I. Introduction
You and I are faced with choices everyday, aren’t we? We can choose where to live, what to drive, what to eat, what to wear, when to go to bed, and on an on it goes. In this country, at least, we can pretty much choose what, where, when, how, and for that matter, why we do almost anything.

We can even choose whom we will serve. We all serve someone, even if it is only our-selves. But as Bible-believing Christians, the Scriptures admonish us to serve the Lord.
When Jesus was being tempted by Satan in the wilderness, the devil tried to entice the Lord into worshipping him. But Jesus defeated Satan by the power of God’s Word.
*Luke 4:5-8
5 And (Satan) led (Jesus) up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.
6 And the devil said to Him, “I will give you all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.
7 “Therefore if You worship before me, it shall all be Yours.”
8 And Jesus answered and said to him, “It is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God and serve Him only.’”

Jesus was quoting from Deuteronomy 6:13. “You shall worship the LORD your God and serve Him only.” Those words had originally been written by Moses. Joshua knew them well and more importantly, he believed them and lived them. He reminded Israel of all that God had done for them and then proceeded to tell them what God expected of them.
*Joshua 24:14-15
14 “Now therefore, fear the LORD and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD.
15 “And if it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

The command is in v. 14, “…fear the LORD and serve Him…” But you have a choice in this, don’t you? You are given the choice in v. 15, “(But if this) is disagreeable in your sight…choose for yourselves today whom you will serve.”

II. Text
What you do and whom you choose to serve is determined in large part by two things – what you know and how you think about what you know.
For example, you have a certain amount of knowledge about something. How you put that knowledge to use, that is, how you think about it and what you do about it, is an expression of your wisdom. That’s why I chose this familiar passage in Philippians. First, the Apostle Paul instructs us as to what we, as Christians, are to do. Second, he tells us how to think so that we are able to do what we have been instructed to do.
*Philippians 4:5-9
5 Let your forbearing spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
7 And the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if (there is) anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.
9 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me (the Apostle Paul), practice these things; and the God of peace shall be with you.

It’s vv. 6-7 that most of us are familiar with, right? That’s the instruction. But how do you apply it? You say, “All right, I know what I’m supposed to do, I have the knowledge, but how do I it? How do I apply that knowledge in order to be wise?” It’s in vv. 8-9 that Paul opens the gates to the wisdom you and I need in order to apply that knowledge to our daily lives. We must learn how to think biblically! That is, we must learn how to think rightly.

Today is October 31. It’s Halloween. We all know that. But in some places it’s also known as Reformation Sunday. I suspect we all didn’t know that. Halloween and Reformation Sunday have something in common. They both have their roots in the Christian church. Does that surprise you? However, one of those is directly attributable to wrong thinking about biblical truth. The other is directly attributable to right thinking about biblical truth. Can you guess which is which?

Let’s look at the first. The word, “Halloween,” is derived from its original meaning which was “All Hallows’ Eve.” It’s the evening that precedes “All Hallows’ Day” or “All Saints Day.” In the year 834 A.D. the Roman Catholic Church established what they called “The Feast of All Saints.”

This feast actually had its origin in 610 A.D. when Pope Boniface IV instituted “All Holy Martyrs Day.” It was celebrated every year on May 13. That was fine until the year 834 when Pope Gregory III decided it should be celebrated every November 1 instead. Gregory said the feast should honor all the dead, not just the martyrs. So “All Holy Martyrs Day” became “All Hallows’ Day” or “All Saints Day,” and “All Hallows Eve,” (the evening before Halloween) was blessed by the Catholic Church.
Why did Pope Gregory change the feast from May 13 to November 1? It seems that he was trying to “Christianize” a demonic pagan holiday that was steeped in idolatry and the occult. November 1 was the beginning of the New Year for both the Celts and the Anglo-Saxons. They called it “Samhain.” “sow-en” It had great religious significance for them. They worshipped nature, and on that day their priests, the Druids, made sacrifices to their pagan gods.

It was during these “Samhain” festivals that the Druids cast spells and believed that the normal barriers between the natural and supernatural worlds were taken down. During these festivals they were convinced that the dead could walk among them, the living could communicate with them, and those who had died could reveal the future.

