“We have a struggle . . . against the wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places.”—EPH. 6:12.
SONG 55 Fear Them Not!
1. As explained at Ephesians 6:10-13, what is one of the most heartwarming ways in which Jehovah shows his concern for us? Explain.
ONE of the most heartwarming ways in which Jehovah shows his concern for us as his servants is by helping us to resist our enemies. Our main enemies are Satan and the demons. Jehovah warns us about these enemies, and he gives us what we need to resist them. (Read Ephesians 6:10-13.) When we accept Jehovah’s help and rely on him completely, we can succeed in opposing the Devil. We can have the same kind of confidence that the apostle Paul had. He wrote: “If God is for us, who will be against us?”—Rom. 8:31.
2. What will we consider in this article?
2 As true Christians, we are not fascinated with Satan and the demons. We focus most of our attention on learning about Jehovah and serving him. (Ps. 25:5) However, we do need to know the basic ways that Satan operates. Why? So that we can avoid being outwitted by him. (2 Cor. 2:11; ftn.) In this article, we will consider a major way in which Satan and the demons try to mislead people. We will also consider how we can resist them successfully.
HOW WICKED SPIRITS MISLEAD PEOPLE
3-4. (a) What is spiritism? (b) How widespread is the belief in spiritism?
3 A major way in which Satan and the demons try to mislead people is through spiritism. Those who practice spiritism claim to know or control things that humans cannot normally know or control. For example, some claim to be able to know the future by using divination or astrology. Others may act as though they were speaking to those who have died. Some practice witchcraft or magic, and they may try to cast a spell on another person.*
4 How widespread is belief in the power of spiritism? A survey conducted in 18 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean found that about a third of the people surveyed believe in magic, witchcraft, or sorcery, and nearly as many believe that it is possible to communicate with spirits. Another survey was conducted in 18 countries in Africa. There, on average, more than half of the people surveyed say that they believe in witchcraft. Of course, wherever we live, we must be on guard against spiritism. After all, Satan is seeking to mislead “the entire inhabited earth.”—Rev. 12:9.
5. How does Jehovah feel about spiritism?
5 Jehovah is “the God of truth.” (Ps. 31:5) So how does he feel about spiritism? He hates it! Jehovah told the Israelites: “There should not be found in you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, anyone who employs divination, anyone practicing magic, anyone who looks for omens, a sorcerer, anyone binding others with a spell, anyone who consults a spirit medium or a fortune-teller, or anyone who inquires of the dead. For whoever does these things is detestable to Jehovah.” (Deut. 18:10-12) Christians are not under the Law that Jehovah gave to the Israelites. However, we know that his feelings about spiritism have not changed.—Mal. 3:6.
6. (a) How does Satan use spiritism to harm people? (b) According to Ecclesiastes 9:5, what is the truth about the condition of the dead?
6 Jehovah warns us against spiritism because he knows that Satan uses it to harm people. Satan uses spiritism to promote lies—including the lie that the dead are alive in some other realm. (Read Ecclesiastes 9:5.) Satan also uses spiritism to keep people in fear and to turn them away from Jehovah. His aim is that people who practice spiritism will trust in wicked spirits instead of in Jehovah.
HOW WE RESIST WICKED SPIRITS
7. What does Jehovah tell us?
7 As noted earlier, Jehovah tells us what we need to know so as to avoid being misled by Satan and the demons. Consider some practical steps that we can take in our fight against Satan and the demons.
8. (a) What is the main way we resist wicked spirits? (b) How does Psalm 146:4 expose Satan’s lie about the dead?
8 Read God’s Word and meditate on it. This is the main way we reject the lies that wicked spirits promote. God’s Word is like a sharp sword that can cut through the lies that Satan promotes. (Eph. 6:17) For example, God’s Word exposes the lie that the dead can communicate with the living. (Read Psalm 146:4.) It also reminds us that only Jehovah can reliably predict the future. (Isa. 45:21; 46:10) If we read God’s Word and meditate on it regularly, we will be equipped to reject and hate the lies that wicked spirits want us to believe.
9. What sort of spiritistic practices do we avoid?
9 Refuse to do anything connected with spiritism. As true Christians, we never practice spiritism of any kind. For example, we do not visit spirit mediums or try to communicate with the dead in any other way. As discussed in the preceding article, we avoid funeral customs that are based on the belief that the dead are still alive somewhere. And we do not use astrology or fortune-telling to try to learn about the future. (Isa. 8:19) We know that all such practices are very dangerous and that they could put us in direct contact with Satan and the demons.
10-11. (a) What did some in the first century do when they learned the truth? (b) According to 1 Corinthians 10:21, why should we imitate the example of the early Christians, and how can we do so?
10 Get rid of objects related to the occult. Some of the people who lived in Ephesus during the first century were involved with spiritism. When they learned the truth, they took drastic action. “Quite a number of those who practiced magical arts brought their books together and burned them up before everybody.” (Acts 19:19) These individuals were serious about resisting wicked spirits. Their books about magic cost a lot of money. But instead of giving those books away or selling them to others, they destroyed them. They were more concerned about pleasing Jehovah than about how much money the books were worth.
11 How can we imitate the example of those first-century Christians? It would be wise to get rid of anything we may have that is connected with the occult. This includes amulets, charms, or other objects that people wear or own to try to protect themselves from wicked spirits.—Read 1 Corinthians 10:21.
