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THE OCCULT—What does the Bible say about it?


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Today, many people dabble in the mystical, occultic arts. Is there anything wrong with being involved in these practices? Yes, the Bible takes a clear position on this subject, strongly denouncing these practices. God created us and therefore owns us. He has a right to set the rules for our lives. God’s Word indicates that these practices are part of Satan’s strategy of evil tricks and deception, designed to lead us astray. Satan and his demons are real beings set on our destruction. Christians are warned to…

“put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:11-12).

See: What is the occult?

Concerning occult practices, the Israelites were told:

“When you come into the land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire [an ancient occult practice], or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination [detestable] to the LORD…”
   —Deuteronomy 18:9-12a

Astrology (predictions by the planets or moon; horoscopes; sometimes referred to as “observing times” in the Old Testament)

Although the Bible does not go into great detail about astrology, it certainly makes its position clear. We should never trust in astrological beliefs or predictions. Astrology is an ancient, heathen practice that leads to disaster. Our lives are not determined by the stars or movement of planets. The Bible warns against the false predictions of astrology (Jeremiah 10:2; 27:9-10; Daniel 2:1-4; 4:7; 5:7-9) and repeatedly condemns the associated practice of worshipping the sun, moon and stars (or “deities or demons associated with them”) (Deuteronomy 4:19; 17:2-5; 2 Kings 21:3, 5; Zephaniah 1:5; Job 31:26-28; Jeremiah 8:1-2).

In Isaiah, God sarcastically rebukes the Babylonians for practicing astrology,

…For you have trusted in your wickedness… Therefore evil shall come upon you… trouble shall fall upon you… Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, And the monthly prognosticators stand up and save you from what shall come upon you. Behold, they shall be as stubble, The fire shall burn them; They shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame…
   -Isaiah 47:10-14a

Magic, spells, enchantments, charming, sorcery, wizardry, witchcraft

Research has shown that occult magic is often fraudulent and deceitful illusion—counterfeit miracles. Many books have been written on this subject. In some instances, occult magic or divination are a manifestation of demonic powers or the result of demon possession (Acts 16:16). Of course, the power of Satan and his demons is extremely limited compared to God’s power.

Those who follow the path of the magic arts are on the wrong path - a road that leads away from God, not toward Him. In one way or another, the end will be disaster. The evil Queen Jezebel practiced witchcraft (2 Kings 9:22) bringing catastrophe on herself and all Israel. Over and over, God denounces those who “conjure spells” (NKJV) and those who practice witchcraft and sorcery. The Bible says that anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord (Deuteronomy 18:10-12; 2 Kings 21:6; Micah 5:12; Isaiah 47:12; Ezekiel 13:18, 20; Acts 8:11-24; Leviticus 20:27; Exodus 7:11; Revelation 9:21; 22:15).

God warns of the ultimate punishment. Revelation 21:8 says of “…those who practice magic arts …their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur… the second death” (NIV). Those who practice witchcraft (sorcery) will not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:20-21). These practices are anti-God and are in rebellion against Him.

Many of citizens of ancient Ephesus practiced the magic arts. Those who became Christians realized the foolish error of their former lives and burned their expensive books of magic as the trash they were (Acts 19:19).

The Bible tells how the apostle Paul once dealt with one of these deceivers, a sorcerer and false prophet who led people astray. “Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, ’O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord? And now, indeed, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a time.’ And immediately a dark mist fell on him, and he went around seeking someone to lead him by the hand” (Acts 13:9-11).

Divination, fortune-telling, mediums, spiritism, necromancy, familiar spirits, wizardry, seances, channeling, clairvoyance, spirit-guides

The Bible strongly warns people not to consult mediums and spiritists for the truth, but to inquire of God (Isaiah 8:19). Clearly, if those who practiced these arts have any power (beyond being great deceivers), it is not a gift from God (as some falsely claim). The Bible condemns and forbids these practices several times (Deuteronomy 18:9-14; Isaiah 44:25; Jeremiah 27:9; 2 Kings 21:6; 23:24). Divination and spiritism were despised practices of the heathens (Ezekiel 21:21; Isaiah 19:3; 1 Samuel 28). Scripture says that one of the reasons King Saul died was “because he consulted a medium for guidance” rather than God (1 Chronicles 10:13-14).

The Bible provides examples showing the folly and failures of those who claimed the ability to predict the future based on their own powers or those of spirits (Daniel 2:27, etc.). God calls the word of diviners “nonsense,” “lies” and “deception” for foolish people (Ezekiel 13:8; Jeremiah 14:14; Isaiah 44:25). God said, “Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing!” (Ezekiel 13:3). If an Israelite lived the deceitful practice of being a medium, it was punishable by death (Leviticus 20:27). The presence of a medium or spiritist among God’s people of Israel was considered a defilement (Leviticus 19:31). All these practices take people further from their Creator, the true and living God.

Following omens or signs

We are not to look to omens or “signs” to direct our lives. The Bible reprimands people for doing this. It is an “abomination” and foolishness (Deuteronomy 18:10-12). Look to God and His instructions for life as provided in the Bible. To do otherwise is to foolishly deceive yourself, or allow Satan and others to deceive you.

Recommended Resources

  • Josh McDowell and Don Stewart, The Occult: The Authority of the Believer Over the Powers of Darkness (San Bernardino, California: Here’s Life Publishers, 1992), 249 pp.
  • Danny Korem and Paul Meier, The Fakers (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1980).
  • Can Christians be demon possessed? In what ways can Satan and his demons influence believers? Answer

Further reading on-line

Author: Paul S. Taylor of Films for Christ.

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