The Druids held many beliefs that are similar to the Hindus today. For one thing, they were pantheists, meaning that they worshipped the creation instead of the Creator. But when Paul speaks of the lost in Romans, one of the first descriptions of them is this…
Romans 1:25
25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator…

Another ancient Druid belief that is similar to Hinduism is the transmigration of the soul, or reincarnation, through which people are supposedly reborn as animals. But the Bible teaches that there is no such thing as transmigration of the soul or reincarnation.
Hebrews 9:27
27 …it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment…

Embracing reincarnation, the Druids also believed that on November 1 all the souls of the evil dead were gathered together and condemned to live in the bodies of animals. Cats, for example, were considered to be sacred animals because they contained the souls of the dead. For this reason sacrifices and special gifts were made to Saman, the god of death to placate him and make things easier for the dead.

Once this kind of thinking began to seep into the church, it’s easy to see the connection between it and the development of the non-biblical doctrine of purgatory, isn’t it? Roman Catholics don’t sacrifice animals to appease the god of death. But they often pray for the dead to shorten the deceased’s time in purgatory, don’t they?

Among the Druids practices that have come down through the ages to today’s Halloween are witchcraft, belief in ghosts, the significance of black cats, goblins, fairies, demons, and jack-o-lanterns, which were lighted and placed in windows to frighten evil spirits away from the people’s homes.

Researchers at Stonehenge in England, thought to be a Druid temple, believe that the goddess of the earth (Mother Earth) was worshipped by human sacrifice there every year on October 31, the date that witches today call their most important high Sabbath day.
You have to ask yourself just how well Pope Gregory’s attempt to “Christianize” the Celts and their Druid practices worked out. It would seem that the occult practices of the Druids have penetrated Christian society far more than the other way around, wouldn’t it? I think there is an important lesson for us in all of this.

Obviously, none of us today can know what was in Pope Gregory’s heart when he tried to connect a so-called Christian feast to a pagan festival, but we can assume he meant to make converts to Christianity. However, you and I are to recognize evil, call it what it is, confront it, and then stand firmly in opposition to it. We are not to compromise with it.

The Roman Catholic Church has had a long history of trying to bring Christianity to pagan cultures. On the surface that would seem to be a good thing. But in order to become “successful” in their efforts they have often been willing to compromise the truth so as to be more readily accepted by those whom they are trying to reach.

Probably the most blatant example of this in the Western Hemisphere is largely found today in the Caribbean. I am speaking about voodoo in all of its various forms. It came about because Rome, instead of promoting a sincere effort to evangelize and convert the people to biblical Christianity, simply joined Catholicism to the pagan religions that were already there. The result is anything but Christian.

Voodoo is an utter abomination, a demonic religion that mixes satanic ritual and beliefs with Christian terminology. It’s the result of being willing to compromise with evil. But we must not! We must be able to identify evil and oppose it. In order to do so we must think biblically about the things of this world. We must be able to think rightly.

Pope Gregory was interested in praying for dead Christians. But the Bible never teaches us to do that. That’s because there is no biblical reason to pray for the dead. If the dead are in heaven, they have no need of our prayers…ever. If the dead are in hell, no amount of prayers could help them…ever. Thus the church thought wrongly and established “All Hallows’ Eve” and “All Saint’s Day” to pray for the dead. But inevitably, in what was at least partially a misguided compromise with Druid practices, the church began to tolerate some of the old Druid practices.

When the United States was founded and throughout most of the nineteenth century, Halloween was not celebrated at all. But that started to change when Irish immigrants began to arrive in large numbers and establish Catholic colonies.

Along with the Scotch and the English, they brought their Halloween traditions about ghosts, goblins, and witches with them. Later the Germans brought still more vivid witchcraft lore. Still more recently Africans and Haitians have brought voodoo practices and other pagan religions to America.

Today we are inundated with the occult and every imaginable sort of evil. Ouija boards are more popular than ever.
There are mediums, clairvoyants, psychics, diviners, gurus, mystics, and palm readers everywhere. (There’s at least one advertised psychic right here in Lake Geneva.)

