Millions are pursuing astrology, witchcraft and the occult. Are they sowing seeds of doom and destruction?
Less than three months after its release, the movie Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone became the second-highest-grossing film ever, selling nearly $1 billion of tickets to theatergoers eager for a tale of witchcraft, wizardry and the occult. The first of seven installments in author J. K. Rowling’s planned series, Harry Potter is at the helm of a multi-billion-dollar media empire that has made Rowling one of the three highest-paid women in Great Britain. Her books have sold more than 60 million copies in 200 countries around the world.
Yet, for many, the occult is more than fiction. A May 2000 Zogby America poll revealed that 57.7 percent of Americans aged 18–29 believe in ghosts. This phenomenon is not confined to the United States; Time Magazine reported recently that belief in ghosts is shared by 45 percent in Britain. Melbourne’s Saturday Herald Sun reported that 46 percent of Australian women, and 34 percent of Australian men, believe in ghosts (January 16, 1999). Leger Marketing reported in October 2001 that 30.2 percent of Canadians believe in ghosts.
In Rowling’s books, characters routinely interact with ghosts.
Sadly, instead of condemning the dangerous and un-biblical world of witches and wizards, some churches and clergy have tried to exploit its appeal to youth. Last year, a vicar in one English church held a special "Harry Potter liturgy." A serpent was hung in the church, while a clergyman wearing a wizard’s robe led the service. Other elements of the Harry Potter story were brought into the church service. Incredibly, many other pastors expressed interest in having that liturgy for their own churches.
What have the world’s churches come to? As one American commentator observed: "Nobody respects a religious institution willing to compromise willy-nilly with the secular culture, on a fool’s quest for popularity. A church that will try anything stands for nothing!" (Rod Dreher, New York Post, Sept. 5, 2000).
Today’s media fascination with the occult extends far beyond Harry Potter. Thirty-five years ago, many considered the television series Bewitched controversial. Today, it seems tame compared to such popular television fare as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Charmed, which glamorize the occult.
And the occult is not just for teenagers or couch potatoes. Even leaders of nations pursue the occult. Former White House chief of staff Donald Regan reported, in his autobiography For the Record, that President Ronald Reagan’s travels and activities were approved by an astrologer of his wife’s choosing. The London Daily Telegraph reported that former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher consulted an astrologer "for signs of future dangers." Most members of India’s Parliament have personal astrologers on retainer.
How Has Mankind Been Deceived?
We need to understand that there is a real spirit world!
God Almighty condemns sorcery and witchcraft. If you are "playing around" with such darkness, then you need to reject that underworld of evil! Seek the true God of your Bible! God’s warning continues:
Can anything be more clear concerning the evils of witchcraft and sorcery? And yet millions of adults are teaching their children that there is nothing wrong with a Harry Potter actively pursuing witchcraft and wizardry. But the prophet Samuel told King Saul that witchcraft is sin.
God says that participation in the occult is spiritual harlotry (Psalm 106:38–39)! How did God punish His people for their wickedness? "Therefore the wrath of the Lord was kindled against His people, so that He abhorred His own inheritance. And He gave them into the hand of the Gentiles, and those who hated them ruled over them. Their enemies also oppressed them, and they were brought into subjection under their hand" (Psalm 106:40–42). The nation of Israel went into captivity because of these abominable practices.
Some might argue that dressing up in Halloween costumes is "innocent" fun, and rationalize that parents today are not encouraging their children to expose themselves to symbols and practices of the occult. But parents who take this approach are risking their children’s spiritual lives by underestimating the devil’s influence (Ephesians 2:2; 2 Corinthians 4:4).
In Luke’s gospel, we find that our Savior cured many individuals who were plagued by evil spirits: "And that very hour He cured many of infirmities, afflictions, and evil spirits; and to many blind He gave sight" (Luke 7:21). Do we live contrary to our Savior’s example? Do we teach our children to attract and cultivate evil spirits at Halloween? Certainly, dressing up like a demon or a witch invites evil rather than opposes it!
The Apostle James advises us to resist evil, not entertain it! "Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you" (James 4:7). That is your Creator’s instruction to you! He promises that the devil will flee from you. Yes, "Resist the devil!" Do not join the masses in celebrating the dark world of Satan and the occult! Do not participate in the dark traditions of Halloween or any other such practices.
