Category Archives: Paranormal

Does Satan Have a Special Hatred for Israel and the Jewish People?

There is a sense in which Satan has a special hatred for Israel and the Jewish people, just as he has a special hatred for the church and the Christian people. From the beginning, Satan has hated God, God’s authority, and God’s plans for the human race (Genesis 3:1-15; John 8:44) He has always had a special hatred for God’s faithful servants (Job 1:9-11; 2 Corinthians 12:7), including the faithful of Israel and the church, which is made up of both Jewish and Gentile Christians. Above all, Satan hates Jesus Christ (Luke 22:3-4; Revelation 12:3-4), as Christ embodies God’s plan for all the ages.

The reality of satanic hatred for Jews and Israel inclines some people to believe that any criticism of Israel places one on the side of Satan. People with this perspective naturally tend to side with Israel in its conflicts. This perspective, however, fails to recognize that not all criticism is motivated by an evil hatred. There is a kind of criticism that is motivated by truth, love, and a longing for justice and mercy. If we don’t recognize the difference motive makes, we might conclude that something as important as the Protestant Reformation should have never taken place.

Scripture shows Satan’s hatred is motivated by his desire to disrupt God’s redemptive plan, from the fall of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, through the events leading to the flood, the trials of the patriarchs, Moses, the prophets, and Jesus Christ himself.

In 1 John 3, the children of the devil are contrasted with the children of God. The children of the devil are described as being in the spiritual line of Cain. This is consistent with the two “seeds” of Genesis 3—the seed of the woman and the seed of the devil.

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel (v.15 nkjv).

This division between the children of God and the children of the devil includes both Jews and Gentiles. John 1:12 declares that those who received Jesus Christ and believed in His name are the children of God. The apostle Paul wrote: “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ” (Romans 8:9 niv). He went on to link the Spirit of Christ (the Holy Spirit) with the children of God: “Those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God” (8:14). Speaking to a Jewish audience, Jesus himself referred to the division between the children of the kingdom and the children of the devil. He said the “father” of His Jewish enemies was not Abraham but Satan (John 8:42-44).

Here we find ourselves faced with an important distinction we can’t afford to miss. Jesus himself took issue with His own Jewish countrymen, and even with His own disciples when their hearts were aligned with the purposes of Satan rather than the redemptive plan of God (Matthew 16:23).

This Christ-based readiness to take issue with anything that is not according to the justice and mercy of God helps us understand why the Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, and the Epistles describe in great detail the intense and unrelenting hostility of a segment of Jews to Jesus Christ and His followers (John 8:39-47; Acts 7:54–8:3; 12:1-3; 21:27-31; 25:2-3). The book of Revelation even refers to these as the “synagogue of Satan” (Revelation 2:9; 3:9).1

This hostility towards the Christian gospel didn’t end with the apostolic era. Before the end of the first century, Christian Jews were excluded from synagogue worship.

About ad 90, a member of the Sanhedrin named Samuel the Less reworded one of the blessings recited daily in the synagogue so as to make it include a curse (against Christians) . . .

For apostates let there be no hope, and the kingdom of arrogance do Thou speedily uproot in our days; and let Nazarenes and heretics (minim) perish as in a moment; let them be blotted out of the book of life and not be enrolled with the righteous. Blessed art Thou, O Lord, who humblest the arrogant.

This revised edition of the prayer was authorized by the Sanhedrin and adopted in synagogues, so that Jewish Christians, by keeping silence at this point might give themselves away and be excommunicated(F. F. Bruce, New Testament History, pp. 385-86).2

From such biblical and historical examples, we see that like any other group or institution, the people of Israel may need loving, patient confrontation rather than support and affirmation. As the apostle Paul knew from personal experience, many of his Jewish countrymen had hearts open to God and the truth, but were blinded to the identity of Jesus Christ (Romans 11:5-6).

Scripture makes it clear that the eschatological punishment of both Israel and the Gentile nations is based in God’s judgment, not Satan’s hatred (Isaiah 3:1–4:1; 13:9-10; Jeremiah 30:1-7; Ezekiel 13:1-7; Joel 2:1-11; 3:14-17; Amos 5:18-20; Zephaniah 1:7-13). Perhaps the most striking Old Testament prophecy is Zechariah 14, where God brings the nations of the earth against Jerusalem and unbelieving Israel before turning in judgment against those same unbelieving nations (vv.2-3).

Just as Christians do the church no favors when they ignore its abuses and corruption, they do no favors for Israel when they ignore or fail to lovingly call attention to the injustices and unbelief of the one nation on earth that, more than any other, bears the name and redemptive history of God.

