Ouija boards. Psychics. Tarot card readings. Necromancy (attempts to communicate with the dead). The list of spiritual antics and so-called parlor games share a common thread: encouraging people to place hope and find solace in people, spirits, and sources other than God.
Most people traditionally dive into these activities for entertainment’s sake. But while many assume these actions are benign or comical, a brief look at Scripture offers a convicting and stirring reality: these practices are anything but games and can actually put us in profound spiritual danger.
Many Christians don’t realize that the Bible explicitly prohibits believers from engaging in necromancy, divination (seeking the future), psychic readings, and other related activities. We are advised not to “practice divination or seek omens” (Leviticus 19:26), not to “turn to mediums or seek out spiritists” (Leviticus 19:31), and not to consult the dead.
And those cautionary verses are overtly stern, warning that humans will be defiled by such practices. Despite these biblical claims, culture encourages, facilitates, and praises these attempts to communicate with the dead, using the Ouija board — a “game” people often play at slumber parties and other gatherings. The Ouija board is a pop culture staple.
For many, the idea of a legitimate psychic reading might seem ridiculous or impractical, a grand scheme to sucker people out of their money — and that’s understandable. Surely, some of those who purport to have these powers are swindling and tricking the masses, though a thorough look at Scripture delivers some important realities and warnings worth considering.
The Bible affirms that these individuals exist, as the text explicitly implores people not to practice or seek out psychics’ services. The Old Testament does anything but shy away from these topics, with Leviticus 19:31 offering the strong admonition:
Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the Lord your God.
The verses cited, along with other content in Leviticus, were written by Moses specifically for the Israelites, but there seem to be some timeless elements worth noting. Not only do these scriptures indicate that there were people who practiced divination (seeking supernatural information about the future), but the Israelites were also urged to steer clear of anyone who sought out communication with the dead.
And then there’s Deuteronomy 18:9-13 (NIV), which takes an even heavier-handed approach:
When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord; because of these same detestable practices, the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you. You must be blameless before the Lord your God.
When one continues to read through Scripture (I detail these stories in Playing with Fire), these elements emerge again and again, with Isaiah questioning why a person would consult mediums and spiritualists. In discussing this issue, the prophet pondered why people wouldn’t simply turn to God: “Why consult the dead on behalf of the living?”
And to showcase just how seriously this was all taken, Leviticus 20:27 prescribed a serious penalty for such activities: “A man or woman who is a medium or spiritist among you must be put to death. You are to stone them; their blood will be on their own heads.”
These issues are also presented to us in a variety of forms in the New Testament. For instance, we meet a slave woman in Acts 16 who is described as having “a spirit by which she predicted the future.” This particular woman followed Paul around for days until he finally turned around and proclaimed, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!’”
We’re told that the spirit complied, and the woman no longer held her ability to foretell the future. Again, it’s clear this fortune-telling ability isn’t something to be heralded.
The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez was among those who addressed these issues in Playing with Fire, warning people against “provoking darkness” and to embrace Jesus. He said, “If you don’t have a firewall of righteousness, if you’re not covered by the vicarious atoning work of Jesus, then possession is really a possibility, especially those that dabble with darkness and dabble into satanic witchcraft, convocations, calling upon spirits and so forth, engage in activity that is really outside the norms of what we would call appropriate, literally provoking darkness to invade their lives.”
So, in addition to steering clear of the aforementioned activities, how do we protect ourselves against the flames of spiritual fires? Paul provided the answer when he reminded believers to “put on the full armor of God” so that each person can “stand against the devil’s schemes” (Ephesians 6:10-12 NIV).
But what does this mean exactly? It involves our approach to the world around us and our response to some core questions:
- In a relativistic culture that tells us we need no such armor and that anything goes, are we truly able to steadily stand?
- If we’re told that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms,” are we taking that warning seriously if we apathetically sit idle?
Paul affirmed that
The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. — 2 Corinthians 4:4 NIV
If our culture is blind, perhaps theologians and pastors are right to conclude that there is a slippery cultural slope that has helped catapult our society into confusion. But we have the power to fight back on an individual level with the armor of God, and that translates into some simple, yet powerful, steps:
- Make a commitment to read Scripture daily
- Live out our faith in a relational way, embracing Jesus’ call to love God and love others
Let’s avoid the occult but, most importantly, let’s live our lives daily for Jesus and take up the shield that only faith can provide.
Watch the Video
Written for Devotionals Daily by Billy Hallowell, author of Playing with Fire.
* * *
Happy Halloween to all our American friends! Today is a celebration of fall, of harvest, of the Lord turning summer into fall. Let’s stay away from the things that the Lord warns us against and enjoy what’s good and fun! Come share your thoughts with us on our blog. We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily