Hope & Grace International



  • God’s Word to the first humans was be blessed, be fruitful and subdue the earth.
  • Africa has the most resources and is the least developed continent on the Planet.
  • Why then is so much of Africa void of God’s blessing, languishing in poverty and filled with fear and superstition?
  • This message is going to make the point that animism may be the number one reason for the sad condition of most of Africa.

Alan R. Tippett describes animism this way, “The term Animism is certainly to be preferred to Tribal religion (s) because animism is active in great cities like Los Angeles, New Orleans or Sao Palo, and has many nontribal aspects. It is preferable also to Primitive Religion(s), as it is neither chronologically nor conceptually primitive; indeed, it is currently much alive, and frequently quite sophisticated.”

  1. A world view is the beliefs, assumptions and attitudes that determine how a person thinks and shapes the decisions they make and the actions they take. Lk 6:43-45 “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thorn bushes, or grapes from briers. 45 The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks. NIV
  2. It is the dominate beliefs, assumptions, superstitions, traditions that shape the culture.

Pr 23:7 For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. ”Eat and drink!” he says to you, But his heart is not with you. NKJV

  1. Animism believes that everything in life is connected and interrelated and is deeply influenced by spirits, ancestors, curses and fate. The animist must gain power by manipulating the spirits and people to get their way.

“It [animism] assumes the presence of spiritual beings or disembodied spirits which affect human life for good or ill and which are to be revered or placated.”

  1. Animism is the religion of deceiving spirits. 1 Tim 4:1 Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some will turn away from what we believe; they will follow lying spirits and teachings that come from demons. NLT
  2. Animism is prevalent in Africa, Asia, and South America and is growing in western cultures through the new age movement. We also should understand that animism is prevalent in indigenous cultures within the western cultures; for example the tribes of North America. New age, Wicca, paganism, fetishism, Ancestor worship, totemism, Baalism and shamanism are all cut from animism.
  3. In nations where animism is prevalent Catholics, Anglicans and Islam all embrace a sort of folk religion that mixes their beliefs with animism. Even evangelical Christianity in these places is often tainted with animism.
  4. Philip Steyne names the five core characteristics of animism:
  5. Fear.
  6. Absence of consolation.
  7. Little differentiation between good and evil.
  8. Fatalistic approach to life.
  9. A search for a means to manipulate.

A Ugandan friend who leads a movement with about 70 churches in East Africa asked me why I thought there is so much more devastation and hopelessness in Africa compared to other regions in the world. As I began to search for a more satisfactory answer than the one I first gave him, I read a powerful little booklet called Against All Hope: Hope for Africa, the author’s frame the same question slightly differently, “Is Africa cursed? Many have asked this question. Many Africans experience a profound sense of hopelessness and despair. It hangs like a dark cloud over the potential of the peoples and nations of this continent.

It is manifest in mind-poverty, injustice, corruption, bloodshed, tribalism, broken families, and in the pandemic that is known as AIDS. These external manifestations of despair mirror the internal hopelessness that marks the mindset of the people. The repeated internal messages are: We are poor and there is nothing we can do about it. Things have always been this way. Things will never change.”


There are four foundational beliefs in animism. Holism, Spiritualism, power and community. In reality these four elements of animist life are often in conflict with one another, or only operate on a very limited scale. So community may be important to the animist, but killing someone outside your immediate clan may not be so bad if it gains you personal power.

  1. Holism = the belief that all of life is interconnected in a spiritual reality.

“The sky, the spirits, the earth, the physical world, the living and the dead all act, interact and react in concert.” Each element needs the other to be activated.

  1. Animism does not make distinctions between the physical, spiritual or material worlds. In primitive religions there is no distinction between the sacred and the secular, as in animism, and when all is viewed in terms of magic, the concept of spirituality probably does not arise.
  2. To the animist holism means integrating spirits and the dead, plants and animals, into one reality that is a part of humanity, not just in the sense of experience but in willing and acting together.
  3. The animist’s world is out of order or harmony or in opposition when all of these realities fail to converge in concert.
  4. Spiritualism = everything in life both seen and unseen is connected to the spiritual world.
  5. In Animism it is the unseen world of spirits and ancestors that drives reality.
  6. Everything is connected to the spiritual; better job, loss of job, death of child, wealth, all happens because of the work of unseen but powerful spiritual forces.
  7. If something goes bad for the animist, he must do something to get back in harmony with life forces.
  8. Because of the fear of curses administered by spirits and angry ancestors, if something bad happens it always raises the question, “Who caused it?”
  9. If the animist wants something he must consult a totem guide, perform a ritual, visit a witchdoctor, make a sacrifice, burn a special candle or do something to attract help from the spirit world.

”Everything in life can be influenced by, and responds to, the spirits… Whatever happens in the physical realm has a spiritual coordinate, and, likewise, whatever transpires in the spiritual realm has direct bearing on the physical world.” The spirit world includes lesser and greater gods, friendly spirits, evil spirits, animal totem guides and recently departed ancestors. Superstition plays a huge role in animism; anything that is unexplainable can be attributed to the actions of the spirits or ancestors.

  1. Power = “Life’s essential quest is to secure power and use it.”
  2. This power is called “life force, force vital, life essence and dynamism.”
  3. Life force is the power that comes when one’s life is in harmony, it brings the ability to influence and manipulate circumstances, people and events to help you fulfill your desires.
  4. The animist seeks power for his own autonomy, where as the Christian receives power in order to witness effectively for Christ. Acts 1:8, But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” NIV
  5. The key to success is the ability to manipulate the powers i.e. the ancestors, spirits, and gods, to work on your behalf, “using life force.”5. It doesn’t matter to the animist whether this is good or evil forces, whichever, he only wants to manipulate them for his purposes.
  6. 5. Another reason that the animist seeks power is in order to block the curses that an angry neighbor, mother-in-law or uncle may put on you.
  7. 6. The means is payment to a “holy” person—witchdoctor, herbalist, shaman for their service of making a sacrifice, bless an amulet etc. The animist believes that sacred objects have power. Therefore to pray at, touch, or possess a sacred object i.e. a tree, or grove, stone, river, bone, holy book, amulet, or something once owned by a powerful person brings power.
  8. 7. Totemism connects humans with nature particularly to animals. Through totemism animals can become the animists guide in life through dreams, visions and guided imagery.
  9. 8. Traditional drumming and dancing or incantations can be used to affect the spirit world.
  10. 9. The animist believes that by using these rituals man can master his own destiny.