  1. This hostility of a segment of Israel to the gospel conforms with the prophetic portrayal of Israel’s endtime suffering as the result of God’s judgment, not Satan’s hatred. In Matthew 24, Jesus declares:

    And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. Therefore when you see the “abomination of desolation,” spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (whoever reads, let him understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened (24:14-22 nkjv).

    This judgment is based on the corruption and hypocrisy Jesus described in the previous chapter:

    Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. . . . O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” (23:33-39 nkjv). Back To Article

  2. Soon the Talmud (a compilation and expansion of the man-made legal rules that Jesus called the “tradition of men” [Mark 7:5-8] that became the supreme document of the Judaism that survived the wars with Rome) officially declared Jesus a blasphemer, sorcerer, and bastard son of a prostitute. (See Peter Schaefer, Jesus in the Talmud, Princeton University Press.)Hostility towards Jesus Christ still exists among a large segment of Jews today. In fact, the modern state of Israel officially suppresses propagation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Back To Article
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Should astrology or horoscopes be taken seriously?

Astrology at one time was looked upon with great seriousness by the educated classes. For many centuries people believed that the earth was the center of the universe, and this mistaken cosmology led to the conviction that the personality and character of people could be influenced by the position of the heavenly spheres at their time of birth.

Since the introduction of modern astronomy, it became impossible for any serious-minded scientist to accept the original principles of astrology. Besides the fact that the heavenly bodies are at a much greater distance than our ancestors believed them to be, their positions in the sky have drastically changed with the passage of time.

After the scientific discoveries of the Enlightenment made the original basis for astrology untenable, there have been numerous attempts by occultists to maintain confidence in it by mystical and occult means.

Though there is no genuinely scientific basis for astrology, millions of people resort to daily horoscopes for guidance in their lives. If nothing else, this behavior shows how deeply religious people are, and how strongly they long for a basis for hope and faith. It may not harm someone to read horoscopes, but anyone taking them seriously will be endangered.

At the very least, astrology is a crutch to avoid the effort of seeking out an informed basis for our decisions. At its worse, it becomes compulsive, a false god gripping us with demonic power. This is probably why the Old Testament warns against it (Isaiah 47:13).

(For more information about the occult, see the Discovery Series booklet What’s The Appeal Of The New Age Movement?)

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What Should I Think of what I Experience in Dreams?

Scientific evidence is accumulating that dreams have vital physiological and psychological functions. Our dreams apparently play an important role in creativity and problem solving.

1  This and other scientific discoveries about the important physiological role of dreaming show that the mysterious activity of dreaming is “hardwired” into us by God’s design, for our benefit. For that reason, we shouldn’t fear dreaming.

The Bible illustrates how highly the Hebrews and other ancient people esteemed dreams and those who could interpret them (Genesis 41; Daniel 2), and that they viewed dreams at times as natural (Ecclesiastes 5:3), as evil (Deuteronomy 13:1-2; Jeremiah 29:8), or as divine revelation (Genesis 28:12-13; Genesis 37:5,9). ( See the ATQ article Is it possible that some dreams contain important symbolic meaning—or even a message from God?)

Like the daydreams and thoughts that drift into our minds in our conscious state, dream fantasies generally seem spontaneous. Sexual activity, rage, and violence often occur abruptly and uncontrollably in dreams. In dreams, all of us do things we certainly would never do if we were awake. We also have nightmares that seem to express our deepest fear and insecurity.

Many people describe having had “lucid dreams.” In lucid dreams, we are aware that we are dreaming and are sometimes able to choose our actions. Some early Christian ascetic monks actually believed that we are responsible not only for what we do in our waking state, but for what we do in our dreams. These monks withdrew from society and dedicated themselves to an isolated life of grueling hardship. Their solitary focus on subjective experience may have made them aware of some things that most of us don’t experience.

Occultists in many cultures have been interested in lucid dreams and have sometimes sought to cultivate lucid dreams and increase control over their fantasies. Such efforts to use occult technique to gain control over one’s dreams are sinister. At the very least, they focus attention away from the real world into a fantasy. At the worst, it may open one’s mind to overtly demonic or subconsciously destructive influences. (See the ATQ articles Why Is It Dangerous for Subconscious Images to Penetrate Our Waking Consciousness? and Why Are Channeling and Mediumship Dangerous?)

To the degree we are aware that we are dreaming and to the extent that our dreams are under our control—that is, lucid—we may be responsible for our actions and shaping our character by our choices.

