Definition: Belief that a spirit part of humans survives death of the physical body and can communicate with the living, usually through a person who serves as a medium. Some people believe that every material object and all natural phenomena have indwelling spirits. Sorcery is the use of power that is acknowledged to be from evil spirits. All forms of spiritism are strongly condemned in the Bible.
Is it really possible for a human to communicate with the “spirit” of a dead loved one?
Eccl. 9:5, 6, 10: “The living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all . . . Also, their love and their hate and their jealousy have already perished, and they have no portion anymore to time indefinite in anything that has to be done under the sun. All that your hand finds to do, do with your very power, for there is no work nor devising nor knowledge nor wisdom in Sheol [the grave], the place to which you are going.”
Ps. 146:4: “His spirit goes out, he goes back to his ground; in that day his thoughts do perish.” (When the spirit is said to ‘go out’ of the body, this is merely another way of saying that the life-force has ceased to be active. Thus, after a person dies, his spirit does not exist as an immaterial being that can think and carry out plans apart from the body. It is not something with which the living can communicate after a person’s death.)
Does not the Bible indicate that King Saul communicated with the prophet Samuel after Samuel’s death?
The account is found at 1 Samuel 28:3-20. Verses 13, 14 show that Saul himself did not see Samuel but only assumed from the description given by the spirit medium that she saw Samuel. Saul desperately wanted to believe that it was Samuel and so let himself be deceived. Verse 3 says that Samuel was dead and buried. The scriptures quoted under the preceding subheading make clear that there was no part of Samuel that was alive in another realm and able to communicate with Saul. The voice that pretended to be that of Samuel was that of an impostor.
With whom are those who endeavor to speak with the dead actually communicating?
The truth about the condition of the dead is clearly stated in the Bible. But who tried to deceive the first human pair about death? Satan contradicted God’s warning that disobedience would bring death. (Gen. 3:4; Rev. 12:9) In time, of course, it became obvious that humans did die as God said they would. Reasonably, then, who was responsible for inventing the idea that humans really do not die but that some spirit part of man survives the death of the body? Such a deception fits Satan the Devil, whom Jesus described as “the father of the lie.” (John 8:44; see also 2 Thessalonians 2:9, 10.) Belief that the dead are really alive in another realm and that we can communicate with them has not benefited mankind. On the contrary, Revelation 18:23 says that, by means of the spiritistic practices of Babylon the Great, “all the nations were misled.” The spiritistic practice of ‘talking with the dead’ is actually a fraudulent deception that can put people in contact with the demons (angels that became selfish rebels against God) and often leads to a person’s hearing unwanted voices and being harassed by those wicked spirits.
Is there harm in seeking healing or protection by spiritistic means?
Gal. 5:19-21: “The works of the flesh are manifest, and they are fornication, uncleanness, loose conduct, idolatry, practice of spiritism . . . As to these things I am forewarning you, the same way as I did forewarn you, that those who practice such things will not inherit God’s kingdom.” (Resorting to spiritism for help means that a person believes Satan’s lies about death; he is seeking advice from people who endeavor to draw power from Satan and his demons. Such a person thus identifies himself with those who are avowed enemies of Jehovah God. Instead of being truly helped, anyone persisting in such a course suffers lasting harm.)
Luke 9:24: “Whoever wants to save his soul [or, life] will lose it; but whoever loses his soul for my sake [because he is a follower of Jesus Christ] is the one that will save it.” (If a person deliberately violates the clearly stated commands of God’s Word in an endeavor to safeguard or preserve his present life, he will lose out on the prospect of eternal life. How foolish!)
2 Cor. 11:14, 15: “Satan himself keeps transforming himself into an angel of light. It is therefore nothing great if his ministers also keep transforming themselves into ministers of righteousness.” (So we should not be misled when some of the things done by spiritistic means seem to be temporarily of benefit.)
See also pages 156-160, under “Healing.”
Is it wise to resort to spiritistic means to learn what the future holds or to assure oneself of success in some undertaking?