Notice God’s warnings against mediums and familiar spirits:
When a person consorts with mediums and familiar spirits, God says that he is prostituting himself. Christians are to be clean and wholesome. They should be "holy" as we just read. Remember what the Apostle Peter wrote:
Astrology and False Prophecy
Astrology has three major flaws, each of which cancels any claim to scientific validity.
First, astrology fails to succeed when tested against reality.
Second, one’s so-called astrological sign is no longer valid.
Third, it is impossible for the stars to have an effect on a person, much less on world events.
Even though all true Christians have condemned astrology over the years, it has persisted. In our modern time, astrologers admit that the newspaper variety of horoscope advice is mainly entertainment. But when world leaders consult astrologers for guidance, they are seeking the wrong god! Listen to God’s warning through the prophet Jeremiah: "Thus says the Lord: ‘Do not learn the way of the Gentiles; do not be dismayed at the signs of heaven, for the Gentiles are dismayed at them" (Jeremiah 10:2).
How can you tell whether someone is truly a minister of God, and not someone controlled by the occult world?
A false minister or prophet may even prophesy accurately concerning some sign or wonder. But God says that if he leads you after other gods—if he leads you away from the God of the Bible and the true Jesus Christ of your Bible—then he is a false prophet. Notice also that God may be testing you, to see if you will be faithful to His Word and to His way of life!
Satan has deceived the whole world. He has many methods of deception, including witches, wizardry, channeling, sorcery, astrology, spiritism and false religion. You need to be on guard against the dangers of the occult.
The Apostle Peter gave us this instruction in 1 Peter 5:8–9: "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world."
God promises us protection from evil. Jesus taught us to pray: "And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one" (Matthew 6:13). Paul exhorted Christians: "Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:11–12).
King Saul's Séance
Movies like The Sixth Sense, and television programs such as Crossing Over With John Edward, play on mankind’s wish that the dead could communicate with the living. This is an age-old wish; nearly 3,000 years ago, a desperate King Saul sought help from a medium—and suffered greatly for doing so.
Saul had disobeyed God’s instructions regarding the Amalekites. He received God’s judgment that "rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being king" (1 Samuel 15:23).
Because of Saul’s disobedience, the Spirit of God was no longer guiding him (1 Samuel 16:14; 28:6). Desperate for guidance, Saul asked a medium to perform a séance, though he knew this violated God’s law, which prescribed the death penalty for witchcraft or mediumship (Leviticus 20:27).
During the séance, a spirit identified as Samuel (1 Samuel 28:14–15) warned that the Philistines would defeat Israel’s armies, and Saul would soon die. Saul became "dreadfully afraid" because of these words, and "fell full length on the ground" (v. 20).
Clearly, this spirit’s message terrified Saul. But was the summoned spirit really Samuel? No, it was not. Scripture explains that Saul never actually saw Samuel; he only perceived that the spirit was Samuel because of the medium’s descriptions (1 Samuel 28:14). The Bible faithfully records Saul’s experience, from his terrified point of view, but does not teach that the spirit was Samuel. Interestingly, most of today’s mediums follow a similar practice, claiming to communicate with deceased spirits even though—like Saul—their clients never actually see those spirits.
Crossing Over With John Edward is wildly popular in some circles, and has even spawned imitators like The Pet Psychic, whose host claims to communicate with families’ dearly departed pets. Spirit communication is not only the stuff of horror movies and cable television; even "innocent family fare" like Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol stirs the hope that our loved ones can still call to us from beyond the grave. But this is a false hope. Our dead friends and relatives are unconscious, and will remain so until the resurrection (Ecclesiastes 9:5; Psalm 146:4). Their state in death is compared to a sleep from which only God can wake them (1 Corinthians 15:51). No medium can summon the dead.
The Apostle Paul warned that some in the "latter times" would give "heed to deceiving spirits" (1 Timothy 4:1). Some modern mediums may be charlatans, who infer details about the dead by "reading" their living, paying clients. But other "genuine" mediums may be genuinely deceived, communicating with demonic spirits who impersonate the deceased.
"Genuine" or not, mediumship is dangerous business. But few today realize the serious consequences of rebelling against God’s law and seeking after spirits. What was the result for Saul? Scripture explains: "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). Christians today should heed Saul’s cautionary example.