However, the vast majority of dreams aren’t lucid. Most dreams are fantasies created by our sleeping brain from random memories. In certain ways we feel especially vulnerable when we are sleeping. But God never sleeps. He is always guarding and protecting us (Psalm 121:1-3).

Scripture nowhere indicates that God holds us responsible for what happens in our dreams. But our dreams should serve as a vivid reminder of how dependent we are on His love and grace.

  1. See the papers, “Sleep Inspires insight” in Nature magazine, January 2004 (Wagner, Gais, Haider, Verleger, and Born, from research at the University of Luebeck) and “REM, not incubation, improves creativity by priming associative networks” (Cai, Mednick, Harrison, Kanady, and Mednick). (The Mednick paper is at http://www.saramednick.com/htmls/pdfs/Cai_PNAS_2009) Back To Article
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Has Mary, the Mother of Jesus, Appeared to People?

Is it true that Mary, the mother of Jesus, has appeared on a number of occasions in the last two centuries bringing important messages from God?

We believe that the visions of Mary that have occurred in Lourdes, France, Medjugorje, Yugoslavia, and many other places, can be evaluated on the basis of scriptural, factual, and psychological evidence.

Bernadette Soubirous, the young adolescent girl who had a series of visions of Mary at Lourdes, convinced thousands of people of her sincerity. On one occasion, several thousand people observed her as she spoke with an invisible visitor that only she was able to see. There is little reason to doubt that she actually did see what she considered a vision of Mary. But did she really see Mary, or an illusion created by her imagination and projected by her subconscious mind?

Consider how differently Christ appeared to His disciples following His resurrection. He wasn’t invisible to some as He spoke to others. Jesus had a solid physical body, actually challenging Thomas to touch Him on one occasion and eating fish with the disciples on another( John 20:26-29 ; Luke 24:36-43 ). He never appeared as an “apparition” that could be seen only by a select few.

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Can Christians Be Demon Possessed?

The word demonization is a term recently coined by evangelicals who believe that Christians can be inhabited by demons. These evangelicals believe that Christians can be inhabited by demons who control unyielded areas of their spirit, while not possessing them entirely (in the sense of displacing the union between their spirit and the Holy Spirit, or taking away their salvation).

It is important to note, however, that the terms demonization and demonized are simply transliterations of the Greek word that has traditionally been translated as “possessed” (daimonizomai: Matthew 4:24; 8:16, 28; 9:32; 12:22 ). This word indicates overwhelming demonic control as The Easton Bible Dictionary clarifies regarding demon possession: “This influence is clearly distinguished from the ordinary power of corruption and of temptation over men. In the demoniac, his personality seems to be destroyed, and his actions, words, and even thoughts to be overborne by the evil spirit Acts 19:15 ).”

There is no biblical basis for believing that a genuine Christian can be under the degree of demonic control indicated by the word daimonizomai. First Corinthians 6:19 makes it clear that the Holy Spirit establishes a permanent, intimate relationship with every believer. The body of a Christian is the Holy Spirit’s temple. Other passages also describe the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in the hearts and lives of Christians ( John 3:3-7; Romans 8:5-11; 1 Corinthians 12:12-13; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22; 6:16; Ephesians 1:13-14; Titus 3:4-7 ).

In all of the documents left us by Paul, Peter, John, and the other New Testament writers, there is not one passage that directly states or even implies that Christians may have to deal with their own sin or the sin of another Christian by confronting and casting out an inhabiting demon.

This doesn’t mean that Christians can afford to be careless in respect to Satan’s power. Scripture warns of the danger of spiritual evil ( 2 Corinthians 2:11; Ephesians 4:27; 6:11-12; James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:8 ). While the biblical examples of demonic possession imply a degree of direct demonic control that can’t exist when a person has established an intimate relationship with God through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, Christians can still be oppressed and influenced by the demonic. One of the most striking examples in Scripture was Simon Peter’s opposition to Jesus’ commitment to the cross . 1
Ironically, in a misguided attempt to directly confront the demonic, Christian people sometimes become obsessed with it. This happens when they mistakenly conclude that all—or nearly all—of the evil they perceive within themselves derives from a separate personality—Satan or a demon. There may be disastrous consequences for Christians who attribute their personal sins to exterior, demonic causes rather than taking responsibility for the evil within their own hearts (See the ATQ article, Is Demonic Deliverance Ministry Biblical?)

  1. “Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling-block to Me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men’ ” (Matthew 16:23). But this kind of demonic influence doesn’t involve demonic possession or “inhabiting demons.” Nor does it require exorcism. Back To Article
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Why Did Satan Rebel?

