There’s no sermon outline in your bulletin. There’s a reason for that: If you had advanced notice of my topic, some of you would have set your hearts against what the Lord gave me to say to you this morning. Some maybe even would have tried the old Sunday School Skidoo, and slipped out ten minutes ago. But I gotcha!
First, let me say this. I love you. I look into your faces this morning and I see people I’ve wept with and prayed with; I see people who have shared deeply personal information with me; people who have entrusted their precious children to me for long journeys; who have welcomed me and my family into their lives. With that in mind, I begin with the words of Paul, in Galatians 4:15: “Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?” The truth I’m telling you this morning is this: If you participate in Halloween, you participate in a pagan celebration. The Holy Spirit had Paul write in 1st Corinthians 10:20, “… the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons.” Halloween originated as a pagan demon festival. Some of you are already thinking, well, it originated that way, but that’s not the way it is now. Listen to me: The basic elements of spiritism and witchcraft have remained the same throughout Halloween’s history. Halloween originated in paganism and has remained in the realm of death and the occult since its inception. There is an unbroken line from the past to today: If you take the time to learn the facts, you’ll see that Modern Halloween is very similar to the original; all of the original symbols of Samhain are still employed – dressing in costumes of spirits, the themes of witchcraft and spiritism, “trick or treating,” all were practiced then, and are practiced now: 2,000 years of unbroken observance.
Paul went on to say, in 1st Corinthians 10:21, “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons.” As followers of Jesus Christ, you belong to God and partake of God; you are holy unto God. To involve yourselves in any pagan activity, including Halloween, is to sin. Again Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:11, “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.” He could not have used stronger language in his admonition: have nothing to do with the deeds of darkness. We are not to celebrate with idolaters and demon worshipers: we are to let the light of God’s holiness shine on such practices and expose them for what they are.
You probably don’t observe it as one, but Halloween remains one of witchcraft’s great festivals. It is still the night on which the Satanic Black Mass is held. And the Florida Times Union newspaper reports that there are as many as 60 witch covens around Jacksonville and Friday night they will use Halloween for the specific purpose of prayer and fasting against the Christian faith. In Deuteronomy 18, verses 10 and 11, God said, “Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead.” Halloween was and is the instrument of mediums and witches. But there is more to this issue than just the celebration itself. Jesus said, in John 8:44, that Satan is “a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” And Paul wrote in Ephesians 6:12, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” See, not only is Halloween pagan, it is a vehicle for exalting the spiritual forces of evil. It is a trick to make believers honor what is wicked.
There are two recent incidents in my life that I want to share with you. The first involves a family that is very near and dear to my heart; they allowed Jesus Christ to have lordship in their lives in an absolutely stunning way. Suffice it to say that this family was deeply convicted about true obedience – obedience of the heart – the obedience that drives us to get as far we can away from the things God hates and get as close as we can to things God loves. And it so happened that this conviction was manifest in their response to a so-called “Christian-ized” observance of certain Halloween traditions, so they purposed to make huge, sweeping changes! I don’t mean they merely stopped participating in the observance, I mean that by doing so, they changed the very fabric of their existence. Their lifestyle, their finances, a career, and even the education of their children were all radically altered. A member of that family left her job at a Christian school where a so-called “alternative harvest party” was planned. And God smiled. They lived out for me what to my shame I should have already known: Galatians 1:10, “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
The second incident is very personal, and I don’t share it easily, and this is will be awkward for all of us, so please give me some grace. But here it is: It’s no secret here in this family of believers that Missy and I have two adult children who are gravely out of fellowship with the Lord. But we’ve just been confronted with the shattering revelation that one of them now literally identifies herself as a pagan. Grieving the Holy Spirit, she has declared herself an enemy of Jehovah to become a Christ-hater. And God wept. May Missy and I ask you, as our dearest and most precious loved ones, to pray for Lyndsay?
Now, I’ve heard the biblical arguments that believers use to justify their participation in this sin. They always center on 1st Corinthians 8:4, when Paul said, “So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one.” People point to that as biblical proof that they can participate in Halloween because they believe the idolatrous overtones of the day are meaningless to a believer. May I tell you that that is a monumental abuse of that passage? Read the 11th chapter of 1st Kings sometime. God judged King Solomon as an idolater for building temples for his pagan, foreign wives and for entering the temples with them, even though they served “gods” that were not gods at all. Scripture says that they turned his heart away from the Living God. As a result, paganism spread throughout Israel. I love you enough to tell you this: Our God doesn’t play. In Exodus 20:5 He said, “I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God.” Perhaps we need to be reminded that what seems innocent to us may be an abomination to God – an abomination which He will not tolerate from His children. God judges those who wantonly provoke His jealousy.
Here’s the bottom line: Hebrews 12:1 says that there are things that hinder our Christian growth, and, “Therefore…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Observing this pagan festival does not enhance our relationship to God, and it brings us closer to sorcery and witchcraft, not farther from it. But even if there was no basis for saying that Halloween is pagan, the principles of Philippians 4:8 prohibit our participation, as Paul reminds us: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” What is noble about Halloween? What is praiseworthy? And how does Halloween reflect what is true, admirable or excellent? It doesn’t. It just doesn’t. Beloved, I beg you: Lead your children into a life that honors God. Serve your king, not the culture. He’s worthy. Jesus Christ is worthy. Let’s pray.