“There shall not be found among you anyone…..who practices divination, a soothsayer, or an augur, or a sorcerer, or a charmer, or a medium, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD” (Deut 18:10-12 RSV-CE).
What is it like on the other side of death? Is there some ethereal being bathed in brilliant light who draws us up to himself through a tunnel of intense but beautiful light, as some who have had “near death experiences” claim? Is there even an afterlife; and if there is, what is it like? Is it like the ancient Greek idea where the departed just become shades and seem to be quite miserable? Do we sit around on clouds all day playing harps? Do we come back to earth in a different form through reincarnation? Do we re-join the Universal Consciousness and become one with it? Do we face an angry god who will plunge us into the most horrific torment forever? Or is there nothing at all, and when we die we cease to exist in any form whatsoever?
Many people don’t think about such things now because it is too frightening, unknown and unknowable. They don’t allow themselves to think so they push any thoughts of it out of their minds and replace it with some shadowy half-idea that has no basis for security except that it takes their minds off the subject, enabling them to delay facing it for as long as possible.
There is a wide acceptance in Western society that there is nothing beyond the grave; that when you die, that’s the end. There’s nothing “out there”, and when you die you cease to exist in any form. There is no God, no supreme being to whom you must give account, no afterlife at all. There is just….nothing.
The Psychic/Medium Revival and John Edward
But there are also many people who don’t believe there is nothing on “the other side”. The fact that psychic mediums like John Edward proliferate demonstrates this. These psychics have thriving businesses because people want to believe that there is more than annihilation at death; that their departed loved ones haven’t just been snuffed out of existence or are suffering in some way, but that they’re safe, at peace, and even happy. And these people are convinced that their dear departed is watching over them somehow, and they can feel his/her presence with them, even influencing events in their lives at certain times.
John Edward is probably the most recognised of the current rash of mediums but even he is, at best, a charlatan and con man, making his living cruelly preying on the emotions of people still trying to come to terms with the loss of a loved one. Perhaps they’re stricken with guilt because their last words to somebody they loved were harsh; or wondering how their departed spouse or child is doing now; and so on. At his meetings, he predisposes people to have low expectations in order that they will accept more readily his low success rate as he fishes for information from his gullible audience. And gullible they are – I say this not unkindly though, because many of them are there because of deep emotional need. Edward knows that they are on his side and will be patient with him as he tosses around names as bait trying to hook a fish…..” I’m hearing the name Michael, or Mike, or Mark”….silence….. “or something with M” (in a large audience somebody will know somebody with an “M” in their name)….still no response. “There is something about a car….” – no response – “a vehicle…he was in a car accident or he works on cars or he’s a racing driver”. The longer the delay in somebody responding, the wider the net must be cast. As his audience goes along with him they’re each trying to think of somebody they know who might fit the broad range of connections that Edward is giving out. Eventually a poor soul says “I had a Marcus who collected toy cars”, and the trap is sprung; now he moves in like a wolf which has caught the scent of its prey, and frames further questions in such a way that the victim is being manipulated into giving out more information – and his job is done because they are doing it for him.
An ancient con
He is, in fact, using the same technique as the Chaldean astrologers who served at the court of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar had a dream that greatly disturbed him, but he couldn’t remember just what he dreamed. He called for the astrologers to not only tell him what the dream meant but the dream itself. Just as the modern day medium fishes around to get his/her audience to unwittingly give them details that he/she can then build on, so these astrologers needed Nebuchadnezzar to tell them the dream so they could craft a suitable “interpretation”. But he knew their deceitful ways; and he wouldn’t give them what they wanted, because he couldn’t. So he said to them “You have agreed to speak lying and corrupt words before me till the times change. Therefore tell me the dream, and I shall know that you can show me its interpretation” (Dan 2:9). The astrologers admitted that there was not a man on the earth who could do this (Dan 2:10-11). When God gave his prophet Daniel the dream and its interpretation, Nebuchadnezzar was rightly astonished, and he said to Daniel, “Truly, your God is God of gods and Lord of kings, and a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this secret” (Dan 2:47); and he rewarded Daniel with many gifts and high office.
Edward and his ilk are liars and frauds just like the Chaldean astrologers, who ruthlessly take advantage of needy and vulnerable people; no depth is too low for them to sink as they make every effort to convince their victim they’re telling the truth, all the time comforting them with lies; at the same time, their hands are in the victim’s pockets, as it were, trying to extract their wallets. These con artists and their methods have been exposed repeatedly, and we’ve even been shown this by magicians such as Derren Brown who can do exactly the same things as the psychic; only they show that is a trick and not spiritual. Yet despite this there are still many people who go to them for consolation, desperate to know about the person they’ve lost in death.
