Category Archives: Paranormal

Does Satan Have a Special Hatred for Israel and the Jewish People?

There is a sense in which Satan has a special hatred for Israel and the Jewish people, just as he has a special hatred for the church and the Christian people. From the beginning, Satan has hated God, God’s authority, and God’s plans for the human race (Genesis 3:1-15; John 8:44) He has always had a special hatred for God’s faithful servants (Job 1:9-11; 2 Corinthians 12:7), including the faithful of Israel and the church, which is made up of both Jewish and Gentile Christians. Above all, Satan hates Jesus Christ (Luke 22:3-4; Revelation 12:3-4), as Christ embodies God’s plan for all the ages.

The reality of satanic hatred for Jews and Israel inclines some people to believe that any criticism of Israel places one on the side of Satan. People with this perspective naturally tend to side with Israel in its conflicts. This perspective, however, fails to recognize that not all criticism is motivated by an evil hatred. There is a kind of criticism that is motivated by truth, love, and a longing for justice and mercy. If we don’t recognize the difference motive makes, we might conclude that something as important as the Protestant Reformation should have never taken place.

Scripture shows Satan’s hatred is motivated by his desire to disrupt God’s redemptive plan, from the fall of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, through the events leading to the flood, the trials of the patriarchs, Moses, the prophets, and Jesus Christ himself.

In 1 John 3, the children of the devil are contrasted with the children of God. The children of the devil are described as being in the spiritual line of Cain. This is consistent with the two “seeds” of Genesis 3—the seed of the woman and the seed of the devil.

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel (v.15 nkjv).

This division between the children of God and the children of the devil includes both Jews and Gentiles. John 1:12 declares that those who received Jesus Christ and believed in His name are the children of God. The apostle Paul wrote: “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ” (Romans 8:9 niv). He went on to link the Spirit of Christ (the Holy Spirit) with the children of God: “Those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God” (8:14). Speaking to a Jewish audience, Jesus himself referred to the division between the children of the kingdom and the children of the devil. He said the “father” of His Jewish enemies was not Abraham but Satan (John 8:42-44).

Here we find ourselves faced with an important distinction we can’t afford to miss. Jesus himself took issue with His own Jewish countrymen, and even with His own disciples when their hearts were aligned with the purposes of Satan rather than the redemptive plan of God (Matthew 16:23).

This Christ-based readiness to take issue with anything that is not according to the justice and mercy of God helps us understand why the Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, and the Epistles describe in great detail the intense and unrelenting hostility of a segment of Jews to Jesus Christ and His followers (John 8:39-47; Acts 7:54–8:3; 12:1-3; 21:27-31; 25:2-3). The book of Revelation even refers to these as the “synagogue of Satan” (Revelation 2:9; 3:9).1

This hostility towards the Christian gospel didn’t end with the apostolic era. Before the end of the first century, Christian Jews were excluded from synagogue worship.

About ad 90, a member of the Sanhedrin named Samuel the Less reworded one of the blessings recited daily in the synagogue so as to make it include a curse (against Christians) . . .

For apostates let there be no hope, and the kingdom of arrogance do Thou speedily uproot in our days; and let Nazarenes and heretics (minim) perish as in a moment; let them be blotted out of the book of life and not be enrolled with the righteous. Blessed art Thou, O Lord, who humblest the arrogant.

This revised edition of the prayer was authorized by the Sanhedrin and adopted in synagogues, so that Jewish Christians, by keeping silence at this point might give themselves away and be excommunicated(F. F. Bruce, New Testament History, pp. 385-86).2

From such biblical and historical examples, we see that like any other group or institution, the people of Israel may need loving, patient confrontation rather than support and affirmation. As the apostle Paul knew from personal experience, many of his Jewish countrymen had hearts open to God and the truth, but were blinded to the identity of Jesus Christ (Romans 11:5-6).

Scripture makes it clear that the eschatological punishment of both Israel and the Gentile nations is based in God’s judgment, not Satan’s hatred (Isaiah 3:1–4:1; 13:9-10; Jeremiah 30:1-7; Ezekiel 13:1-7; Joel 2:1-11; 3:14-17; Amos 5:18-20; Zephaniah 1:7-13). Perhaps the most striking Old Testament prophecy is Zechariah 14, where God brings the nations of the earth against Jerusalem and unbelieving Israel before turning in judgment against those same unbelieving nations (vv.2-3).

Just as Christians do the church no favors when they ignore its abuses and corruption, they do no favors for Israel when they ignore or fail to lovingly call attention to the injustices and unbelief of the one nation on earth that, more than any other, bears the name and redemptive history of God.

  1. This hostility of a segment of Israel to the gospel conforms with the prophetic portrayal of Israel’s endtime suffering as the result of God’s judgment, not Satan’s hatred. In Matthew 24, Jesus declares:

    And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. Therefore when you see the “abomination of desolation,” spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (whoever reads, let him understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened (24:14-22 nkjv).

