1. How widespread is belief in magic, sorcery, and witchcraft?
“IN Africa, it is idle to begin with the question whether witches exist or not,” states the book African Traditional Religion, adding that “to Africans of every category, witchcraft is an urgent reality.” Those who believe in magic, sorcery, and witchcraft include both the illiterate and the highly educated. Religious leaders of Islam and Christendom are also believers.
2. According to popular belief, from where do magical powers come?
2 According to popular belief in Africa, there exists a mystical, spiritual power, or force. God has control over it. Spirits and ancestors can use it. And some humans also know how to tap it and use it, either for good (white magic) or for bad (black magic).
3. What is black magic, and what do people believe it can do?
3 Black magic, or sorcery, is directed toward enemies. Those who use it are believed to have power to send bats, birds, flies, and other animals to attack people. Black magic is widely believed to be responsible for fights, barrenness, illness, and even death.
4. What do many believe about witches, and what confessions have been made by some who have practiced witchcraft?
4 Closely related is witchcraft. Witches are said to leave their bodies at night and fly away, either to meet with other witches or to eat away the lives of their victims. Since the bodies of the witches remain sleeping in their beds, support for these tales is mainly supplied by confessions of people who have given up witchcraft. For example, one African magazine quotes ex-witches (mostly teenage girls) as saying: “I killed 150 people by causing motor accidents.” “I killed five children by sucking up all their blood.” “I killed three boyfriends because they jilted me.”
5. What is white magic, and how is it practiced?
5 White magic is supposed to provide protection against evil. Those who practice white magic wear magical rings or bracelets. They drink protective medicine or rub it on their bodies. In their homes or in the ground, they hide articles believed to have protective powers. They trust in amulets containing texts from the Koran or the Bible.
Lies and Deception
6. What have Satan and his demons done in the past, and how should we regard their powers?
6 It is true that Satan and his demons are dangerous enemies of humans. They have power to influence the minds and lives of men, and in the past they have even entered and possessed humans and animals. (Matthew 12:43-45) While we should not minimize their powers, we should not overestimate those powers either.
7. What does Satan want us to believe, and how is this illustrated?
7 Satan is a master of deception. He fools people into thinking that he has more power than he really does. To illustrate: During recent fighting in one African country, soldiers used sound equipment to terrify their enemies. Before attacking, the soldiers would play loud recordings of heavy artillery and gunfire. They wanted the enemy to think that they were being attacked by an army with many powerful weapons. In the same way, Satan wants people to believe that his power is limitless. His purpose is to frighten people into doing his will and not the will of Jehovah. Let us now consider three lies that Satan wants people to believe.
8. What is one lie that Satan promotes?
8 One lie that Satan promotes is this: Nothing harmful happens by chance; everything bad that is not directly caused by someone occurs through mystical power. For example, suppose that a child dies of malaria. His mother may know that malaria is a disease carried by mosquitoes. But she may also believe that someone used witchcraft to send a mosquito to bite her child.
9. How does the Bible show that Satan does not cause every problem?
9 While Satan has the power to cause some problems, it is wrong to believe that he has the power to cause every problem. The Bible says: “The swift do not have the race, nor the mighty ones the battle, nor do the wise also have the food, nor do the understanding ones also have the riches, nor do even those having knowledge have the favor; because time and unforeseen occurrence befall them all.” (Ecclesiastes 9:11) One runner in a race may be faster than the others, but he may not win. Some “unforeseen occurrence” may make him lose. Perhaps he stumbles and falls or he becomes ill or he pulls a muscle. These things could happen to anybody. They are not necessarily caused by Satan or through witchcraft; they just happen.
10. What is said about witches, and how do we know that this is a lie?
10 A second lie that Satan promotes is this: Witches leave their bodies and travel through the night to meet other witches or to suck out or eat away the life of their victims. Now ask yourself: ‘If witches can do that, what is it that actually leaves the body?’ As we have seen, the soul is the person, not something that can depart from the person. Moreover, the spirit is the life-force that powers the body but is unable to do anything apart from the body.
11. Why do we know that witches cannot leave their bodies, and do you believe this?
11 Neither the soul nor the spirit can leave the body to do anything, either good or bad. Thus, witches cannot leave their bodies. They do not really do the things that they claim to do or think they have done.
12. How does Satan make people believe that they have done things that they have not?
12 How can we explain the confessions made by those involved in witchcraft? Satan can make people believe that they have experienced things that they have not. By means of visions, Satan can cause people to imagine that they have seen, heard, and done things that they have not. In this way, Satan hopes to turn people away from Jehovah and to make them think that the Bible is wrong.
13. (a) Is white magic good? (b) What do the Scriptures say about magic?
13 A third lie is this: White magic—magic that is supposed to counter black magic—is good. The Bible does not make a distinction between black magic and white magic. It condemns all magic. Consider the laws Jehovah gave to the nation of Israel concerning magic and those who practiced it:
“You must not practice magic.”—Leviticus 19:26.
“As for a man or woman in whom there proves to be a mediumistic spirit or spirit of prediction, they should be put to death without fail.”—Leviticus 20:27.
“There should not be found in you . . . 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.”—Deuteronomy 18:10-14.
14. Why did Jehovah make laws against magic?
14 These laws made it clear that God did not want his people to practice magic. Jehovah gave these laws to his people because he loved them and did not want them to become enslaved to fear and superstition. He did not want them to be oppressed by the demons.
15. How does the Bible show that Jehovah is more powerful than Satan?
15 Though the Bible does not go into detail concerning what the demons can and cannot do, it does show that Jehovah God is far more powerful than Satan and his demons. Jehovah had Satan cast out of heaven. (Revelation 12:9) Notice, too, that Satan asked permission to test Job and obeyed God’s warning not to kill Job.—Job 2:4-6.
16. To whom should we look for protection?
16 Proverbs 18:10 says: “The name of Jehovah is a strong tower. Into it the righteous runs and is given protection.” So we should look to Jehovah for protection. God’s servants do not look to charms or medicines to protect them against the evil deeds of Satan and the demons, nor do they fear the spells of sorcerers. God’s servants believe what the Bible says: “As regards Jehovah, his eyes are roving about through all the earth to show his strength in behalf of those whose heart is complete toward him.”—2 Chronicles 16:9.
17. Of what does James 4:7 assure us, but what must we do?
17 You too can have this confidence if you serve Jehovah. James 4:7 says: “Subject yourselves, therefore, to God; but oppose the Devil, and he will flee from you.” If you serve the true God, subjecting yourself to him, you can be sure that Jehovah will protect you.