12. What questions should we ask ourselves about our entertainment?
12 Examine your entertainment carefully. Ask yourself: ‘Do I read books, magazines, or articles on the Internet about the occult? What about the music I listen to, the movies and TV shows I watch, or the video games I play? Does any of my entertainment involve spiritism? Does it feature such things as vampires, zombies, or the paranormal? Does it portray magic, spells, or curses as harmless fun?’ Of course, not all entertainment that features fantasies or fairy tales is necessarily related to spiritism. When evaluating your entertainment, be determined to make choices that will help you stay far away from anything Jehovah hates. We want to do our best to “maintain a clear conscience” before our God.—Acts 24:16.*
13. What do we want to avoid doing?
13 Avoid telling stories about the demons. In this regard, we want to imitate the example set by Jesus. (1 Pet. 2:21) Before he came to earth, Jesus lived in heaven, and he knew a lot about Satan and the demons. But he did not relate stories about what those wicked spirits had done. Jesus wanted to be a witness of Jehovah, not a publicity agent for Satan. We can imitate Jesus by not spreading stories about the demons. Instead, we show by our words that our “heart is stirred by something good,” that is, the truth.—Ps. 45:1.
14-15. (a) Why should we not be terrified of wicked spirits? (b) What evidence is there that Jehovah protects his people today?
14 Do not be terrified of wicked spirits. In this imperfect world, bad things may happen to us. Accidents, sickness, or even death may come without warning. But we should not think that invisible spirits are responsible. The Bible explains that “time and unexpected events” can overtake anyone. (Eccl. 9:11) As for the demons, Jehovah has shown that he is far more powerful than they are. For example, God did not allow Satan to kill Job. (Job 2:6) In the days of Moses, Jehovah demonstrated his power over the magic-practicing priests of Egypt. (Ex. 8:18; 9:11) Empowered by Jehovah, the glorified Jesus showed his power over Satan and the demons when they were cast down from heaven to the earth. And in the near future, they will be cast into the abyss, where they will not be able to harm anyone.—Rev. 12:9; 20:2, 3.
15 We see abundant evidence that Jehovah protects his people today. Consider: We are preaching and teaching the truth in all parts of the earth. (Matt. 28:19, 20) As a result, we expose the evil works of the Devil. Surely, if Satan were able to, he would stop all our activity, but he cannot. So we do not need to be terrified of wicked spirits. We know that “the eyes of Jehovah are roving about through all the earth to show his strength in behalf of those whose heart is complete toward him.” (2 Chron. 16:9) If we are faithful to Jehovah, the demons cannot cause us lasting harm.
BLESSINGS FOR THOSE WHO ACCEPT JEHOVAH’S HELP
16-17. Give an example of the courage it takes to resist wicked spirits.
16 It takes courage to resist wicked spirits, especially when well-meaning friends or relatives oppose us. But Jehovah blesses those who show such courage. Consider the example of a sister named Erica, who lives in Ghana. Erica was 21 years old when she accepted a Bible study. As the daughter of a fetish priest, she was expected to comply with a spiritistic custom that involved eating meat offered in ritual sacrifices to her father’s gods. When Erica refused, her family considered it an insult to the gods. The family believed that the gods would punish them with mental and physical illnesses.
17 Erica’s family tried to force her to follow the custom, but she would not give in, even though it meant that she had to leave her home. Some Witnesses allowed her to stay with them. In that sense, Jehovah blessed Erica with a new family—fellow believers who became like brothers and sisters to her. (Mark 10:29, 30) Although her relatives disowned her and even burned her belongings, Erica stayed loyal to Jehovah, got baptized, and is now a regular pioneer. She is not terrified of the demons. And regarding her family, Erica says, “I pray daily that my family will experience the blessing of knowing Jehovah and having the freedom that comes from serving our loving God.”
18. What blessings do we receive from trusting in Jehovah?
18 Not all of us will have to face such a dramatic test of our faith. However, all of us need to resist wicked spirits and trust in Jehovah. If we do that, we will receive many blessings and we will avoid being misled by Satan’s lies. Also, we will not be paralyzed by fear of the demons. Above all, we will strengthen our friendship with Jehovah. “Subject yourselves to God,” wrote the disciple James, “but oppose the Devil, and he will flee from you. Draw close to God, and he will draw close to you.”—Jas. 4:7, 8.
SONG 150 Seek God for Your Deliverance
Jehovah has lovingly warned us about wicked spirits and the harm they can cause. How do wicked spirits try to mislead people? What steps can we take to resist wicked spirits? This article will consider how Jehovah helps us to avoid their influence.
EXPRESSIONS EXPLAINED: Spiritism refers to beliefs and practices connected with the demons. It includes the belief that the spirits of dead humans survive the death of the physical body and that they communicate with the living, especially through a person (a medium). Spiritism also includes such practices as witchcraft and divination. As used in this article, magic refers to practices associated with the occult, or the supernatural. It can include curses and the casting or breaking of spells. It does not refer to tricks using quick hand movements, which some people perform merely for entertainment.
Elders are not authorized to make rules regarding entertainment. Rather, each Christian must use his or her Bible-trained conscience when choosing what to read, watch, or play. Wise family heads ensure that their family’s entertainment is in line with Bible principles.—See the jw.org® article “Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Ban Certain Movies, Books, or Songs?” under ABOUT US > FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS.
PICTURE DESCRIPTION: A depiction of Jesus as our powerful heavenly King leading an angelic army. Jehovah’s throne is above them.