The animist believes, “…if only one knows the right formulae, the spirit world can be made to do one’s bidding, whether for good or evil.” “Power may be secured by ritual manipulation which may be in the form of sacrifices, offerings, taboos, charms, fetishes, ceremonies, even witchcraft and sorcery. The power may also be secured by the laying on of hands, by encountering a spirit being, either directly or through ritual means.”

  1. Community = For the animist community is all that surrounds him in his normal daily life, family, extended family the elders or landlords, the people who can help him or hurt him even the recently deceased ancestors and familiar animals may be a part of community.
  2. Community is used to promote harmony and status quo. It assigns each one his place in the community environment. This is why implementing change is so difficult in tribal cultures.
  3. The concept of community in the animist world is very complicated because animism is all about gaining power for yourself however one must always appear to do so without violating cultural expectations and taboos of the clan.
  4. This can be accomplished because to lie, cheat, steal and do harm to others, especially those who are not a part of your immediate clan, in order to gain power is acceptable to the animist.
  5. Social structure is more community centered than individualistic or democratic—The landlords or elders have much authority—corruption and “big man” mentality is accepted.
  6. The individualism of western thinking often collides with the “group think” of animism resulting in failed mission. “It is not enough for the apostle to learn what God has said; he also has to understand the men to whom he is bringing the Word.”

One must realize that even though the animist presents these concepts in a positive sounding framework the reality is that every aspect of animism creates fear, bondage and limitations and at the same time is a self serving system that says basically anything is ok if it helps you gain power. One only has to observe the impact of animism on African culture to realize this.

  1. Community dynamics cannot be ignored by those who are bringing the gospel to an animist group. “Groups exist at different levels of social organization, and authority for decisions may lie at different levels”…, decision making may be the responsibility of the family, the clan elders, or the whole clan. Westerners almost always think of the decision to follow Christ as a very personal individual decision, however in some animistic groups salvation for the whole group comes only when the right decision maker (s) say yes to the gospel.

Acts 9:35 All those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord. NIV

Acts 16:30-34, 30 He then brought them out and asked, ‘’Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’’ 31 They replied, ‘’Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.’’ 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all others in his house. 33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized. 34 The jailer brought them into his house and set a, meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole family. NIV

Acts 18:8 Crispus, the synagogue ruler, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard him believed and were baptized. NIV

  1. Although ritual is not a tenant of animism it is one of the main instruments through which it is practiced.
  2. Rituals are rites or ceremonies performed by or for the animist with the belief that the ritual will result in a certain response from the spirit world.
  3. Rituals are the animist’s means to call the powers of the spirit world to work on their behalf.
  4. Steyne calls rituals the animists “means of grace”.
  5. This may be why the Catholics and Anglicans both attract and accept practicing animists; they are also steeped in ritual.

Miller and Allen sum up animistic beliefs this way, “African worldviews are associated with fatalism, which is rooted in Islamic beliefs in the north, and with spiritism and ancestor-worship throughout the rest of the continent. These twin pillars of fatalism and spiritism form a worldview category knows as Animism.”


  1. The root of the Poverty, social and governmental failure in many places is an animistic world view.
  2. Change is frowned upon.
  3. Corruption is accepted and expected.
  4. Work is a curse.
  5. Even when someone breaks out and achieves, there is no point in emulating that action because that person got ahead because it was their fate.
  6. Individuals don’t count unless they are privileged.
  7. Life is based on fear of spirits, curses, vengeful ancestors and spiritually well

connected enemies.

  1. Animists believe that there is a limited amount of good in the world.
  2. The animist believes that any blessing and good fortune which goes to his neighbor means that it becomes less likely for him to receive blessing.
  3. This creates a world of jealousy, envy and competition.

Pr 14:30 A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones. NIV

Tit 3:3 For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. NKJV

Ja 3:16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and evil practice. NIV

  1. There is no absolute truth in animism therefore the moral imperatives and boundaries that combat poverty and corruption do not exist.
  2. This is why in those places where animism is the dominate religion; corruption is so endemic and malignant that it keeps the citizens locked in poverty.
  3. Personal responsibility, sin and guilt are not primary notions to the animist.
  4. Controlling others, and circumstances through manipulation of the spirits and ancestors is far stronger motivation than right and wrong.
  5. For the animist man’s purpose is not to worship or serve God or gods, though out of necessity he may, man’s purpose is to manipulate the Gods to do his will.
  6. Since animism is built on this foundation of manipulating, bribing and deceiving the spirits when it comes to dealing with other humans the animist has no convictions against doing the same kinds of things to gain power over others.
  7. Where man does not have a clear moral value system it is a breeding ground for corruption, poverty and spiritual bondage.
  8. This is why the Ten Commandments and the Gospel of Jesus Christ have so positively impacted western cultures.

Ex 20:1-17, 1 And God spoke all these words: 2 ‘’I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 3 ‘’You shall have no other gods before me. 4 ‘’You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand {generations} of those who love me and keep my commandments.