The Bible indicates that pride was the element that led Lucifer to rebel against God ( Isaiah 14:12-14 ; Ezekiel 28:12-19 ). His pride led him to an act of utter foolishness — the rejection of God’s authority and priority as Creator.

Satan continues his hopeless rebellion today — hating God and everything that honors Him ( John 8:42-44 ). Satan is like a terrorist who hates his enemy with such passion that he is willing to sacrifice his own life to kill him. Perhaps the satanic mind has become so warped and twisted that it is no longer capable of objectivity. The “father of lies” may have become the victim of his own delusions.

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What Does the Bible Say About Witchcraft?

The Scriptures condemn all sorcery as opposed to a proper sense of dependence upon God. In Galatians 5:20, witchcraft is listed as being one of the acts of the sinful nature. The book of Revelation contains several passages that condemn sorcery in the strongest terms ( Revelation 9:21; 18:23; 21:8; 22:15 ).

The Bible asserts that only God has the right to understand the realm of the supernatural ( Genesis 40:8 ). Under Old Testament law, intrusion into the realm of the occult made one worthy of death ( Exodus 22:18 ). 1

Interestingly, several Greek words in the New Testament that are translated “witchcraft” and “sorcery” have the root pharm, from which our words pharmacy and pharmaceuticals are derived. This root refers to “drugs, potions, and poisons.” Those who are familiar with the practice of sorcery, both among primitive tribespeople and modern occultists, know that psychoactive drugs are often used by shamans and sorcerers 2 to induce dramatically altered states of consciousness that provide supernatural knowledge or contact with spirits.

1. Also see Leviticus 19:31 ; 2 Kings 21:6; 23:24 ; 1 Chronicles 10:13-14 ; Isaiah 8:19; 19:3 . Back To Article


2. Although the use of drugs as “potions” is common in sorcery and witchcraft, not all modern witches advocate the magical use of drugs. Ritual, meditation, and other magical techniques are often used in their place to produce similar effects. Back To Article

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Is Demonic Deliverance Ministry Biblical?

Every Christian is engaged in spiritual warfare. In the context of a fallen world system, Christians, who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, have no choice but to be engaged in spiritual warfare ( Ephesians 6:12 ). However, there are reasons to question the kind of ministry in which “demonized” Christians need some kind of power intervention by other Christians to free them from demonic control.

The first objection is that the very idea of a Christian being demonized (or demon possessed) is highly questionable. Clear examples of a demon-possessed Christian cannot be found in Scripture, and none of the New Testament writers mention the possession (demonization) of a Christian as a possible cause of besetting sin (see Can a Christian be demon possessed? ). There is no example in Scripture of Christians casting demons out of Christians.

Second, Scripture offers no precedent for the methodology typically used in a deliverance or spiritual warfare intervention. Given the lack of precedent for such interventions in Scripture, the claims of those who promote this kind of ministry are troubling. Some counselors use it routinely, often in a first counseling session. Once contact with a supposed demon is made, the counselor considers his diagnosis of demonization justified regardless of the possibility that the counselor has unintentionally used a form of hypnosis or suggestion to trigger the simulation of a demon by the person seeking help. Once a “demon” appears, the counselor often carries out a lengthy interrogation before finally “expelling” it. Also without scriptural precedent is the frequent need to repeat a “deliverance.”

Third, the forms taken by this kind of deliverance ministry have some startling and disturbing parallels with occultism. While practitioners of occultism are in a trance, they claim to recall experiences from former lives (past-life regression), remember what occurred to them during “lost-time experiences” (UFO abduction), or become channels or mediums through which disembodied spirits (often of the dead) allegedly speak. Although such phenomena may at times be rooted in the genuinely demonic, it is probable on other occasions that they emanate from the subconscious powers of human imagination under the influence of hypnosis or suggestion.

In both New Age channeling and traditional spiritism a dialogue is established with “spirits” in order to gain information. This information, when analyzed, is generally made up of platitudes and unverifiable information of little value. Practitioners of spiritual warfare and deliverance ministry also seek to make contact with spirits, and often attempt to converse with them. As in the case with the “spirits” contacted though channeling and spiritism, the information gained from “demons” by deliverance-ministry counselors1 is rarely of much value, usually vague, and platitudinous.

