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Jehovah’s Witnesses

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The Watchtower  |  May 2009

Protect Yourself Against Wicked Spirits

Protect Yourself Against Wicked Spirits

 Protect Yourself Against Wicked Spirits

JAMES was raised in a remote part of the island of Malaita, in the Solomon Islands. From his youth on, he was taught to honor the spirits. “I would never have considered appealing to the spirits to bring harm to others,” he says, “but I did not think it was possible to have a happy life without using rarafono [traditional practices that call for help from the spirits] for protection from harm.”

As is the case of people in numerous other parts of the world, inhabitants of the Solomon Islands believe that spirits can either help or harm a person. In fact, many Melanesians view so-called benevolent spirits with affection, not with fear.

Belief in the activity of spirits is manifest in a variety of ways. For example, when James was young, women in his village would rush their children inside the house whenever they heard the call of the korokoro bird (common koel). Why? They believed that the bird’s call meant that someone was about to be harmed.

Some villagers place a special white stone above the doorway of their houses. James did this, believing that the stone would protect him from harmful spirits. And when James was at work, he would collect any scraps left over from his lunch and keep them in a bag to be disposed of later. His main concern was that a magic man would find the scraps and use them to cast a spell that would cause him to become ill.

Although these specific practices may not be common in your part of the world, perhaps like James you have felt the need to follow traditional customs in order to obtain protection from wicked spirits. You may believe that adhering to such customs is essential to your welfare.

If you respect the Bible, you no doubt want to know what it says in answer to the following questions: (1) What harm can wicked spirits bring upon you? (2) Could following some traditional customs actually cause you to fall under the influence of the demons? (3) How can you find real protection from wicked spirits and be happy?

How Wicked Spirits Cause Harm

The Bible reveals that wicked spirits cannot possibly be the spirits of the dead. “The  living are conscious that they will die,” states God’s Word, “but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all.” (Ecclesiastes 9:5) Wicked spirits are, in fact, rebellious angels who have joined Satan in trying to mislead humans.​—Revelation 12:9.

The Scriptures plainly state that we need protection from wicked spirits. The apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Ephesus: “We have a wrestling, not against blood and flesh, but against . . . the wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places.” The apostle Peter described the ruler of all wicked spirits, Satan the Devil, as being like “a roaring lion, seeking to devour someone.”​—Ephesians 6:12; 1 Peter 5:8.

Satan causes harm primarily by misleading people, tricking or tempting them into acting in a way that offends God. The Bible says that Satan “keeps transforming himself into an angel of light.” (2 Corinthians 11:14) He pretends to be a protective spirit, when in fact, his intent is wicked. Satan blinds people’s minds to the truth about him and to the truth about God. (2 Corinthians 4:4) What is his goal in misleading people?

Satan craves worship and wants people, either knowingly or unknowingly, to give him such worship. When God’s own Son, Jesus, was on earth, Satan wanted him to “fall down and do an act of worship” to him. Jesus said: “Go away, Satan! For it is written, ‘It is Jehovah your God you must worship.’” (Matthew 4:9, 10) Jesus refused to do anything that would imply worshipful submission to Satan.

Jehovah is the most powerful of all spirits and will not let any lasting harm come to those who obey him. (Psalm 83:18; Romans 16:20) But if we are going to please Jehovah God as Jesus did, we need to avoid any act of submission to Satan or his demons. To that end, we need to identify traditional practices that give worshipful honor to wicked spirit forces. How can you do so?

Identify Customs That Displease God

Jehovah God warned his ancient people, the Israelites, against copying some of the traditional practices of nearby nations. He said: “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.” Regarding those who followed these customs, the Bible says: “Everybody doing these things is something detestable to Jehovah.”​—Deuteronomy 18:10-12.

Therefore, when considering customs prevalent in your area, consider the following questions: Does the custom encourage a belief in omens? Does it attribute magical protective powers to inanimate objects? Does it involve the casting of or protection from spells? Will it involve an act of submission to a spirit other than Jehovah or his appointed representative, Jesus?​—Romans 14:11; Philippians 2:9, 10.

It is vital that you reject any customs that encourage such practices. Why? The apostle Paul was inspired to write: “You cannot be partaking of ‘the table of Jehovah’ and the table of demons.” He warned that those who tried to please both God and other spirits would be “inciting Jehovah to jealousy.” (1 Corinthians 10:20-22) Jehovah God demands and deserves exclusive devotion.​—Exodus 20:4, 5.

Consider, too, this question: Does the custom promote the idea that a person is not responsible for his or her own actions? For example, adultery and sex before marriage are frowned upon in many communities and are condemned in the Bible. (1 Corinthians 6:9, 10) However, in some Pacific cultures, such practices might become acceptable if the girl claims that she has been “green  leafed,” * that is, she says that she has been impelled to have sex because of a spell placed on her.

The Bible, however, teaches that we are responsible for our actions. (Romans 14:12; Galatians 6:7) For instance, the first woman, Eve, felt that she was deceived by Satan to participate in disobeying God, saying: “The serpent​—it deceived me and so I ate.” However, Jehovah held Eve accountable for her actions. (Genesis 3:13, 16, 19) He also holds us accountable for our conduct.​—Hebrews 4:13.

What Must You Do?

If you want to please God and live by Bible principles, you need to take decisive action. Honesthearted individuals living in Ephesus in the first century set a good example in this regard. To separate themselves from the influence of wicked spirits, they collected all the books they owned that dealt with spiritistic practices and “burned them up before everybody.”​—Acts 19:19.

Prior to burning the books, these individuals “would come and confess and report their practices openly.” (Acts 19:18) Touched to the heart by Paul’s teaching about the Christ, they were moved to destroy their spiritistic books. They also changed their feelings regarding their traditional practices.

True, abandoning traditional practices may not be easy to do. James, mentioned earlier, faced this challenge. He began studying the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses and enjoyed what he learned. However, he continued to practice rarafono. On examining his feelings with regard to these practices, he found that he believed in Jehovah’s promises for the future but felt that to be protected from harm, he still needed to rely on traditional practices.

What helped James to change his outlook? He says: “I prayed to Jehovah for his protection and for help to put my trust in him. At the same time, I abandoned my traditional practices.” Has any harm come to him? “No,” says James. “All that has happened is that I have learned to trust in Jehovah. I have seen how close Jehovah can be as a friend.” In fact, for the past seven years, James has served as a full-time minister, helping others learn what the Bible teaches.

Why not follow James’ example? Examine the customs that are adhered to in your community, and use your “power of reason” to determine if they are in harmony with the “will of God.” (Romans 12:1, 2) Then have the courage to separate yourself from superstitious practices. If you do so, you can have confidence that Jehovah will “take you in” and protect you. (2 Corinthians 6:16-18) Like James, you will experience the truthfulness of the Bible’s promise: “The name of Jehovah is a strong tower. Into it the righteous runs and is given protection.”​—Proverbs 18:10.

[Footnote]

^ par. 18 This term refers to the custom of making an incantation over a special plant leaf or food. This item is then given to a girl. The leaf or food is claimed to produce in the girl an attraction for a man. This custom is not the same as when a girl is unknowingly drugged and then forced to have sex against her will. In the latter case, the girl is an innocent victim.

[Picture on page 19]

“Korokoro”

[Credit Line]

Courtesy of Dr. Bakshi Jehangir

[Picture on page 19]

A girl collects food scraps so that they cannot be used to cast a spell