“Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world.” (1 John 4:1, NLT)
Years ago, while surfing through TV channels, I came across a “ghost expert” waxing eloquent. Educating the world on ghosts, he said,
“Ghosts are spirits that weren’t quite finished completing their mission on earth. Hence, before they’re able to move on to whatever’s next, they’re here with us.”
If “they’re with us”, logic dictates we should be able to communicate with them, right?
**You can read my blog on what the Bible says about ghosts here.**
Here in this blog I’d like to address what the Bible says specifically about necromancy i.e. communicating with the dead.
Before we dive in, permit me to address the following:
First, I write wishing communicating with the dead was possible. No one would more love for the idea of communicating with our deceased loved ones to be real than me. My son, Jordan, suffered from debilitating depression. It was a constant mental battle. In 2013, he lost that battle, taking his own life. Even now as I type this blog my heart constricts at the thought of how desperately I would love to hear his voice and tell him I love him.
Second, let’s look at two familiar biblical passages that involve this very thing of communicating with the dead, offering some context:
1. Saul & the Medium at Endor
There is an intriguing story found in 1 Samuel 28, where the Jewish King, Saul, desperate for help, rather than depending on God, sought out a medium in Endor. I bring this to your attention because proponents of necromancy use this passage as biblical support for what they do. What follows is a brief commentary on this passage by renowned theologian, Merrill Unger:
(Upon Saul’s request), “the woman doubtlessly began her customary preparations for her control to take over, entering into a trance-like state to be used by her control or divining demon, who would then proceed to impersonate the individual called for. The startling thing, however, was that the usual occult procedure was abruptly cut short by the sudden and totally unexpected appearance of the spirit of the prophet, Samuel (who was dead). In other words, even the medium was shocked and terrified that someone from beyond was appearing! Transfixed with terror, the woman screamed out with shock as she perceived that God had stepped in. By God’s power and special permission, Samuel’s actual spirit was presented to pronounce final doom upon Saul.”
So, like parting the Red Sea, a virgin giving birth, and a donkey talking, this is simply an instance when God, in his sovereignty, did what He wanted to do to fulfill His purpose.
2. Jesus visits with Moses & Elijah
The gospel writers, Matthew, Mark, and Luke all record this fascinating account of Moses and Elijah appearing before Jesus and visiting with him. Luke is the only biographer giving us insight about which the conversation centered: Jesus’ crucifixion.
Clearly, there is nothing in common with this story and the practice of a human being claiming to be a medium conjuring up the dead.
Again, as in the story of Saul in 1 Samuel 28, the reason for arranging a meeting with Moses, Elijah and Jesus is known only to God.
Now, let’s take a brief look at what the Bible has to say about necromancy:
Our fascination with ghosts & spirits is nothing new. One scholar stated,
“Necromancy (communicating with the dead) is the oldest form of counterfeit known to man. Its roots go back to the beginning of time, as far back as ancient Egypt…The main idea behind it all is that the spirits of the dead have the capacity to communicate with people here on earth through mediums.”
Our culture here in North America, although not necessarily Christian, is extremely spiritual. Being a medium/psychic is big business. Remember “Psychic Hotline?” a.k.a. Dial-a-Demon. One author cites who she believes are the 8 Best Famous Psychics in the World.
At the top of the list is the same man who’s been at the top of that list for decades. His name is John Edward. His web site states,
“As a psychic medium, Edward has helped thousands with his uncanny ability to predict future events and to communicate with those who have crossed over to the other side.”
So, what does God have to say about necromancy?
1. It’s sin.
The Old Testament passages of Leviticus. 20:6, 27, and Deuteronomy 18:10-12, are strongly worded commandments from God, leaving no doubt as to where He stands on people foolishly trying to communicate with the dead. Further, there is no approval of it found anywhere in the Old and New Testaments, only warning and condemnation. In the book of Acts, Paul exercises little patience with a local fortune-teller.
2. It’s a lie.
Jesus tells a fascinating story in Luke 16:19-31 (I refer to this same story in my blog, Paranormal Activity, what the Bible says about ghosts) about a poor beggar named Lazarus (not the Lazarus Jesus raised from the dead), and an arrogant rich man. Both men die. Lazarus goes to heaven, while the rich man goes to hell. What Jesus makes perfectly clear is that (1) both men entered eternity immediately after their death (Lazarus in heaven, the rich man in hell). There was no “roaming around period” on earth as ghosts. And, (2) returning to earth was not an option.
3. It’s dangerous.
Former medium and author, Ralph Gasson, confesses that what he used to think was spirits of dead people was actually demons. (After placing his faith in Christ he wrote a book titled, The Challenging Counterfeit: An Expose’ of Psychic Phenomena.)
Gasson’s discovery answers the million dollar question: “If I’m not talking to my dead loved one, who am I talking to??”
The biblical answer is simple: demons.
The Bible tells us that demons are real. Satan’s chief talent being deception, demons would have no problem impersonating the dead. Jesus, himself, called Satan “a liar and the father of lies.” In short, no one even comes close to Satan’s skill set of lies and deceit. His talent and genius in this area are beyond our comprehension.
The Bible actually includes a frightening story of people messing with demons in Acts 19. Some Jews – who had not professed their faith in Jesus – were envious of the power God had bestowed on the Apostle Paul and others to perform miracles. So, they decided to take on Satan’s kingdom in their own (Christ-less) power. That was a very bad – and painful – decision. You can read the story here.
The idea of talking with deceased loved ones is a hugely emotional topic. Those claiming to have the ability to connect us to deceased loved ones prey on the desperate. They approach our shattered hearts with what appears to be compassion and empathy. But, don’t be deceived. Satan, himself, “masquerades as an angel of light.” His wiles and schemes will appear to us safe, harmless and welcoming. The problem with false teachers is that they never look like false teachers. They’re merely people who’ve mastered the art of the con. Entertaining any “word” from mediums will only help to convolute, cloud, confuse, and make us doubt what is actually true: God’s Word – this was exactly the serpent’s strategy in Eden, and he hasn’t changed his strategy one bit.
But, the medium and/or spirit they connected with knew things about me and/or my loved one that no one else on earth knew! How do you explain that?
As Paul warned, Satan is careful not to expose his unfathomable depth of evil and skills in deception. Rather, as mentioned above, “Satan masquerades as an angel of light.” Satan, albeit not omnipresent (he can only be one place at a time), has an army of devils who’ve had plenty of time to study our lives and take notes, hoping to use those notes to deceive us at an opportune time.
Soli Deo Gloria, Nick