When I was a kid, like most people, we celebrated Halloween. And I loved it. I mean, what kid doesn’t like to dress up and gorge on candy? My first memory of Halloween was in Germany, when I was about 6 years old. They call it Fasching there, and people wear masks and have a parade through town. That year I was a sorcerer, and my outfit was replete with a magic wand, a wizard’s hat, and a robe, covered with moons, suns and stars. It wasn’t until some years later that our family stopped observing Halloween, making the switch over to the “Fall Festival” themed celebration. But I had been exposed to the occult. I had been introduced to images of evil in the context of light-hearted fun.
As I grew up, I encountered the occult periodically in different ways. When I would go to sleepovers, the other girls would play “light as a feather, stiff as a board,” play with ouija boards or chant “bloody Mary” into mirrors. I didn’t fully understand that levitation was an actual occult practice. I didn’t grasp that the Ouija board and bloody Mary were conduits for spiritual contact and opening oneself up to demons. But I knew those things were bad, so I didn’t participate. My parents probably gave me that impression – but I also just knew. I had trusted in Jesus at age seven, and the Holy Spirit was living inside of me, convicting me and protecting me from harm.
But I would be lying if I told you that I came to the conclusion to not observe Halloween, purely on the basis of the Word of God. While the words God has spoken are enough, and must be enough for the believer, sometimes it does take an encounter with the demonic to sober us up into reality – God’s reality; the true world that is seen, not with natural eyes, but spiritual ones. The apostle Paul said, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (1)
Despite the fact that I was a Christian as a child, I still encountered the demonic. When I was about eleven, in the weeks leading up to her salvation, my sister went into a trance, saying the word “Beelzebub” repeatedly – another name for the devil. It scared me, but I prayed to Jesus, and clung to him in my fear. On another occasion, I was sharing the gospel with my best friend, and a similar thing happened. One minute we were carrying on a conversation, and the next minute she was somebody else, with a different voice and different movements. I didn’t understand it at the time, but she was possessed. The demon in her spoke disturbing words about blood and death. I fell to my knees and cried out to Jesus. That night she became a Christian. A few years after that, I had another friend who confided in me that she saw spirits constantly, to the point of becoming suicidal. Sometimes she would call me sobbing, saying that her doors were opening and closing, and closet lights going on and off… She was torchered and scared, but I prayed for her as best I knew how. She too put her trust in Jesus, and from that point on the visitations stopped. Years later, I also learned about the reality of Satanism, through a friend who had been trafficked for ten years as a child, and forced to partake in Satanic ritual abuse. She saw babies murdered, and other things too terrible to mention. Sadly, I have another friend who had a similar experience as well.
I realize that for many people, these things are hard to grasp. I understand the difficulty in wrapping your mind around the reality that this stuff goes on all the time. And many people just don’t believe it. But it’s real. It’s so real, that we have to face it. The Bible says that the devil “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (2) But do we believe that, brothers and sisters? Do we believe that Satan is hell-bent on destroying us and stealing souls? Yet we needn’t be afraid of him, because Jesus has conquered our enemy, and it is finished. Jesus taught us so much, when he told his disciples, “…do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (3) As amazing as it is that we are fully-equipped to stand against the evil one, it is even more wonderful that we are bought and paid for by the blood of Jesus! And there is literally nothing Satan can do to take us away from him or to change that. We belong to the Lord for all eternity.
