Breaking off from the occult
The occult has infiltrated mainstream media and everyday life to the point that we have accepted them as the norm. Astrology, fortune telling, magic, witchcraft, spiritualism, para-psychology, ancestor worship and idol worship are just some occult practices that have been disguised as “harmless”, “entertainment”, “family tradition”, “good for health” or “fun and cute.” Such practices, however, make us a “stench in God’s nostrils.”
Isaiah 65:1-5 NLT The Lord says, “… I was ready to be found, but no one was looking for me. I said, ‘Here I am, here I am!’ to a nation that did not call on my name. All day long I opened my arms to a rebellious people. But they follow their own evil paths and their own crooked schemes. All day long they insult me to my face by worshiping idols in their sacred gardens. They burn incense on pagan altars. At night they go out among the graves, worshiping the dead… Yet they say to each other, ‘Don’t come too close or you will defile me! I am holier than you!’ These people are a stench in my nostrils, an acrid smell that never goes away.
Occult practices usually feature one or more of the following:
- A sophisticated belief system that is contrary to the Bible.
- Prophecies, signs and wonders.
- Some form of offering or exchange.
- Superstitious, religious or decorative objects, as well as spells and potions.
- Blood sacrifices e.g. cutting self, food sacrifice, child sacrifice etc.
2 Thessalonians 2:9 ESV The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders,
We become “participants with demons” every time we take part in any form of occult practice and open entry points for demons to oppress us. It only takes one occasion to give the enemy a foothold.
1 Corinthians 10:20-21 ESV No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.
Most people fall for the occult because of the sinful desires in our souls. Satan will lure us with promises of power, money, recognition, glory and so forth, as a means to fulfil ourselves through any means other than God Himself. Some examples include:
- “I can become prosperous and popular.”
- “I will find love.”
- “I can secretly find my justice.”
- “I can improve my health.”
- “I am not concerned if this offends God.”
- “I am afraid of rejection if I don’t join in.”
- “I want more control over life and people.”
- “I will prevent harm to myself.”
Those who follow occult practices usually do so because they have been taught by family or friends that it is harmless or even good. They may be driven by boredom, curiousity, fear, anxiety, greed or a desire for control, none of which are godly motivations.
Examples of occult practices
Below is a sample list of occult practices we can come across today. Many can be traced back to similar occult practices mentioned in the Old Testament.
Divination: Seeking to foresee or foretell future events or discover hidden knowledge by interpreting omens or through supernatural powers. | Jeremiah 27:9 ESV do not listen to your prophets, your diviners, your dreamers, your fortune-tellers, or your sorcerers…
Fortune telling, belief in fortune cookies, horoscopes, palm reading, face reading, handwriting reading, birthdate fortune telling, séances, tarot cards etc.
Necromancy: Communicating with the “dead” to foretell future events or discover hidden knowledge, to bring someone back from the dead, or to use the deceased as a weapon. (Involves evil spirits that disguise themselves as deceased people.) | Leviticus 19:31 ESV “Do not turn to mediums or necromancers; do not seek them out, and so make yourselves unclean by them: I am the LORD your God.
Temple mediums, sending gifts to the dead, worshiping ancestors, talking to dead people / relatives as a ritual, grave sweeping as an act of worship etc.
Worship of idols / evil spirits: Worship of and deference to anything other than Father, Jesus and Holy Spirit. | Deuteronomy 32:16–17 ESV They stirred him to jealousy with strange gods; with abominations they provoked him to anger. They sacrificed to demons that were no gods, to gods they had never known, to new gods that had come recently, whom your fathers had never dreaded.
Belief in divine creatures or gods, Confucianism, Marxism / Communism, Guan yin, trances or possession by spirits, prosperity deities, offering food at idolatrous altars, Satanism, spirit guides, worship of people, nature or secret societies.
Magic, sorcery and witchcraft: Ways to exercise or glorify supernatural powers. | Deuteronomy 18:10-12 ESV … And do not let your people practice fortune-telling, or use sorcery, or interpret omens, or engage in witchcraft, or cast spells, or function as mediums or psychics, or call forth the spirits of the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord…
Baby ghost, playing Bloody Mary, belief in fairies and mythical beings, chants, crystal balls, casting spells and curses, games such as Dungeon & Dragons, Hell Girl or Magic the Gathering, dream-catchers, fengshui, Halloween, Japanese charms, magic dolls, psychics, new age meditation, spiritual rituals, trances, voodoo, witchdoctors, using needles for health purposes etc.
Astrology: Study of the planets as having an influence on human affairs and the natural world. | Deuteronomy 4:19 ESV And beware lest you raise your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, you be drawn away and bow down to them and serve them, things that the LORD your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven.
Horoscopes, zodiac signs, consulting the lunar calendar, moon worship, sun worship, star worship, worship of heavenly bodies as deities etc.
Superstition: Belief in supernatural causality, that one event causes another without any natural process linking the two events. | 1 Timothy 4:7 ESV Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness;
Good luck charms, myths, things that bring “bad luck” or “good luck” etc.
