate witchcraft with Halloween, jack-o’-lanterns and caped women atop broomsticks. Others think of Wicca or African witchdoctors. Still others recall Dorothy’s Wizard of Oz archenemy.
Best-selling books and blockbuster movies recounting the adventures of a popular boy wizard continue to sanction witchcraft in today’s society by sensationalizing the wicked acts of casting spells and mixing potions, and presenting enchanting sagas between “good” and “evil” witches. And, of course, who could forget the ever so popular fantasy role-playing game “Dungeons and Dragons” in which contestants engage dark forces with their so-called magical powers.
To be sure, the media often portrays witchcraft as innocent fun, but it is strictly forbidden in the Word of God (Deuteronomy 18:9-14; Leviticus 19:31, 20:6; Isaiah 8:19). Why does God forbid witchcraft? Because, regardless of what some may think, witchcraft opens the door to demonic forces in our lives and He is trying to protect us. While the world can package witchcraft in the latest fashion trend or idolize witches and warlocks on Hollywood’s Silver Screen, there is no such thing as good demonic powers.
Demonic powers intend to steal, kill and destroy. Jesus came to give us life and life more abundantly (John 10:10). Just as we believe His Word when it comes to healing and prosperity, we also need to believe His Word when it comes to witchcraft. Witchcraft goes far beyond meeting in a forest to worship Mother Earth and hug pine trees. It is a bona fide demonic power released through various activities such as words, spells, amulets, charms, occult powers, chants, magic, drugs, potions – or false prophecies.
Witchcraft is an enemy because it negatively influences people, gives place to demon activity, battles against the minds of men, challenges the Church of Jesus Christ, buffets the maturity of believers, hinders local church growth, comes against families, marriages and relationships, and frustrates the advancement of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
You might be saying, “But I would never cast a spell or drink a potion.” I am sure that no true born again believer would. But could there be other forms of witchcraft warned of in the Bible? Witchcraft is much more common than one might think. Let’s break away from the traditional perception of witchcraft and explore some other manifestations of this evil force, namely those that operate through our old fallen nature, fondly known as the flesh.
The apostle Paul taught us that witchcraft is released through our own stubbornness and rebellion to God’s will. He describes both actions as workings of the flesh. Scripture says, “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:1-3)
Notice the words “bewitched,” “spirit” and “flesh” in the passage. The Greek word translated “bewitched” is baskaino, and means to be charmed, seduced or placed under a spell. The Old English word “bewitched” comes from the word biwiccan, which is defined as the working or the result of Wicca sorcery. So we quickly understand that the writer of the Book of Galatians tied witchcraft to the manifestations, or workings, of the flesh.
“Flesh” in this Scripture is translated from the Greek word sarx, which refers to the carnal mind, which is enmity toward God. This interpretation of the word is better described as the earthly nature of man apart from the Spirit of God. A person, therefore, who is governed by the actions of sarx can release witchcraft upon himself and others. No, he or she does not become a Wiccan recruit, but, nevertheless, like the Galatians, enters into a foolish and illusory perception of life.
How does the flesh release witchcraft? Think for a moment. Have you ever been around a person whose negative body language, harsh voice tone, stubbornness, or contentious attitudes made you feel like you were walking on eggshells? Did those actions and attitudes make you feel like he or she might lash out at you any moment? Maybe you even got a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach. Even though nothing much was said, you could probably still feel some sort of negative force emanating from that person. Did you cue in on the nonverbal message? Could that feeling be the result of a subtle form of witchcraft emanating from sarx?
The apostle Paul, the writer who corrected the foolish Galatians, didn’t stop with a quick rebuke. He wanted to make the fleshly workings of witchcraft plain to all who read his epistle. He continued, “Now the works of the flesh (sarx) are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness (unbridled lust), idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance (contention), emulations (jealous rivalry), wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings (evil carousing), and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21; author’s emphases in parentheses).
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Paul directly connects the works of the flesh with witchcraft, concluding that those who do (intentionally practice) such things shall not inherit the Kingdom of God. The works of the flesh – temper tantrums, bad attitudes, off-putting body language, stubbornness, and negative words and confessions – are all workings of witchcraft. (I told you this would be a different viewpoint on witchcraft.) Now you can see why there is so much written in the Word of God about the tongue (Proverbs 18:21, James 3:6).
When religious activity is carnally motivated rather than spiritually motivated it releases a form of witchcraft, too. Motivation is everything because its source is the heart of man. Religion can also release witchcraft when it intentionally avoids the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Scripture says, “Having a form of godliness but denying the power (translated from the Greek word dunamis) thereof: from such turn away” (2 Timothy 3:5).
What a powerful instruction to Timothy from the Apostle Paul! The word “form” is translated from the Greek word morphosis and means to have a mere shape, or to look like the real thing. This religious counterfeit can be identified because it looks like the Church, yet is carnally motivated and disregards the necessity of the dunamis power of God. That dunamis power is the ministry of the Holy Spirit Himself. Paul’s final instruction is clear: turn away from such.
There are many religious people in the world who say they are born again yet outright attack the ministry of the Holy Spirit. The same people demonstrate a lack of spiritual sensitivity, legalism and debate, hypocrisy, self-righteousness, and a form of godliness that denies the Holy Spirit’s ministry. The religious challenge the baptism of the Holy Spirit, miracles and healing, speaking in other tongues, prophecy, deliverance, fervent prayer, and every other gift of the Spirit. Rather than enjoying abundant Holy Spirit-administered lives, ministries, and churches, the religious hold fast to man-made programs, vain traditions, and carnal social activities.
Just spend time around someone who has that nasty, contentious religious spirit and you will experience the working of witchcraft from religion. Yes, religion releases witchcraft when the sarx rather than the Spirit of God governs activities that should be spiritual. It was religious people, supposedly born again, that persistently stirred up trouble for the Apostle Paul. They couldn’t accept his teaching that it was possible to be born again without circumcision (Acts 15).
Witchcraft that emanates from our flesh is an enemy far greater that any Dorothy faced as she traveled the Yellow Brick Road in search of the Wizard of Oz who could send her back home to Kansas. The good news is that through our love for Jesus Christ we can crucify that old carnal nature. Scripture instructs us to take off our old corrupted manner of living and put on the new man, which is created in righteousness and true holiness in God’s likeness (Ephesians 4:22-24.
So the next time you experience the powers of witchcraft it may not be coming from some occult mystic. It may just be the workings of the Not-So Wonderful Wizard of Sarx...the flesh.