The revival of interest in the occult – of wizards and witches and their craft and such – is testimony to the spiritual bankruptcy of men. Astrology, crystal-gazing, fortune-telling, palmistry, and divination have become proportionally more popular. Most papers carry a horoscope section daily. There are those people who speak seriously about their zodiac sign. In 1972, Time magazine said of the new wave of occultism: “Yet for all its trivial manifestations in tea-leaf readings and ritual gewgaws, for all the outright nuts and charlatans it attracts, occultism cannot be dismissed as mere fakery or faddishness. Clearly, it is born of a religious impulse; and in many cases, it becomes in effect a substitute faith.” (June 19, 1972, p. 65). This trend has not abated. A review of movies, internet sites, and popular book titles will sustain the contention that an unusual interest in occult themes continues to prevail.
Meanwhile, for centuries, the Creator has warned his creatures to not dabble in the occult. In the Law He gave Moses, He codified death as the penalty for any who involved themselves in sorcery (Exodus 22:18; Leviticus 20:27). Of any person who referred to mediums, astrologers, fortune-tellers, and wizards, God said, “I will set my face against the person who turns to mediums and spiritists to prostitute himself by following them, and I will cut him off from his people” (Leviticus 20:6). As they prepared to enter the promised land, God said to the Israelites, “The nations you will dispossess listen to those who practice sorcery and divination. But as for you, the Lord your God has not permitted you to do so” (Deuteronomy 18:14). The Christian should note that such interest and practice is inconsistent with claiming to be a Christian. Idolatry and witchcraft and the occult arts are “acts of the sinful nature” that shut people out of “the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9; Acts 19:18-19; Galatians 5:20).
Occultism in all its forms presumes that there are influences upon human life that are better than God’s providence. It is altogether antagonistic to faith in God. God controls this universe by the word of His power (Hebrews 1:3). Occultism is a denial of the providence of God in the affairs of men. It is a form of idolatry in that it substitutes the worship of things or ‘powers’ for that of God, the Creator.
An inclination that appears to be brought to view by the interest in occultism is this: that, despite their denial of God, men possess an innate disposition to seek spiritual help, or to believe in a world beyond themselves. A ‘world’ from which they hope to attain something, either help, or empowerment. In denying God, they fill the void with astrology, witchcraft, and the dark arts of such. God has spoken about this inclination to substitute reliance on the influences of the created rather than on the Creator. He has said that we can expect it to happen. For “those who do not love the truth” follow after “every sort of evil that deceives” (cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:9-10). The sad thing about this is if people insist on not “turning to God from idolatry” (cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:9). For then, in “believing the lie,” they will be subject to “the powerful delusion God sends them” and they will “be condemned” because they “delighted in wickedness” (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12).
A spirit world exists (Ephesians 6:12; 1 Thessalonians 2:9) with Satan leading the pack. Those who give themselves to dabbling in occultism are playing in Satan’s ballpark. Conflict is the norm between these two ‘worlds’. And the prize is the souls of men. All the trappings of occultism are instruments of Satan. In fact, anything that de-emphasizes or discounts God’s influence in the lives of men and women is a form of idolatry. Horoscopes and all other such nonsense are not substitutes for the word of truth. Faith in the ‘spirit’ world is no substitute for faith in God.
Those who “love the truth” will want to “distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:14). So, they will pay attention to the source of faith: “faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). Thus, they will heed the instruction: “Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings” (Hebrews 13:9). The truth is, God is in charge (Colossians 1:17; Acts 17:24). There is no substitute. For we depend upon Him for life (Acts 17:25-28).
• Frank J Daniels, pulpit minister & teacher
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