Effects of the occult on believers
Occult practices tend to promote self-sufficiency and control over one’s life. They will always be presented as alluring, beneficial and harmless, but the principles behind occult practices inadvertently harden our hearts towards God and block child-like faith in Him. One will notice some common traits of people who are under the influence of the occult.
1. Proud, manipulative and quarrelsome nature
People who use the occult to control what they want will often be full of pride. They have a manipulative and quarrelsome nature towards their family members, friends and fellow believers.
2 Timothy 2:23,25-26 ESV Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels… God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
2. Vanity, seduction and manipulation
The occult encourages people to idolise themselves and become their own gods. It creates the deception that human beings have the power to command the supernatural or evil spirits. But demons eventually steal from and destroy those who try to control them. They may appear to be “summoned” to do our will but ultimately, they are the ones who end up controlling and manipulating us.
People who participate in the dark arts will be inclined to use manipulation or seduction to try to control other people. Queen Jezebel was from a country that was deeply seeped in witchcraft. There are numerous occasions in the book of 2 Kings that record how Jezebel overstepped her boundaries and manipulated circumstances and people for her own evil desires. In her vanity, she even dressed up and taunted Jehu, the military commander who came to destroy her.
When people with similar traits become Christians and do not renounce ties with their occult past for good, they will be influenced by Satan to try to influence God’s people and church ministries to suit their personal agendas.
2 Kings 9:30 ESV When Jehu came to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it. And she painted her eyes and adorned her head and looked out of the window…
3. Out-of-control temper
Those who dabble in the occult will also be easily provoked to anger, especially when things don’t go according to their own will and efforts.
4. Insecurity, anxiety, lack of peace
The desire to always be in control breeds a sense of insecurity and lack of peace about the future. Jehu, the commander who destroyed the pagan queen Jezebel, declared that there was no peace in the land because of the sorcery the queen had been practicing. As a person starts practising the occult, they can be drawn deeper and deeper into it as they try to find more answers to their anxieties. This only keeps them in a state of insecurity and spiritual bondage.
2 Kings 9:22 ESV And when Joram saw Jehu, he said, “Is it peace, Jehu?” He answered, “What peace can there be, so long as the whorings and the sorceries of your mother Jezebel are so many?”
5. Lying, greed, dishonouring God
The desire for control will also lure us into telling half-truths or “white lies” in order to get our way. We begin to deceive ourselves about the gravity of our rebellion against God and quench the Holy Spirit in us. This will give way to a lying and self-deceiving spirit that will oppress and enslave us, until we confess and humbly ask God for forgiveness. Such a spirit can cause much damage within a Christian community.
Acts 5:3-5 ESV But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.” When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it.
6. Health problems, physical ailments, untimely deaths
Ultimately, occult practices bring curses upon those who follow Satan. The most visible of these are physical or health problems. One may also notice a history of untimely deaths and prolonged sicknesses within their families.
Luke 13:16 ESV And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?”
7. Sexual enslavement
The Bible states that those who follow idols are filled with a spirit of whoredom that will lead them to sexual sin and fornication. All other sins we commit are outside our bodies but sexual fornication is against our bodies, temples of the Holy Spirit. Demons love to deface and destroy God’s beloved temples. Demons will also use sex to form ungodly soul ties between sinners, in order to influence more people and their families.
Hosea 4:12-14 ESV My people inquire of a piece of wood, and their walking staff gives them oracles. For a spirit of whoredom has led them astray… Therefore your daughters play the whore, and your brides commit adultery… for the men themselves go aside with prostitutes and sacrifice with cult prostitutes, and a people without understanding shall come to ruin.
8. Deathly hue, lack of radiance
When people are heavily oppressed by demons, there may be a slightly deathly grey hue over their faces. They will lack the radiance that comes from full submission to God’s plans and blessings.
Psalm 34:5 ESV Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.
Breaking off occult influences
1. Repent and stop all occult practices
Occult practices put us under the direct influence of demons and curses. To break free, we must be genuinely repentant in saying sorry to God and stop all our affections for and dedication to occult objects and practices.
2 Kings 22:17,19 ESV Because they have forsaken me and have made offerings to other gods, that they might provoke me to anger with all the work of their hands… because your heart was penitent, and you humbled yourself before the Lord, when you heard how I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and you have torn your clothes and wept before me, I also have heard you, declares the Lord.
One of the commonly overlooked occult practices is new age meditation or hypnotism of any kind. Evil spirits can enter our souls when we “surrender our will”, “clear our minds” or “let go of control.” Proverbs 25:28 suggests that this is how evil spirits will break in to exert their influence over us. We must not be like a city without walls that is easily broken into. This for instance, is how demons operate through mediums.
Brain scans by neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Newberg showed an increased flow of incoming sensory information to many parts of the brains of Brazilian mediums as they channelled messages from the “spirits of the dead” through handwriting. Their messages were indeed coming from something beyond the mediums themselves.
Proverbs 25:28 NASB Like a city that is broken into and without walls Is a man who has no control over his spirit.
