Medium: “In spiritualism, a ‘person who conveys spiritual messages,’ by 1853.” A medium is an intermediary, someone who stands in the gap between the living and the dead in order to communicate messages seen, felt, or heard regarding the past, the present, or the future.
These individuals might even offer supposed prophecy in their function as communicators for the dead. Biblically, mediums partake in occult practices which include necromancy, magic, and fortune-telling, all of which are abominations to the Lord.
Occultists in the Bible and Throughout History
People have been consulting with the dead for millennia, hoping to find out what is on the other side; believing they can learn the future; desiring control and power.
As the Philistines continued to threaten the kingdom of Israel, Saul sought help from Samuel, but since Samuel was dead, Saul consulted the witch of Endor (1 Samuel 28). As a slave, the power of “fortune-telling” was a source of income to her owners (Acts 16:16-19).
Mediums, magicians, and others who practice occult arts might offer entertainment by means of deception, but some mediums legitimately communicate with either the dead or with demons. If there is any doubt that such a thing is possible, one should remember that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the [...] cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil” (Ephesians 6:12).
Whether a medium is speaking to a client’s dead relative or to a demon posing as a deceased loved one, the point is that any spirit not from God comes from Satan.
From God or Satan?
Where does a Christian go in order to determine the source of a supernatural experience? Mediums consult the dead, but we have a living intermediary. We do not need seances; our guidance should not come from loved ones who have passed on.
Seeking hope from the power of Satan leads to distress and destruction. Christ is “the resurrection and the life.” He told the disciples “the one who believes in me will live” (John 11:25). Anyone who believes in Christ will also glorify Him, so one can ask, “Does this glorify God?”
Harmless, Helpful, or Horrific?
Skeptics might argue that there is no spiritual danger in attending a seance. Audiences are frequently entertained, even skeptics with no personal expectations, but there are financial and emotional consequences of putting one’s hope in potentially communicating with a dead spouse or parent.
The desperate widow or grieving child is vulnerable. God’s Word is a warning meant to protect us, but more than that: His glory is at stake.
Consumers play with tarot cards and Ouija boards, sold in toy stores alongside teddy bears and board games, believing them to be harmless. Some people read horoscopes without believing a word of these daily predictions, but God is not pleased. “The Lord dispossesses and destroys those who practice these things” requiring “not only ‘Don’t do them,’ but also [...] ‘do not experiment with them.’”
Bible Verses about God’s Position on Mediums and other Occultists
A deadly occupation: God associates mediums with necromancers (Leviticus 19:31) and orders that “a man or a woman who is a medium or a necromancer [...] be put to death” (Leviticus 20:27). The Lord associates occultists with “the cowardly,” “the faithless,” “the detestable” such as murderers, liars, and the sexually immoral.
They will suffer “in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death” (Revelations 21:8). Scripture conveys a clear message from the Almighty where mediums, sorcerers, magicians, etc. are concerned. They reject God’s word, lead His children astray, and therefore are “cut off from among His people” (Leviticus 20:6).
Tested by dreamers: There are “dreamers[s] of dreams” who provide a “sign or wonder that [...] comes to pass,” then guide people away from God. In this case, “the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Deuteronomy 13:1-3).
God also knows the weakness of human beings to follow and believe these men and women, so “because of these abominations the Lord your God is driving [occultists] out before you. You shall be blameless before the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 18:12-13).
Armed for battle: God taught the people through Paul to “put on the whole armor of God” (Ephesians 6:11). because they were not fighting the forces of flesh; their fight (and ours) was “not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12). “Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). One could be deceived without that protective armor.
Why Mediums are Unwelcome in God’s Kingdom
King Saul was already on the way out as the king of Israel, but consulting a medium was “the final step in [his] tragic downfall” because he failed to seek God’s guidance. We are invited to ask God for wisdom. “His way is always best, and He wants to show it to you — because He loves you.”
John Piper designates spiritualism as “the use of psychic or spiritual forces to control another person or the course of events.” People who engage in “divination, soothsaying, augury, sorcery, the use of charms, mediums, wizardry, or necromancy” are doing so in order to “gain […] power over destiny, and for controlling people and events to [their] liking.” “God frustrates” their plans when “directed against His people.” Their plans and the individuals themselves are “abominable in the eyes of God.”
Whether those actions include human sacrifice or merely playing around on the fringes of spiritualism, “every inclination to the deed is evil.” It’s an act of “rebellion” rooted in deception, taking us right back to the garden where the devil tempted Eve by saying “you will not certainly die” (Genesis 3:4).
Piper argues that “we belittle God and exalt ourselves” when we try to discover the unspoken mysteries of our futures and of God’s plans. Jesus is the “Revealer,” appointed by the Father.
Knowing the Difference
Christians need to pay attention because “the coming of the lawless one” will be accompanied by “false signs and wonders” (2 Thessalonians 2:9). Satan and his retinue are “ravenous wolves” wearing “sheep’s clothing” (Matthew 7:15). These demons seek to lead Christians into chaos and pre-Christians to destruction.
They use mediums and astrologers and others of spiritualism to do their work. Prophecy is a "miracle of knowledge, a declaration or description or representation of something future, beyond the power of human sagacity to foresee, discern, or conjecture." Prophecy is a “human report of a divine revelation.”
Christians are warned to “test the spirits” (1 John 4:1). False prophets “reject the word of the Lord” and also say “let us go after other gods” (Deuteronomy 13:2). The gift of prophecy as a revelation directly from God was given “temporarily” in order to “lay the foundation of the early church” and to teach followers before there was a completed bible for reference to God’s “revealed word.” “If someone now claims to have received a ‘special revelation,’ we must test it against Scripture.” Even if it “is consistent with Scripture, then we have to ask why an ‘extra’ word was necessary if its truth is already contained in the Bible.”
The gift of prophecy in today’s church is not a means of satisfying curiosity or easing anxiety about the future, but is understood as “the divine strength or ability to communicate God’s truth and heart in a way that calls people to a right relationship with God.”
Is There Hope for Mediums?
As Piper says, individuals who practice spiritualism are abominable to God, but “not beyond the reach of God’s love.” While preaching in Samaria, “a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic” and had become arrogant with his fame and skill “believed the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ” (Acts 8:9, 12).
Mediums and sorcerers can be redeemed, and their testimony used to lead others to the light and life of Christ.
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Candice Lucey is a freelance writer from British Columbia, Canada, where she lives with her family. Find out more about her here.