    This judgment is based on the corruption and hypocrisy Jesus described in the previous chapter:

    Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. . . . O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” (23:33-39 nkjv). Back To Article

  2. Soon the Talmud (a compilation and expansion of the man-made legal rules that Jesus called the “tradition of men” [Mark 7:5-8] that became the supreme document of the Judaism that survived the wars with Rome) officially declared Jesus a blasphemer, sorcerer, and bastard son of a prostitute. (See Peter Schaefer, Jesus in the Talmud, Princeton University Press.)Hostility towards Jesus Christ still exists among a large segment of Jews today. In fact, the modern state of Israel officially suppresses propagation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Back To Article
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Should astrology or horoscopes be taken seriously?

Astrology at one time was looked upon with great seriousness by the educated classes. For many centuries people believed that the earth was the center of the universe, and this mistaken cosmology led to the conviction that the personality and character of people could be influenced by the position of the heavenly spheres at their time of birth.

Since the introduction of modern astronomy, it became impossible for any serious-minded scientist to accept the original principles of astrology. Besides the fact that the heavenly bodies are at a much greater distance than our ancestors believed them to be, their positions in the sky have drastically changed with the passage of time.

After the scientific discoveries of the Enlightenment made the original basis for astrology untenable, there have been numerous attempts by occultists to maintain confidence in it by mystical and occult means.

Though there is no genuinely scientific basis for astrology, millions of people resort to daily horoscopes for guidance in their lives. If nothing else, this behavior shows how deeply religious people are, and how strongly they long for a basis for hope and faith. It may not harm someone to read horoscopes, but anyone taking them seriously will be endangered.

At the very least, astrology is a crutch to avoid the effort of seeking out an informed basis for our decisions. At its worse, it becomes compulsive, a false god gripping us with demonic power. This is probably why the Old Testament warns against it (Isaiah 47:13).

(For more information about the occult, see the Discovery Series booklet What’s The Appeal Of The New Age Movement?)

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What Should I Think of what I Experience in Dreams?

Scientific evidence is accumulating that dreams have vital physiological and psychological functions. Our dreams apparently play an important role in creativity and problem solving.

1  This and other scientific discoveries about the important physiological role of dreaming show that the mysterious activity of dreaming is “hardwired” into us by God’s design, for our benefit. For that reason, we shouldn’t fear dreaming.

The Bible illustrates how highly the Hebrews and other ancient people esteemed dreams and those who could interpret them (Genesis 41; Daniel 2), and that they viewed dreams at times as natural (Ecclesiastes 5:3), as evil (Deuteronomy 13:1-2; Jeremiah 29:8), or as divine revelation (Genesis 28:12-13; Genesis 37:5,9). ( See the ATQ article Is it possible that some dreams contain important symbolic meaning—or even a message from God?)

Like the daydreams and thoughts that drift into our minds in our conscious state, dream fantasies generally seem spontaneous. Sexual activity, rage, and violence often occur abruptly and uncontrollably in dreams. In dreams, all of us do things we certainly would never do if we were awake. We also have nightmares that seem to express our deepest fear and insecurity.

Many people describe having had “lucid dreams.” In lucid dreams, we are aware that we are dreaming and are sometimes able to choose our actions. Some early Christian ascetic monks actually believed that we are responsible not only for what we do in our waking state, but for what we do in our dreams. These monks withdrew from society and dedicated themselves to an isolated life of grueling hardship. Their solitary focus on subjective experience may have made them aware of some things that most of us don’t experience.

Occultists in many cultures have been interested in lucid dreams and have sometimes sought to cultivate lucid dreams and increase control over their fantasies. Such efforts to use occult technique to gain control over one’s dreams are sinister. At the very least, they focus attention away from the real world into a fantasy. At the worst, it may open one’s mind to overtly demonic or subconsciously destructive influences. (See the ATQ articles Why Is It Dangerous for Subconscious Images to Penetrate Our Waking Consciousness? and Why Are Channeling and Mediumship Dangerous?)

To the degree we are aware that we are dreaming and to the extent that our dreams are under our control—that is, lucid—we may be responsible for our actions and shaping our character by our choices.

However, the vast majority of dreams aren’t lucid. Most dreams are fantasies created by our sleeping brain from random memories. In certain ways we feel especially vulnerable when we are sleeping. But God never sleeps. He is always guarding and protecting us (Psalm 121:1-3).

Scripture nowhere indicates that God holds us responsible for what happens in our dreams. But our dreams should serve as a vivid reminder of how dependent we are on His love and grace.

  1. See the papers, “Sleep Inspires insight” in Nature magazine, January 2004 (Wagner, Gais, Haider, Verleger, and Born, from research at the University of Luebeck) and “REM, not incubation, improves creativity by priming associative networks” (Cai, Mednick, Harrison, Kanady, and Mednick). (The Mednick paper is at http://www.saramednick.com/htmls/pdfs/Cai_PNAS_2009) Back To Article
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Is Demonic Deliverance Ministry Biblical?

Every Christian is engaged in spiritual warfare. In the context of a fallen world system, Christians, who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, have no choice but to be engaged in spiritual warfare ( Ephesians 6:12 ). However, there are reasons to question the kind of ministry in which “demonized” Christians need some kind of power intervention by other Christians to free them from demonic control.