7 ‘’You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name. 8 ‘’Remember the sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor our manservant or maidservant, nor your animals nor the alien within your gates. 11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

12 ‘’Honor your father and mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you. 13 ‘’You shall not murder. 14 ‘’You shall not commit adultery. 15 ‘’You shall not steal. 16 ‘’You shall not give false testimony against your neighbour. 17 ‘’You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbour.’’ NIV

Mt 22:37-40, 37 Jesus replied, ‘’You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ 40 All the other commandments and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.’’ NLT

2 Cor 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! NIV

  1. Animism is based on appeasing and deceiving and manipulating Gods who are more powerful than the people but are not all powerful …If only one knows the right formulae, the spirit world can be made to do one’s bidding, whether for good or for evil. The animist is not concerned about seeking the will of his God, but in compelling entreating, or coercing his god to do his will.
  2. Animism has spirit worship and ancestor worship components that find its power and reality in demons.
  3. “The animist looks for reasons beyond the obvious and found only in the spiritual realm. Catastrophes, natural disasters, disease, untimely death and other exigencies of life are all evaluated spiritually, with a view to establish or restore harmony and balance to life’s context.
  4. Animism is fatalistic (like Islam).
  6. It seems that a major problem for many tribal cultures is that the gospel first came to them in a powerless form and they found it necessary to revert to old ways for protection.
  7. A powerless gospel cannot convince the animist to serve only Christ.

“The convert in Africa did not see the Gospel as sufficient for his whole life and especially for the deepest issues of life. For that reason, we find the phenomenon across Africa today that Christians in time of existential needs and crises (such as danger, illness and death) fall back on their traditional beliefs and life views.”91 Tippitt says, the animists have come from a world of power encounter and presumably they, therefore, need a God who speaks and demonstrates with power. Preaching of a purely ethical gospel is hardly likely to inspire such a people; but a life transformed by a god of power will head to a new ethic.

  1. Before an animist can believe in Christ alone they must believe that He is greater than the powers that interact in his daily life.

“Because they [animists] were bound by fear of powers outside themselves, the first steps in salvation had to be for deliverance from those powers rather than from personal sins.”

  1. A major problem in Africa and other places is that many confessed Christians are practicing animists.

Eze 33:31 And they come to you as people come, and they sit before you as my people, and they hear what you say but they will not do it; for with lustful talk in their mouths they act; their heart is set on their gain. ESV

  1. Some deliberately mix both.
  2. Others fall back on traditional religion practices in difficult times.
  3. Yet others unknowingly have never been transformed from the traditional religion way of thinking, or have only patricianly been changed.
  4. This sets into motion the contradictory but all too often “born again animist” scenario.
  5. To defeat animism both in the culture at large and in the church we must do more than convert people we must change their thinking.

Col 2:6-10, 6 Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, 7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. 8 See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. 9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. ESV

  1. The current debilitating conditions in Africa’s nations is the result of their leaders and people having little or no regard for the laws of God, including its Christians. The story is told that president Museveni of Uganda in an effort to stop the corruption of government officials decided to fill his finance positions with born again Christians. The result of this experiment was a failure because these born again believers were still animists in their core beliefs so their attitude was this is my opportunity to seize the power to make myself wealthy. They proved to be as corrupt as those who previously filled their positions.
  2. Animistic Christians can not impact the culture for good in any significant way.
  3. When Christians have a biblical world view and think like Christians then even though they may be a minority their influence can actually change the nation for good.
  4. We have to show people that they cannot serve God and demons, they must choose.
  5. You have to truly believe that the God of the Bible is the only true God.

De 10:17 For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. NIV

  1. You must see yourself as a sinner who needs a savior.

Rom 3:23-25, 23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left sins committed beforehand unpunished– NIV

Isa 53:6 All of us have strayed away like sheep. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the guilt and sins of us all. NLT

  1. You have to choose if you are going to serve God or the gods of the land.

Josh 24:15 But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.’’ NIV

1 Ki 18:21, Then Elijah stood in front of them and said, ‘’How long are you going to waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him!’’ But the people were completely silent. NLT

Mat 6:24 ‘’No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. NLT

  1. You cannot live for God and demons.

Mt 12:25-28, 25 Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, ‘’Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. 26 And if satan casts out satan, he is divede against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? 27 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. 28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. ESV

  1. God will not share you with idols.

Eze 20:39 ‘’’As for you, O house of Israel, this is what the Sovereign LORD Says: Go and serve your idols, every one of you! But afterward you will surely listen to me and no longer profane my holy name with our gifts and idols. NIV

  1. We have to forsake the gods that our fathers served.

Josh 24:14 ‘’So honor the LORD and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the LORD alone. NLT

  1. You should not have anything to do with a believer who turns to the gods of the land.

De 13:6-9, 6 If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, ‘’Let us go and worship other gods’’ (gods that neither you nor your fathers have known, gods of the peoples around you, whether near or far, from one end of the land to the other), 8 don not yield to him or listen to him. Show him no pity. Do not spare him or shield him. 9 You must certainly put him to death. Your hand must be the first in putting him to death, and then the hands of all people. NIV

  1. You cannot have authority over demons if you are involved with the demonic.

Mat 12:27-30, 27 And if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. 28 But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29 ‘’Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can rob his house. 30 ‘’He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters. NIV

  1. Christians must be made to really believe that the God of the Bible is the Great God and that the demons that drive animism cannot touch or harm them.
  2. Greater is He that is in you.

1 Jn 4:4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. ESV

Mat 28:18 And Jesus came and said to them, ‘’All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. ESV

  1. Cannot be cursed

Nu 22:6-7, 6 Now come and put a curse on these people, because they are too powerful for me. Perhaps then I will be able to defeat them and drive them out of the country. For I know that those you bless are blessed, and those you curse are cursed.’’ 7 The elders of Moab and Midian left, taking with them the fee for divination. When they came to Balaam, they told him what Balak had said. NIV

Nu 22:12 But God said to Balaam, ‘’Do not go with them. You must not put a curse on those people, because they are blessed.’’ NIV

Nu 22:18 But Balaam answered them, ‘’Even if Balak gave me his palace filled with silver and gold, I could not do anything great or small to go beyond the command of the LORD my God. NIV

Nu 22:22 But God was very angry when he went, and the angel of the LORD stood in the road to oppose him. Balaam was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him. NIV

Nu 23:8 How can I curse those whom God has not cursed? How can I denounce those whom the LORD has not denounced? NIV

Nu 23:11 Balak said to Balaam. ‘’What have you done to me? I brought you to curse my enemies, but you have done nothing but bless them!’’ NIV

Nu 23:23 There is no sorcery against Jacob, no divination against Israel. It will now be said of Jacob and of Israel, ‘See what God has done!’