Fourth, deliverance ministries of this type can have seriously harmful effects. In the Bible, personal change and spiritual transformation is almost always the result of repentance ( Acts 2:38; 17:30-31; 20:21 ), conversion to a new relationship with God through Christ ( 2 Corinthians 5:17 ; Titus 3:5 ), and spiritual growth through the Holy Spirit’s power ( John 1:12-13 ; 1 Corinthians 6:19; 1 John 5:4 ). In sharp contrast to the biblical emphasis on accountability for one’s own sins, it seems that people who engage in the techniques of deliverance ministry quickly assume that many spiritual problems encountered by Christians result from demonization. A diagnosis of demonization has the potential to become a convenient ruse for avoiding responsibility for real problems.

The effect of this unbiblical emphasis on the demonic is to make Christians feel incapable of resisting their spiritual enemy. They feel at the mercy of malevolent external forces and believe that their only hope for deliverance is through the intervention of other Christians who have the ability to identify the demons in their lives and expel them. There is frightening potential for harm when Christian people are convinced they are helpless against Satan without the special help of other Christians who have skills in deliverance ministry and spiritual warfare. The Bible teaches that every Christian is a priest who needs no other mediator than Christ ( 1 Peter 2:5,9 ; Revelation 1:6; 5:10 ), and that the Holy Spirit makes every Christian capable of resisting Satan ( 1 Corinthians 10:13; Ephesians 6:11 ; James 4:7 ; 1 Peter 5:6-11 ).

  1. It’s disturbing to see how some Christians engaged in a deliverance ministry ask supposed demons repeated questions in hopes of gaining information from them, including demonic methods, motivations, and goals. It seems apparent that if evil spirits were really speaking, they would be unlikely to tell the truth. Back To Article
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How Powerful Is the Devil?

Even though the Scriptures tell us little about Satan’s origin, they tell us that he is a fallen angel of considerable power. One of the most familiar passages is Ephesians 6:12 :

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Jesus called Satan the “ruler of this world” ( John 12:31 ), and Jude tells us that he is so powerful that even Michael the archangel lacked the power to rebuke him ( Jude 1:9 ). Paul called him the “god of this age” in 2 Corinthians 4:4 . He also portrayed him ( Ephesians 6:12 ) as the head of a great, highly organized “army” of evil spirit beings. He is a cunning liar, capable of seducing Adam and Eve, and disguising himself as an “angel of light” ( 2 Corinthians 11:14 ).

While Satan is portrayed in the Bible as powerful, dangerous, and an adversary to be respected, he shouldn’t be considered in any way equal to God. He is a creature, with creaturely limitations. His power is nothing in comparison with that of the sovereign God. And according to James 4:7 , because of the power God gives to His children, if we resist the devil he will flee from us. Although subtle and cunning, the devil is a defeated foe who continues to resist God furiously until the time that he will be sealed in hell forever.

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What Is Witchcraft?

The Encyclopedia Britannica defines witchcraft as:

The human exercise of alleged supernatural powers for antisocial, evil purposes (so-called black magic). A female held to have such powers may be called a witch or sorceress, the male counterpart being named wizard, sorcerer, or warlock. Belief in witchcraft survives in modern technologically developed cultures and remains a potent factor in most nonliterate societies.

Webster’s Third New International Dictionary defines witchcraft in the following way:

a. an act or instance of employing sorcery especially with malevolent intent: a magical rite or technique; b. the exercise of supernatural powers: alleged intercourse with the devil or with a familiar.

and the Colliers Encyclopedia states:

Witchcraft may be defined for general purposes as the use of supposed supernatural power for antisocial ends. In primitive societies where magic is an accepted part of religious ritual, the witch is the unauthorized, and especially the malevolent, practitioner.

Notice that these works refer to witchcraft as the use of sorcery and supernatural power for malevolent intent. Witchcraft of this type exists in nearly every cultural setting. This judgment isn’t merely the conclusion of “Christian culture.” Historian Jeffrey B. Russell, who is not at all hostile toward modern Neopaganism, states:

Folk tales, like dreams, express the concerns of the unconscious in symbols; the meaning of the figure of the witch, like the meaning of any symbol, varies with the story. Usually, however, she represents an elemental natural force possessing enormous and unexpected powers against which a natural person is unable to prepare or defend himself, a force not necessarily evil, but so alien and remote from the world of mankind as to constitute a threat to the social ethical, and even physical order of the cosmos. This manner of portraying the witch is very ancient and probably archetypal. This witch is neither a simple sorceress, nor a demonolater, nor a pagan. She is a hostile presence from another world. The gut terror inspired by this archetypal witch helps to explain the excesses of hatred and fear that welled up during the witch craze.

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