Although the Bible clearly condemns the use of magic, some people are tempted to fall into Saul’s kind of rationalizations. Some are likely to say, “Okay, so we’ve got some statements that condemn occultism in the Bible. But what would be wrong with wanting only to do good with magic? What if we limit ourselves to ‘white’ magic and stay away from the more harmful ‘black’ magic?”
IT CAN LEAD TO DEMONIC INVOLVEMENT
Seeking Out “Spirit Guides.” Today, in many local bookstores, the occult enjoys a prominent position. Many books promise to show you how to use mental imaging to get what you want. Others promote the use of “spirit guides” to function as allies in overcoming the challenges of everyday life. Some go so far as to promote out-of-body experiences to penetrate the “other world.”
The holistic-health movement has more than its share of occult practitioners. While there may be many helpful dimensions to certain holistic-health ideas, some authors and advocates go beyond alternative medicine. “Spiritual health” practitioners sometimes advocate techniques of visualization that begin with a positive mental attitude and enter into a form of alternative spirituality.
I once knew a chiropractor who became a Christian because of a bad experience he had while contacting a spirit guide as a part of his holistic-health remedy. During the visualization that was part of his technique, the woman who was channeling say, “I see a beautiful young woman in shimmering robes.” But the chiropractor saw something radically different. He said, “I saw one of the most hideous and sinister creatures I had ever seen.” Because of this traumatic experience, he decided to trust Christ as his Savior and Lord. He never went back to a channeling session again.
Those who do channeling with only “good spirits” need to realize that, by nature, the spiritual enemies of God are deceivers. The apostle Paul wrote, “Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14). So what looks like spiritual light might in reality be spiritual darkness.
In our visible world we have a number of ways of doing “character checks.” Before hiring a new employee, businesses will sometimes do background checks, credit checks, require references, and in some cases even ask for lie-detector tests. But we can’t do this with spirits. They exist in a world that is beyond such checks.
Attending Séances. Many years ago, author Victor Ernst was at a spiritual crossroads. He had grown up in a spiritualist family and had regularly attended séances. In one such encounter, he heard his mother tell the medium that what they were hearing contradicted the Bible. This made Victor curious enough to get a copy of the Bible. He was surprised when he read, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 Jn. 4:1).
Victor had not yet decided to become a follower of Christ, but he had some questions at the next séance. During the conversation with the spirit, he asked questions about Christ. The spirit spoke in positive tones about Jesus until Victor asked one final question: “Do you believe that Jesus died on the cross and shed His blood for the remission of sin?” There was such a dramatic and confused response from the medium that he needed to be revived from his trance. Victor Ernst concluded, “I never went to another séance. I had ‘tested the spirits’ and found they were not of God” (I Talked With Spirits by Victor Ernst, pp.15-34).
I’m not recommending that we seek out evil spirits to cross-examine. But we do need to be constantly testing spiritual opinions and claims. The context of 1 John 4 shows that real spirits advocate misleading ideas that need to be cross-checked with Scripture. Whether it is a religious visitor at our door or a friend inviting us to participate in some kind of occult activity, we need to listen carefully to what they say about the person and work of Christ. If their ideas are not in line with the New Testament description of Christ, then we can be sure that their ideas are not from God.
Playing With Occult Games. A growing number of games are borrowing from the world of the occult. Whether it’s “Dungeons And Dragons” or “Tarot Cards,” these amusements introduce children, young people, and adults to occult theory and terminology.
The Ouija board deserves special caution. The name ouija comes from the French word oui and the German word ya—both meaning our English word yes. Various letters and numbers with “yes” and “no” locations are marked on a flat board. Then two people place their fingertips on a pine marker and ask the board questions. To the players’ amusement, the board seems to have a mind of its own. Predictions sometimes come true. Unexplainably accurate information is occasionally provided.
