Halloween is an enigma. It is a time of costumes and mystery, of parties and fun, of tricks and treats. This is the American cultural Halloween of retail sales and seasonal advertizing themes. There is also another side to Halloween. This is the Halloween of movies and novels, the occult and ritual; the world of the real dark Lord. This is the Halloween marked not by cute children asking for a treat, but by fear and terror. But even this dark side of Halloween has an appealing aspect for some—the adrenalin rush produced by shocking scenes that provoke fear.
October 31st is also Reformation Day. This day celebrates the Martin Luther’s clarion call to embrace the wonder of justification by faith alone. In its truest sense, this faith replaces the dark fears of unbelief. This is why many Christians choose to celebrate Reformation Day, as opposed to Halloween.
One day, two celebrations. One is a celebration of hope and of victory over sin. The other, the dark side of Halloween, is a celebration of fear and tyranny—a celebration that rejoices in sin. This one day is symbolic of choices that must be made each day, choices for fear or choices for faith. Let me be clear; I am not necessarily including the cultural Halloween in the celebration of fear. Each family must decide the boundaries of how far cultural Halloween can be pursued. But what I am saying is that it is naive and spiritually dangerous for you and your family to ignore the reality of evil associated with the darker side of Halloween. For example, notice the shows in the theaters and television this time of year. Many of these shows focus on fear, gore, suspense, demons and terror. These elements represent a world where there is no hope, no peace, no God. Hollywood continues to turn out variations and sequels on these themes. However, the Christian is to be dominated by the Spirit of God in all things at all times (Ephesians 5:18). Watching these programs and shows or reading books of like themes are hardly activities that are conducive to being dominated by the Holy Spirit.
A safe way to avoid a legalistic treatment of the dangers of the dark side of Halloween is to think about all that Jesus Christ has done and is doing to redeem us from the pit of sin. He makes broken relationships whole. He brings joy where there was sadness. He takes dark hearts and makes them shine with the light of eternity. He has taken away our sin and given us a relationship with the Father. His Spirit illumines our spirit. He has prepared a place in heaven for us. We can now know love instead of fear. Now compare the images and the content of the dark side of Halloween. Any activity where one cannot be in awe of the wonder of knowing Christ is an activity that is dangerous to our souls.
Each day God calls his children to celebrate his love in our lives. Each day the dark world of the enemy of our souls beckons us to abandon our Savior. Each day is either Reformation Day or Halloween. One represents love, joy, peace and freedom from the terrors of life. The other pleads for you and your children to experience the thrills that come from darkness. To borrow from today’s headlines, “Terror is a credible threat to your safety.”
Ephesians 2:1-3 tells us that the world of darkness is all around us:
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 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. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.
The world covers its deceit with elaborate masquerades. It celebratory costumes are many. But they all represent one thing—death! Think of the gratifying of your cravings as a celebration of the dark side of Halloween. The ruler of the kingdom of the air wants you back. Because of God’s power and Christ’s work on the cross, he can’t have you. But that won’t stop him from trying. The contrast could not be more sharply defined—the wonder of the Cross or the terror of this world.
One day—two celebrations. As Moses urged so many years ago, choose the celebration of faith and life so that you and your children may live.