The Deception of Demons
We know, and John Edward knows, that he is not speaking to the loved one of his client. But let us assume, for the sake of argument, that he has contacted a spirit. How does he know what kind of a spirit he has conjured up? How does he know it’s not an evil spirit, a demon? The nature of demons is to lie and deceive. Speaking of the devil, Satan, and therefore his minions, Jesus said “He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (Jn 8:44).
So, if Edward really has made contact with a spirit, it is certainly not a “good” or “friendly” or truthful spirit or ghost because the only spirits that communicate with men are malicious, evil, lying, spirits; and they are bent on the destruction of humanity as a whole, and of individuals. They will tell the seeker what they want him/her to believe and will not be honest unless that will cause the seeker harm. And they can reveal the most secret and intimate information about a person because they, as incorporeal beings, have access to such information. Because each of these demons has been around since creation, and are invisible to the human eye, they can gather information about their targeted individuals because they know them, and have been around them for all or part of these people’s lives; thus, they will know information that no human could ever know, such as their victim’s grandmother’s middle name, or the name of the cat they had as a child, and so on. In this way, the evil spirits deceive a person into thinking they really are communicating with the spirit of the person they want to speak to because it is the only one who would know this secret or information.
And such a deceiving spirit is not going to tell the person enquiring of the medium that their loved one is suffering in hell because of their sin, and because they refused to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Can you imagine John Edward telling the enquirer, “Your husband wants you to start going to church immediately. He’s telling me that it’s urgent that you seek Jesus and through him, get right with God. He says he’s suffering in hell in utter torment and there is no hope. He’s saying he’ll never know the comforting presence of God; that he’s condemned to suffer for all eternity because he rejected Christ. He’s pleading with you ‘Please, don’t reject Jesus any longer. Repent now while you still have the opportunity! Don’t put it off for a second longer. Don’t trade an eternity of joy with God for a few moments of pleasure in your earthly life. Nothing – but nothing – is worth even a moment of the suffering and torment I’m enduring constantly!’”.
No, that would never happen. No deceiving spirit would warn a person to seek Christ and avoid hell; no medium would do so either, otherwise they’d lose clients and their cash flow would quickly dry up. The whole psychic industry is built on deception, and is geared toward plunging people into a Christless eternity. What business could be more wicked and have such devastating consequences?!
Besides, the bible is clear and adamant that the dead cannot contact the living, whether through a medium or not, because they are dead. “For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward; but the memory of them is lost. Their love and their hate and their envy have already perished, and they have no more for ever any share in all that is done under the sun” (Eccles 9:5-6).
The Real Spirit World
In contrast to John Edward and the modern-day psychics, there are records of people who could communicate with the spirit world. This spirit world is not one of make-believe or fantasy or myth; it is real, and is very dangerous to meddle with. The bible gives us examples of people possessed by demons, and whose lives consequently have been, as it were, hell; tormented beings who were made deaf, dumb, crippled, epileptic, lunatic, or superhumanly strong. They were not able to get free of these devils but had to be set free by some other person who possessed the authority of God to deliver them (some examples can be found in Mark 5:1-20; 9:14-29; Luke 13:11-17). The spirits in this realm are all intensely and totally evil, all hostile to God and humankind, and all possess immense power, some more so than others. They are fallen angels, spirits who rebelled against God and who were cast out of heaven to earth, and who await with absolute dread the return of Jesus Christ, at which time they will all be cast into the Lake of Fire which has been prepared for them. Their leader is Satan, also known biblically as Lucifer, Beelzebub, Belial, the Great Red Dragon, the prince of the power of the air, and other names. He is known by many names outside of scripture as well, most of which I’m unfamiliar with, but Baphomet seems to be a prominent one. And there are degrees of power and authority among them. The Apostle Paul warns “For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph 6:12).
Satan loves it when we stupid humans joke about him, sing songs about hell, dress up in black clothing with skulls and other symbols of death and horror, and mock him as a mischievous little imp dressed in red, with a forked tail, and carrying a pitchfork. By so doing we blind ourselves to the reality of his existence, which suits him, because despite their power, the demons’ main weapon against humanity is deception. And while we have this deadly fascination with the occult, demons, ghosts, séances, psychics, mediums, witchcraft, necromancers, tarot cards, gory and terrifying horror stories and movies, and so on, we remain susceptible to his deceptions and even make ourselves vulnerable to demon possession.
Destroyed by a Horror Movie
I knew of a young boy from a lovely Christian family; he was a delightful child and a joy to his parents. When he was 13 years old he went to sleep over at his friend’s house. During the time he was there, the friend wanted them to watch the movie “The Exorcist”. The young guest had never come across anything like this movie in his life; thus, it had such a massive effect on him that he came home from his friend’s house depressed and fearful, and over time became increasingly difficult and hostile and violent. He remained like this for the rest of his short life; and when he was just 21 years old, he committed suicide. I’m not saying that everyone who watches this movie and others like it will become possessed; but we do expose ourselves to that possibility when we involve ourselves with anything occult or horror.
