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Divining Spirits

Crystal Ball
Question 1 - "Can we talk to the dead?"

Question 2 - "Is it bad to use a Ouija board...what if I have?"

Question 3 - "The bible says not to practice in psychic practices. If this is evil, how can it be used for good? (working with police to find missing persons)."

I wanted to answer all 3 of these questions as a group. They all deal with the same basic root question: "What does the Bible teach about talking to, seeking out, or divining spirits?"

I would assume that the question of whether we can talk to the dead is intended to ask if it is possible more than if it is permissible. That question can be answered in a couple of ways.

First, we must define who the "dead" are that we are attempting to speak with. Scripture doesn't give us any example for, or encouragement that once a person has died we can then communicate with them. As a matter of fact, in Luke 16:19-31, Jesus gives an example of what happened to a sinful "rich man" and to a righteous beggar named Lazarus when they both died. The rich man went to hades (the abode of the unsaved dead between death and the final judgment) where, in his "torment" he begged Abraham (Abraham and Lazarus were in the presence of God, separated from the unrighteous dead) to send Lazarus from the dead to warn his living brothers of their need to repent so they wouldn't end up where he was. Abraham refused, stating that the living brothers had the scriptures (word of God) to speak to them. If they didn't listen to them then they would believe even one "risen from the dead."

There is a time recorded in the Old Testament book of 1 Samuel 28, when Saul (first king of Israel) consulted a medium or spiritist in an attempt to hear from God through the prophet Samuel who had died. It is an interesting account. Saul had, in accordance with God's law, removed all those who practiced divination. The spiritists and mediums had been driven out or cleansed from the land. Yet, Saul had also disobeyed God and, therefore, God did not answer when Saul inquired of Him.

Rather than confess and repent of his sin and be restored to right relationship with God, Saul chose to seek to speak to the spirit of Samuel from the dead. In this unique case, God permitted the spirit of Samuel to appear. This astonished even the medium who was used to either tricking people or calling upon demonic spirits. This act by Saul was so sinful, that the word he received from Samuel was one of his own impending death and the death of his sons. This is a unique incident designed to show us the severity of seeking any spiritual advice from any source other than God.

In 1 Chronicles 10:13-14 we are given the results of Saul's seeking to speak to the dead:

(13) So Saul died for his trespass which he committed against the LORD, because of the word of the LORD which he did not keep; and also because he asked counsel of a medium, making inquiry of it, (14) and did not inquire of the LORD. Therefore He killed him and turned the kingdom to David the son of Jesse. (NASB)

Is it possible to speak to the dead? I think it is possible. Otherwise, we would not be warned so harshly against even attempting it. I do not believe that without some divine act by God that the spirits of dead people can speak to us (see my answer on "Do ghosts exist?") but rather that when people attempt to seek out the dead for conversation or enlightenment they open up the door for demonic spirits to converse with them.

See, whether it is possible or not, we are told that it is absolutely a sin. We are absolutely prohibited from even trying it!

Seeking spiritual guidance, wisdom, insight, or power from any other source than God through prayer, His word, His Spirit, or His divine revelation is a sin!

Attempting to speak to the dead, or to use some divining device (even if it is masquerading as a game like the Ouija board or Tarot cards), or to seek out spirits through mediums, sorcery, or any other source of divining is strictly forbidden by God.

While far from exhaustive, here is a general outline of what the Bible says about seeking out spirits and those who do:
  • Leviticus 20:27 - Says that a "man or a woman who is a medium or spiritist shall surely be put to death. They shall be stoned with stones, their bloodguiltiness is upon them."
  • Leviticus 19:26 - Prohibits any divination or soothsaying (soothsaying is fortune telling).
  • Leviticus 19:31 - God says that those who do seek out mediums or spiritists "are defiled by them," sealing this declaration with these strong words "I am the Lord your God" (don't you forget it!).
  • Deuteronomy 18:9-14 - God gives a very stern warning against these detestable practices:
(9)"When you enter the land which the LORD your God gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations. (10) "There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, (11) or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. (12) "For whoever does these things is detestable to the LORD; and because of these detestable things the LORD your God will drive them out before you. (13) "You shall be blameless before the LORD your God. (14) "For those nations, which you shall dispossess, listen to those who practice witchcraft and to diviners, but as for you, the LORD your God has not allowed you to do so. (NASB)
  • 1 Samuel 15:23 - links rebellion against God with the sin of divination.
  • 2 Kings 21:6 and 2 Chronicles 33:6 tells us that one of the things that made King Manasseh so wicked and an abomination in God's sight was that he sacrificed his children to false gods by burning them and practiced witchcraft and used divination, and dealt with mediums and spiritists. He did MUCH evil in the sight of the Lord provoking Him to anger (NASB, my emphasis added).
  • Isaiah 2:6 warns against being influenced by soothsayers or fortune tellers, and that these practices cause God to abandon those who do them!
As I said before, throughout the Bible, God is training us (His people) to be different than those around us. To be Holy, or set apart for Him. We cannot be linking ourselves to spirits and remain in relationship with the Holy God.

When God says "don't" what He is really saying is "don't harm yourself"!

If people are trying to speak to the dead and are deceived by a demonic spirit masquerading as their long lost loved one (which is the case 100% of the time unless God were to intervene, and why would He?), then just think of the harm that can do to their faith, their soul, and their own spirit!

The use of the Ouija board (or anything like it) is clearly against God's commands. Whether it is working by human manipulation or demonic spiritual influence it is forbidden by God and therefore sinful. For the person who has used one it is a matter of confessing your sin (1 John 1:9) which means to agree with God that you have sinned, and repenting of it (turning away by a change of heart, action, and mind). If you do that, you will be forgiven and restored to right relationship with God.

The question of whether psychic practices can be used for good should have been clearly answered in the scriptures given, but just in case: NO! Nothing sinful or in opposition to God can be used for good. Satan can appear to be doing good (to our perception) or be helpful (like he helped Eve in the garden to discover what evil was like, or he tried to help Jesus get over his hunger by getting Him to disobey or test God) but it is the truth and goodness of God that we must stand on. Something that we think is "good" in the here and now can have devastating consequences in eternity. I'd rather seek out what is good by looking in God's holy word than trusting in my interpretation. And, God has made it clear:
  • Revelation 21:8 - "But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." (NASB)
  • Revelation 21:27 - "and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it [Heaven, the New Jerusalem or dwelling place of God with His people; the place of eternal life], but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life. (NASB)
  • Revelation 22:15 - "Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying."
Here is the bottom line: Do not seek truth, or revelation, or prophecy, or power from any source other than what God has so graciously and lovingly given us: Him! God gave us His word to show us the truth and to reveal Himself to us. God gave us the gift of prayer. We can pray directly to Him and He will hear and answer our prayers! And finally... this is awesome... God has placed His own Holy Spirit right inside of all believers to be our Guide, and Teacher, source of power, and reminder of the truth. If you want to seek out a spirit... seek out the Spirit of Truth... the Spirit of Life... the Spirit of God!

Hope this helps...P. Scott


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