Astrology, mysticism, Tarot cards, séances, astral projection, and psychic healing are all on the increase. And now in the last few years we’re seeing the growth of a new fascina-tion with vampires and the living dead. (horror movies) This is especially true among young people. These things are not innocent pastimes. They are powerful tools that connect many unsuspecting people directly to demonic power. We must think rightly about all of this and understand that Satan is the true power behind all of it.

Does God have anything to say about all of this? Yes, He certainly does! He tells us how to think rightly. As we read the following passages, think about the Druids and how so much of what they practiced has worked its way into our own culture today. (To one degree or another all of what follows is glorified in movies, on television, and by rock music.)
*Leviticus 19:26, 28, 31; 20:6
26 “You shall not eat anything with blood, nor practice divination or soothsaying (fortune-telling).”
28 “You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead, nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves (self-mutilations). I am the LORD.
31 “Do not turn to mediums or spiritists (“go-betweens”); do not seek them out to be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God.

6 “As for the person who turns to mediums and to spiritists, to play the harlot after them, I will also set My face against that person and will cut him off from among his people (take his life).”

*Deuteronomy 18:9-14 (Moses instructing God’s people how to live in a godless culture)
9 “When you enter the land which the LORD your God gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations.
10 “There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer,
11 or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead.
12 “For whoever does these things is detestable to the LORD; and because of these detestable things the LORD your God will drive them out before you.
13 “(But) you shall be blameless before the LORD your God.
14 “For those nations, which you shall dispossess, listen to those who prac-tice witchcraft and to diviners, but as for you, the LORD your God has not allowed you to do so.”

Yet with all of that instruction from God, Israel’s first King, Saul, deliberately disobeyed God. God wasn’t answering Saul’s prayer because – and this is important, don’t miss this – because of Saul’s own personal rebellion against God and his utter disobedience. That’s why God would not listen to Saul’s prayers. So does he reestablish his relation-ship with God? Does Saul repent? No, he does not! On the contrary, he disobeys yet again. He consults a witch and thereby makes his separation from God even worse.
1 Samuel 28:7
7 Then Saul said to his servants, “Seek for me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her.” And his servants said to him, “Behold, there is a woman who is a medium at En-dor.”

Saul went to her and God spoke through her. (By the way, the witch was used to dealing with demons. When God spoke through her, she was terrified.) True to His Word, God told Saul that he would soon be dead. Shortly thereafter, wounded by the Philistines in battle, Saul committed suicide.

The tragedy of Saul is the result of wrong thinking about God’s Word. The king didn’t believe God meant what He said, and in the end, it cost him everything. The “straw that broke the camel’s back” was connected to the very same things in which God had for-bidden His people to be involved.

It’s these very things that Pope Gregory III attempted to “Christianize” when he married incorrect doctrine (praying for the dead) to pagan religion. Now, nearly 1300 years later, we can see some of the results of the folly of his wrong thinking.

October 31, Halloween, is now major holiday for far too many Americans. This year we will spend nearly $3.5 billion to “celebrate” Halloween. To those who are involved in any of the black arts, any of the occult practices, today is bigger than Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter combined, is to most professing Christians. We must think rightly!

Now let’s look at a second reason for the prominence of October 31. It’s Reformation Sunday. In 1517 the Augustinian monk Martin Luther was thinking rightly. He was a doctor of theology and professor at Wittenberg University in Germany. He had come to believe the Bible when it said that the righteous were saved by faith, and that papal or priestly absolution from sins was nowhere taught in Scripture.

Furthermore, he was appalled at the way the Catholic Church was heaping spiritual abuse upon the people by the sale of indulgences. The church taught that a sinner must repent and confess his or her sins. That, in and of itself is biblical, but the Papacy went further. It added to Scripture, and in the process, Rome demeaned the finished work of Christ. The sinner had to add some amount of personal merit to Christ’s work on the cross in order to be forgiven.