Nu 23:25-26, 25 Then Balak said to Balaam, ‘’Neither curse them at all nor bless them at all!’’ 26 Balaam answered, ‘’Did I not tell you I must do whatever the LORD says?’’ NIV

`1 Sam 17:43 He said to David, ‘’Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?’’ And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. NIV

  1. Not everything that happens is caused by evil forces.

Lk 13:1-5, 1 There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And he answered them, ‘’Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffer in this way? 3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” ESV

Lk 10:31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. ESV

  1. Demons are subject to Jesus Christ.

Mk 1:34 and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was. NIV

Mk 1:39 So he travelled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons. NIV

Lk 4:41 Some were possessed by demons; and the demons came out at his command, shouting, ‘’You are the Son of God.’’ But because they knew he was the Messiah, he stopped them and told them to be silent. NIV

Lk 9:1 Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases. NKJV

  1. The church must be a demonstration of the power of God.
  2. Believers do not have to fear what spirits can do.

Col 1:13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, NIV

Nu 23:20-23, 20 I have received a command to bless; he has blessed, and I cannot change it. 21 ‘’No misfortune is seen in Jacob, no misery observed in Israel. The LORD their God is with them; the shout of the King is among them. 22 God brought them out of Egypt; they have the strength of a wild ox. 23 There is no sorcery against Jacob, no divination against Israel. It will now be said of Jacob and of Israel, ‘See what God has done!’ NIV

  1. We must realize that God cannot be bribed or manipulated.
  2. The church will never rid itself of animism until it can demonstrate that the power of God is greater than the power of animism.
  3. It was the animistic gods (demons) that God defeated to bring Israel out of Egypt.

Ex 15:6-7, 6 ‘’Your right hand, O LORD, is glorious in power. Your right hand, O LORD, dashes the enemy to pieces. 7 In the greatness of your majesty, you overthrew those who rose against you. Your anger flashed forth; it consumed them as fire burns straw. NLT

  1. Balaam was a soothsayer who was helpless to perform against Gods people.

Josh 13:22 In addition to those slain in battle, the Israelites had put to the sword Balaam son of Beor, who practiced divination. NIV

  1. God is greater in power than all His enemies.
  2. Every generation needs those who can declare and demonstrate Gods power.

Ps 71:18 Now that I am old and gray, do not abandon me, O God. Let me proclaim your power to this new generation, your mighty miracles to all who come after me. NLT

  1. We need a generation that knows both the Scripture and the power of God.

Mat 22:29 Jesus replied, ‘’You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. NIV

  1. Christian leaders have to stop making the excuse that it is just our cultural way and go on a campaign to eradicate animism from the Christian community.
  2. God commanded the Israelists to destroy the places where people did their demonic worship.

De 12:2-4, 2 You shall utterly destroy all the places where the nations which you shall dispossess served their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree. 3 And you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and burn their wooden images with fire; you shall cut down the carved images of their gods and destroy their names from that place. 4 You shall not worship the LORD your God with such things. NKJV

  1. The only place God’s children are to worship is where He has put His name; God does not put His name on anything associated with animism…

De 12:5 ‘’But you shall seek the place where the LORD your God chooses, out of all your tribes, to put His name for His dwelling place; and there you shall go. NKJV

Mat 16:18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and o this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. NKJV

Darrow L Miller and Scott Allen in their booklet Against All Hope: Hope for Africa make the following observation: The Church is God’s key agent in social and cultural transformation. It has the crucial responsibility of leading its nation in mourning for their sin. When they do, God promises to hear their cry and heal their land. [2 Chr 7:14] Today, God is stirring within the hearts of believers

across Africa.”93 Christian leaders are asking the question, “Why are we locked in this continuing bondage of poverty, corruption, disease and social and moral failure.” When the church puts away its animistic thinking and practices change will come.

  2. God gives believers a clear directive not to live like those in bondage that are around us.

De 18:9-14, 9 ‘’When you arrive in the land the LORD your God is giving you, be very careful not to imitate the detestable customs of the nations living there. 10 For example, never sacrifice your son or daughter as a burnt offering. And do not let your people practice fortune-telling or sorcery, or allow them to interpret omens, or engage in withcraft,11 or cast spells, or function as mediums or psychics, or call forth the spirits of the dead. 12 Anyone who does these things is an object of horror and disgust to the LORD. It is because the other nations have done these things that the LORD your God will drive them out ahead of you. 13 You must be blameless before the LORD your God. 14 The people you are about to displace consult with sorcerers and fortune-tellers, but the LORD your God forbids you to do such things. NLT

2 Cor 6:14-18, 14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘’I will be their God, And they shall be My people.” 17 ‘’Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.’’ NKJV

  1. Don’t make sacrifices of animals or people.
  2. Sacrificing children by fire.

Lev 18:21 ‘’’Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molech, for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the LORD. NIV

De: 12:31 You must not worship the LORD your God in their way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the LORD hates. They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire as sacrifice to their gods. NIV

2 Ki 16:3 He walked in the ways of the kings of Israel and even sacrificed his son in the fire, following the detestable ways of the nations the LORD had driven out before the Israelites. NIV

2 Ki 17:17 They sacrificed their sons and daughters in the fire. They practiced divination and sorcery and sold themselves to do evil in the eyes of the LORD, provoking him to anger. NIV

2 Ki 21:6 He sacrificed his own son in the fire, practiced sorcery and divination, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the eyes of the LORD, provoking him to anger. NIV

