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Saturday, February 5, 2011

Sorcery and Rebellion: One coin, two sides

A few years ago a shared a little thought with a co-worker. I just shared the same thought at our men's meeting this morning. She was on her way to transfer to UT Austin to continue her study program in pharmacology. I asked her if she was familiar with how the New Testament translates sorcery. I explained that of the works of the flesh listed in by the apostle Paul in Galatians 5 it is the word pharmakia translated in English as sorcery from which we derive the word pharmacy. She was shocked.

My point was not to say or suggest pharmacy or medical drugs are sorcery. Rather, the point is that in God's eyes anything used as a mind-altering substance to induce a state either to escape life's problems or to pursue access to the knowledge of God in ways other than he has given is sorcery. Again, this is not to say a person on anti-depression medication is escaping life's problems or engaging in sorcery. The measure and balance in their use of that medication and their engagement in life is evidence their interest is not in the manner of sorcery.

There is another connection which Samuel (I Samuel 15:23) made with sorcery, or witchcraft. It is rebellion. Our human nature, the flesh, always wants to justify itself among men and before God. For example, someone will say their rare and occassional use of drugs is as prescribed and for a strictly limited time. They do not engage in seances or occult practices. These are not the problem. What is the problem is the rebellion in which they engage. Rebellion may not be towards man, but Samuel said to king Saul the proof of Saul's rebellion, or witchcraft was that Saul had rejected the word of Yahweh. Here again, the flesh, our human nature, speaks up to justify the individual:

I believe in God.

Rebellion is what Adam and Eve, who believed God, engaged in against God. This they did under the lead of the grand Deceiver himself, Satan. He was the first drug (sorcery, pharmakia) peddler when he deceived them (and isn't this the original peddlers' line, "I dare you") to take and eat of the forbidden fruit and not only gain access to God, but become like God.

How does sorcery/rebellion enter the heart of the disciple and and take over his life to ruin and destruction? It begans ever so subtley. It's the old adage, familiarity breeds contempt. What that means is to make light of the word of God so familiar to the disciple. The contempt it breeds is when the disciple has failed to be viligent and diligent with what he has been entrusted: the word of God. Again, isn't this what Adam and Eve did when they listened to Satan? Sorcery and rebellion are as two sides of the same coin. Either way you lose.

The Holy Spirit calls. Listen to him.

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