Wednesday, 29 October 2014

The danger of sinful imitation

In Deuteronomy chapter 18, as the law of God is presented to a new generation of Israelites prior to their entrance into Canaan, various instructions are given on how they were to conduct themselves once they came in to that promised land. In verses 9 to 15 they are told that 'when thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations'. Various pagan practices such as divination, witchcraft and necromancy as practiced by the Canaanites are then prohibited. These sinful practices were forbidden to the children of Israel and are described as being an abomination to God, showing them to be loathsome and offensive to his holy name. Indeed it was for the practice of these things that the Lord would drive the Canaanites out of the land (verse 12).

Among these sins here listed there are many practices and which are linked with and familiar to the celebration of Halloween. The satanic practices of sorcery and witchcraft, of human sacrifice and communicating with the dead, condemned by God as being among the vilest of sins, are found at the very root and origin of Halloween. Behind every Halloween custom, when it is traced back far enough, the hand of Satan can be found. Halloween customs such as trick or treat, jack-o-lanterns and bobbing for apples, things which on the surface are fun and harmless, all have their beginnings in ancient pagan druid practices, rituals which can themselves be traced back to Babylonish idolatry and the very things which we find condemned in Deuteronomy 18.

The question we must ask is whether, despite the innocency in which many of these things are done, the imitation of these practices acceptable. And whilst at this time of the year the focus may be on Halloween customs the question can be extended beyond that particular issue. For instance a Christian would not (or should not) get a tattoo, what then about imitation or henna tattoos? Is it right to imitate or have a seemingly innocent version of any practice which is sinful?

3rd John 11 says that we are to 'follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.' The Greek word 'mimeomai' which is here translated 'follow' literally means to mimic or imitate, and is used on other occasions where the people are instructed to follow or mimic the godly example and faith of the Apostles. However in this instance it instructs us in what we are not to imitate, specifically 'that which is evil'. It is a clear scriptural command not to copy or imitate that which has a sinful influence or origin, but to abstain 'from all appearance of evil’. There are three reasons why we ought to steer away from any form of sinful imitation. 

1. Sinful Imitation makes light of sin
Proverbs 14:9 states that ‘fools make a mock at sin’. Those who don’t take sin seriously, who scorn and scoff at it are described as fools and indeed it is a very foolish thing to mock sin, and to be flippant about it. The pagan practices which are condemned in Deuteronomy 18 are described as being an abomination unto God. They are not simply things which he isn’t keen on, or which displease him a little, but they are an abomination. Yet are we not making a mockery of that statement when we make light of such things and when we imitate them or take part in activities which resemble or originate from them. 

If we consider how Halloween is represented by the media we see that it is taken in a very light manner. It is made out to be something that is fun and should be enjoyed by the whole family. But the serious nature of its origin is passed over and the truth behind it is rarely mentioned. Such is the case with all manner of sin today. Sin is fun, sin is entertaining, sin makes us laugh. Yet sin is never a bit of fun. It may have its pleasures, but those pleasures only last for a season. The only wage ever paid out by sin is death. The seriousness of sin is such that God must condemn a sinner to eternal punishment and damnation for it. It is so serious that God cannot look upon it, for he is 'of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity'. It is so serious that when Christ became sin for us on the cross he cried out 'my God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me'. How can we then make light of sin? 

If pagans celebrate Halloween with great delight, it being the most important day in the year to them, how can a Christian do likewise without making light of sin? Pagans at Halloween carry out in full the practices here condemned by God, but we are told that ‘the Lord thy God hath not suffered thee so to do’. We cannot have a dumbed down or 'Christianised' version of any sinful or worldly custom without making light of sin. Mimicking sin makes it appear insignificant and a Christian cannot glorify God by imitating those who know not him, even though we may do it innocently. If we do so, then their sins are seen to be but a little thing.

2. Sinful Imitation leads to sinful practice
The imitation of any sin will make it much easier for a person to become caught up in the actual practice of that sin. Whether it be the pagan practices at the heart of Halloween or some other matter, it is a lot easier to get caught up in a sin when we have already been doing those things which imitate it. It is much easier to go to a nightclub when we have been a Christian disco, falsely so called. When sin closely resembles something which you are already doing then it is not a very big step to partake of that sin. People who would never normally have become involved in the occult are much more likely to do so at Halloween, for it is the occultist’s great recruiting day. The imitation of sin lends itself greatly to a person becoming attracted to, and ultimately entrapped and entangled in that sin. 

The growing popularity of Halloween, the abundance of horror movies on TV and in the cinema, along with the plethora of satanic and occult literature make it much easier for children and young people to get caught up in the occult. Indeed Halloween itself has become more overtly evil in its appearance over recent years, many costumes and outfits have lost their 'cartoon appearance' and there has clearly been a greater emphasis on making the horror more realistic. It is often said that sin will take you farther than you want to go and what you may have initialy tried as a bit of fun can very easily lead to serious sin. 

In the book of Ruth we read of how Naomi and her family went down into Moab against God’s will, initially with the intention of only staying in the land for a short period of time. They only planned to ‘sojourn’ in the land yet we read in the next verse that they 'continued there', they had become comfortable outside of what God had commanded. Very often we can become comfortable with sin. Although we feel that we can control how deeply we may become involved in any practice, more often than not it is sin which controls us. 

The alcoholic lying in the gutter had no ambition of becoming an alcoholic when he took his first drink, yet that is where sin took him. If we have got a henna tattoo whilst on holiday then why not get a real one when we return. No doubt the person who first watches an occult film does not intend to get caught up in occult practices, but it will certainly make it easier for them to do so. Playing at Halloween activities makes it easy to fall into much more serious practices, because the argument can easily be given that they are not all that different. Not only does sinful imitation make light of sin, but it also can lead to sinful practice.

3. Sinful imitation keep us from God
On 31st October when too many Christians are out imitating and celebrating ancient pagan customs, they have forgotten all about God. He is certainly not the foremost in their thoughts and indeed they have forgotten or do not realise that 31st October is a day worth celebrating for reasons other than Halloween. Almost every Christian will be aware of 31st October being Halloween, yet it is a tragedy that comparitvly few are aware that it is also Reformation Day, the memorial of that most pivotal day in the history of the Protestant Reformation.

It was on 31st October 1517 that Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of Wittenberg Cathedral, publicly stating his opposition to the false teaching of Johan Tetzel and the Church of Rome that indulgences could save a mans soul. Yet on 31st October, a day when believers ought to remember God's glorious work in the Reformation and the rediscovery of gospel truth, most minds are far from God. It is surely the work of Satan himself that Halloween has increased in popularity so much so that few believers know of, or celebrate the great event which took place on that date.

Romans 12:2 teaches us that we are not to be ‘conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind’. We are not to copy the world or conform to its standards but rather we are to be conformed to the Word of God. When we are found imitating sin we cannot also be imitating Christ and our thoughts will not be of doing so. Deuteronomy 18:15 says 'the LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken'. We are not to follow after the custom of the world but are rather to hearken unto that prophet whom God will raise up. Who is that prophet but none other than the Lord Jesus Christ.

The imitation of sin is a delight to Satan for it will keep our thoughts from the Lord Jesus Christ, our great prophet, priest and king. It is better that we forget about Halloween, and have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather rejoice in the Lord Jesus Christ.

No comments:

Post a Comment