Aben Ezra, in his note on Lev 18:21, says that “to cause to pass through” is the same as “to burn.” “They sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto devils, and shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and of their daughters, whom they sacrificed unto the idols of Canaan”

  1. Sacrificing children to demons to gain power.

2 Ki 3:27 So he took his oldest son, who would have been the next king, and sacrificed him as a burnt offering on the wall. As a result, the anger against Israel was great, so they withdrew and returned to their own land. NLT

Ps 106:37-39, 37 They sacrifice their sons and their daughters to demons. 38 They shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan, and the land was desecrated by their blood. 39 They defiled themselves by what they did; by their deeds they prostituted themselves. NIV

Eze:16:10-21, 10 I clothed you with an embroidered dress and put leather sandals on you. I dressed you in fine linen and covered you with costly garments. 11 I adorned you with jewelry: I put bracelets on your arms and a necklace around your neck, 12 and I put a ring on your nose, earings on your ears and a beautiful crown on your head. 13 So you were adorned with gold and silver; your clothes were of fine linen and costly fabric and embroidered cloth. Your food was fine flour, honey and olive oil. You became very beautiful and rose to be a queen.

14 And your fame spread among the nations on account of your beauty, because the splendour I had given you made your beauty perfect, declares the Sovereign LORD. 15 ‘’’But you trusted in your beauty and used your fame to become a prostitute. You lavished your favors on anyone who passed by and your beauty became his. 16 You took some of your garments to make gaudy high places, where you carried on your prostitution. Such things should not happen, nor should they ever occur. 17 You also took the fine jewelry I gave you, the jewelry made of my gold and silver, and you made for yourself male idols and engaged in prostitution with them.

18 And you took your embroidered clothes to put on them, and you offered my oil and incense before them. 19 Also the food I provided for you-the fine flour, olive oil and honey I gave you to eat-you offered as fragrant incense before them. That is what happened, declares the Sovereign LORD. 20 ‘’’And you took your sons and daughters whom you bore to me and sacrificed them as food to the idols. Was your prostitution not enough? 21 You slaughtered my children and sacrificed them to idols. NIV

  1. Don’t do anything to try to communicate with the dead.
  2. A Medium is a person who claims to facilitate communication with the dead for the purpose of learning the future.
  3. Someone with a familiar spirit is someone who can communicate with the spirit world.
  4. Spiritist Deut 18:11 or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. NIV
  5. Talking to the dead, Necromancer, one who claims to call up the dead.

Lev 19:31 ‘’’Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritsts, for you will be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God. NIV

Deut 18:11 or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. NIV

  1. Don’t consort with demons to try to gain power.
  2. Witchcraft

Deut 18:10 Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, NIV

2 Ki 9:22 When Joram saw Jehu he asked, ‘’Have you come in peace, Jehu? How can there be peace,’’ Jehu replied, ‘’as long as all the idolatry and witchcraft of your mother Jezebel abound?’’ NIV

2 Chr 33:6 He sacrificed his sons in the fire in the valley of Ben Hinnom, practiced sorcery, divination and witchcraft, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the eyes of the LORD, provoking him to anger. NIV

  1. Soothsaying

Lev 19:26 ‘’’Do not eat any meat with the blood still in it. ‘’’Do not practice divination or sorcery. NIV

Josh 13:22 In addition to those slain in battle, the Israelite had put to the sword Balaam son of Beor, who practiced divination. NIV

  1. Divination A diviner is one who observes and interprets various signs or omens to predict the future.

Acts 16:16-18, 16 One day as we were going down to the place of prayer, we met a demon-possessed slave girl. She was a fortune-teller who earned a lot of money for her masters. 17 She followed along behind us shouting, ‘’These men are servants of the Most High God, and they have come to tell you how to be saved.’’ 18 This went on day after day until Paul got so exasperated that he turned and spoke to the demon within her. ‘’I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her,’’ he said. And instantly it left her. NLT

  1. Conjuring spells

Deut 18:11 or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. NKJV

  1. Interpreting omens

Deut 18:10 There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer. NKJV

  1. Sorcery

Gal 5:20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions. ESV

2 Chr 33:6 He sacrificed his sons in the fire in the Valley of Ben Hinnom, practiced sorcery, divination and witchcraft, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the eyes of the LORD, provoking him to anger. NIV

  1. Making sacrifices to gods and demons.

Lev 17:7 They shall no more offer their sacrifices to demons, after whom they have played the harlot. This shall be a statute forever for them throughout their generations.’’’ NKJV

De 32:16-17, 16 They made him jealous with their foreign gods and angered him with their detestable idols. 17 They sacrificed to demons, which are not God- gods they had not known, gods that recently appeared, gods your fathers did not fear. NIV

Rev 9:20 The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood—idols that cannot see or hear or walk. NIV

1 Cor 10:20 No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. NIV

  1. Don’t do rituals or create holy places to worship the spirits.
  2. Burning candles or incense as a prayer or appeasement to the spirits.

Jer 44:21-23, 21 ‘’Do you think the LORD did not know that you and your ancestors, your kings and officials, and all the people were burning incense to idols in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? 22 It was because the LORD could no longer bear all the evil things you were doing that he made your land an object of cursing—a desolate ruin without a single inhabitant—as it is today. 23 The very reason all these terrible things have happened to you is because you have burned incense to idols and sinned against the LORD, refusing to obey him and follow his instructions, laws, and stipulations.’’ NLT

Look at what became of Solomon.

1 Ki 3:3 And Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of his father David, except that he sacrificed and burned incense at the high places. NKJV

1 Ki 22:43 And he walked in all the ways of his father Asa. He did not turn aside from them, doing what was right in the eyes of the LORD. Nevertheless the high places were not taken away, for the people offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places. NKJV

2 Ki 18:4 He removed the high places and broke the sacred pillars, cut down the wooden image and broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made; for until those days the children of Israel burned incense to it, and called it Nehushtan. NKJV

  1. Putting spiritual significance in hills and mountains; animists believe that the most powerful spirits like to inhabit mountains, look up the term “high places” in your Bible.