There are many more instances I could refer to, but I don’t want to be gratuitous in the details of these accounts. I don’t want to draw any more attention to Satan than he is already getting at this time of year. But I do want to draw out the fact that while there may be a lot of cutesy depictions of the occult this October, as Christians we need to be sober minded, on guard, and remember that the spiritual realm is real. It’s not a joke or a game – its an all out war. If you wear the name Christian, then you know that when the Son of God walked the earth, he cast out demons as often as he worked healing miracles. As he said himself when he quoted the prophet Isaiah, he came to set the captives free – not just from bodily illness, but from spiritual bondage: the lies of the enemy that attempt to squash the truth of Christ. (4)
In my post My Life As A Christian Mystic, I talked a lot about my own involvement in the occult, and what it was like to be traumatized by spirits. But I didn’t talk about how hard I tried to fight the enemy, for so many years. I tried casting demons away from me, I tried “claiming” my healing – I even tried telling Satan off (which isn’t a Biblical method, by the way). I would find prayers for the purging of specific spirits, and pray them, in hopes that by saying some special series of words, God would finally free me this time. I didn’t understand that by the very fact that I was seeking methods, I was necessarily using magical thinking, not a regenerated mind. It wasn’t until I finally understood that all I need for spiritual warfare is Jesus, that I experienced freedom. I was grasping for a fix, but I didn’t get the gospel. All we need for warfare is right there in what Jesus did! He already conquered Satan, so we don’t have to! We just have to believe that Jesus did it, and rely on him and what he accomplished. Trusting Jesus to save me from the evil one has set me free. I don’t need a particular prayer. I just need to believe that Jesus conquered death and Satan on the cross, and put my faith in him. We have such a treasure in God’s Word, and when Jesus taught us how to pray, he told us to daily ask God to “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” (5) Jesus was not only teaching us how to talk to God, but emphasizing how serious, how imminent and how present evil is. We would be foolish to overlook it.
But while we may be able to make certain decisions for ourselves, it can be nearly impossible to shield a child from everything out there that could be categorized as evil. What I’m not advocating is the sheltering of our children to the point of absurdity. But I am exhorting us as Christians to take it to heart that Halloween is a holiday that exalts demons, witches, darkness and evil. We need to prayerfully consider the passages of scripture that plainly describe those things as detestable to God. (6) (7) And we need to pray about the very real possibility that Satan, if he could have his way, would love for Christians everywhere to let down their guard, even if for just one day. Wouldn’t he be thrilled if Christians took a break from lugging around that unweildly spiritual armor, and made excuses for him – just this once?
I remember a friend of mine telling me of an encounter she had on a plane once. She happened to sit next to a very friendly Satanist, and proceeded to have a conversation about both of their religious beliefs. I was shocked to hear of one thing in particular that the Satanist disclosed to her. They said that the Church of Satan was praying corporately for Christian marriages to fail.
For me it comes down this: I have experienced so much darkness in my life – why would I ever want to return to it again? As the apostle Paul said, “now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?” (8)
Halloween evokes images of hell, and seeks to draw me back to that hellish space I used to exist in. But now that I am in the light, and the light is in me, I want nothing to do with the darkness anymore. “For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” (9) Let’s not lift up the things that are set against our Lord. Let’s lift him up, unashamed to stand apart from our culture. We don’t have to have a separatist attitude. We don’t need to look down our noses at the world. But we should freely and joyfully proclaim the power of the gospel, making no excuses for doing so. And we should pray for the strength to do it. Daily, we should put on the whole armor of God:
“… that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.” (10)
In the words of Romans 13:12, “The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.” This Halloween, I’ll be wearing the armor of God.
If you want to hear a fantastic lecture on the reality of evil from a Biblical perspective, listen to this talk by the late Walter Martin.
1. Put on the whole armor of God – Ephesians 6:10-13
2. The devil seeks to devour – 1 Peter 5:8-10
3. Don’t rejoice that the spirits are subject to you – Luke 10:17-20
4. Jesus came to set the captives free – Luke 4:16-21
5. The Lord’s Prayer – Matthew 6:5-14
6. Divination, magic and demon worship is an abomination to God – Deuteronomy 18:9-13
7. You can’t drink the cup of God and demons – 1 Corinthians 10:20-21
8. Don’t be enslaved to the world once more – Galatians 4:8-9
9. Light can’t fellowship with darkness – 2 Corinthians 6:14-18
10. Putting on the whole armor of God protects us from the evil one – Ephesians 6:10-20