Why does God Allow Evil? Click here: /Apologeticshtml/Why Does God Allow Evil 0908.htm
Should God’s existence be proven? /Apologeticshtml/Should the Bible and God Be Proven Fideism vs WCG.htm
Does the Bible teach blind faith? Click here: /doctrinalhtml/Gospel of John Theory of Knowledge.htm
Should Christians Fear Demons? Should We Engage in Occult Practices?
Should Christians play with Ouija boards? Should believers be afraid of demons? In general, if Christians are tempted to worry about demons, we should leave them behind. God will protect Christians if we ask Him for help against the fallen angels. For example, one of the signs of believers would be power over evil spirits (Mark 16:17): “And these signs will accompany those who have believed: In My name they will cast out demons . . .” Of course, not all believers will have that gift. Having that power isn’t proof that a believe must have an overall good relationship with God, as Jesus explained in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7:22): “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?”
Some demons can only be cast out after both prayer and fasting. Notice Jesus’ explanation to His disciples who had failed to cast out a demon before He did so successfully (Matthew 17:21): “But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” So you may wish to not just pray, but also fast (i.e., go without food and water for a day while focusing on the spiritual disciplines such as prayer, meditation, and bible study) before trying to cast out the demons in your home. If you don’t feel confident that you have this gift, then you may wish to ask for help from a senior respected long-time member of your church, such as a minister, elder, or deacon, in the process.
We should always remember, however, and take comfort from the truth that God is far stronger than Satan and the demons. Jesus, while He was in the flesh, told Satan to get lost after he tempted Him, and he complied (Matthew 4:10-11): “Then Jesus said to him, “Begone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only. Then the devil left Him . . .” Only serious believers should try to cast out demons by Jesus’ authority (or name), since they would have a continuing personal relationship with God. The seven sons of Sceva, who weren’t Christians, tried to use Jesus’ name almost like a lucky charm or talisman, which badly backfired on them when they tried to cast out a demon (Acts 19:13-16).
Could pets be influenced by demons any? The Bible itself doesn't say much about animals being possessed compared to people being possessed. Jesus cast out demons only out of people, not out of animals. However, in one case, when Jesus cast demons out of one man, He let them go into nearby pigs. Notice Mark 5:11-13: "Now there was a big herd of swine feeding there on the mountain. And the demons entreated Him, saying, "Send us into the swine so that we may enter them. And He gave them permission. And coming out, the unclean spirits entered the swine; and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea, about two thousand of them; and they were drowned in the sea." Jesus, in this case, may have obliquely used the demons to enforce the kosher dietary laws (see Deut. 14:6-8) since they quickly killed all the pigs they went into.
if a demon can't possess a human being, he may accept an animal
instead. For example, think of the old stereotype about a witch having a
cat for company. An animal can come to have a familiar spirit, and thus
be demon possessed, like a man or a woman. Biblically, by far the most
important case of this arises when Satan spoke through the serpent to
successfully tempt Eve to sin (see Genesis 3:1-7). It does
seem, however, that the demons prefer human beings over animals. After all, presumably, "Legion"
could have gone into the pigs instead at some point before Jesus encountered
"him." After Jesus encountered "him" (or
"them," as per verse 9), these demons were under His authority and
power, so they could only go to possess animals if He gave them permission to
do so. Although the text doesn't explicitly say so, Jesus may have let
them possess and kill these pigs because they were unclean animals that people
should have avoided eating.
Unfortunately, the fruit of the involvement in the occult can lead to problems with poltergeists and other demonic activity. In the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 18:9-14), we are told to avoid various occultic practices: “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, 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 to the Lord, and because of these abominations the Lord your God drives them out from before you. You shall be blameless before the Lord your God. For these nations which you will dispossess listened to soothsayers and diviners; but as for you, the Lord your God has not appointed such for you.”
Why did God tell Israel to avoid all these occultic practices? In the Bible’s worldview, real spiritual power to do miracles that overturn natural scientific laws comes from two sources only: 1. God (or His angels, at His direction). 2. Satan and the demons. There is no third, morally neutral “gray” source of occultic powers. So then, if we see someone claiming to have unnatural powers over nature or other people, only three explanations are possible: 1. He is a fraud, and tricks people into believing he has such powers by the same kinds of tricks professional magicians use to entertain audiences. 2. Satan and the demons give him the power to do these acts of power (cf. Revelation 13:13-14; 16:14; Deut. 13:1; 2 Thess. 2:9). It’s a major mistake to think “spiritual” powers come from only good or benevolent powers in the universe. 3. He is a true prophet of God (cf. Rev. 11:5-6). Since at this time explanations 1 and 2 are far more likely to be true than 3, we must avoid them and not let our curiosity get the best of us. After all, it’s easy to get fascinated by UFOs, psychic phenomena like poltergeists, real ESP, clairvoyance, etc. We naturally seek after signs, even if they are Satanic ones also.
If we believe we shouldn’t engage in occult practices, should we watch TV shows, go to movies, and listen to music with serious occultic themes? It’s fine to say we wouldn’t play with tarot cards or with Ouija boards. But would we avoid going to various haunted houses in tourist areas such as Niagara Falls and Wisconsin Dells? Do we still hunt down our daily sun sign and predictions in the astrology column in our daily newspaper? (They’re inaccurate, since they are not based on the location, date, and time of our births, according to professional astrologers anyway!) Strangely enough, Nancy Reagan used an astrologer’s predictions for setting the timing of appointments for her husband when he was president. Do we read novels with “magical” themes, such as about Harry Potter or even Hobbits? Do we have videos of horror movies that deal with demon possession, such as “The Exorcist” or “Damien Omen”?
