Pastor Robert Hammond
Autumn brings with it the annual debate among Christians about involvement in Halloween. Some hold that Halloween is a harmless time of fun for young people. Others see significant spiritual concerns.
Years ago, when my son was young, we made the decision to stop participating in Halloween. Our decision was rooted neither in fear of the occult nor in so-called religious legalism. Rather, it was a decision made in response to our growing understanding of what pleases God.
Our decision was also rooted in our understanding that Christians are involved in a real spiritual battle -- a battle against what the Bible calls "principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Ephesians 6:12). And our decision was rooted in an understanding that Halloween celebrates and exalts those very same enemies.
Many have attempted to trivialize the association of Halloween with the occult. However, the association of Halloween with exaltation of death, the occult and pagan practices cannot be denied. I readily acknowledge that the precise origin of Halloween is open to a degree of debate. However, it is well-established that the holiday has a strong historical link to the pagan religious practices of both the Celts and the Druids. The World Book Encyclopedia states that Halloween can be traced to Samhain (pronounced "sah-win"), an ancient pagan festival celebrated over 2,000 years ago by Celtic people. The Celts believed that, on that day, the dead could walk among the living.
The modern celebration of Halloween is rooted in historical efforts to "Christianize" the pagan Samhain festival by redefining it as "All Hallows Eve." This syncretism -- the practice of integrating false religious practices into Christianity -- is clearly unbiblical. We aren't commanded to incorporate false practices into Biblical Christianity. Instead, in 2 Corinthians 6:17, we are specifically commanded to "..come out from among them, and be ye separate."
In the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy, the LORD commanded His people to avoid involvement in the occult practices of their Pagan neighbors:
"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. There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD..." (Deuteronomy 18:9-12)
In the New Testament, the LORD reiterates His commands for believers to have no involvement in practices that are associated with evil. In Romans 12:9, Paul writes, "Abhor (hate extremely) that which is evil; cleave to that which is good." And in Ephesians 5:11, the Bible commands us to "...have no fellowship (association or companionship) with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them." To reprove is to blame or charge with fault. In these two verses alone, we are commanded to (1) cultivate an extreme hated of evil things, (2) refrain from associating with evil practices and (3) to actively charge evil practices with fault against God. Clearly, the celebration of Halloween has no place in the life of a genuine Christian.
This autumn, let's be faithful to God's command to be separate from practices that are associated with evil. Let's refrain from participating in activities that exalt darkness. And having done that, let us develop a singular focus on exalting our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ!
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