Just this past week I was teaching a Bible study, addressing various trends in our culture. One of these trends is the prevalence of the occult. We are a society beguiled and fascinated with witchcraft, sorcery, vampires, ghosts, zombies, paranormal powers and psychic phenomena. This is a very perilous trend. The Bible is explicit in its condemnation of all forms of the occult belief and practice. There are scores of verses that address this matter. The most comprehensive is found in Deuteronomy 18:9-14. Here God expressly forbids His people from any involvement in the occult.
After my lesson was over, a lady came up to talk to me. She was very concerned about a friend. Her friend is an elderly woman who is a devout Christian believer, and has served the Lord for many years. However, she has begun experiencing a new kind of spiritual experience. This woman claims that the spirits of dead people have been visiting her, and communicating with her on a regular basis. She talks with them, and they relay all sorts of information to her. Indeed, in this woman’s neighborhood she has become somewhat of a celebrity because of this. Someone loses their keys, they consult her—and she asks some spirit to reveal the keys’ whereabouts. Someone has a problem, the spirits give counsel and advice through their matronly channel. The woman has become the resident local medium for all sorts of help from the spirit world.
One of the interesting things about this situation is that the information from the spirits is usually accurate. People find the keys where the spirits say they are. The advice offered helps the situation. Problems are solved. In other words, the communication with the spirit world just plain works. It is very effective. But this raises question. Does this mean that what is happening is okay? Is it good because it works? Emphatically not! Just because something is effective does not mean that it is moral, good or acceptable. A witch can cast a spell and it can work (through demonic agency, of course). However, the efficacy of the action does not legitimize the action itself. In teaching on the occult, I often use an aphorism: “Real is not necessarily right.” That certainly applies here.
The lady from the Bible study asked me what she should do to help her friend. My advice was pretty simple, and straightforward. This woman needs to be lovingly told that she is operating in very dangerous territory. Very dangerous. She has entered the realm of Satan’s kingdom. The world of the occult is energized by demonic forces and stands opposed to the kingdom of God. This woman, no matter how well-meaning in intent and purpose, has been seduced (1 Timothy 4:1) by supernatural forces that will cause her nothing but ever-increasing deception and spiritual bondage. That’s how the Devil works. He will often appear to us as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14) and offer knowledge, enlightenment, and useful information. But the end result is always spiritual darkness and destruction.
As noted earlier, the Bible has quite a bit to say about the occult. There are numerous passages that deal with witchcraft, sorcery, casting spells, enchantments, divination, and supposed communication with the dead. And every one of these passages uniformly denounces these practices as wicked and in opposition to the kingdom of God. In the Bible, being a medium or consulting the dead is known as necromancy. Consider just a few verses dealing with necromancy, or trafficking with the dead.
- “There shall not be found among you… a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead” (Deuteronomy 19:10-11).
- “Give no regard to mediums and familiar spirits; do not seek after them, to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 19:31).
- God rebukes those who seek mediums who contact the dead: “And when they say to you, ‘Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter,’ should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living?” (Isaiah 8:19).
- How serious does God consider this sin? By the Lord’s command, in ancient Israel dealing with the dead was a capital offense: “A man or a woman who is a medium, or who has familiar spirits, shall surely be put to death; they shall stone them with stones. Their blood shall be upon them” (Leviticus 20:27).
- We must remember that King Saul, Israel’s first monarch, sought the counsel of the dead by going to the Witch of Endor (1 Samuel 28:3ff). As a result of this sin, God judged Saul and caused him to die during battle: “So Saul died for his unfaithfulness which he had committed against the Lord, because he did not keep the word of the Lord, and also because he consulted a medium for guidance” (1 Chronicles 10:13).
These verses are very clear in their denunciation of attempting to contact the dead. It is equally clear that participation in the necromantic activity will result in God’s judgment. This is a sinful practice that God deals with very severely.
You may have noticed that earlier I referred to the “supposed communication with the dead.” This was very intentional. I think it is clear from a biblical understanding of the matter that when people are in apparent contact with the dead that they are deceived. If there is truly a supernatural phenomenon occurring, the beings behind this phenomenon are not dead human beings at all. Rather this is the activity of demons. The demonic spirits may imitate deceased people, but it is only a deceptive technique to further seduce and beguile those seeking help from the dead. This further illustrates the dangers of this practice. For necromancy is actually trafficking with demons, not the dead.
This entire situation demonstrates the seductive and deceptive nature of the occult. Even a well-meaning Christian believer can be drawn into the world of the occult if they are not careful. We would do well to heed the words of the Apostle Paul to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them” and “see then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise” (Ephesians 5:11 and 15).
Truth Builders is a ministry initiative of Advancing Native Missions. However, the content of this site is the personal opinion of Victor Morris, and does not necessarily reflect the opinions, views or conclusions of Advancing Native Missions, its leaders or staff