Maybe you’ve had some of these thoughts about the latest “game” that’s captured teens’ hearts around the world. The Internet is loaded with videos of teens running, screaming, after asking “Charlie, Charlie, are you there?” and then seeing the pencil move on its own. (For the record, I wouldn’t recommend this Google search. If you’re wondering why, keep reading.)
It’s no game to try to communicate with demons.
It’s no game to try to communicate with demons (some claim Charlie is a Mexican demon, while others chalk the whole thing up to psychological suggestion or to the precariousness of one pencil balancing on another).
Regardless of whether Charlie is indeed a demon or a just a scary game, God is very clear about steering clear of anything even remotely close to “Charlie, Charlie.” Check out God’s words to His people in Deuteronomy 18:9–12,
“When you come into the land that the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD.”
Regardless of whether a particular spirit named “Charlie” exists or not, this I do know:
The spirit world is real, and demons are dangerous enough for me to want to stay as far away from them as possible (Eph. 6:12).
God specifically commands us not to try to contact spirits (Deut. 18:10–12).
Spirits like “Charlie” are not “innocent.” They have either chosen to follow God or to rebel against him and follow Satan. They all have an agenda: either to carry out Satan’s commands or to carry out God’s commands (Rev. 12:9).
Satan’s mission is directly opposed to Jesus’ mission; Satan seeks to steal and kill (and scare!) and destroy, while Jesus came to give us life—vibrant, thriving life (John 10:10–11).
Jesus has freed me from darkness. So why would I want to contact someone from the realm of darkness? (Col. 1:13).
Jesus triumphed over evil at the cross, and Satan soon will be locked away forever (Col. 2:15, Rev. 20:10).
So while the rest of your friends are running, screaming in fear—from Charlie—see to it that evil spirits run from you. How? James 4:7 holds the key:
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
How cool is that?! Rather than fleeing in fear, you can actually cause the devil to flee from you, if you are resisting him, submitting to God, and full of Christ’s Spirit (which He freely gives you when you trust in Him and Him alone in order to be accepted by God).
So it’s up to you. Run in fear from Charlie, or have Charlie and his demons flee from you.
Me, I choose the later.
Oh, and I will not be playing “Charlie, Charlie” anytime soon.
Months ago, a girl asked me what God thinks of ghosts. I hemmed and hawed because . . . I had no earthly idea. But since Halloween is tomorrow, I thought it was as good a time as any to search God’s Word for an answer.
Do Ghosts Really Exist?
I’m sure you’ve heard talk of ghosts—maybe on a show like Ghost Whisperer, a movie like The Sixth Sense, a visit to a haunted house, or those chilling ghost stories your friends tell around the campfire.
But, do ghosts really exist? And what exactly does God think about ghosts?
First, a definition. According to Wikipedia,
“A ghost is the soul or spirit of a dead person or animal that can appear, in visible form or other manifestation, to the living.”
God’s Not a Fan
Ghosts don’t just roam around on the earth at their will. (Many believers point to verses like 2 Cor. 5:8 to indicate that spirits don’t “hang around” on earth after they die.) You don’t have to worry about bumping into one if you’re out walking through the cemetery on a damp, fall evening.
Ghosts (the spirits of the dead) have to be proactively contacted through a witch, medium, or spiritist. And God is super clear about what He thinks of that practice:
“Let no one be found among you who . . . is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD” (Deut. 18:10–12).
Even though King Saul knew this, he decided to consult the dead anyway. You can read all about it in 1 Samuel 28:3–19. He’s not the only one tempted to do this, though. Teens just like you try to contact the dead every day.
God doesn’t need to be contacted by a medium. Through Jesus you have direct access to Him anytime, any place.
Eight years ago, in 2006, the Barna Group surveyed 4,000 teens. The study found that three-quarters of U.S. teens had “engaged in at least one type of psychic or witchcraft-related activity, beyond mere media exposure or horoscope usage.” Ten percent had participated in séances, where they tried to contact the dead.
How about you? Have you ever tried to contact the spirit world? If so, what motivated you to do so? I’d love to hear about it.
Better Than Contacting the Dead . . .
If you’ve ever been tempted to contact the dead, consider this.
God doesn’t need to be contacted by a medium. Through Jesus you have direct access to Him anytime, any place,
“Since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near . . .” (Heb. 10:19–22).
The only way you and I can possibly have access to this holy, holy, holy God is by placing all our trust in His Son who died in our place in order to forgive and cleanse us from all our sin. After His death on the cross, Jesus was dead for a total of three days. But unlike all other dead people, He didn’t need a medium, spiritist, or witch to call Him up. He broke the chains of death and rose from the grave all by Himself—for good!
That said, here’s my question for you:
Why try to contact the dead when you can talk to the One who conquered death—the ever-living One who has the keys to death and the grave?