Destroyed by “harmless” practices
We also play into his hand when we practice Yoga, meditation and other New Age practices. These are not benign, but are powerful tools that Satan uses to gain control over people. Meditation is particularly dangerous and practitioners of it really do make contact with evil and powerful spirits. Yoga, too, is an occult practice and those who do it place themselves in danger. This is not to say that every person who practices meditation and Yoga will become possessed; but the possibility is very strong. And it is certain that one or more demons will attach themselves to you because occult practices open a person to such demonic take-overs; the degree of the severity of that take-over will vary from person to person. This also applies to Ouija boards and séances, tarot cards, horoscopes, numerology, even palm and tea cup readings. Although they seem harmless and even fun, there are spirits behind them waiting for those whom they can destroy. Those who play with these things are like flies buzzing around a spider’s web – their destruction is sure.
Mediums Who Unexpectedly Encountered Real Spirits
The witch of Endor
The bible tells us of people who did contact the spirit world. There is an example in the story of King Saul. Because of the particular sin he committed, he had been told by God that his kingship was to be taken from him and given to another. God also removed his Holy Spirit from Saul and sent an evil spirit to torment him. As Saul’s life began to unravel, and his kingdom came under threat from the Philistines, he sought the aid of a medium (1 Sam 28:7) whom we know as “the witch of Endor”. When this medium was found, she asked him “Whom shall I bring up for you? He said, ‘Bring up Samuel for me’. When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out with a loud voice; and the woman said to Saul, ‘Why have you deceived me? You are Saul’” (1 Sam 28:11-12).
The narrative reveals that the woman was surprised when Samuel appeared, as if she wasn’t expecting him, so it is likely that she, too, was a fraud. If this is true, she made her living by deceiving people, just as does John Edward and all psychic mediums. The sight of this spirit surprised and terrified her.
The narrative continues “The king said to her, ‘Have no fear; what do you see?’ And the woman said to Saul, ‘I see a god coming up out of the earth’…..Then Samuel said to Saul, ‘Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?’” (1 Sam 28:13, 15). (There is ongoing debate as to whether this really was Samuel, or a demon posing as him).
The sons of Sceva
In the book of The Acts of the Apostles, after the account of Paul working miracles and healing people in Ephesus by the power of God and the name of Jesus, we’re told of how this made such an impression on the city that some tried to emulate him. The account says “Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to pronounce the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, ‘I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches’. Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. But the evil spirit answered them, ‘Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?’ And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, mastered all of them, and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks; and fear fell upon them all; and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled” (Acts 19:13-17). These exorcists mistakenly thought that the use of the name of Jesus was just another magic spell.
Here we see that demons are real beings, spirits, who can speak, and who can inhabit and possess people; and that this demon gave his host such strength that he was able to beat the daylight out of seven strong young men at once. We also see that when a person is authorised by God and given the power, they can cast these demons out of a person (exorcism); but when the name of Jesus is used by those who are not authorised by him and who do not know him, there is no power or authority, and their attempted exorcism has no effect; in fact, as we see from this story, it can have adverse effects on them. We therefore deduce that it is not magic and incantations and spells and names that have power over evil spirits, but only the name of Jesus used by an agent of Jesus. Jesus has already defeated these enemies of his by his death and resurrection: “He disarmed the principalities and powers and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in him” (Col 2:15). By this, God “has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and has transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son” (Col 1:13); “For in him the whole fulness of deity dwells bodily” (Col 2:9).
This event made such a powerful impression on the people of Ephesus that “Many also of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. And a number of those who practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all; and they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord grew and prevailed mightily” (Acts 19:18-20).
“These books were filled with formulas, spells, and astrological forecasts. The volumes were expensive; fifty thousand pieces of silver would have taken 10 laborers 20 years to earn. Burning the books indicated real repentance on the part of those who had practiced magic” (From “The NKJV Study Bible”, copyright 1997, 2007 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission).
So these practitioners of magic saw the genuine power of God and understood that what they had been involved with up until this moment was a counterfeit of the power of God; and, in spite of the enormous cost of their magic manuals, they consigned them to the flames as being worthless and to be repented of.
Mediums Who Fooled the People
The bible has many examples of people who were sorcerers, mediums, witches, and the like. They all opposed God and some of them were punished on the spot, others were left to continue their deception, God waiting until they stand before him in death at the Judgment, when he will punish them for their sins. Some of these people were fakes who could deceive using trickery; while others seemed to have had genuine spiritual power from the realm of darkness.
One example of a person apparently having dark power is a man named Simon, in Acts 8:5-24: “Philip went down to a city of Samaria, and proclaimed to them the Christ…..But there was a man named Simon who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the nation of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great……And they listened to him, because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic” (Acts 8:5, 9, 11).