What should we do if we own occultic books, videos, games, and items? Consider what some repentant people did in the time of the Apostle Paul (Acts 19:18-19): “And many who had believed came confessing and telling their deeds. And many who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted up the value of them, and it totaled fifty thousand pieces of silver.” Why did they burn them instead of selling them or giving them away? They didn’t want others to be wrongly influenced by these books, so destroying them was better for the welfare of others. So if an Ouija board or tarot cards are lying around our houses, they should be thrown out.
“Soothsaying," which was condemned specifically in Deut. 18:10, is like prophesying or fortune telling. It's in the same category as practicing the occult, engaging in astrology, being a medium who talks to the dead, etc., which the Bible clearly condemns. It involves using non-Godly spiritual forces to predict the future. For example, Acts 16:16, in which a form of this term appears, concerns someone who had the ability to predict the future, but only by the power of Satan or demonic forces. All spiritual forces which aren’t of God, are of the demonic world instead. There is no "gray" in this regard in the ultimate spiritual reality. Satan can do miracles also, much as God does, although the former is fundamentally far less powerful than the Latter.
According to Leviticus 20:6, we should avoid consulting with mediums: “And the person who turns to mediums (ob) and familiar spirits (yiddeoni), to prostitute himself with them, I will set My face against that person and cut him off from his people.” The Hebrew words “wizard” and “medium” are translated from the words “yiddeoni” and “ob,” respectively. “New Age” terminology might call a “medium” a “channel” instead, but the updated relabeling doesn’t disguise or change the activity being engaged in. So we should avoid ever going to a séance. Furthermore, the famous professional magician Harry Houdini spent 30 years exposing frauds in this area. (See his book, “Miracle Mongers and Their Methods,” (1920), and “A Magician Among the Spirits,” (1924)). So it’s likely that a purported medium could simply be a con artist who preys on the emotions of people who recently lost family members in order to get money out of them.
now, we have to consider a broader, related question that explains why God
doesn’t want His people involved in the occultic arts or “black magic”:
Can the dead actually speak to us at séances through mediums or
“channels”? The problem we face here is twofold: 1. Are the
dead alive? 2. Can other spirit beings besides God and the holy
angels visit people?
Now if the dead aren't conscious, then the dead can't be visiting anyone. This points brings up the issue of the state of the dead and whether or not they have an immortal soul. For if the dead are dead, then they can't visit anyone, including in (for example) séances. Notice especially Ecclesiastes 9:5-6, 10: "For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward; but the memory of them is lost. Their love and their hate and their envy have already perished, and they have no more for ever any share in all that is done under the sun. . . . Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol [the grave], to which you are going." So now, if the dead aren't conscious until the resurrection, then family members who “passed away” couldn't be leaving heaven to visit people. You may wish to visit my church's Web site, http://www.ucg.org/booklets/index.htm, and download the booklets "What Happens After Death?" and "Heaven and Hell: What Does the Bible Really Teach?" if you want to know more about the dead being dead, not alive.
But then, let answer the other question above: Are there other spirit beings who may be visiting the dead? And are they good spirit beings . . . or evil ones? I maintain that in any case in which fakery isn't going on (and the famous magician Houdini founds lots of that when investigating mediums who held séances, early in the last century), but a real spirit force is involved, it's an "angel" who is lying. That means it's an evil angel, or demon, is pretending to be someone’s dead relative or friend. For example, King Saul got a purported visit from the judge Samuel when the former went to the "witch" (really, medium) at Endor in I Samuel 28:3-25. Notice that "Samuel" here told Saul in advance a true prediction of his dreadful fate. So this means that not everything a demon says has to be wrong or false in a séance. (Compare this demon's way of operating to what God let Satan do in Job 1-2). However, no such spiritual source or “channel” should be relied upon.
Most importantly, if we ask God for protection against demons and Satan, we then also would have the duty to avoid getting involved in the occult, such as using tarot cards, Ouija boards, astrology, demonic horror movies, etc. By engaging in these practices, we (knowingly or unknowingly) are trying to contact the very evil spirits that are worrying us.
If someone has a serious problem in dealing with the influence of demons, he or she should pray, fast, and then ask for the help of a non-skeptical senior, respected member of the local (conservative) church who would have, if it is known, the gift of casting out demons. If at all possible, don’t ever do it alone.
Furthermore, immediately get rid of all occultic items, videos, tapes, books, and other paraphernalia, such as Ouija boards, tarot cards, Harry Potter novels, etc.
Eric V. Snow
Click here to access essays that defend Christianity: /apologetics.html
Click here to access essays that explain Christian teachings: /doctrinal.html
Click here to access notes for sermonettes: /sermonettes.html
Why does God Allow Evil? Click here: /Apologeticshtml/Why Does God Allow Evil 0908.htm
May Christians work on Saturdays? Click here: /doctrinalhtml/Protestant Rhetoric vs Sabbath Refuted.htm
Should Christians obey the Old Testament law? /doctrinalhtml/Does the New Covenant Abolish the OT Law.htm
Do you have an immortal soul? Click here: /doctrinalhtml/Here and Hereafter.htm
Does the ministry have authority? Click here: /doctrinalhtml/Is There an Ordained Ministry vs Edwards.html
Is the United States the Beast? Click here: /doctrinalhtml/Are We the Beast vs Collins.htm
Should you give 10% of your income to your church? Click here: /doctrinalhtml/Does the Argument from Silence Abolish the Old Testament Law of Tithing 0205 Mokarow rebuttal.htm
Is Jesus God? Click here: /doctrinalhtml/Is Jesus God.htm
Will there be a third resurrection? Click here: /doctrinalhtml/Will There Be a Third Resurrection.htm