Lev 26:30 I will destroy your high places, cut down your incense altars and pile your dead bodies on the lifeless forms of your idols, and I will abhor you. NIV

Nu 33:52 drive out all the inhabitants of the land before you. Destroy all their carved images and their cast idols, and demolish all their high places. NIV

1 Ki 13:2 He cried out against the altar by the word of the LORD: ‘’O altar, altar! This is what the LORD says: ‘A son named Josiah will be born to the house of David. On you he will sacrifice the priests of the high places who now make offerings here, and human bones will be burned on you.’’’

Mic 1:3 Look! The LORD is coming! He leaves his throne in heaven and comes to earth, walking on the high places. NLT

  1. Using trees and groves as holy places because you believe that spirits live in them.

Deut 12:2-4, 2 Destroy completely all the places on the high mountains and on the hills and under every spreading tree where the nations you are dispossessing worship their gods. 3 Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and burn their Asherah poles in the fire; cut down the idols of their gods and wipe out their name from those places. 4 You must not worship the LORD your God in their way. NIV

Deut 16:21 Do not set up any wooden Asherah pole beside the altar you build to the LORD your God, NIV

  1. Shrines are dwelling places in the hills, sometimes decorated caves, made for worshiping spirits (demons); they can also be small household dwellings.

1 Ki 13:31-32, 31 After burying him, he said to his sons, ‘’When I die, bury me in the grave where the man of God is buried; lay my bones beside his bones. 32 For the message he declared by the word of God against the altar in Bethel and against all the shrines on the high places in the towns of Samaria will certainly come true.’’ NIV

2 Ki 17:29 and even Judah did not keep the commands of the LORD their God. They followed the practices Israel had introduced. NIV

  1. Tattoos, mutilating and cutting the flesh is to impress those who just died or to make one undesirable to the spirits and are forbidden.

Lev 19:28 ‘’’Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD. NIV

Lev 21:5 ‘’’Priests must not shave their heads or shave off the edges of their beards or cut their bodies. NIV

Deut 14:1 You are the children of the LORD your God. Do not cut yourselves or shave the front of your heads for the dead, NIV.

Jer 47:5 Gaza will shave her head in mourning; Ashkelon will be silenced. O remnant on the plain, how long will you cut yourselves? NIV

cutting is associated with Baal worship

1 Ki 18:21 Elijah went before the people and said, ‘’How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.’’ But the people said nothing. NIV

  1. You should not appoint anyone as priest for family demons.

2 Chr 11:15 And he appointed his own priests for the high places and for the goat and calf idols he had made. NIV

  2. Animism: Women are inferior to men. Biblical Christianity: Women are equal with men.
  3. Animism: Work is a curse and demeaning. Biblical Christianity: Work and achievement gives dignity.
  4. Animism: We are controlled by fate. Biblical Christianity: God had given us freedom and choice.
  5. Animism: Time and the future are immaterial. Biblical Christianity: We should redeem time it is valuable.
  6. Animism: The gods/spirits can be bribed. Biblical Christianity: God is just and doesn’t take bribes.
  7. Animism: Why shouldn’t I be corrupt? My gods are. Biblical Christianity: Deal with others with integrity.
  8. Animism: There is a limited amount of goodness in the world; that which my neighbor gets I won’t get so I must sabotage his success. Biblical Christianity: God is a God of abundance and plenty and wealth in the world, God gives me the ability to prosper and create wealth and I can rejoice when my neighbor is blessed.
  9. Animism: Individuals are not significant. Biblical Christianity: Individuals have value and rights.
  10. Animism: The animist seeks power to bolster his own autonomy. Biblical Christianity: The Christian receives power to witness for Christ.
  11. Animism: Relies on magic rituals and incantations to gain power. Biblical Christianity: Relies on faith in God and hearing and obeying His Word to release His power.Universe is orderly, controlled by natural laws that God has set.
  12. Animism: The spirits of ancestors can harm us. Biblical Christianity: Ancestors leave a heritage either godly or ungodly, in Christ we can break away from the effect of an ungodly heritage.
  13. Animism: Leaders are Lords. Biblical Christianity: Leaders are servants.
  14. Animism: Learning and thinking are traditional and rote. Biblical Christianity: Learning and thinking are dynamic and creative.
  15. Animism: Is a world of cursing and being cursed. Biblical Christianity: Is a world of giving and receiving blessing. Based on the chart in Darrow L Miller and Scott Allen, Against all Hope: Hope for Africa.


  1. We must have a firm expectation of transformational, lordship salvation.
  2. When someone comes to Christ there is an expectation of change.

2 Cor 5:17-21, 17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. NIV

Col 3:1-10, 1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.

6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, Rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other; since you have taken off your old self with its practices. 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. NIV

  1. The gospel that we preach must be of the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Rom 10:9 For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. NLT

Phil 2:9-11, 9 Because of this, God raised him up to the heights of heaven and gave him a name that is above every other name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. NLT

Animists cannot just drift into the Christian faith. … The passage from heathenism to the Christian faith is a definite and clear-cut act, a specific change of life, a “coming out of something” and “entry into something quite different,” a change of loyalty—or in the biblical analogy, a change of citizenship

(Eph 2:12-13, 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. NIV

Col 1:12-13, 12 giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saint in the light. 13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, NKJV

  1. This is why immediate water baptism as practiced in the book of acts is so important.

Acts 2:41 Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church—about three thousand in all. NLT

Acts 8:12 But now the people believed Philip’s message of Good News concerning the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ. As a result, many men and women were baptized. NLT

Acts 8:36 As they travelled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, ‘’Look, here is water. Why shouldn’t I be baptized?’’ NIV

Acts 9:18 Instantly something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he got up and was baptized. NLT

Acts 10:47-48, 47 Then Peter said, ‘’Cn anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” 48 So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days. NIV