“I am the living one. I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave” (—Jesus, Rev. 1:18, NLT).
Not only are there enemies against you out there (Satan and the world), there’s an enemy within you—your very Self or “flesh.”
Self is made up of your passions and desires that are opposed to God and His ways. At one time, all of us were slaves to Self, willingly bowing to its every whim and demand:
We all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind (Eph. 2:3).
You can hear the defeat in this message I received from someone recently who’s experiencing slavery to Self:
I read some of your recent posts, and it sounds like you’re able to do the one thing I struggle with most—filling my time with heavenly thoughts instead of thinking of my sexual needs! The worst part about it is that I sometimes feed those needs! We’re all sinners! AAAAAGGGHHH!
What this person doesn’t realize is that they’re not sexual needs; they’re sexual desires. And Self’s desires can be beat. How? Not by self-effort! As Andrew Murray says, “Self can never cast out self.”
You can’t rescue yourself from Self, but there’s a Savior who can! God wants to save you—not only from His wrath against your sin—but from slavery to your sinful desires. If and when you put all your faith and trust and hope in Jesus’ sacrifice for your sin, your old self was put to death with Jesus:
We know that our old self was crucified with him [Jesus] in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin (Rom. 6:6).
Galatians 5:24 tells us,
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
Do you belong to Jesus Christ? If so, consider yourself dead to sin and dead to Self. Then rely on the powerful Spirit of Jesus Christ who lives in you in order to defeat Self on a moment-by-moment basis.
You used to have just one way of living—it was always and only life in the flesh. Life controlled by your natural, sinful desires and drives. Now, though, if Jesus has made you a brand-new person with brand-new desires and power to do right, you can “walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16). Each day, each moment, you have two choices. You can either:
1. Operate in the flesh.
2. Operate in the Spirit
At any given point, only the flesh or the Spirit will be in charge. Just as you can’t run backward and forward at the same time, you can’t live in the flesh and the Spirit. Galatians 5:17 says:
The desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other.
Until God gives you an eternal, sinless body, you are going to experience an ongoing fight between the flesh and the Spirit. You will decide whom you allow to gain the upper hand by the choices you make. Which is more evident in your life, the works of the flesh or the fruit of the Spirit?
We’re profiling our enemies in this blog series, and your next enemy might come as a surprise to you. It’s . . . the world.
When you think of the world, you might think of exploring Paris and New Zealand and the Ivory Coast (how exciting does that sound?!). The world seems like a neutral space full of endless possibilities for adventure. It is . . . right?
It all depends on what you mean by “world.”
The World as It First Was I love the poem in Proverbs 8:22–31 where Wisdom is personified as a woman remembering the time long ago when she had a front-row seat as God handcrafted the physical world. I can just hear her excitement as she leans forward, a sparkle in her eye, and recounts,
“I was beside him, like a master workman, and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always, rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the children of man” (v. 31).
After Wisdom watched God create the first dust of the world and the earth with its fields and the first man and the first woman, she saw Him put them in a beautiful garden. Then she watched as He talked and walked with the man and his wife (Gen. 3:8).
Unfortunately, she was also there when our first parents turned their backs on Wisdom and chose instead to rebel against God. The whole world was placed under a curse (Rom. 8:20–22).
The World as It Now Is
The sad fact is, you’re not living in an environment that’s for you, like a tomato plant in a sunny greenhouse. Your life in this world is more like a tomato plant that’s been thrown into a pitch-black furnace room in the bowels of a factory.
Satan is the major influence on the ideals, opinions, goals, hopes, and views of the majority of people. His influence also encompasses the world’s philosophies, education, and commerce. The thoughts, ideas, speculations, and false religions of the world are under his control and have sprung from his lies and deceptions.
So while God’s created world is still good, the whole world system is not. First John 2:16 warns us,
All that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.
If you want to learn more about what this means, check out John Piper’s sermon on this verse. Here’s a little taste:
Love for the world pushes out love for God, and love for God pushes out love for the world. . . . If your love for God is cool this morning it’s because love for the world has begun to take over your heart and choke your love for God. The love of the world and the love of the Father cannot coexist.
The World as It Soon Will Be The next verse in 1 John gives us another reason not to love the world:
The world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever (2:17).
Did you catch that? This world that feels so solid is really just temporary. It’s going out of fashion. God is going to judge the world (Acts 17:31), and then He’s going to make it brand-sparkling new!
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:1–4).
How can you be sure that you won’t be judged with this present world but will live in the new world with God? John 1:9–13 explains:
The true light, which gives light to everyone [Jesus], was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
Have you “received” Jesus? Or is your love for this present world keeping you from loving Him? Will you repent and ask God to help you love Him more than this world system?