Superstitions Can Lead to Unhappiness
1. When do seemingly innocent practices become dangerous? (John 8:31, 32)
IS IT harmless to follow superstitions? Some people think so. Consider, for example, the innocent-looking “seven gods of good luck” of Japanese folklore—imported three hundred years ago from India. These are said to represent the seven virtues: longevity, fortune, popularity, candor, amiability, dignity and magnanimity. Some of these “virtues” may be fine in themselves, but when they are embodied in images, to which people look for “good luck,” they enter the realm of superstition.
2. What superstitious practices have you noticed in your locality, and have these been beneficial?
2 Superstitious people the world over place much store in “good luck” charms. In Catholic lands, some travelers still have their St. Christopher medals, and in the Orient many persons carry “protection charms” that bear the name of a temple, or “good luck” threads of cotton tied around the wrists. In Western countries, many people avoid the “unlucky 13,” while in Japan superstitious persons frown on the number “4,” because it is pronounced the same as “death.” In many countries, local superstitions exercise a strong influence on the lives of the people.
3. Why should we take note of Jehovah’s view? (Matthew 4:10)
3 How does the living God, Jehovah, view such superstitions? If we want to be truly happy, it will be to our benefit to take the same view that he takes. When the Israelites fell away from the pure worship of Jehovah into the superstitious practices of neighboring peoples, God’s prophet told them:
“You men are those leaving Jehovah, those forgetting my holy mountain, those setting in order a table for the god of Good Luck and those filling up mixed wine for the god of Destiny. And I will destine you men to the sword.” (Isaiah 65:11, 12)
Those who honored “the god of Good Luck” were destroyed!
4 Why is Jehovah so strongly opposed to superstitious practices? It is because they originate with Satan the Devil and his demons, who use these to turn and keep people away from worshiping God “with spirit and truth.” If Satan could get men to trust in “lucky” charms, fortune-telling and popular superstitions, he could keep them in his grasp, blinding them to the “good news” that comes forth from the true and living God. In this regard, Paul said:
“If, now, the good news we declare is in fact veiled, it is veiled among those who are perishing, among whom the god of this system of things has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, that the illumination of the glorious good news about the Christ, who is the image of God, might not shine through.” (2 Corinthians 4:3, 4)
Satan would like to have all mankind follow blind superstition, rather than make right decisions based on the “good news” in the Bible.
PROTECTION AGAINST DEMON ATTACK
5. How may we find protection against wicked spirits?
5 In another of his letters, Paul makes it clear that we must stand firm “against the wicked spirit forces,” and that we can do this by putting on “the complete suit of armor from God,” spiritual armor that is far different from “good luck” charms or idolatrous practices. He tells us:
“Stand firm, therefore, with your loins girded about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness, and with your feet shod with the equipment of the good news of peace. Above all things, take up the large shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the wicked one’s burning missiles. Also, accept the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, that is, God’s word, while with every form of prayer and supplication you carry on prayer on every occasion in spirit.” (Ephesians 6:11-18)
By learning the truth, cultivating righteousness and telling “the good news of peace” to others, we can have the strong faith that will shield us against all demon attacks.
6. How may persons free themselves from the demons? (James 4:7, 8)
6 However, there are some who have dabbled in demonistic practices, such as spiritism, before learning the “good news.” Such persons may have to put up quite a fight to get free from the demons. For example, there was one person who daily received a message from a wicked spirit, urging her to commit suicide. Another was harassed continually by the demons—until she finally broke completely free from her previous way of life. Such persons have gotten rid of the demons by filling their minds with wholesome Bible teachings, praying to Jehovah, and even calling aloud on his name.
“The name of Jehovah is a strong tower. Into it the righteous runs and is given protection.”—Proverbs 18:10.
7. (a) What items may cause difficulty? (b) Why were new believers in Ephesus blessed by God?
7 Anyone who comes under demon attack would be wise to remove from his person and from his home any items that may have had a connection with demonism. Wicked spirits have been known to come back to such items and to attack the owner by making him ill, weak or fearful. When Paul preached in Ephesus, new believers there took a course of action that was richly blessed by Jehovah:
“Quite a number of those who practiced magical arts brought their hooks together and burned them up before everybody. . . . Thus in a mighty way the word of Jehovah kept growing and prevailing.”—Acts 19:19, 20.
BEWARE OF THE “PRACTICE OF SPIRITISM”!
8. (a) What are some forms of spiritism, which God condemns? (b) What will result to those who practice spiritism? (Revelation 21:8)
8 How does Jehovah regard fortune-telling? This is made very clear at Deuteronomy 18:10-12, where he identifies it with spiritism:
“There should not be found in you anyone who . . . employs divination, a practicer of magic or anyone who looks for omens or a sorcerer, or one who binds others with a spell or anyone who consults a spirit medium or a professional foreteller of events or anyone who inquires of the dead. For everybody doing these things is something detestable to Jehovah.”