Acts 16:14-15, 14 One of them was Lydia from Thyatira, a merchant of expensive purple cloth. She was a worshiper of od. As she listened to us, the Lord opened her heart, and she accepted what Paul was saying. 15 She was baptized along with other members of her household, and she asked us to be her guests. ‘’If you agree that I am faithful to the Lord,’’ she said, ‘’come and stay at my home.’’ And she urged us until we did. NLT

Acts 16:32-33, 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized. NIV

Acts 18:8 Crispus, the synagogue ruler, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard him believed and were baptized. NIV

Acts 19:1-5, 1 While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples 2 and asked them, ‘’Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’’ They answered, ‘’No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.’’ 3 So Paul asked, ‘’Then what baptism did you receive? John’s baptism. ‘’they replied. 4 Paul said, ‘’John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.’’ 5 On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus.’’ NIV

It is a public demonstration of dying to the old life and taking on an entirely new one “in Christ.”

Rom 6:1-14, 1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 by no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. 5 If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—7 because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.

8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. 11In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. 14 For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. NIV

 This is both a declaration and empowerment of a changed life.

  1. Animists often take certain actions to gain advantage or power and it has been the case in many instances that an animist has become a Christian not as an act of surrender to the Lordship of Christ but because they thought they would gain some specific thing.

Acts 8:18-24, 18 When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money 19 and said, ‘’Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.’’ 20Peter answered: ‘’May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! 21 You have no part or shame in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. 23 For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.’’ 24 Then Simon answered, ‘’Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me. NIV

Tippitt warns that we must be aware of motive and not crouch our message in terms of gaining power or status but in terms of surrender to Christ.

  1. Pastors and church leaders must forsake their animistic practices.
  2. Spiritual leaders must choose between serving God and appeasing their animistic roots.

Josh 24:15 But if you are unwilling to serve the LORD, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites on whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the LORD.

1 Cor 10:20-21, 20 No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons. NIV

  1. Being the “big man”—lord, rather than a servant leader.

Mk 9:35 Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, ‘’If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all. NIV

1 Pe 5:1-4, 1 To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: 2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. NIV

  1. Seeking and using power for self gain. 2 Pe 2:1-3, 1 But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 3 In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping. NIV

2 Pe 2:19-20, 19 They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him. 20 If they have accepted the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. NIV

  1. Living a lifestyle far above your people.

Phil 4:11-13, 11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me. ESV

  1. Winking at animistic practices in people who help you financially.
  2. Tolerating animistic practices in key leaders and musicians because of what they do for you.
  3. People must be made to see how devastating and destructive animism really is.
  4. Do not participate in any animistic practices or rituals, it stirs up God’ anger.

Num 25:1-3, 1 While Israel was staying in Shittim, the men began to indulge in sexual immorality with Moabite women, 2 who invited them to the sacrifices to their gods. The people ate and bowed down before these gods. 3 So Israel joined in worshipping the Baal of Peor. And the LORD’s anger burned against them. NIV

  1. Paul gives an indepth description of animistic behavior.

Romans 1:18-32, The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.

22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools

23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. 24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. 26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones.

27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. 28 Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips,

30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. NIV

  1. Animistic practices bring desolation to a land.

Jer 44:21-23, 21 ‘’Do you think the LORD did not know that you and your ancestors, your kings and officials, and all the people were burning incense to idols in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? 22 It wqas because the LORD could no longer bear all the evil things you were doing that he made your land an object of cursing—a desolate ruin without a single inhabitant—as it is today. 23 The very reason all these terrible things have happened to you is because you have burned incense to idols and sinned against the LORD, refusing to obey him and follow his instructions, laws, and stipulations.’’ NLT

Rev 18:23 Her nights will be dark, without a single lamp. There will be no happy voices of brides and grooms. This will happen because her merchants, who were the greatest in the world, deceived the nations with her sorceries. NLT

  1. Satan and His demons make false promises to people to get them to worship them.

Mat 4:9 ‘’All this I will give you,’’ he said, ‘’if you will bow down and worship me.’’ NIV

Jn 8:44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is liar and the father of lies. NIV

  1. Even though animists think they are controlling the spiritual forces around them are really being deceived by demons.

1 Tim 4:1 Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some will turn away from what we believe; they will follow lying spirits and teachings that come from demons. NLT

1 Cor 10:20-22, 21 No, not at all. What I am saying is that these sacrifices are offered to demons, not to God. And I don’t want any of you to be partners with demons. 21 You cannot drink from the cup of the Lord and from the cup of demons, too. You cannot eat at the Lord’s Table and at the table of demons, too. 22 What? Do you dare to rouse the Lord’s jealousy as Israel did? Do you think we are stronger than he is? NLT

  1. If you will repent from your animism God will forgive and restore you.

Deut 4:25-28, 25 After you have had children and grandchildren and have lived in the land a long time-if you then become corrupt and make any kind of idol, doing evil in the eyes of the LORD your God and provoking him to anger. 26 I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you this day that you will quickly perish from the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess. You will not live there long but will certainly be destroyed. 27 The LORD will scatter you among the peoples, and only a few of you will survive among the nations to which the LORD will drive you. 28There you will worship man-made gods of wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or eat or smell. NIV

  1. Understand that even in the age of grace God calls people to obey His principles (laws) for life.

De 5:6-21, 6 ‘’I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 7 ‘’You shall have no other gods before me. 8 ‘’You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 9 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I , the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 10 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments. 11 ‘’You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuse his name.

12 ‘’Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the LORD your God has commanded you. 13 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither your manservant or maidservant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor the alien within your ates, so that your manservant may rest, as you do. 15 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.