The Catholic Church declared that you had to pay retribution. You had to do a “good work” or suffer some form of punishment to finish paying for your sin. And since the church was always there to “help you out,” they would allow you pay them for your sins. Such payments would lead to an indulgence, a piece of paper saying you were “paid up.”
Needless to say, the church became richer and people became poorer. People could not only pay for their own sins but they could pay for the sins of their loved in purgatory too. A common saying of the day was, “When a coin in the coffer rings, another soul from purgatory springs.” By the sixteenth century the sale of indulgences had developed into an art form.

Back to Martin Luther! If salvation was truly revealed in the Scriptures alone, by faith alone, through grace alone, in Christ alone, and all to the glory of God alone, then no human being or institution, neither the Pope nor Rome itself, could add to or take away from God’s salvation. There was no need for works to save a soul because works couldn’t save a soul. And if works couldn’t save, then indulgences were at best a sham, and at worst, legalized robbery.

Thus Martin Luther thought rightly about salvation. “The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17). Adding works to salvation and then charging to get the living into heaven and the dead out of purgatory – this was the religious climate into which Luther brought his own right thinking about scriptural truth. And so, literally taking his life in his hands, he would nail those truths, in the form of “The 95 Theses,” to the door of the church in Wittenberg.

When did Luther choose to do so? October 31, the eve of the 683rd. anniversary of the church’s “All Saint’s Day,” when the faithful were encouraged to pray for the dead. I think Ole’ Marty had a sense of humor!

We need to understand that the Protestant Reformation did not begin on that day. It had begun long before that, but you might say it made headlines on October 31, 1517. From that day on, things would never be the same. Virtually every Protestant denomination and independent church can trace its beginning to that day. The absolute power that the Roman Catholic Church claimed to hold over every Christian was shaken to its core. You and I do not believe what Rome tells us to believe today. We believe the Bible.

The NT sheds further light on what we have already heard from God in the OT. In Acts 8:9-24 we read the story of Simon the sorcerer who thought he could buy God’s favor. It shows that Christianity and the occult do not mix. In Acts 13:6-11 we see that sorcery is violently opposed to biblical Christianity. Paul calls another sorcerer, Elymas, a devil, and the man is temporarily struck with blindness.
Acts 13:10
10 “You who are full of deceit and fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease to make crooked the straight ways of the Lord?”

In Acts 16:16-18 the apostle casts a demon from a girl who was telling fortunes. Finally, in Acts 19:19 a large number of former occultists, new converts to the faith, bring their paraphernalia to the apostles and burn it in their presence. The next verse says…
Acts 19:20
20 So the word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing.

Right thinking! This needs to be the goal of every Christian. We not only need to think rightly on October 31, but we need to think rightly every day of the year. Our task is to always “let our minds dwell on these things.”
*Philippians 4:8-9
8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if (there is) anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.
9 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me (the Apostle Paul), practice these things; and the God of peace shall be with you.

Whatever is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent, and worthy of praise. These are the things that will lead you and your family to peace; peace of mind, peace with God, and the peace of God. Strive after them. You will never be sorry.

III. Conclusion
What about the choices we make in our Christian lives? In the final analysis what you and your family do about the prevailing traditions of Halloween, or any other celebration or holiday for that matter, is up to you. It’s a matter of conscience between you and God.

My job as Pastor/Teacher and the job of the leadership of this church is to preach and teach the Word of God without compromise. However, it is not my job, nor is it the job of the leadership of this church, to try to orchestrate every detail of your lives or demand that you follow an arbitrary set of rules and regulations. I will not do that!
• First, the Christian life is not intended to be a life of rigid legalism. Are we not free in Christ?
• Second, the Christian life is not intended to be one of unlimited license. Are we not to separate ourselves from the world?
You and I are in this world and as long as we live in it we will not be able to extricate ourselves from it. But at the same time our salvation has separated us from this world, hasn’t it?

Listen Christian, right living before God and before man requires great wisdom. Aren’t you glad that you possess the two most precious gifts of wisdom that God has ever given? You have God’s written Word in your hands, and God’s living Holy Spirit in your heart.

With the Word and the Spirit you can learn to think rightly, choose wisely, and make the right decisions about October 31 and every other day as well. Let your mind dwell on those things.
~ Pray ~