What is going on? On one level, such experiences could be explainable. Some players might consciously push the marker where they want it to go. On another level, the game sometimes seems to access the subconscious minds of the players. But another explanation is that by using this game some may unintentionally open a dangerous door to the spirit world (The Ouija Board by Edmund Gruss, pp.3-30).
Dr. Fred Dickason, a theologian who has written about demons and the occult, notes that the Ouija board has the characteristics of an instrument of divination. It is possible that this “innocent” game could be a means of penetrating the shield that protects us from the spirit world and invites interaction with it. There is considerable evidence that some who have started with the intent to have fun have found themselves in touch with demons.
Trying To Contact Dead Relatives. Someone who is grieving over the death of a loved one may feel compelled to contact the deceased through a spiritist who claims to be able to have conversations with those who have passed to “the other side.” Some of these spiritualists are charlatans who use tricks and verbal manipulation to fake the supernatural. Others, however, give more evidence of being in contact with the world beyond.
Years ago at a California university, I met a young woman who had just joined a Christian campus ministry. She told me that her journey to faith in Christ started as a result of her involvement in spiritism. She said, “My dad had died and I really missed him. So I sought out spiritists who could help me to make contact. When I saw my first materialization, I thought it was great! But then I couldn’t turn it off. The spirits would come to me in the night—and it scared me to death. Not long after that I came in contact with some Christians, heard the gospel, and received Christ as my Savior. Over a period of time, the Lord began to slowly close the door to the spirit world that I had opened. Now I don’t have any more unwanted visits from that forbidden world.”
IT CAN LEAD TO BONDAGE
The beaches of Normandy have a unique place in history. On June 6, 1944, thousands of troops of the Allied Expeditionary Force landed there as a first step in the liberation of Nazi occupied Europe.
Today the beaches look like a place where any of us would want to sit on the sand or swim in the salty ocean on a summer’s day. But there are parts of the Normandy beach that are off limits. Why? Because there are still live Nazi landmines that have not been cleared. Below the beautiful sands washed by blue waters are lethal weapons that can maim and kill.
Our contemporary culture is like the Normandy beaches in some ways. Many books, movies, videos, DVDs, and games are harmless. But there are some that can lower inhibitions and serve as a conduit to real occult activity—unintentionally or intentionally.
For more than 30 years, Kurt Koch traveled the world gathering case studies of people who had become entangled in the web of occult activity.
Included in the table of contents of a book of these case studies are clairvoyance, fortunetelling, ghosts, magic, Ouija board, parapsychology, poltergeists, and spiritism. With vast documentation, Koch points to tragic results from becoming involved with the occult.
As previously mentioned, white magic is not good (as its users claim). Kurt Koch writes: “In the worldwide literature of magic, it is maintained that black magic is done by the help of the devil and white magic with the help of God.” According to Koch, that definition is false. “White magic is just as dependent on the powers from below as is black magic. . . . The effects of white magic are the same as those of black magic” (The Occult ABCs by Kurt Koch, p.135).
What is the negative effect of white magic? What often happens is that the person dabbling in the occult develops a resistance to the Word of God and the work of the Holy Spirit. One example of this is “spiritistic healing.” One consequence of being “healed” by an occult power is that the person comes under spiritual bondage. The healing is never bestowed free of charge.
But there is hope for those who turn from occult practices to faith in Christ.
Kurt Koch outlines several steps in the deliverance process:
• Place your trust in Christ to save you from your sin (Jn. 1:12; Eph. 2:8-9).
• Renounce the occult and solicit the prayers of other Christians (1 Cor. 10:14- 22; Eph. 6:18).
• Destroy all occult objects (Acts 19:11-19).
• Break off all contact with friends who are involved with the occult (2 Cor. 6:14).
• Accept God’s forgiveness and declare yourself free from sorcery (Rom. 8:1; Col. 1:13).
• Be filled with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:18; 1 Jn. 1:9).
• Use your spiritual armor (Eph. 6:10-18).
• Get active in the ministry of a local church (Acts 2:40-47).
(Adapted from Occult Bondage And Deliverance, pp.88-131.)