When Shirley Brown’s son, Robbie, disappeared, she had been a Christian for little more than a year. She was approached at the grocery store by a woman who heard the story on the news. “You’re the one whose son is missing, aren’t you?” she asked. When Shirley confirmed her identity, the woman said, “I’d like you to come to my house. I’m having a séance, and we’ll find out where your son is.” Shirley knew little about the occult, but she sensed a warning not to get involved. “My heart ached to know where my son was,” she said, “but I knew this wasn’t the route God wanted me to take.”
She told the woman, “I talk to God every day, and when He wants me to know where my son is, He’ll tell me.” Offended, the woman replied, “God works through spiritualists too, you know.”
Most people in the occult put a holy spin on it. Some sincerely believe God is working through them, but the Bible is clear, in both the Old and the New Testaments, that God’s followers must not participate in pagan rituals. When a person seeks counsel from an emissary of Satan, they break the first commandment: “You must not have any other god but me (Exodus 20:3, NLT). Information coming from psychics, fortune tellers and false prophets originates in the demonic realm of “other gods.”
A step into the psychic’s den is a step onto forbidden territory. King Saul’s ultimate undoing was his visit to the Witch of Endor (1 Samuel 28). Moses made a list of occult practices. Through him, God warned the Israelites before they entered the Promised Land that they should not adopt any of the wicked customs of the land’s previous inhabitants. The list condemns fortune-telling, sorcery, witchcraft, casting spells, mediums and psychics. Notably, the list also includes calling forth the spirits of the dead, the reason for Saul’s visit to the witch (Deuteronomy 18:10,11). Saul wasn’t ignorant of Moses’ writings.
The temptation to contact the dark side of the supernatural can be strong. Unholy powers promise success, money and influence, the same offerings Satan made to Jesus (Matthew 4:8). Demonic agents claim to heal, to produce miracles, and to have special knowledge, counterfeits of the gifts the Holy Spirit gives (1 Corinthians 12:1-11). People who believe that all supernatural power comes from God can be fooled. Having one’s fortune told seems harmless, even fun, because Satan disguises himself as an angel of light and his followers do the same (2 Corinthians 11:14-15). His real goal is the ruination of God’s people.
When revival came to Ephesus through Paul’s preaching, converts threw their good luck charms, books containing magic arts, and other items of sorcery onto a massive bonfire. The approximate value of items burned that day was 50,000 days’ wages (Acts 19:18,19). These book-burners were seekers of truth and willing to sacrifice valuable possessions and their incomes—some made a living out of sculpting idols—to publicly acknowledge Jesus as Lord. This fire followed a demonstration of true signs and wonders by Paul. The new converts recognized the difference between the Holy Spirit’s work and the devil’s counterfeit.
As we inch closer to Christ’s return, we should expect an increase in demonic exhibitions—even from unexpected places under the guise of culture and masquerading as goodness. God provides His followers with supernatural gifts. One of these gifts helps us discern between godly and devilish spirits. Every believer needs to exercise discernment to know the difference between a false prophet and a messenger from God.
Supernatural gifts are useful for combatting evil. Corrie ten Boom tells of a missionary in a Chinese prison who endured brainwashing. “… he felt he was at the end of his strength. Then he began to pray in tongues. That fellowship with the Lord . . . was his salvation.” Many who once prayed in tongues have drifted away from it. With intentional practice and prayer, this gift from God can operate once again. Ironically, God’s spiritual gifts often receive more criticism than the enemy’s counterfeits. This may account for the lack of emphasis on tongues and the other gifts the Spirit gives.
No matter how desperate or lonely, no matter how pressured one feels, never—under any circumstance—should Satan or his messengers be consulted.
Not everyone exercises the godly wisdom Shirley Brown did. People make mistakes by intention or by ignorance. Satan tricked Peter the apostle and afterwards tried to destroy him with guilt. Jesus said to Peter, and to all who fall for Satan’s deceptions, “I have prayed for you … that your faith may not fail” (Luke 22:32a, NIV). There’s freedom in this truth: Satan cannot maintain a grip on the child of God. We have the blood of Jesus for protection, His name for freedom, and our testimony as proof that we belong to Him (Revelation 12:11).
God knows all things—past, present and future. When Shirley Brown put her son in His hands, He gave her an enduring peace. No peace is found in the dark side of the supernatural.
Rose McCormick Brandon writes from her home in Caledonia, Ont., where she lives with her husband, Doug. They have three children and three grandchildren. Rose is the author of the Canadian history book, Promises of Home: Stories of Canada’s British Home Children. Her personal experience pieces, devotionals and biblical essays are published in several periodicals and book compilations in Canada and the U.S.
This article appeared in the April/May/June 2020 issue of testimony/Enrich, a quarterly publication of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. © 2020 The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. Photos © istockphoto.com.