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What is the Occult

QUESTION: What is the Occult?


While the word occult (from the Latin occultus) literally means “hidden” or “secret,” the world of the occult is clearly out of the closet. It has been glamorized as “New Age,” but its genesis is as old age as the hiss of the serpent, “your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). The objective of occultism is self-deification through sorcery, spiritism, and soothsaying.

What is the occult? Magick
First, through sorcery (magick), occultists seek to harness paranormal powers for private purposes. Using ritualistic formulas, spells and incantations, occultists seek to harness what they perceive to be the natural and spiritual powers of the universe in order to satisfy their own desires. God warned the ancient Israelites that these very practices would inevitably lead to their downfall. Likewise, he rebuked the ancient Babylonians for supposing that they could by-pass his power through their “many sorceries” and “potent spells” (Isaiah 47:8-15).

What is the occult? Mediums
Furthermore, occultists employ spiritualistic practices (mediumship) in order to contact non-physical entities including the souls of the dead. These spirits are believed to be capable of providing cosmic insights into this world and the next. As such, spiritists employ Ouija boards, crystal balls, and the belongings of the dead to conjure up the departed. God’s warning against those who practice spiritism could not be more ominous or direct: “I will set my face against the person who turns to mediums and spiritists to prostitute himself by following them, and I will cut him off from his people” (Leviticus 20:6; cf. 19:31; Isaiah 8:19).

What is the occult? Divination
Finally, occultists seek to access secret or hidden information about the future through soothsaying (divination). Among the most common tools of the soothsayer are Tarot cards, astrological charts, horoscopes, and tea leaves. The Lord’s command is emphatic and explicit: “Do not practice divination” (Leviticus 19:26). Indeed, the ultimate insult to the power and providence of the Almighty is to seek guidance through the occult. Thus, when the Israelites were about to enter the land of Promise, the Lord warned them not to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there: “Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his 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” (Deuteronomy 18:10-12; cf. Acts 13:6-11; 16:16-18; Galatians 5:19-21).

“Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds. A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas. In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power” (Acts 19:18-20).

Copyright Christian Research Institute and Hank Hanegraaff. Used by permission.

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