What Is Wrong With Spiritism?
From youth, Barbara* saw visions, heard voices, and was convinced that she had contacts with deceased relatives. She and her husband, Joachim, read books on the occult and became proficient in reading tarot cards. These indicated that they would earn big money, which they did in business. One day, the cards warned them that dangerous people would come to their home and told them how they should defend themselves.
ALTHOUGH belief in the occult may seem antiquated, interest in the paranormal is widespread. People worldwide wear amulets, use Ouija boards, and consult spirit mediums to tell their fortune or to protect themselves from evil. In an article entitled “Laptop and Lucifer,” the German magazine Focus remarked: “The Internet is giving the witchcraft scene new impetus.”
Did you know that the Bible speaks about spiritism? What it says on the subject might surprise you.
What the Bible Says About Spiritism
The law that God gave his people in ancient Israel stated: “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.” (Deuteronomy 18:10-12) Why such a strong stand against spiritistic practices?
As our opening experience shows, many believe that the living can communicate with the dead and that information obtained through occult practices originates with the dead. Such beliefs are rooted in what is taught by many religions—that at death humans live on in the spirit realm. But, contrary to this teaching, the Bible clearly states: “As for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all.” (Ecclesiastes 9:5) It describes the dead as if they were in a deep sleep, totally unaware of what is taking place around them.* (Matthew 9:18, 24; John 11:11-14) That being the case, you might ask, How are we to explain experiences that people have with the paranormal? What is the source of such communication?
Communication With the Spirit World
The Gospel accounts show that when on earth, Jesus had dealings with the spirit world. Mark 1:23, 24 reports that “an unclean spirit” told Jesus: “I know exactly who you are.” The spirits undoubtedly know who you are too. But do you know who they are?
Before God created humans, he created multitudes of spirit sons, or angels. (Job 38:4-7) The angels are of a life-form higher than humans. (Hebrews 2:6, 7) They are powerful and highly intelligent, and they were created to do God’s will. The psalmist sang: “Bless Jehovah, O you angels of his, mighty in power, carrying out his word.”—Psalm 103:20.
The Bible reveals that in time some of the angels initiated unauthorized contact with humans. For what purpose? The first one to do so used deception to lead the first humans, Adam and Eve, away from their God and Creator. In so doing, he turned himself into Satan the Devil, a slanderer and opposer of God.—Genesis 3:1-6.
Later, other angels “forsook their own proper dwelling place” in heaven, took on human bodies, and began living with attractive women on earth. (Jude 6; Genesis 6:1, 2) Those renegade angels and their hybrid offspring terrorized humankind, so much so that the earth became “filled with violence.” You are probably familiar with the Bible account of how God put an end to that violent and wicked generation by the Flood in Noah’s day.—Genesis 6:3, 4, 11-13.
The floodwaters forced the spirits to dematerialize and return to the spirit realm. But the Creator did not allow them to return to their original “dwelling place.” Instead, they were confined to a debased condition compared to “pits of dense darkness.” (2 Peter 2:4, 5) The Bible refers to rebel angels as “demons.” (James 2:19) They are the power behind spiritism.
What the Demons Want
The objective of the wicked spirits who communicate with humans is first to divert them from worshipping the true God, Jehovah. The gifts or powers that many practicers of the occult claim to have are nothing more than distractions to keep people from gaining accurate knowledge about God and building a relationship with him.
The demons’ second objective can be seen in what Satan, their leader, attempted with Jesus. Satan offered Jesus “all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.” What did Satan want in return? “Fall down and do an act of worship to me,” he urged. Yes, Satan and the demons desire to be worshipped. But Jesus rejected the idea of forsaking God and true worship.—Matthew 4:8-10.
Evil spirits seldom make such direct offers today. Rather, they seek to ensnare the unwary with seemingly harmless means of diversion, such as crystal balls, tea leaves, tarot cards, pendulums, and horoscopes. Do not be deceived by such practices! They are not doorways to the unknown by means of some mysterious force of nature. Wicked spirits use fascination with the occult to lure and ensnare people with the aim of diverting them from worshipping Jehovah. When that does not achieve their goal, evil spirits often harass and make miserable those who become entangled in their web. If that has been true in your case, what can you do to free yourself from their influence?
Spiritism—How to Escape
Make no mistake about it, spirits who communicate with humans are enemies of God, doomed for destruction. (Jude 6) They are impostors and liars, who pose as the dead. How would you feel if you found that a supposed friend was an impostor, interested only in diverting you from your best interests? How would you react if you discovered that you had unknowingly entered into a relationship with a sexual predator on the Internet? Entanglement with the demons is far more dangerous. You need to do all you can to break off the contact. What can you do?
After learning what the Scriptures teach about spiritism, some inhabitants of ancient Ephesus saw the need to destroy their books on magical arts, costly though they were. They “burned them up before everybody.” (Acts 19:19, 20) Today objects related to the occult include not only books, amulets, Ouija boards, and the like but also material from electronic sources. Turn away from anything that seems like a gateway to spiritism.
Recall the couple mentioned at the beginning of this article. From their tarot cards, they concluded that dangerous people would come to their home but that they should neither listen to nor accept anything from them. However, when Connie and Gudrun, two of Jehovah’s Witnesses, appeared at their door saying that they brought good news about God, Joachim and Barbara decided that they would listen. Their conversation came to the subject of spiritism, and Connie and Gudrun provided accurate information about it from the Scriptures. A regular Bible discussion began.
Soon Joachim and Barbara decided to break off all contacts with the demons. The Witnesses explained that the spirits would likely not be happy about that. In fact, Joachim and Barbara went through difficult times and suffered frightening demon attacks. For a while, they were in fear every night until moving into another house brought some relief. Throughout their ordeal, this couple maintained confidence in the words of Philippians 4:13: “For all things I have the strength by virtue of him who imparts power to me.” Jehovah blessed their determination, and the spirits eventually stopped harassing them. Today Joachim and Barbara are happy worshippers of the true God, Jehovah.
The Scriptures urge all who would have Jehovah’s blessing: “Subject yourselves . . . to God; but oppose the Devil, and he will flee from you. Draw close to God, and he will draw close to you.” (James 4:7, 8) Jehovah God can and will help you to get free from demon influence, if you want to. Looking back on their liberation from spiritism, Joachim and Barbara wholeheartedly agree with the words of Psalm 121:2: “My help is from Jehovah.”
The names have been changed.
For a detailed discussion of the condition of the dead, see chapter 6, “Where Are the Dead?,” in the book What Does the Bible Really Teach? published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
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Occult practices prevent people from having a good relationship with God
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“Draw close to God, and he will draw close to you.”—JAMES 4:8