From: "Pastor Buddy Martin" <Bro.Buddy@ChristianChallenge.org>
Date sent: Wed, 27 Jun 2001 17:23:37 -0500
Subject: HF037 - The Spirit of Babylon - Magical Practices and Sorcery
This is Bible Study HF037 - The Spirit of Babylon - Magical
Practices and Sorcery.
There are plenty of discussions going on as to whether seemingly
odd practices found in certain Christian groups today can be of
God. I thought it would do well to provide a Bible study that can
deal with this issue from an early Church standpoint. In this study
I'll use historical references, quotes from early Church writers, and
quotes from some of the ancient sages of Israel. In this study we want to
key in on how that sorcery can make an appearance among Christians.
It should go without saying that the historical Church has always
had to deal with the problem of witchery. A more accurate title for
this would be 'the spirit of Babylon.' This spiritual working is
unlimited in that it is to be found in every religious society on the
earth. But the problem we have to deal with is when it appears under the
guise of Christianity. The Babylonian spirit is the spirit of sorcery.
As for dialogue on this subject, it will be alright to discuss certain
practices to be found today, but it should be done without mentioning
names. Feel free to make comments or ask questions, but do not single out
any Christian group or any one individual. This forum is for educational
Here is the Scripture we can use as a beginning point: "Now there
was a man named Simon, who formerly was practicing magic in
the city and astonishing the people of Samaria, claiming to be
someone great; and they all, from smallest to greatest, were giving
attention to him, saying, 'This man is what is called the Great
Power of God.'" (Acts 8:9,10)
Earlier Christians had a number of traditions about Simon. To
distinguish him from other Simons of the Bible, he was given the
name Simon Magnus. Justin Martyr said Simon went to Rome and
was worshipped there as a god. Over time the word 'simony', which
comes from the name Simon Magnus, was used for someone who
bought or sold a spiritual office for a price.
History has proven over and over again that the Simon Magnus's
will always be around. But these men are actually sorcerers. And
when God's people are led astray, it is usually one of these people
who are involved. They are deceivers, but their powers are of a
spiritual nature. This is one reason that we are warned not to be
followers of signs and wonders.
What we know from the Scriptures is that Simon Magnus claimed
to be "the Great Power of God." But was he actually claiming to
have an association with the God of the Bible? It seems so.
Jerome quotes from the writings of Simon Magnus, where Simon
writes, "I am the Word of God, I am the Comforter, I am the
Almighty, I am all there is of God."
So when Simon said he was the Great Power of God, he was
placing himself as God manifest. This is how sorcery works. The
sorcerer seeks to draw attention to himself as being someone
great. He does this by mesmerizing the peoples. To mesmerize a
person is to bring them under your power by spellbinding them.
Lets consider more about Simon Magnus. Irenaeus has this to
say, "Simon, having purchased a certain woman named Helena,
who had been a prostitute in the city of Tyre, carried her about with him,
and said that she was the first conception of his mind, the mother of all
things..." He then adds, "On this account he [Simon] himself came, that he
might first of all reclaim her and free her from her chains, and then give
salvation to men through the knowledge of himself."
The spirit of sorcery is generally accompanied by sexual
excesses. Women leave their husbands. Husbands leave their
wives. Wherever you find the spirit of sorcery at work, you usually
find the breaking down of families. Right and wrong get twisted
together. And spirits began invading the home. These spirits
attempt to validate the teachings of the sorcerer.
What many don't realize is that while sorcery is a spiritual activity, it
works on a sensual level. This is why Peter said, "These [evil workers]
are springs without water and mists driven by a storm, for whom the black
darkness has been reserved. For speaking out words of vanity they entice
by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones
living in error." (2 Peter 2:18)
Another legend about Simon Magnus is that he was actually once
a disciple of John the Baptist. This legend is found is several
different forms, so it is likely to have some validity to it. Many false
prophets have had an association with Christianity.
On a historical note, Simon's followers took to themselves the
name Simoniani. They regarded Simon as their Christ. To them the
Christ spirit manifested itself in different peoples over the ages.
Jesus Christ was only one of these peoples.
The Simoniani had a great mixture of teachings that were derived
from paganism, from Judaism, and from Christianity. Origen has
this to say about the Simoniani; ""It escapes the notice of Celsus
that the Simonians do not in any way acknowledge Jesus as the
Son of God, but they call Simon the Power of God."
So did the early Church have problems with sorcery? Most
assuredly. As I said earlier, this has always been a problem for the
Church. Jesus Himself said that tares would be sown in with the wheat. He
explains the tares as being children of the evil one. Paul adds to this by
saying that our warfare is of a spiritual nature.
The apostle Paul explained how that Satan's servants actually
masquerade as servants of righteousness. In writing the Corinthian
Church, Paul said, "But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived
Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the
simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. For if one comes and
preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or your
receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different
gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully." (2
The apostle went on to say that, "Such men are false apostles,
deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No
wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.
Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise
themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be
according to their deeds." (1 Corinthians 11:13-14)
Think about it for a moment. If the spirit of sorcery could be in the
Corinthian Church, what would prevent it from being in a Christian group
today? Again we need to understand that the spirit of sorcery has always
been around. You will find it from the book of Genesis to the book of
Revelation. And again, sorcery is also known as 'the spirit of Babylon.'
Notice especially how God calls his people out of Babylon, in
Revelation chapter eighteen; "Come out of her, my people, so that
you will not participate in her sins and receive her plagues; for her sins
have piled up as high as heaven, and God has remembered her
iniquity." (Verses 4,5)
In verse twenty-three, the Lord says that "all the nations were
deceived by your sorceries." John is pointing out that the spirit of
sorcery will pervade the earth during the time of tribulation. But that
many of God's people will have been taken in by this spirit. There could
be no other reason for God to tell His people to come out of Babylon.
Then we have to consider Paul's writings. This apostle clearly
shared that an endtime deception will sweep the world that will
revolve around anti-Christ.
But we also have the words of Jesus. The Lord spoke of the false
Christs who would be deceiving peoples in the latter times. Jesus
said, "And then if anyone says to you, 'Behold, here is the Christ', or,
'Behold, He is there', do not believe him; for false Christs and false
prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order to lead
astray, if possible, the elect." (Mak 13:21,22)
Now lets take a look at what the early Jewish sages had to say
about sorcery. There is an interesting statement made in the
Tosefta, concerning why the Lord allowed the temple to be
destroyed in 70 A.D. It says, "When the number of 'whisperers' in
court increased, wrath came upon the world and the Shekhina
departed from Israel." The 'whisperers' was a term used for
It appears that the spirit of sorcery had infested Israel prior to the
destruction of the temple. False prophets abounded. It was these false
prophets who contributed to the uprising against Rome. But this wasn't a
new thing in Israel. They had long been noted for consulting mediums.
God spoke to the people in Isaiah 8:19, saying, "When they say to
you, 'Consult the mediums and the spiritists who whisper and
mutter,' should not a people consult their God? Should they
consult the dead on behalf of the living?"
At the time of Christ, the Jewish people had long since departed
from Biblical Judaism. The leadership had totally distorted the
Laws of God. This is one reason that the land was full of
demonized people. And this is why John the Baptist came down so
hard on the Pharisees and Sadducees, when he said, "You brood
of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?"
(Matthew 3:7) These peoples were trying to identify with the
growing movement of John.
Notice how Jesus uses the same language, in saying, "You
serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of
hell." (Matthew 23:33)
With the coming of Jesus, the Lord gave Israel a 40 year period to
repent and to turn to Him. During this time the Christian Jews were
ministering fervently, but many of the peoples were being drawn
even further into the occult. (Notice in Revelation 11:8, that
Jerusalem is referred to as Sodom and Egypt. Both places were
full of sorcery. Recall Moses and the sorcerers.)
Here are some more interesting notes from the Jewish writings.
According to Jewish thought, it was considered a sign of ill omen if the
light of the lampstand in the temple ever went out. Based on Mishnah
Moddot 3:4, it was stated that exactly forty years before the Temple's
destruction (70 A.D.) the light went out. Exactly forty years before the
Temple's destruction would be the beginning of the ministry of Jesus, in
There was a teaching during second temple Judaism, that Satan
was also present in the Holiest of Holies, to accuse the Jews and
their High Priest. This was one reason the peoples did not want the
High Priest to linger in the inner Shrine any longer than necessary. So,
when the light went out, according to Jewish writings, this must have
indicated that Satan was in charge. (According to Jewish tradition, the
blowing of the shofar on new year is to disconcert Satan.)
Also according to Jewish writings, forty years before the
destruction of the temple, the temple doors began to open on their
own accord, and strange voices could be heard coming from within
the temple complex. Whether all of this is true or not, it is true that
sorcery had a dominate influence among the peoples of that time.
One more point of interest with regard to sorcery in the early times, is
that a sorcerer was known to use the name YHWH (Yahweh) along with the
names of other gods in doing their work. This lets us understand that just
because a person uses the name of the Lord, does not preclude this person
from being under the auspices of an occultic spirit.
The Lord Himself made this plain enough. He said to his disciples,
of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly
are ravenous wolves."
Then a little later, He said, "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord,
will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father
who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord,
did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in
Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I
never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.'" (Matthew
There is a point to be made in concluding this portion of the study. It
appears from the Scriptures and from history, that at the closing of an
age there is an upsurge of demonic operations. The apostles had much to
say about this, but we will leave that be for now.
The study is open for discussion.
Shalom in Christ,
"See to it that no one comes short of the grace
of God; that no root of bitterness springing up
causes trouble, and by it many be defiled." (Heb12:15)