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What the Bible says about Snares
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Christmas is a vivid illustration of the world's power of attraction. It plays upon all of a person's senses with pleasant music, lights, colors, foods, clothes, gifts, and parties. Though it is a very attractive trap, it nonetheless ensnares the person into destruction. By itself, it does not destroy the person—it is the snare, the trap!

Anyone who has ever hunted a wild animal like a deer knows one cannot bag his prey by blundering through the woods making noise and leaving his scent everywhere. Instead, a hunter makes himself as invisible as possible so that the deer wanders under his stand where he can shoot it. The same holds true with trapping smaller animals. A successful trapper makes a trap that will entice the animal in without letting it know that it will be caught.

Christmas is a well-laid trap. In celebrating it, the people of the land honor, worship, and glorify a god, but not the God of the Bible. It is appealing and attractive with all the ornamentation and catchy music. There is also an appealing baby, born to be the King of kings, and his lovely mother radiant in her motherhood. In addition, what could be better than giving gifts? Certainly giving is Christian. And what about decorating evergreen trees, hanging mistletoe and holly boughs, caroling, stuffing stockings, and burning Yule logs? Everything just seems to go so well together. Nevertheless, it is a trap because it is not true.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Christmas, Syncretism, and Presumption

History documents the wild debauchery of Rome before its inglorious fall. The depths of its perversions and excesses make fascinating and disgusting reading, yet we need to consider it in terms of the present condition of America and Canada. We may not allow our sporting events to become as violent as gladiatorial contests, but our emphasis on sports and entertainment is reminiscent of Rome's. The condition of America's heart and mind is displayed in our raunchy and violent movies and music. The United States is being set up to collapse!

Much in the world remains attractive and appealing. If there is not a corresponding love of righteousness, those beautiful things can draw a Christian into Babylon's seductive trap, where the spiritual intellect becomes dulled and Laodiceans are produced. Only a love of righteousness will prevent a Christian from allowing his heart and mind to fall into Laodiceanism. If a Christian in ancient Rome did not have his heart anchored in a love of righteousness, Rome's debauchery, presented in an alluring package, would have gradually become acceptable in his own life. Without it, the Roman Christian would have had no protection from the deceptive charm of the world or the resistance to it that he would need to avoid its Laodicean results.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The World, the Church, and Laodiceanism

Deuteronomy 12:29-31

Is it any wonder when the clergy—supposedly the guardians of religious purity—think so liberally, that the laity acts the way it does? The clergy shrug off the paganism in Christmas, claiming that it is harmless. Is it? Does it really make any difference whether we celebrate Christmas?

It certainly matters to God, the Lawgiver! It was because of these heathen practices that God drove out the inhabitants of the land. He did not—and does not—want His people to get caught in the process of judgment and punishment that results from broken law!

Notice that God says "that you are not ensnared." In the Bible, a snare is a figurative expression of destruction through deception. The snare itself does not destroy, but it leads to destruction. The Israelites heard these words in the last months before going into the Promised Land. God had set the land aside for them, but the people who inhabited it were still there. It was a ready-made nation for their use. The towns, fortifications, houses, farms, businesses—everything was ready for them to take over.

We too were born into an ready-made society. The world was already here when we came into it, and because we had no alternative, we accepted it without resistance. We absorbed the culture because our parents taught it to us. However, with our calling God now has us moving in the other direction, away from this world. We must reject the false practices of those who have inhabited the land before us.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Christmas, Syncretism, and Presumption

Related Topics: Christmas | God's Law | Paganism | Snares | Worldliness


 

Deuteronomy 12:29-32

Halloween is a custom of the nations. God Himself calls such things abominations, practices that He hates. If we strip away its façade of revelry and feasting, it is idolatrous false worship, honoring spirit beings that are not God. In addition, God never tells us to celebrate this day or in any way to honor the spirits of the dead.

Notice that He warns us not to be "ensnared to follow" the practices of the nations. A snare is a trap designed to catch an unwary animal. The trap itself is hidden, but what is visible is a kind of lure, an attractive trick designed to fool the prey into entering the trap. Once it takes the bait, the gate comes down, a hook comes out, or a spring slams closed on a limb, and the prey is trapped.

God is alerting us to the fact that heathen or ungodly practices—customs, ways of worship, traditions, celebrations—usually have characteristics that appeal to our human nature. They are the lures. We can become caught up in them before we are aware of it. God advises us to watch out for the hidden dangers, the appealing entrapments, that are designed into these holidays.

Many cultureshave a form of Halloween in their tradition. It seems that most of this world's peoples desire to celebrate the dead. The holidays or feasts may vary from place to place, falling on different days and following different customs. The common denominator is that they all honor or remember the dead or unseen spirits.