Thus, demonistic practices such as reading crystal balls, palmistry, casting hypnotic spells, consulting Ouija boards or spirit mediums are all abominable in Jehovah’s sight. Mediums that claim to speak with “departed spirits” are actually communicating with wicked spirits who impersonate dead persons. A wicked spirit impersonated the dead prophet Samuel in conveying a message to unfaithful King Saul, in the incident recorded at 1 Samuel 28:8-14. At Galatians 5:19-21, “practice of spiritism” is listed among the corrupt “works of the flesh” that will exclude a person from the kingdom of God.
9. (a) What is the literal meaning of the Greek word phar·ma·kiʹa? (b) What practices have a connection with spiritism?
9 It is of interest that the Greek word here translated “practice of spiritism” is phar·ma·kiʹa, which literally means “druggery.” In Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words we read:
“PHARMAKIA . . . primarily signified the use of medicine, drugs, spells; then, poisoning; then, sorcery, . . . See also Rev. 9:21; 18:23. . . . In sorcery, the use of drugs, whether simple or potent, was generally accompanied by incantations and appeals to occult powers, with the provision of various charms, . . . to impress the applicant with the mysterious resources and powers of the sorcerer.”
Persons today who take drugs such as opium, heroin, marijuana and other narcotics are laying themselves open to demon attacks. This is indicated in that some who have taken “trips” with drugs say that they ‘approached God,’ ‘expanded their minds,’ and so forth. Also to be tied in with “druggery” is addiction to betel nut or to tobacco, “unclean” practices that dull the senses and weaken the power to make right decisions, and that are devoid of neighbor love.—2 Corinthians 6:17–7:1.
THE SNARE OF ASTROLOGY
10. What is the basis of astrology? (2 Chronicles 33:5, 6)
10 In recent years, great numbers of people have turned to astrology for guidance. Also, history records that many famous persons—Hitler, Mussolini, Napoleon, Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great and others—have superstitiously followed “the stars.” On what is astrology based? Astrology divides a belt of the heavens, the zodiac, into twelve sections of stars, or constellations, each of which was long ago named after a particular animal or person. It is said that a person’s relation to the zodiac at the moment of birth will determine his future and his characteristics. Charts, or horoscopes, are drawn up to show what a person’s “fortune,” good or bad, will be day by day.
11. How does science show astrology to be in error?
11 But do the stars affect humans at the time of their birth? According to scientists, the basic personality of an individual is determined not at birth but at conception—nine months earlier than reckoned in astrology charts. However, the stars are too far removed to influence a person by gravitation or radiation, either at birth or at conception. All that can come from outer space by way of astrology is demon influence, and that is where dabbling in “the stars” can lead—to control by wicked spirits.
12 Where did astrology get started? The Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed., Vol. II, p. 796) answers:
“The history of astrology can now be traced back to ancient Babylonia, and indeed to the earliest phases of Babylonian history. . . . In Babylonia as well as in Assyria . . . astrology takes its place in the official cult as one of the two chief means at the disposal of the priests . . . for ascertaining the will and intention of the gods, the other being through the inspection of the liver of the sacrificial animal [for omens].”
Thus astrology got started in the same place as did the entire world empire of false religion—in ancient Babylon.
13. (a) What stand did good King Josiah take as to the practice of astrology? (b) Why should we put superstitions out of our lives? (Job 31:26-28)
13 What, then, should be our attitude toward astrology, fortune-telling, “good luck” charms and other forms of superstition? If we want to please God, our stand should be similar to that of good King Josiah, who “put out of business . . . those making sacrificial smoke to Baal, to the sun and to the moon and to the constellations of the zodiac and to all the army of the heavens.” (2 Kings 23:5) We too should put all kinds of superstition right out of our lives. By relying in any way on astrologists or other fortune-tellers, not only would we displease the living God, but we could be led into wrong decisions or practices, to the ruination of our lives.
14. Where should we put our trust, and why? (Psalm 25:8, 9)
14 Where, then, should we place our trust for the future? King Solomon tells us:
“Trust in Jehovah with all your heart and do not lean upon your own understanding. In all your ways take notice of him, and he himself will make your paths straight. Do not become wise in your own eyes. Fear Jehovah and turn away from bad.” (Proverbs 3:5-7)
Through the wise counsel provided in the Bible, Jehovah frees us from slavery to useless superstitions, and gives us a sure guide leading to a truly happy life under his righteous kingdom.
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Superstitions related to “good luck” gods, charms and fortune-telling are dangerous
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Fortune-telling is not approved by God
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The astrologer’s zodiac originated in Babylon, the cradle of the world empire of false religion