The visiting minister who preached at our church this morning said something that was new to me and got me to thinking. He read Galatians 5 which I had often heard before. In this chapter the "works of the flesh" are contrasted with the "fruit of the spirit."
In the list of the works of the flesh is witchcraft. That word immediately flashes on my mind the image of a voodo witch doctor who uses spells, potions, and charms for physical healing. Think again! The Greek word translated witchcraft is pharmakeia (far-mak-i'-ah) and is where we get our word "pharmacy." It means medication, i.e. (by extension) magic (literally or figuratively). This is what Wikipedia says about witchcraft:
Witchcraft often occupies a religious, divinatory or medicinal role, and is often present within societies and groups whose cultural framework includes a magical world view.
Now I am not about to say that all medication is witchcraft. There are certainly legitimate reasons for taking medicine when we need it. But there are some kinds of medication that are witchcraft. The most obvious one is illegal drugs or drug abuse. People turn to drugs to try fill the void in their lives instead of turning to God and putting their faith in Him. It's just a different kind of witchcraft.
How far can we take that principle of putting our faith in medicine instead of God? What about all the alternative and holistic methods of healing? Products like Plexus and Essential Oils (and many others) that claim to be good for whatever ails you (and IMHO mostly benefit the wallet of the seller)? Foot rubs and a host of other kinds of alternative therapies that gullible Christian people get involved in practicing? Many of these are rooted in idolatrous Oriental religions.
I can't say it any better than Wikipedia:
Alternative medical diagnoses and treatments are not taught as part of science-based curricula in medical schools, and are not used in any practice where treatment is based on scientific knowledge or proven experience. Alternative therapies are often based on religion, tradition, superstition, belief in supernatural energies, pseudoscience, errors in reasoning, propaganda, fraud, or lies.
I remember when I was a girl I saw an old Indian who was handling snakes and selling bottles of something. It looked creepy to me. I asked my mother what he was doing and don't remember her exact words but she let me know we don't even listen to that talk and we definitely don't buy their snake oil. I know now that it was a form of witchcraft. But how many things like that are we falling for today without realizing we are dabbling in witchcraft?
2 Peter 3:17 Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.