In the past few generations, there has been a resurgent interest in witchcraft, disguised throughout culture. It has been presented as an innocent, entertaining subject in literature, movies and pop culture. While it’s becoming more popular in today’s society, that doesn’t mean that it is appropriate for Christians. But does the Bible address magic? You bet.
The Bible has a lot to say about witchcraft. Witchcraft and its many variants, such as fortune-telling and necromancy, are Satan’s counterfeits to holy spirituality. The Bible expressly condemns all forms of witchcraft. Leviticus 19:26 says clearly, “do not practice divination or sorcery.”
Furthermore, Deuteronomy 18:9–12 says, “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 their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord.”
Since early times, people have sought supernatural experiences God did not endorse. The nations that surrounded the Promised Land were saturated with such practices, and God had stern words for His people concerning any involvement with them. God took witchcraft very seriously. The penalty for practicing witchcraft under the Mosaic Law was death (Exodus 22:18; Leviticus 20:27). First Chronicles 10:13 tells us that “Saul died because he was unfaithful to the Lord; he did not keep the word of the Lord and even consulted a medium for guidance.” Furthermore, Leviticus 20:6 warns, “if a person turns to mediums and wizards…I will set my face against that person.”
There are only two sources of spiritual power: God and Satan. Satan has only the power that God allows him to have, but it is considerable (Job 1:12; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Revelation 20:2). To seek spirituality, knowledge, or power apart from God is idolatry, which is closely related to witchcraft.
First Samuel 15:23 says, “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.” Witchcraft is Satan’s realm, and he excels in counterfeiting what God does. When you start dabbling in witchcraft you open yourself up to demons and demonic influences which will indeed harm you.
When Moses performed miracles before Pharaoh, the magicians did the same things through demonic power (Exodus 8:7). At the heart of witchcraft is the desire to know the future and control events that are not ours to control. Those abilities belong only to the Lord. This desire has its roots in Satan’s first temptation to Eve: “You can be like God” (Genesis 3:5).
Since the Garden of Eden, Satan’s major focus has been to divert human hearts away from worship of the true God (Genesis 3:1). To become involved in witchcraft in any way is to enter Satan’s realm. Seemingly “harmless” modern entanglements with witchcraft can include horoscopes, Ouija boards, and mediums. Any practice that dabbles in a power source other than the Lord Jesus Christ is witchcraft. Revelation 22:15 includes witches in a list of those who will not inherit eternal life: “Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.” Even though Christians don’t need to fear it, Satan is very powerful so we must stay away from all evilness and things of the occult.
In the New Testament, “sorcery” is translated from the Greek word pharmakeia, from which we get our word pharmacy (Galatians 5:20; Revelation 18:23). Witchcraft often involves the ritualistic use of magic potions and mind-controlling drugs. Using illicit drugs can open us up to being tempted easily by the devil. Engaging in a practice or taking a substance to achieve an altered state of consciousness is a form of witchcraft.
Isaiah 8:19 says, “When someone tells you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living?” We could also ask, “Why seek any power apart from the source of all real power? Why seek spirits who are not the Holy Spirit?” Witchcraft and its many counterparts promise spirituality but lead only to emptiness and death (Micah 5:12; Galatians 5:19–21). Only Jesus has the words of life (John 6:68).