Halloween is this Saturday and as I was thinking of the costumes we wore when I was young, I recalled a Bible account about a king, a witch, and a ghost.
(That sounds like the opening for a good joke, doesn’t it: “A king, a witch, and a ghost were in a boat together …”)
Anyway, in the Bible account (1 Samuel 25:1; 28:1-25), King Saul wanted advice about a pending battle (if he’d win or whether or not to even fight it), but by this time, God was no longer with him and would not answer because Saul had sinned by merely sort of keeping God’s command (1 Samuel 15:1-35).
Therefore, Saul decided to consult Samuel, the beloved priestly prophet and judge, who by this time had died.
So, because he had sort of kept another one of God’s commands by banishing witchcraft (Exodus 22:18), Saul disguised himself to trick a witch into conjuring up Samuel. While re-reading that account, I noticed some points to ponder.
First, Samuel was dead and could do nothing for Saul (apparently, even if he could have, he probably wouldn’t have). We get the same message from the account of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). The rich man wanted Lazarus to go back to earth to warn his brothers to avoid his predicament.
We must understand that if our loved ones die and go to heaven, they want us to go to heaven; if they don’t go to heaven, they still want us to go to heaven instead of coming to where they are. Also, our prayers are to be to God through his Son and according to his will (Matthew 7:7-11; John 16:23-24; 1 John 5:14-15).
Otherwise, the dead can do nothing for us. So, why pray to them?
Another point I realized from 1 Samuel 28 was that God doesn’t hear the prayers of sinners, which completely rules out the “Sinner’s Prayer” (John 9:31; Isaiah 59:1-2). Keep in mind that, while we’re all sinners, God does hear the prayers of his people when they return to him in repentance or otherwise maintain a right relationship with him (Romans 3:23; 2 Chronicles 7:14-15; 1 John 1:5-9).
To have the privilege of being heard by God through prayer, we must be one of his people — a forgiven sinner. How we become one of his people and acquire his Spirit is well-defined in the New Testament — the new covenant under which we now live.
For example, see Galatians 3:26 to 4:7 and Acts 2:38-39. Through the indwelling Spirit, we have the privilege of calling out to God as our Father in all things (Romans 8:9-17, 26-27; Philippians 4:4-7).
While I see nothing wrong with children dressing up as their favorite superhero, let’s make sure we’re actually clothed with Christ and not just disguising ourselves as Christians by sort of obeying God’s commands because he sees through the disguise (hypocrisy — 1 Samuel 16:1-7; Hebrews 4:13).
That’s no joke.
Leonard Lauriault is a member of the Church of Christ in Logan. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org