16 ‘’Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you my live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you. 17 ‘’You shall not murder. 18’’You shall not commit adultery. 19 ‘’You shall not steal. 20 ‘’You shall not give false testimony against your neighbour. 21 ‘’You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife. You shall not set your desire on your neighbor’s house or land, his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour.’’ NIV

De 6:4-9, 4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. NIV

  1. It is not ceremonial legalism that God is calling for but a heart after Him.

Mt 15:18-2,18 But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what make a man ‘unclean’; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him ‘’unclean.’’’ NIV

Mt 22:34-40, 34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 ‘’Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’’ 37 Jesus replied: ‘’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’’ NIV

  1. It is a transformation of the mind and heart issue.

Rom 1:28 When they refused to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their evil minds and let them do things that should never be done. NLT

Rom 8:5-8, 5 Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. 6 If your sinful nature controls your mind, there is death. But if the Holy Spirit controls your mind, there is life and peace. 7 For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. 8 That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God. NLT

Eph 2:1-3, 1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, ratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. NIV

Eph 4:17-24, 17 With the Lord’s authority let me say this: Live no longer as the ungodly do, for they are hopelessly confused. 18 Their closed minds are full of darkness; they are far away from the life of God because they have shut their minds and hardened their hearts against him. 19 They don’t care anymore about right and wrong, and they have given themselves over to immoral ways. Their lives are filled with all kinds of impurity and greed. 20 But that isn’t what you wee taught when you learned about Christ. 21 Since you have heard all about him and have learned the truth that is in Jesus, 22 throw off your old evil nature and your former way of life, which is rotten through and through, full of lust and deception. 23 Instead, there must be a spiritual renewal of your thoughts and attitudes. 24 You must display a new nature because you are a new person, created in God’s likeness—righteous, holy, and true. NLT

Heb 8:10 This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God. And they will be my people. NIV

  1. It is an issue of being Christians everywhere we go and in everything we do.

Mt 25:34-40 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37 ‘’Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 when did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 ‘’The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ NIV

Col 3:22-25, 22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on and to win their favour, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. NIV

  1. The church has to be a voice that calls for justice in the officials of the land.

Deut 16:18-20 18 You shall appoint judges and officers in all your towns that the Lord your God is giving you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with righteous judgement. 19 You shall not pervert justice. You shall not show partiality and you shall not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and subverts the cause of the righteous. 20 Justice, and only justice, you shall follow, that you may live and inherit the land that the LORD your God is giving you. ESV

  1. The danger is that the African church which puts a high value on education may equate knowing with doing.

Jas 1:22-25 22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does ot do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does. NIV

  1. Until people’s thinking is changed, money, education and even Christianity will not make great impacts on the way things are in Africa.
  2. A note on dealing with animistic community leaders such as the chiefs and landlords: These people are simply continuing on the life that their fathers passed to them and we should treat them with respect and dignity. It has often been my experience that when we have shown respect to these men they have opened the door for us to bring the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ into their communities. It is much easier working with the landlords blessing.


  1. We have a biblical worldview when our beliefs, assumptions, attitudes, traditions and daily actions are based upon and controlled by the teachings of the Bible.
  2. The Word of God has to become a central component in the African church.
  3. Pastors must actually know the Word of God and preach having prepared themselves.

2 Tim 2:15, Work hard so God can approve you. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth. NLT

Ho 4:6-9 6 my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. ‘’Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children. 7 The more the priests increased, the more they sinned against me; they exchanged their Glory for something disgraceful. 8 They feed on the sins of my people and relish their wickedness. 9 And it will be: Like people, like priests. I will punish both of them for their ways and repay them for their deeds. NIV

Josh 1:8 Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. NIV

  1. Knowledge does not count unless it is applied, doers not just hearers.
  2. Preaching must be biblical and instructive. There must be instruction on the completed work of the cross, the power of the blood of Jesus, living “in Christ”, the character and nature of God, the power of God, the integrity of God, the

moral laws of God, the importance of truthfulness, integrity and compassion, the equality of women and the dignity of work. There must also be teaching that exposes the falsehood of animistic practices, communicating with the dead,

witchcraft, various forms of fortune telling or predicting the future, the use of spells, curses, efforts to manipulate the spirits, and rituals to gain power with the spirit world,

  1. Teaching in the church ought to be aimed at every area of life.
  2. Church leaders must live according to the Scripture and expect their congregations to do so also.
  3. There must be a demonstration of the power of God in the church.
  4. Transformational salvation must be the norm in the African church life.
  5. Demonstrations of God’s power through the gifts of the Holy Spirit must be normal part of church life.
  6. Healing must be a normal part of church life.
  7. The prophetic voice of God must be in the church.

The Church in Africa like the earth of Africa is full of rich potential, it stands at a moment of opportunity to rise up in new life; throwing off the vestiges of animism calling its people to biblical Christianity, full of power and truth.

The Church is faced with the same sort of situation as Israel when, under the leadership of Joshua, they began dispossessing the animistic people of Canaan. And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Josh 24:15 NKJV). This is a message of hope; I believe it is the answer to the question: Why, if Africa is the richest continent on earth, is it so filled with poverty, fear and bondage. The answer for Africa is a Church with a clear and full gospel message.

Study Questions


  1. Define animism.
  2. Give five core characteristics of animism.
  3. Name and describe 4 key beliefs of animism.
  4. What is a witchdoctor? What kinds of things do they do? What other names are they called by in your culture and in the Bible? What does the Bible say about them?
  5. List and describe several characteristics of animism that promote poverty and bondage.
  6. Describe six things about animism that weakens the church.
  7. Name the animistic practices that the Old Testament forbids. Should Christians honor these probations? Why?
  8. Give seven contrasts between biblical Christianity and animism.
  9. Define fatalism and explain how it affects the person who has a fatalistic view of life.
  10. Name and explain 8 things that the animistic infected church must do to free itself.
  11. What must the church do to instill a biblical worldview in its people?
  12. Give five New Testament passages that deal with animism and a brief synopsis of what they are teaching.
  13. Can you see animism in your culture? Explain.
  14. Can you see animism in your church? Explain.
  15. How has animism impacted your personal life?

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