A Haitian pastor illustrated to his congregation the need for total commitment to Christ. His parable: A certain man wanted to sell his house for $2,000. Another man wanted very badly to buy it, but because he was poor, he couldn't afford the full price. After much bargaining, the owner agreed to sell the house for half the original price with just one stipulation: He would retain ownership of one small nail protruding from just over the door. After several years, the original owner wanted the house back, but the new owner was unwilling to sell. So the first owner went out, found the carcass of a dead dog, and hung it from the single nail he still owned. Soon the house became unlivable, and the family was forced to sell the house to the owner of the nail.
The Haitian pastor's conclusion: "If we leave the Devil with even one small peg in our life, he will return to hang his rotting garbage on it, making it unfit for Christ's habitation." This illustration may be sounding so dramatic, but there is a scriptural principle in there. Two 6 year olds struggled with the problem of the existence of the devil. One boy said, "Oh, there isn't any devil." The other, rather upset, said, "What do you mean, there isn't any devil? It talks about him all the way through the Bible!" the first replied, "Oh that's not true, you know. It's just like Santa Clause, the devil turns out to be your dad."
We may pretend that he doesn’t exist but the truth of the matter is that the Devil exists, he is real and you can’t make fun of him. We must be informed, be aware and take a stand against his schemes. What warnings are found in the Bible concerning the Devil? What is the origin of the Devil or Satan? How active is Satan in the world today? What is the final destiny of the devil? How should Christians respond to pagan rituals? Let’s look at the origin of the Devil
I. THE ORGIN OF THE DEVIL
Think of the most grotesque and evil things people do to one another. Think of the 9/11 terrorist attacks where 2,976 innocent people were killed. In 2008 Mumbai attacks, nearly 200 people were killed and 300 were wounded. How about all the violence, crime, and wars, the killing of innocent babies, broken marriages and families, and other devastations in the world? Does this make you wonder who could be behind all this tragedy? Dean Sherman the author of Spiritual warfare writes, “We recoil in horror from these terrible things that men do to one another. For the most part, we are sheltered from the terror of these realities. But these things have all been spawned by our enemy. Satan is far worse than anything real or imagined.”
Who created the Devil in the first place and has he always been bad? No one created the devil!! It is not even the Holly wood, but it certainly has added to the “fascination and fun” and popularized by a wide assortment of fictional characters—demons, monsters, vampires, werewolves, mummies, and psychopaths. Is it improving the American mind? But it sure is making someone a lot of money. Initially the Devil was one of the angels created by God. The Bible calls him “the morning star, son of the dawn” (Isaiah 14:12). He was the anointed chief cherub, blameless, perfect in beauty until wickedness was found in Him. (Ezekiel 28:14-15).
Satan wanted to exalt himself and be worshipped instead of him worshipping God. Since his fall he has deceived many and continues to deceive by making them believe lies about God, life, the world, heaven and hell. Without realizing many are becoming his victims. Satan intends to destroy our minds, bodies, character, reputation and our relationships through certain evil practices. The Bible warns us against his schemes and evil practices. What are those warnings?
II. WARNINGS AGAINST DEMONIC PRACTICES:
In his latest book Storm warning, Bill Graham notes the importance of heading the warnings by sharing what happened on that gruesome night where Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in 2005. “Warnings had gone out. But instead of boarding up and escaping the city, there were those who actually prepared for a “Hurricane party” The wind was howling outside the posh Richelieu Apartments when Police Chief Jerry Peralta pulled up sometime after dark. Facing the beach less than 250 from the surf, the apartments were directly in the line of danger. A man with a drink in his hand came out on the second floor balcony and waved. Peralta yelled up, “You all need to clear out of here as quickly as you can,” The storm’s getting worse!” But as others joined the man on the balcony, they laughed at Peralta’s order to leave. “This is my land,” one of the yelled back. If you want me off, you’ll have to arrest me.” Peralta didn’t arrest anyone, nor could he persuade them to leave.
The officer wrote down the names of the next of kin of the twenty or so people who gathered there to party through the hurricane. They scoffed as he took their names and ignored. Finally the front wall of the storm came ashore, it was 10:15 P.M Raindrops hit with the force of bullets, and waves off the Gulf Coast crested between 22 to 28 feet high.
Reports later showed that the worst damage occurred in the little settlement where the party of twenty came to an end literally. Nothing was left of the three story apartment structure but the foundation; the only survivor was a five year old boy found clinging to a mattress the following day.” What a tragic end of twenty lives simply because they deliberately ignored the warnings. In the same way if we ignore the biblical warnings against the demonic practices we may have to face the same tragic end.
The Biblical warnings against demonic practices
God forewarned the Israelites not to take on the abominable practices of the nations around them. Deut 18:10-13, “When you enter the land the God, your God, is giving you, don’t take on the abominable ways of life of the nations there. Don’t you dare sacrifice your son or daughter in the fire.
Don’t practice divination, sorcery, fortunetelling, witchery, casting spells, holding séances or channeling with the dead. People who do these things are an abomination to God. It’s because of just such abominable practices that God; your God, is driving these nations out before you. Be completely loyal to God, your God. These nations that you’re about to run out of the country consort with sorcerers and witches. But not you, God your God forbids it.” (The Message Bible)
Why was God so against his children consulting the mediums? Why should Christians avoid these abominable practices? Because God has distinguished us from the rest of the people, to be his very own and to live Holy lives because he is Holy.(Lev 20:26-27). By dabbling in the occult or traffic with mediums pollutes our souls (Lev 19:31 The Message) finally, when we consult a supernatural source for understanding we open up ourselves to the powers of darkness.
God wants us to consult him when we need understanding. He wants us to ask him for wisdom. On the contrary, according to Dean Sherman, “the growth and widespread acceptance of the occult has been increased in the recent decades.” You may say well I don’t get involved in that deep stuff just only the innocent stuff would I be affected by the Devil? Yes you may be. How do Christians protect their Children against evil influences? What should be our response towards Pagan practices such as Halloween, and other festivals?
III. CHRISTIAN RESPONSE TO PAGAN PRACTICES
Throughout the centuries Christians had to wrestle with the pagan practices and traditions seemed to infiltrate the Church. Every generation of Christians had to take a strong stand against such evil practices and our generation is no exception. In light of that what should be our response or stand against one such pagan practice Halloween? In a meeting I shared my concern with my fellow pastors and the response I got from them was “we simply ignore it” I wonder whether that is the right response? On the other hand one pastor friend of mine boldly put it on their church’s monthly bulletin “Happy Hallowen.” I am not here to criticize, and hurt any ones sentiments of practicing an age old custom by many not only here but around the world. I would like to share my concerns in the light of the scriptures and leave you to judge it for yourself.
The name “Halloween comes from the All Saints Day celebration of the early Christian Church, a day set aside for the solemn remembrance of the martyrs. All Hallows Eve, the evening before All Saints Day, began the time of remembrance. “All Hallows Eve” eventually became “Halloween” The pagan Samahin festival celebrated the final harvest, death and the onset of winter, for three days October 31st to November 2nd.
The Celts believed the curtain dividing the living and the dead lifted during Samahain to allow the spirits of the dead to walk among the living-ghosts haunting the earth. As the centuries passed, Samhain and All Hallows Eve mixed together. Halloween didn’t become an American holiday until the immigration of the working classes from the British Isles in the late 19th Century. The mischievous aspects of the holiday attracted the American young people. Younger generations borrowed or adapted many customs without reference to their pagan origins.
Hollywood and the consumer market makes this holiday even more appealing. Young people and kids in particular look forward with excitement to celebrate the darkest, spookiest holiday of the year. On an average of $41.77 per household is spent in decorations, costumes, candy, and greeting cards? Hallowen will bring in approximately $3.3 billion this year. Is that spending justified when the country is facing $13 trillion dollars debt?
Not to mention the dangers posed for the safety of our children and the environment. In recent years many children have been “tricked into partaking of deadly poisons and other harmful things that were placed in candies and treats that were distributed. One report suggests, “Roughly four times as many children aged 5-14 are killed while walking on Halloween evening compared with other evenings of the year, and falls are a leading cause of injuries among children on Halloween.” Parents please take caution before you send your young ones into the streets for “Trick or Treat” by the way this practice has its direct roots in Samhain when people played tricks to earn food meant for wandering souls. In 19th century there was an Irish belief that fairies played pranks on Halloween? When we hear these warnings what should we do?
How should Christians respond to respond to Halloween? Is it irresponsible for parents to let their children trick or treat? What about Christians who refuse any kind of celebration during the season are they narrow minded? As I read various articles on this subject matter and talk to several Christians I gather that some are wary of it’s pagan origins, others of its dark, devilish imagery, still others are concerned for the safety of their children. But other Christians choose to partake of the festivities, whether participating in school activities, neighborhood trick or treating, or a Halloween alternative at their Church. What ever decision you make this season like any other decision it is between you and God.
Paul gives us a few hints in making a wise choice. Romans 16: 19-20, “I want to you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” The message Bible reads, “I want you also to be smart, making sure every “good” thing is the real thing. Don’t be gullible in regard to smooth talking evil. Stay alert like this, and before you know it the God of peach will come down on Satan with both feet stomping him into the dirt.” There will come a day when God will completely destroy Satan and all his works and all those who follow him in the lake of fire.
We must take head of the warnings and become wise. The scriptures tell us that Christ has rescued us from the dominion (control) of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves.(Col 1:13). We were once darkness, but now light in the world. We must walk as children of light.(Eph 5:8). We must take our stand against the Devil and his evil practices. We don’t need to be afraid to take such a stand because Greater is he that is in us than the one who is in the world.(I John 4:4)
 Dale A. Hays, Leadership, Vol X, #3 (Summer, 1989), p. 35.
 G. Lewis, Demon Possession, ed. J. Montgomery.
 Spiritual Warfare; Dean Sherman Page 35
 Storm Warning, Billy Graham Page 8,9
 The Church in New York City, Children’s meeting lesson