What is sorcery? Is it forbidden in the Bible?

Sorcery is the use of magic, witchcraft, wizardry, enchantment, spells, incantation, thaumaturgy, divination, and contacting the spirits of the dead. The Bible clearly forbids all these activities and anything related to them. These activities rely on supernatural power that is not from God. Satan is the source of this power and he can change himself into an angel of light to deceive those that use these practices (2 Corinthians 11:14).

Although the heathen nations like ancient Egypt (Exodus 7:11; Isaiah 19:3) and Babylon (Jeremiah 27:9; Daniel 2:2) practiced sorcery, God clearly warned His children in Israel against adopting these practices.

In the Old Testament, the Lord lists sorcery as one of the forbidden sins: “You shall not … practice divination or soothsaying” (Leviticus 19:26). “Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord, and because of these detestable practices the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you” (Deuteronomy 18:10-12). All occult activities are included, that being said, there is no such thing as “white magic.”

In 2 Chronicles 33:6, King Manasseh is condemned for his many evil practices, including sorcery: “And he burned his sons as an offering in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, and used fortune-telling and omens and sorcery, and dealt with mediums and with necromancers. He did much evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking him to anger.”

Isaiah warns against contacting the dead, “And when they say to you, “Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter,” should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living?” (ch. 8:19).  Since “the dead know not any thing” (Ecclesiastes 9:5), it is obvious that they cannot be consulted, which leads us to conclude that such apparitions are actually evil spirits masquerading as the deceased to deceive the living.

Malachi also speaks of God’s judgment on those that practiced sorcery: “Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers” (Malachi 3:5).

In the New Tesetament, Paul lists sorcery as a sin: “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife . . . and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21).

And at the end of time, spiritual Babylon that opposes the truth will deceive “all nations” with its sorcery (Revelation 18:23). But God’s judgments will fall on it and it “will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8; 22:15).

Check out our Bible Answers page for more information on a variety of topics.

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

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