Amanda, a 28-year-old Los Angeles resident, prays nightly and believes in Jesus.
She also chants, goes to Kundalini (yoga), meditates with a group and is into crystals. “The energy they hold is this ancient energy,” she said. “It helps your own energy when you work with them; when you’re near them.”
According to a recent Pew Research poll, she’s not alone. Most Americans “mix traditional faith with beliefs in psychics, reincarnation and spiritual energy that they say can be found in physical objects such as mountains, trees and crystals.”
A staggering 41% of Americans believe in psychics. A stunning 42% believe spiritual energy can be located in physical objects.
I recently did a series on the paranormal. You can get the installments in .pdf or .mp3 format HERE. I could tell it was one of the more eye-opening series I had ever done. Why? Because people genuinely didn’t know the difference between authentic spirituality and the world of the occult.
I started off by mapping the spiritual world, specifically the great spiritual conflict in the heavens and the nature and work of angels and demons.
Then I took the rest of the series to walk through the three marks of the occult:
1. The disclosure or communication of unknown information unavailable to humans through normal means. This involves things like horoscopes, fortune-telling, psychic hotlines and tarot cards.
That knowledge comes from somewhere—and if it’s not from God through the sources God has ordained, then it is through the evil one and his forces. There is no neutral and impersonal “Power” just floating around out there. Nothing that has a voice or can be tapped into—some kind of cosmic consciousness for secret knowledge about the future of a human life. Everything falls under heaven or hell, good or evil, God or the evil one.
Just so we’re clear:
“You have trusted in your wickedness... your wisdom and knowledge mislead you... Disaster will come upon you, and you will not know how to conjure it away... keep on, then, with your magic spells and with your many sorceries... let your astrologers come forward, those stargazers who make predictions month by month... they are like stubble; the fire will burn them up. They cannot even save themselves... each of them goes on in his error.” (Isaiah 47:10-15, NIV)
“... diviners see visions that lie; they tell dreams that are false, they give comfort in vain.” (Zechariah 10:2, NIV)
“I am the Lord, the Creator of all things. I alone stretched out the heavens... I make fools of fortunetellers and frustrate the predictions of astrologers.” (Isaiah 44:24-25, GN)
“Let no one be found among you who... practices divination or... interprets omens... Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord.” (Deuteronomy 18:10-12, NIV)
2. The placing of persons in contact with supernatural powers, paranormal energies, or demonic forces. This involves things like spiritual energy in a crystal or any other entity, attempting to summon up a spirit or a deceased relative through a séance, channeling a spirit, or procuring the services of someone claiming to be a medium.
Here is Scripture’s clear witness:
“Let no one be found among you who... is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord.” (Deuteronomy 18:10-12, NIV)
“When men tell you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God?” (Isaiah 8:19, NIV)
So what is happening when you get in touch with a ghost? It’s not a ghost. There is no such thing as a ghost. So what happens at a séance when Uncle John suddenly seems to appear or to talk through a medium? You are either being tricked (and many really are just flat out hoaxes) or you are in contact with a demon impersonating who you hoped to connect with. The first scenario makes you out to be a fool; the second is simply nightmarish.
But in both cases, you are receiving knowledge, contact and advice that is not of God—it’s either of human origin or of demonic origin. Look at the words on this from the prophet Jeremiah:
“So do not listen to... your diviners... your mediums... They prophesy lies to you... ‘I have not sent them,’ declares the Lord. ‘They are prophesying lies in my name.’” (Jeremiah 27:9-10, 15, NIV)
3. Any attempt to gain and master paranormal power in order to manipulate or influence other people into certain actions. In other words, all forms of witchcraft and the casting of spells. Being clear on this is important because of the rise of modern day witchcraft, which goes by the name of Wicca.
Again, Scripture is clear:
“Let no one be found among you who... practices... sorcery... engages in witchcraft, or casts spells... Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord.” (Deuteronomy 18:10-12, NIV)
So there you have it. A map of the supernatural world. On the one side you have God and His faithful angels. On the other side the world of the paranormal, or the occult, which is the world of Satan and his demons. These are the only two worlds. These are the only two forces. These are the only two sets of beings.
There isn’t anything else.
One of them is good, the other is evil. There are a lot of ways, sadly, that Satan and his team seduces us to engage the evil side—to open our lives to it and to invite it in without even knowing it. And when we do, whether we are aware of it or not, we are engaging the forces of darkness.
We are connecting with Satan and his demons.
We are willfully opening up the door of our life to their presence and activity.
And they will enter.
And nothing could be more dangerous.
Initially it might seem benign, even innocent, for as the Bible says, Satan positions himself as an angel of light. But then the evil engulfs you.
And it’s even more than playing with fire. It’s dousing yourself with gasoline and then lighting the match.
It is spiritual suicide.
James Emery White
About the Author
James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His latest book, Meet Generation Z: Understanding and Reaching the New Post-Christian World, is available on Amazon. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church & Culture blog, visit ChurchAndCulture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on Twitter and Instagram @JamesEmeryWhite.