A Look into the Occult
Introduction: A simple definition for occult is, "of or pertaining to magic, astrology, and other alleged sciences claiming use or knowledge of secret, mysterious, or supernatural agencies" (RHCD, pg. 919).
I. The popularity of the occult.
A. In researching the occult, searches on the World Wide Web were performed by entering "occult." One search alone found 437, 000 Web sites pertaining to the occult. When many of these links were investigated, a large number of these sites have the basic design of promoting the occult. Matters being offered were: fortune telling, ouija board, tarot cards, wicca, channeling, psychics, witchcraft, necromancy, and familiar spirits. Many sites offered occult paraphernalia such as voodoo magic, ritual tools, and invocations.
B. A number of famous people have turned to the occult in seeking answers to questions about life and the hereafter.
II. The Bible plainly condemns the occult.
A. Divination (involving future telling), observer of times, enchanter or witch, a charmer, consulter with familiar spirits, wizard, and a necromancer are all condemned and said to be "an abomination unto the Lord" (Deut. 18: 9-12).
B. Definition of the terms used in Deuteronomy 18: 10, 11.
a. "An observer of times." This person was one who "augurs what is to happen." Hence, he was one who claimed special insight as to the future. (Cp. Eccl. 3: 22, 6: 12.)
b. "An enchanter." This designation describes one who practiced magic or "divined by signs."
c. "A Witch." The witch in the language of Deuteronomy 18: 10 appears to have been one "who knew." Again, there is the resident idea of special and hidden knowledge that could not be possessed through ordinary means. There seems to have been involved the matter of "medicines," but the appeal seems to have been to the supernatural.
d. "A charmer." A charmer was one who dealt in spells and who claimed that by means of these spells, he could achieve some desired result. The Romans had a species of incantation that consisted in tying knots with threads of different colors, three in number, which were supposed to become a bond to secure an object (sited from the Pulpit Commentary).
e. "A consulter with familiar spirits." The modern idea regarding the consulter with familiar spirits is one who contacted a spirit of a person who had died. However, the Hebrew terms seem to suggest one who was able to contact a spirit dwelling in himself. These were probably some of the first ventriloquists. They claimed that this second residing spirit was able to speak through them and reveal unknown truths (see Acts 16: 16).
f. "A wizard." Today, a wizard is a male witch. However, this meaning is not present in the Hebrew. While we are not sure as to all the involvement, the original word simply denoted "a wise one." In this context, however, the reference is to esoteric wisdom obtained by supernatural means.
g. "A necromancer." A necromancer was and is one who pretends to call upon the dead. It was and is believed that from the dead special knowledge can be acquired that is otherwise unavailable to man.
C. In summary, all the seven specific designations purported to possess extraordinary abilities through contact with "the other world." This source of their alleged knowledge is not God and his word, but some dark, mysterious, and concealed source (sometimes stated as being satanic).
III. All these practices that comprise the occult were associated with paganism, those without a true knowledge of God.
A. Israel was instructed "thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations" (Deut. 18: 9). What we call the occult is not of God.
B. All New Testament references to the occult consistently condemn such beliefs and practices in no unclear terms (Gal. 5: 20, Acts 13: 6-12).
C. The New Testament mentions a man named Simon who used magic ("sorcery," Acts 8: 9). He "bewitched the people" (he astonished the people with his tricks, Acts 8: 9). Notice also that Simon "giving out that himself was some great one" (vs. 9). The inability of Simon to really perform miracles is seen in his effort to purchase true miracle working power from the apostles (vs. 13-20).
IV. Occult practices are presented as in connection with satanic and demonic influence.
A. Occult type practices are consistently presented in the scriptures as associated with Satan and the dark world of demonic activity (cf. Acts 16: 16-19).
B. "Witchcraft" ("sorcery," ASV) is a work of the flesh (Gal. 5: 19, 20).
Conclusion: Notwithstanding the plain teaching of the Bible, some still want to cling to the occult. Some believe it is of little consequence, even if wrong. Consider: "So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the Lord ,and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to enquire of it" (I Chroni. 10: 13). If we could contact the dead and if such were allowed, I am sure King Saul would view the occult as damning.