The growing interest in the occult is a phenomenon of our time, although occultic practices have also been around since the time of the Old Testament (Leviticus 19:26). When I was ministering in a church in Western Australia last year, I visited Freemantle, and found a place rampant with occultic activities.
Some of the more common forms of occultic activities today include astrology, horoscopes, geomancy, crystal gazing, and fortune-telling, fantasy games like Dungeons and Dragons, and Ouija boards. These practices may seem innocent and harmless to some, but they can be a doorway to deception, leading to enslavement to sin and to the devil.
The New Age movement is gaining ground with each passing day. The latest manifestation is an obsession over crystals, that supposedly have cosmic power. Their ‘energy’, we are told, can influence our lives and businesses for good or evil (this was broadcast over 93.8 MHz FM some weeks ago).
The word ‘occult’ simply means ‘hidden’, implying hidden forces or knowledge. It covers a wide range of practices that include spiritism, psychism, cabalism (remember the Bible Code of Michael Drosnin?), horror movies, freemasonry, channelling, witchcraft, sorcery, telling the future from tarot cards, crystals and palmistry, astrology and similar things.
Groups like the freemasons and ‘holy laughter’ advocates also dabble with occultic activities in their beliefs and practices, sometimes unknowingly. Recently, an article in Computer Times (21 April 1999) had a whole section on computer games, one of them being Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. This includes a segment on how to cast spells and combat wizards and demons. These games are obtainable from most computer shops today. Let parents and their children be forewarned of this before it is too late. Restraint, counsel and correction may be needed here for some.
Most people who get involved in the occult are either just inquisitive or seeking something that God has not allowed us (for example, consulting the dead). But the Word of God is not silent on this subject. Leviticus 19:26, 31 says, ‘Ye shall not eat any thing with the blood: neither shall ye use enchantment, nor observe times… Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God’.
The practice of the occult is strongly condemned in the Bible. It is an abomination to God and he will not leave unpunished those who indulge in these forbidden activities. Saul consulted the witch of Endor, and he was severely dealt with (1 Samuel 28:7-20). We need to remember that, ‘The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law’ (Deuteronomy 29:29). This Scripture reminds us to resort only to the written Word of God when we need help; to consult the occult world is asking for trouble.
New Age practices such as channelling and yoga, hypnotic music, transcendental meditation, and non-traditional alternative forms of treatment, have mesmerised many who are in search of spiritual healing and contentment. Instead of seeking the living and true God, many are misled into trusting the counterfeit, thinking that it will satisfy them and bring ‘inner healing’.
The Word of God warns believers not to have anything to do with these practices. In Deuteronomy 18:9-12, our Lord says, ‘When thou art come into the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord: and because of these abominations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee’.
Age of delusion
The New Testament has the same emphasis on total separation from the occult. One of the things clearly condemned in Galatians 5:20 is witchcraft or sorcery. Ephesians 6:12 warns of ‘the rulers of the darkness of this world’ and ‘spiritual wickedness in high places’. Simon Magus, who was dabbling with the occult, was severely admonished (Acts 8:9-11), as were Elymas the magician (Acts 13:8) and the medium of Philippi (Acts 16:16-18).
This is an age of deception and delusion. The powers of darkness are so influential that even today they can deceive the people with signs and wonders (Matthew 24:24). For example, I was told that certain gurus in India (for example, Sai Baba) can literally perform supernatural acts to impress their followers, and know their thoughts in advance. We should not be alarmed at such phenomena, because we have been forewarned by our Lord Jesus Christ about false prophets doing ‘great signs and wonders … to deceive’ (Matthew 24:24-25). Involvement in the occult can only lead to spiritual bondage and fear, and expose gullible people to demonic obsession and possession.
The believer and the occult
The ultimate end for those who persist in these abominable practices is eternal condemnation in hell; the apostle John tells us that those excluded from heaven will include sorcerers (Revelation 22:15). But what about Christians who become involved in the occult?
Let us be clear; a child of God cannot be demon-possessed, for the Holy Spirit indwells him. Remember 1 John 4:4: ‘Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world’. It is possible, however, that believers can be negatively influenced by demons. To guard against these attacks of the evil one, we are told to submit to God and resist the devil, who will then ‘flee from us’ (1 Peter 4:7; James 4:7). We are also told to put on the full armour of God, to withstand the wiles of the devil (Ephesians 6:10-18).
If a believer persists in occultic activities, God will discipline him (as he does all sons; Hebrews 12:5-11), and such discipline may well have temporal consequences. The only way of deliverance from the occult is through belief and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 1:16 says, ‘For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth’.
Christ comes to break the bondage of sin and stronghold of the evil one. Only a saving relationship with Jesus our Lord can protect us. Obey his Word and submit to his will, and do so constantly. Flee from these things and follow after righteousness, godliness, truth, with those who call on God out of a pure heart (2 Timothy 2:22; 1 Timothy 6:11-12). Jesus Christ is the only way (John 14:6).