Who Is Really Behind the Occult?
CONCERNING our Creator, the Bible says: “God is light and there is no darkness at all in union with him.” (1 John 1:5) That is especially true in a spiritual sense. So could the true God be the power behind the occult? Or is there a sinister force involved?
Foremost among occult practices are divination and spiritism, which include astrology, numerology, palmistry, and sorcery, as well as communicating with the “dead” and casting spells. These practices have a very long history, most dating back to ancient Babylon, the ruins of which lie in Iraq. (Isaiah 47:1, 12, 13) From Babylon, occult practices spread around the ancient world and became deeply entrenched in many cultures and civilizations.
Consider an event that occurred in the city of Philippi in ancient Macedonia. There, a small group of Christian ministers, which included the apostle Paul and the physician Luke, encountered a girl who had occult powers. Note how the Bible writer Luke revealed the secret source of her powers. He wrote: “A certain servant girl with a spirit, a demon of divination, met us. She used to furnish her masters with much gain by practicing the art of prediction.”—Acts 16:16-18.
Yes, this girl’s powers did not come from the true God, Jehovah, but from a demon, an evil spirit. Hence, Paul and his companions refused to listen to her. Perhaps you are now wondering: ‘Who are the demons? And where did they come from?’ Again, note the Bible’s answers.
Who Are the Demons?
Long before Jehovah formed humans, he created an untold number of intelligent spirit “sons of God” in heaven. (Job 38:4, 7) Like humans, they are free moral agents, and for a long time, they all remained loyal to God. But that happy situation came to an abrupt end. How so?
After God created humankind, one spirit creature began to covet something to which he was not entitled—worship. Using a serpent the way a ventriloquist might use a puppet, this wicked angel seduced the first woman, Eve, into disobeying her Creator. (Genesis 3:1-6) The Bible calls that rebellious angel “the original serpent, the one called Devil and Satan.” (Revelation 12:9) Jesus described him as “a manslayer” who “did not stand fast in the truth,” adding: “When he speaks the lie, he speaks according to his own disposition, because he is a liar and the father of the lie.”—John 8:44.
In time, other spirit “sons of the true God” joined Satan in his rebellion. (Genesis 6:1, 2) They are later referred to as “the angels that sinned” and “the angels that did not keep their original position but forsook their own proper dwelling place,” or their assigned place in heaven. (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6) They came to be called demons. (James 2:19) Moreover, they are determined to turn as many humans as possible away from true worship, as they did many Israelites in Bible times. (Deuteronomy 32:16, 17) Similarly today, as in the past, Satan and the demons cleverly employ religious lies.—2 Corinthians 11:14, 15.
Even though wicked spirits have superhuman powers, we can, with God’s help, ‘take our stand against them’ and come off victorious. (1 Peter 5:9) In order to get that help, however, we need to learn God’s requirements and act on them. Concerning the Christians in his day, the apostle Paul wrote: “We . . . have not ceased praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the accurate knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual comprehension, in order to walk worthily of Jehovah to the end of fully pleasing him.”—Colossians 1:9, 10.
Those who gained that “accurate knowledge” included a number of people in the city of Ephesus who practiced occult arts. Note how a knowledge of the truth affected them. The Bible states: “Quite a number of those who practiced magical arts brought their books together and burned them up before everybody.” The books, incidentally, were worth “fifty thousand pieces of silver,” which was no small amount! (Acts 19:17-19) This courageous example was recorded for our benefit.—2 Timothy 3:16.
Principles That Protect
There are other things that we can do to protect ourselves from the demons. Consider the following Bible guidelines.
“Do not believe every inspired expression, but test the inspired expressions to see whether they originate with God.” (1 John 4:1) Some statements made by astrologers, psychics, mediums, and witch doctors may indeed be true. For example, the demonized girl in Philippi spoke the truth when she said about Paul and his companions: “These men are slaves of the Most High God, who are publishing to you the way of salvation.” (Acts 16:17) Nevertheless, Paul and his companions did not accept her into their company. Instead, Paul ordered the evil spirit to come out of her. Test religious statements by comparing them with what the Bible says.—Acts 17:11.
“Subject yourselves, therefore, to God; but oppose the Devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7) The demons are God’s enemies and yours too. Do not even become curious about their dark ways. Instead, subject yourself to God by heeding his loving commandments, which are not burdensome. (1 John 5:3) For example, God said to the ancient nation of Israel: “There should not be found in you anyone who . . . employs divination, a practicer of magic or anyone who looks for omens or a sorcerer, or one who binds others with a spell or anyone who consults a spirit medium or a professional foreteller of events or anyone who inquires of the dead. For everybody doing these things is something detestable to Jehovah.” (Deuteronomy 18:10-12) God’s view has not changed.—Galatians 5:19, 20.
“There is no unlucky spell against [Jehovah’s servants].” (Numbers 23:23) All who want to please God need not fear the demons. Indeed, those wicked spirits “shudder” before God, aware of his overwhelming power, which he will eventually use to destroy them. (James 2:19) God will “show his strength in behalf of those whose heart is complete toward him,” and he ‘will never allow the righteous one to totter.’—2 Chronicles 16:9; Psalm 55:22.
“The living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all.” (Ecclesiastes 9:5) God’s Word teaches that the dead are just that—dead! They should not be feared, for they can no longer harm anyone. (Isaiah 26:14) In order to deceive people, the demons sometimes masquerade as spirits of the dead, which may explain why people find that the “spirit” of a formerly kind person may seem different from the person they knew.
“You cannot be partaking of ‘the table of Jehovah’ and the table of demons.” (1 Corinthians 10:21, 22) All who truly love Jehovah will stay away from books, movies, and computer games that are rooted in the occult or that promote occult practices and beliefs. * “I shall not set in front of my eyes any good-for-nothing thing,” says Psalm 101:3. What is more, occult entertainment often glorifies violence and immorality, which “lovers of Jehovah” repudiate.—Psalm 97:10.
The demons have always tried to hide their true nature from humans. But they have not fully succeeded. By means of the Bible, Jehovah has exposed them for what they really are—malicious liars and vicious enemies of mankind. What a contrast to our Creator, Jehovah God! As the following article shows, he loves us, always tells us the truth, and wants us to live happily forever.—John 3:16; 17:17.
^ par. 19 Consciences vary in sensitivity, depending on one’s religious background and spiritual maturity. The important thing is that one maintains a clean conscience before God and does not offend the consciences of others, including family members. “We shall all stand before the judgment seat of God,” says Romans 14:10, 12.