Derek finishes looking at how the works of the flesh operate by manipulation and intimidation. He then begins looking at witchcraft in its second aspect, through such things as spells and curses. Derek uses the example of Balaam from the Old Testament, who was what we might call a witch doctor.
You see, it can well be that the husband and wife have differences. The divine order is that they talk it out face to face, prayerfully, and seek God. But manipulation never faces the real issue. It always goes round behind. The real issues are never brought out into the light. There are who knows how many millions of married couples even in this land that never really bring their differences out into the open. But each tries to go round behind the other to get what he or she wants. That’s manipulation.
You take the church. There are many, many examples of manipulation in the church. We’ll take a Pentecostal congregation. I don’t think there’s much I don’t know of Pentecostals. I mean, I have been an Anglican and I am a Pentecostal and I think basically I know how they operate. I may be a bit out of date with Anglicans but, I mean, there’s all sorts of people I don’t know much about, but anyhow, let’s take a little Pentecostal congregation. There’s a young pastor; it’s his first pastorate. There’s only about a hundred people in the congregation and he is a little bit nervous and timid. And there are two very spiritual sisters. I mean, not just spiritual, but super-spiritual. And they know how the church ought to be run. They don’t sit down prayerfully and talk it over with the pastor, but one of them gets a tongue and the other comes with the interpretation. And between them they tell the pastor what to do. You think that does not happen? I can tell you it certainly does. What is that? Manipulation.
Many other areas—business people manipulate one another. The boss may manipulate his secretary, or the secretary may manipulate her boss. I cannot take a lot of time this evening, but you see what I’m talking about is something that’s natural to fallen man. This is witchcraft as a work of the flesh and its three trademarks are manipulate, intimidate and dominate. And I would like to say, wherever you encounter those things, behind them is the power of witchcraft.
And when your eyes are opened, it is so much easier to deal with it. One of the most common tricks of witchcraft is to make you feel guilty. “Well, you didn’t come to see me when I was sick. There I was all alone!” They never regard the fact that the other person had a lot to do. I have learned this: If ever I found a person is making me feel guilty, I stop and ask myself, “What is working through them?” You see, as I understand Scripture, the Holy Spirit does not make people feel guilty. He convicts of sin, righteousness and judgment. He will put His finger on specific things and say: “You did that wrong. This is what you have to do. You have to repent and put it right.” But guilt is something you never finish with. “Did I really do enough? Ought I to have done more? What did I say wrong? Why doesn’t she talk to me in church any longer?”
Another operation of witchcraft is trying to make you feel that the person’s opinion and approval is very important. “If you don’t do this I won’t approve you.” They don’t say that, but that’s the implication. Again, I’ve learned to ask myself when I’m confronted with that: “Is that person’s approval really so important to me that I’m going to allow myself to be manipulated by it?” And generally it my conclusion is, it does not matter so much!
Now, we are going to move on. Let me point out a connecting link in James, chapter 1 and verse 14. You see, this desire for power, for control and also for knowledge is a strong feature of every human being. And Satan exploits this desire to get power over us. This is what James says in his epistle, chapter 1, verse 14:
“Each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desire or lust, and enticed.”
So there is in you this desire for power, for control, for appreciation, for knowledge. It is in all of us, it’s born in us. But if Satan can begin to use that, he’ll get us under his control. You could not count the number of people in this nation today who are involved in the occult. I’m sure it must be at least 75 percent of people in this nation who are today involved in the occult. What is the motive that Satan uses? The desire for power, the desire for control and the desire for knowledge. What was the desire that first got the human race into trouble? Have you ever stopped to think? What was Adam desiring, in one word? Knowledge, that’s right. And when he reached out for knowledge in an illegitimate way, he became a captive of Satan. Uncounted millions of people are lured into the occult by the desire for knowledge. “Where did my son go when he died?” What do they end up by doing? Going to a seance. “Am I going to have a happy marriage?” So what do people do? They go to who? A fortune-teller. That’s the motivation. And that’s what Satan exploits.
Now let’s look at witchcraft as a spiritual power. Now we are talking about something that’s supernatural. It’s more than human ability. It is very important to understand that not all supernatural comes from God. A lot of it comes from Satan. There are, I believe, only two sources of the supernatural available to man: God or Satan. Any supernatural power that does not come from God does come from Satan. As I said before, God’s Kingdom is a kingdom of light. Usually you know where you are at in God’s Kingdom. Satan’s kingdom is a kingdom of darkness: you don’t know what’s manipulating you, what’s controlling you, what’s driving you.
There are, I think, three main branches that we can describe in the English language. In some other languages you might have to use somewhat slightly different terminology. They are witchcraft, divination and sorcery, and I’ll try to give you a little picture of each. I think they cover the whole field of the satanic supernatural.
Now witchcraft is the power arm. Its product is power and it operates through such things as spells and curses. I think perhaps the most single powerful weapon of witchcraft is curses. It is a very old practice. If you turn to Numbers, chapter 22, you’ll find that Balaam was what we would call a witch doctor. Balaam was one of the most difficult people to classify, that we still encounter today, because he was open to supernatural from both sources, from God and from Satan. There are a lot of people like that. And they are the hardest to deal with, because sometimes they are right and sometimes they are wrong. If a person is only open to God, he will always be right; if a person is only open to Satan, it’s wrong. But the people that really are difficult to deal with, and we have them in all congregations, are people who are sometimes open to God and sometimes open to Satan. I tell you, for a pastor to deal with them that requires insight, authority and courage.
Now let’s look at what Balak, king of Moab, said to Balaam, the witch doctor. In Numbers 22 verse 10. Balaam is actually explaining to God the proposition he has had from Balak. Balaam said to God:
“Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, has sent to me, saying: Look, a people has come out of Egypt and they cover the face of the earth. [What people was that? Israel, that’s right.] Come now, curse them for me. Perhaps I shall be able to overpower them and drive them out.”
Now this is standard practice in the cultures of the Bible. It was normal for kings or others going to war, not merely to fight them on the natural plane, but to make war on a supernatural plane. So they would get their witch doctor to curse the other people. There is a list of curses pronounced by the Egyptian pharaohs in the 19th century B.C. and there are 66 nations against which they pronounced curses. See, what’s the point of cursing them? You bring them to a place where you can defeat them in war. It’s very interesting, when Goliath came against David, he cursed him in the name of his gods. That was not just a display of vulgarity. He really was asserting: “My gods can deal with your God.” So in a certain sense, ancient warfare was often not just a conflict between nations but it was viewed as a test of power between the gods of those nations. For instance, when God dealt with Egypt and brought Israel out, the Psalm says, “He judged the gods of Egypt.” Not just the natural rulers but the spiritual rulers. So Balaam was hired as a good curser. That was his profession.
Ruth and I visited Bath a few years ago. They had just then excavated a pagan temple. And they discovered that one of the main functions of the priests in that temple was to write curses for people who came. They did not trust themselves to write a good enough curse for themselves, so the function of the priest was to write a really horrific curse against the person whom they wanted to see destroyed. Don’t smile at that. I mean, you can smile and think it is funny, but believe me in a certain sense it works. People would not spend thousands of years in a certain way of doing things if there was not some reality in it.