Isa. 8:19: “In case they should say to you people: ‘Apply to the spiritistic mediums or to those having a spirit of prediction who are chirping and making utterances in low tones,’ is it not to its God that any people should apply?”
Lev. 19:31: “Do not turn yourselves to the spirit mediums, and do not consult professional foretellers of events, so as to become unclean by them. I am Jehovah your God.”
2 Ki. 21:6: “[King Manasseh] practiced magic and looked for omens and made spirit mediums and professional foretellers of events. He did on a large scale what was bad in Jehovah’s eyes, to offend him.” (Such spiritistic practices actually involved turning to Satan and his demons for help. No wonder it was “bad in Jehovah’s eyes,” and he brought severe punishment upon Manasseh for it. But when he repented and gave up these bad practices, he was blessed by Jehovah.)
What harm can there be in playing games that involve a form of divination or in seeking the meaning of something that seems to be an omen of good?
Deut. 18:10-12: “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.” (Divination seeks to disclose hidden knowledge or to foretell events, not as a result of research, but by the interpretation of omens or by the help of supernatural powers. Jehovah prohibited such practices among his servants. Why? All these practices are an invitation to communication with or possession by unclean spirits, or demons. Engaging in such things would be gross unfaithfulness toward Jehovah.)
Acts 16:16-18: “A certain servant girl with a spirit, a demon of divination, met us. She used to furnish her masters with much gain by practicing the art of prediction.” (Obviously, no one who loves righteousness would consult such a source of information, whether with serious intent or as a game. Paul tired of her crying out, and he ordered the spirit to come out of her.)
Are wicked spirits able to take on human form?
In the days of Noah, disobedient angels did take on human form. They actually married, and they fathered children. (Gen. 6:1-4) However, when the Flood came, those angels were forced back into the spirit realm. Regarding them, Jude 6 says: “The angels that did not keep their original position but forsook their own proper dwelling place he has reserved with eternal bonds under dense darkness for the judgment of the great day.” Not only did God abase them from their former heavenly privileges and consign them to dense darkness regarding Jehovah’s purposes, but the reference to bonds indicates that he has restrained them. From what? Evidently, from taking on physical bodies so they could have relations with women, as they had done before the Flood. The Bible reports that faithful angels, as messengers of God, did materialize in the performance of their duties down until the first century C.E. But following the Flood, those angels that had misused their gifts were deprived of the ability to take on human form.
It is of interest, however, that demons apparently can cause humans to see visions, and what they see may appear to be real. When the Devil tempted Jesus, he evidently made use of such means in order to show Jesus “all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.”—Matt. 4:8.
How can a person be freed from spiritistic influence?
Prov. 18:10: “The name of Jehovah is a strong tower. Into it the righteous runs and is given protection.” (This does not mean that use of God’s personal name serves as a charm to ward off evil. The “name” of Jehovah represents the Person himself. We are protected when we come to know him and put our full trust in him, submitting to his authority and obeying his commands. If we do this, then when we call out to him for help, using his personal name, he provides the protection that he has promised in his Word.)
Matt. 6:9-13: “You must pray, then, this way: ‘ . . . Do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the wicked one.’” You must also “persevere in prayer.” (Rom. 12:12) (God hears such prayers from those who truly desire to know the truth and to worship him in a manner that is pleasing to him.)
1 Cor. 10:21: “You cannot be partaking of ‘the table of Jehovah’ and the table of demons.” (Those who want Jehovah’s friendship and protection must break off all participation in spiritistic meetings. In harmony with the example recorded at Acts 19:19, it is also important to destroy or properly dispose of all objects in one’s possession that relate to spiritism.)
Jas. 4:7: “Subject yourselves, therefore, to God; but oppose the Devil, and he will flee from you.” (To do this, be diligent to learn God’s will and to apply it in your life. With love for God fortifying you against fear of man, firmly refuse to share in any customs related to spiritism or to obey any rules laid down by a spiritist.)
Put on “the complete suit of armor from God” that is described in Ephesians 6:10-18 and be zealous about keeping every part of it in good condition.