This man, Simon, was a sorcerer; he seems to have possessed genuine spiritual power, but it was an occult, demonic power. And he used it to gain power over people and to exalt himself. He used sorceries (magic) to bewitch people. All such involvement will only bring a person into bondage and destruction. Satan does give spiritual power to people he chooses and who are foolish enough to seek it, but it is a baited hook, and he only seeks to destroy (1 Pet 5:8; Jn 8:44). The people to whom he gives his power are those with psychic abilities, because they act as his agents as he seeks to enslave and destroy as many people as he can in the time he has left before his own destruction. These psychics are often ignorant themselves and don’t realise that the source of their power is malicious; and while they think they are helping people by using their powers, they are making those whom they seek to help vulnerable to hostile demonic take-over, because these seekers open themselves up to receive what the psychic gives them.
Philip demonstrated the power of God by miracles of healing and casting out demons (perhaps many of those who were demon-possessed had become so through involvement with Simon’s power). The power that Philip had was given by God and brought freedom, healing and, consequently, joy. Just as Philip’s power was the opposite to Simon’s, so Christians today oppose mediums, psychics and shamans with the same power as Philip’s, because we worship and serve the same God; and God still sets people free from demon possession, bondage to sins, afflictions and sickness.
Where Simon sought to gain power and prestige using sorcery, Christians point people away from themselves (or ought to) in humility and dependence on God, and to Christ, not claiming the power as their own but as a received power. Spiritual power is spiritual power, no matter what the source; it is the source of this power that determines its results. God has delegated power to the Church to set people free and bring them into a relationship with his beloved Son, Jesus; Satan gives power to his slaves to bring as many people as possible into bondage, misery, and death, even though the initial contact with it may be heady and exciting.
We Get What We Deserve
The reason for the proliferation of mediums and psychics today is that as a civilisation the West has rejected God. But that void must be filled with something because humankind is innately religious and knows there is someone “out there”. So we replace God with that which he replaced i.e. paganism, superstition, witchcraft, the occult, black magic, Satan worship etc.; while many others have turned to atheism, another blight on humanity, which is also a religion because it is faith-based. Thus, we are reaping what we’ve sown, and God hasn’t finished with us yet.
The Occult and New Age Religions are Evil
We also see the essence of New Age religion displayed before our eyes as people claim to be gods; not just blatantly pagan Hindu gurus but “ordinary” people like Shirley Maclaine and others who have been fed the same lies by the gurus who guide her.
When the people of Israel entered the land of Canaan as their new “Promised Land”, they were given laws directly from God which were to be obeyed for their well-being. One of those laws concerned mediums and the spirit world: “There shall not be found among you any one…..who practices divination, a soothsayer, or an augur, or a sorcerer, or a charmer, or a medium, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD” (Deut 18:10-12); and, “If a person turns to mediums and wizards, playing the harlot after them, I will set my face against that person…..A man or a woman who is a medium or a wizard shall be put to death” (Lev 20:6, 27).
God hates all occult practices, one reason being that at the centre of any occult activity is seeking counsel, guidance, revelation or anything else, from demons. The world of fallen spirits is totally, utterly, and intrinsically evil and in rebellion against God; therefore, God has prepared the lake of fire for them (Matt 25:41). He also refuses the right to live of those who consult demons and mediums. The modern psychic revival is not harmless or benign but brings people into bondage and misery, even though most psychics are frauds; demons can gain a foothold in a person’s mind and body simply because those who seek a medium’s advice have opened themselves up to the occult world.
Jesus Possesses the Keys of Hell and of Death
If we would have assurance that our loved ones are safe; if we would have eternal life and security for ourselves; there is only one name, one person, who can give us that certainty. That One is Jesus Christ. He said of himself “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). And the Apostle Paul, writing of Jesus Christ, said “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
John Edward and all other psychics and mediums cannot give assurance of the whereabouts or safety of even one person because their very foundation is wrong. Of such people, Jesus warned “Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit” (Matt 15:14). Jesus is the only person to whom we should go; he said of himself “I am the first and the last, and the living one; I died, and behold I am alive for evermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades” (Rev 1:18).
The living know that they must die,
But all the dead unconscious lie;
Their powers of thought and sense are gone,
Alike unknowing and unknown.
Their hatred and their love are lost,
Their envy buried in the dust;
They have no share in all that’s done
Beneath the circuit of the sun.
Then what my thoughts design to do,
My hands must hasten to pursue;
Since no device, nor work is found,
Nor faith, nor hope, beneath the ground.
(Poem from “Drama of the Ages” by W. H. Branson, p. 204; Copyright 1950, 1953, Southern Publishing Association, Nashville, Tennessee)
Revised Standard Version Bible, Ignatius Edition, Copyright 2006, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.