2. Cleanse our homes
Next, we must remove and destroy all items related to the occult from our homes and workplaces, regardless of how much they cost. They will never be as valuable as our souls. We should not be tied down to their monetary or sentimental value, because such fleshly desires will only tie us to demonic influences. Let us cleanse our homes as soon as possible and destroy items such as:
- Idolatrous altars for spirits and ancestor worship etc.
- Religious writing, mantras, scrolls etc.
- Objects used for new age or spiritual practices, such meditation mats, automatic writing, hypnotism, séances, psychic reading, mind control, mind reading etc.
- Objects related to witchcraft, such as fengshui, spells, potions, written curses or “blessings” etc.
- Objects related to superstitions etc.
- Anything related to fortune-telling (tarot cards, ouija boards, horoscopes, zodiac signs), western or Chinese astrology, numerology, birthdate readings etc.
- Anything related to political or religious leaders or regimes that are worshipped etc.
- “Cultural” souvenirs with spiritual significance, such as voodoo dolls, dreamcatchers, totem poles, Native American art, swords and spears with spiritual meaning, carpets and cloths used in idol worship, temple souvenirs, amulets, talisman, Nepalese eye and spiritism, African masks, temple lions or guardian creatures, Egyptian objects, Mardi Gras masks etc.
- Good luck charms, such as fengshui items, prosperity symbols, gods of fortune, prosperity and longevity, temple writings, crystals, wind chimes, maneki-neko (Japanese money cat) etc.
- Games that make people enter into mysticism e.g. cosplay, Pokemon, Dungeons and dragons, Magic the Gathering etc.
- Music with ungodly lyrics, mind numbing beats, chanting, music used for hypnotic spiritual meditation etc.
- Books, stories and movies that promote fascination with the occult and witchcraft such as Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Twilight etc.
- Carvings, sculptures and anything related to fantasy fairy tales, mystical creatures and stories, such as Santa Claus, fairies, goblins, monkey god, Cupid, Greek and Roman mythology, unicorns etc.
If we are unsure if anything is spiritually unclean, we can simply ask ourselves if we would feel comfortable if Jesus were to pay us a visit and come across the object/s. Should we find ourselves feeling too attached to and offended at having to give up these objects, it is likely we have already become bonded to some ungodly influences.
3. Renounce ties with demons and occult masters
God likens our involvement with the occult to “whorings with lovers.” This is how much ungodly spiritual practices offend our holy God. Just as any adulteress who turns back to her husband must unconditionally cut off all ties with her old lovers, we too must pray in Jesus’ name to repent, renounce and break our ties with evil spirits and occult masters we had subjected ourselves to in the past.
Ezekiel 16:36,58 ESV Thus says the Lord God, Because your lust was poured out and your nakedness uncovered in your whorings with your lovers, and with all your abominable idols, and because of the blood of your children that you gave to them… You bear the penalty of your lewdness and your abominations…
4. Renew our minds in God’s Word
Some cultures try to incorporate occult ideologies into teachings from the Bible. This is blasphemous. We must obey God’s law fully and not dilute it in any way. This is because the Bible warns us that deceitful spirits will try to mislead believers with various teachings that appear to be biblical in nature, but only draw us away from God and put us under the influence of demons.
It is therefore critical to study God’s Word for ourselves and base our thinking on sound biblical truths, and align every thought to Jesus Christ’s teachings. In this way, we will be able to test the spirits accurately.
1 Timothy 4:1 ESV Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons,
2 Corinthians 10:5 ESV We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,
5. Submit fully to God
It is absolutely critical that we first submit to God, before we resist demons. When we submit ourselves to God, Jesus will deliver us from darkness to His Kingdom.
James 4:7 ESV Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
6. Defend ourselves from recurring occult influence
As we turn away from the occult, we may also find that Satan will try to deceive us into becoming enslaved back to our old practices. We may remove our fengshui items but suddenly be given a family heirloom that represents ancestor worship. We must stay alert against the enemy’s schemes. Satan will sometimes also disguise himself as God’s messenger to mislead us into believing false teachings or consulting dead “saints” or family members. Hence, we must test all teachings and prophecies to see if they are truly from God or from deceiving spirits.
1 John 4:1 ESV Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God…
Galatians 4:8-9 ESV Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?
7. Use our gifts in spiritual discernment to help others under demonic influence
People who have been involved in the occult will continue to be sensitive to the spiritual realm. We can use our spiritual awareness to help others identify demonic influence in their lives. People have been able to identify places where idol worship had previously taken place, as the Holy Spirit guides them. The idolatrous altars may have been removed but He will show us areas that continue to be spiritually defiled. Other times, the Holy Spirit may help us become aware of a presence or solemn heaviness in the environment due to the presence of evil spirits or give us the name of the spirit oppressing a person.
In the occult, such discernment is referred to as psychic ability. Once someone turns to Christ, the Holy Spirit can use this spiritual ability to further God’s Kingdom. This gift can be very helpful to the Body of Christ, particularly in identifying false prophets and prophecies, casting out demons and deliverance prayers.
We need to be very cautious, however, not to return to old patterns of control and manipulation and attempt to use such gifts for our own benefit or glory.
1 Corinthians 12:10 NLT He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit…
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