Mexico has its "Day of the Dead" in which participants give out candies in the shape of skeletons and visit graveyards to commune with the dead by leaving them food. In Japan, they honor their ancestors with various celebrations. Certain African tribes set aside days to honor the unseen spirits, warding off the evil ones and placating the good. German, Scandinavian, Spanish, Italian, and many other cultures have a Halloween-type holiday.

In English-speaking countries, Halloween derives primarily from the Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced "sow-in"). Samhain, held on the three days around November 1, was a kind of New Year's celebration and harvest festival all rolled up into one.

The Celts believed that these three days were special because of the transition from the old year to the new. They felt that during this time the boundary between the physical and spiritual worlds relaxed or lifted, allowing spirits to cross over more easily. This idea, of course, terrifies superstitious people—that departed spirits could walk among us, especially those who died in the past year as it was thought these spirits desired to return to the mortal realm. For this reason, they believed they had to appease the spirits to make them go into the spirit world and stay there.

The Celts did this by putting out food and treats so that, when these spirits came floating by their houses, they would pass on. They thought that, if they did not appease the spirits, they would play tricks or put curses on them. Whole villages would unite to drive away the evil spirits, ensuring that the upcoming year would be good. Others among them would hold séances or conduct other kinds of divination by incantation, potion, or trance to contact dead ancestors in hope of receiving guidance and inspiration.

An interesting aspect of this transition time—the three days of Samhain—is that it was considered to be "no time," a time unto itself. Thus, it became a tradition that the order and the rules by which people lived were held in abeyance during them.

All laws went unenforced. The social order was turned upside-down—the fool became king, and the king became the fool. Men dressed as women and vice-versa. People took on different personas, dressing in disguise and acting the part. No work was done during this period of total abandon, for it was a time for revelry, drinking, eating, making and taking dares, and breaking the law. In a word, it was chaos.

Then Roman Catholicism arrived on the scene and "converted" the pagans. It also decreed a day to honor departed saints: May 13, All Saints' Day. The priests instructed the "converted" pagans to keep All Saints' Day, but they continued to celebrate Samhain because it was so much more fun than attending church to pray for the hallowed saints of yesteryear.

To keep them in the fold, in AD 835 Pope Gregory IV officially authorized moving All Saints' Day to November 1 to coincide with Samhain. He allowed the pagan "Christians" to keep their old customs as long as they put a gloss of Christianity on them. Thus, they kept Samhain in the name of Christ to honor the departed saints.

Like Samhain, All Saints' Day began the evening before, which was called All Hallows' Eve, All Saints' Eve, or Halloween. Since then, Halloween has evolved into its present form, in which nothing remotely Christian remains. It is known for all its pre-Christian Celtic practices—particularly the recognition of the spirit world in the form of fairies, witches, ogres, goblins, demons, ghouls, vampires, etc.

Today, "trick-or-treating" is the most recognized of Halloween activities, and it is simply a form of extortion. Children, whether they know it or not, are acting as the spirits who will play a trick or put a curse on the one who does not pay up in food or treats. Divination and séances are also commonly held on October 31. Hooliganism—tricks resulting in vandalism—often reaches its high point on Halloween. For many years, Detroit was the scene of "hell night," in which rampaging young people trashed large areas of the city, setting fires, smashing cars and windows, looting, and generally creating havoc.

The Celtic feast of Samhain still survives in Halloween. It has simply reverted to our ancestors' Celtic practice.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Halloween

1 Timothy 3:6

There is some disagreement over "condemnation" here. Some commentators say that it ought to be translated "criticism" or "snare."

From what it says in Ezekiel 28, we can be safe in concluding that Helel was created far different from the Satan that he became, that pride led to Helel's downfall by providing motivation. It plowed the way, and it completely obliterated his knowledge of God and His power, and eventually it produced rebellion.

Paul's warning is that a converted person can fall into this snare, this criticism, or this condemnation, if he is not mature enough to fight and overcome its influence. If he does not recognize it, he is really in trouble. He will not put up any fight at all. If he does recognize it, and if he is mature, then he can overcome it because he will do the things necessary to ensure that it is in check. As long as there is a Devil, as long as we are human and have this human spirit, and as long as that spirit can be triggered by Satan, then we can fall prey to it if we are unaware of its working within us.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Faith (Part Six)

1 John 2:16

John uses these three spiritual terms to show that God is not concerned about attractive things, like automobiles or houses or clothing, but a spiritual power the world has that many find attractive. Something about the world is alluring, and most find it difficult to resist.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The World, the Church, and Laodiceanism


 




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