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The Occult

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Cults By Rev. Paul Seiler

The Occult


In recent years there has been a tremendous increase in people's interest in witchcraft and other occult practices. Note the following quote from Josh McDowell & Don Stewart's book on the Occult:

"We live in a day when occult activity is rapidly increasing. The Gallop Polls that have gained so much notoriety as a fair sampling of social trends in America provided interesting statistics about the occult from a June 1990 poll. The same questions were asked from an earlier poll (1978) and showed a rise of interest in the occult over the twelve-year span. Based on the survey results only 7 percent deny believing in any of the eighteen paranormal phenomena. Belief in the devil rose from 39 percent in 1978 to 55 percent in 1990. Deja vu was formerly the experience of 30 percent of those polled. It rose to 55 percent in the recent study. Clairvoyance had a slight increase of 2 percent, while ESP decreased by the same. Astrology was off by 4 percent in the new poll, but belief in ghosts jumped from 11 percent in 1978 to 25 percent in 1990, and belief in witches climbed from 10 percent to 14 percent." 316

The tremendous growth that has occurred in occult practices in America has also occurred in Europe and Australia.


The word occult comes from the Latin word occultus which means hidden, secret or mysterious. The Collins Dictionary defines it as referring to supernatural arts or phenomena, and has to do with that which is magical or mystical. This is somewhat incomplete as a biblical definition. The author would propose the following definition. The word occult may be defined as: any practice to do with the supernatural that is forbidden in the Bible or is self evidently evil.


It is not just the lunatic fringe of society who are involved in occult practices. There are many highly educated people who dabble in the occult. Occult belief has penetrated every part of modern society. There are numerous reasons why people get involved in the occult. Some people get involved because of curiosity. Many who play with ouiji boards think that it is just a harmless game. The fail to realise that this is a method of communicating with evil spirits, something which is forbidden in the Scriptures. Some people get involved in the occult through games such as, 'Dungeons and Dragons'. Some are enticed into the occult by movies, such as, 'The Exorcist' and 'Rosemary's Baby' and 'The Craft.' These movies sensationalise the occult and entice people into practise of the occult.


It is important to understand that there are a whole list of occult practices which are clearly forbidden in the Bible. People who practice such things do so in disobedience to God. Note the following prohibition which God gave the Israelites when they entered into the land of Canaan:

When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or castes spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord, and because of these detestable practices the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you (Deut. 18:9-12 ).

The Canaanites were deep into occult practices, and this was one of the reasons why God drove them from their homes and gave their land to the Israelites. God told the Israelites that they were not to follow the Canaanites in such evil practices. Note the following nine occult practices that are denounced:

(1.) Child sacrifice This was a very common practice in the ancient world, particularly among the worshippers of Moloch. The Judean king Manassah was guilty of this abominable practice.

(2.) Divination The Hebrew word quosem has to do with determining the will of the gods by means of various forms of divination. One such practice, which is mentioned in Ezekiel 21:21 , was to whirl arrows in a quiver until one fell out, the will of the gods could be determined by observing which arrow fell out first.

(3.) Sorcery The Hebrew term meonen, which is translated in the N.I.V as sorcery, refers to the practice of determining the will of the gods by observing the movement of the clouds.

(4.) Interprets omens This has reference to seeking the will of the gods by means of observing the movement of water in a cup or observing the motion of flames in a fire.

(5.) Witchcraft - the Hebrew word is cesheph and refers to someone who cuts up herbs and makes them into a magic brew. The Greek version of the Old Testament (The Septuagint) translates this with the word pharmaka, meaning drug. The term is used in Micah 5:12 for some such material as drugs or herbs used superstitiously to produce magical effects.

(6.) Casting spells The Hebrew word chabar literally means one who ties knots. It refers to a person who metaphorically binds another person by means of magic spells. It would include such things as Voodoo, commonly practiced in some African tribes.

(7.) Medium The word Hebrew word translated medium is the word veshal ob which refers to a person who enquires of Ob the Python, or divining spirit. Such people would communicate with this spirit in order to predict the future. We have an example of such a medium in the book of Acts. On Paul's missionary journey to Philippi he encountered a certain slave girl who brought her owners much money through her prophesies. This woman consulted this phython God - Ob in order to get her knowledge of the future. Paul caste out the demon from this woman and she lost her ability to predict the future. (Acts 16:14-21 ) As we saw earlier this practice of consulting with evil spirits is very common among New Agers, such as Shirley MacLaine. 317

(8) Spiritist This refers to a person who is engaged in calling up the same evil spirit over and over again.

(9) One who consults the dead The refers to the person who speaks to the dead, or rather professes to do so. They do not in actual fact speak to the dead, but rather they speak to evil demons who masquerade as the departed dead.

While it is evident that modern occult practices are not identical with those in the ancient world, there is enough comparison to demonstrate that modern forms of occultism are clearly condemned by God. The New Testament equally condemns occult practices. Paul includes witchcraft in the list of the acts of the sinful nature, and says that people who practice such things will never enter the kingdom of God (Gal. 5:20 ). Luke informs us that occult practices were very common in Ephesus, and when the gospel took root in that city many turned away from their occult practices. They burned their occult books when they became Christians. (Acts 19 ) No reasonable doubt can exist that such practices are clearly condemned by the Bible.

316Josh McDowell & Don Stewart The Occult - The Authority of the Believer over the Powers of Darkness Scripture Press, Amersham-on-the-Hill, Bucks, England, 1992, p.17

317It ought not be suppossed that evil spirits are able to predict the future with perfect accuracy. Were they able to perfectly predict the future then Satan would not have tempted Judas to betray Jesus. Satan's predictions of the the future may be quite accurate at times, but it they are far from infallible.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 August 2012 10:13  

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