The first objection is that the very idea of a Christian being demonized (or demon possessed) is highly questionable. Clear examples of a demon-possessed Christian cannot be found in Scripture, and none of the New Testament writers mention the possession (demonization) of a Christian as a possible cause of besetting sin (see Can a Christian be demon possessed? ). There is no example in Scripture of Christians casting demons out of Christians.

Second, Scripture offers no precedent for the methodology typically used in a deliverance or spiritual warfare intervention. Given the lack of precedent for such interventions in Scripture, the claims of those who promote this kind of ministry are troubling. Some counselors use it routinely, often in a first counseling session. Once contact with a supposed demon is made, the counselor considers his diagnosis of demonization justified regardless of the possibility that the counselor has unintentionally used a form of hypnosis or suggestion to trigger the simulation of a demon by the person seeking help. Once a “demon” appears, the counselor often carries out a lengthy interrogation before finally “expelling” it. Also without scriptural precedent is the frequent need to repeat a “deliverance.”

Third, the forms taken by this kind of deliverance ministry have some startling and disturbing parallels with occultism. While practitioners of occultism are in a trance, they claim to recall experiences from former lives (past-life regression), remember what occurred to them during “lost-time experiences” (UFO abduction), or become channels or mediums through which disembodied spirits (often of the dead) allegedly speak. Although such phenomena may at times be rooted in the genuinely demonic, it is probable on other occasions that they emanate from the subconscious powers of human imagination under the influence of hypnosis or suggestion.

In both New Age channeling and traditional spiritism a dialogue is established with “spirits” in order to gain information. This information, when analyzed, is generally made up of platitudes and unverifiable information of little value. Practitioners of spiritual warfare and deliverance ministry also seek to make contact with spirits, and often attempt to converse with them. As in the case with the “spirits” contacted though channeling and spiritism, the information gained from “demons” by deliverance-ministry counselors1 is rarely of much value, usually vague, and platitudinous.

Fourth, deliverance ministries of this type can have seriously harmful effects. In the Bible, personal change and spiritual transformation is almost always the result of repentance ( Acts 2:38; 17:30-31; 20:21 ), conversion to a new relationship with God through Christ ( 2 Corinthians 5:17 ; Titus 3:5 ), and spiritual growth through the Holy Spirit’s power ( John 1:12-13 ; 1 Corinthians 6:19; 1 John 5:4 ). In sharp contrast to the biblical emphasis on accountability for one’s own sins, it seems that people who engage in the techniques of deliverance ministry quickly assume that many spiritual problems encountered by Christians result from demonization. A diagnosis of demonization has the potential to become a convenient ruse for avoiding responsibility for real problems.

The effect of this unbiblical emphasis on the demonic is to make Christians feel incapable of resisting their spiritual enemy. They feel at the mercy of malevolent external forces and believe that their only hope for deliverance is through the intervention of other Christians who have the ability to identify the demons in their lives and expel them. There is frightening potential for harm when Christian people are convinced they are helpless against Satan without the special help of other Christians who have skills in deliverance ministry and spiritual warfare. The Bible teaches that every Christian is a priest who needs no other mediator than Christ ( 1 Peter 2:5,9 ; Revelation 1:6; 5:10 ), and that the Holy Spirit makes every Christian capable of resisting Satan ( 1 Corinthians 10:13; Ephesians 6:11 ; James 4:7 ; 1 Peter 5:6-11 ).

  1. It’s disturbing to see how some Christians engaged in a deliverance ministry ask supposed demons repeated questions in hopes of gaining information from them, including demonic methods, motivations, and goals. It seems apparent that if evil spirits were really speaking, they would be unlikely to tell the truth. Back To Article
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How Powerful Is the Devil?

Even though the Scriptures tell us little about Satan’s origin, they tell us that he is a fallen angel of considerable power. One of the most familiar passages is Ephesians 6:12 :

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Jesus called Satan the “ruler of this world” ( John 12:31 ), and Jude tells us that he is so powerful that even Michael the archangel lacked the power to rebuke him ( Jude 1:9 ). Paul called him the “god of this age” in 2 Corinthians 4:4 . He also portrayed him ( Ephesians 6:12 ) as the head of a great, highly organized “army” of evil spirit beings. He is a cunning liar, capable of seducing Adam and Eve, and disguising himself as an “angel of light” ( 2 Corinthians 11:14 ).

While Satan is portrayed in the Bible as powerful, dangerous, and an adversary to be respected, he shouldn’t be considered in any way equal to God. He is a creature, with creaturely limitations. His power is nothing in comparison with that of the sovereign God. And according to James 4:7 , because of the power God gives to His children, if we resist the devil he will flee from us. Although subtle and cunning, the devil is a defeated foe who continues to resist God furiously until the time that he will be sealed in hell forever.

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What Is Witchcraft?

The Encyclopedia Britannica defines witchcraft as:

The human exercise of alleged supernatural powers for antisocial, evil purposes (so-called black magic). A female held to have such powers may be called a witch or sorceress, the male counterpart being named wizard, sorcerer, or warlock. Belief in witchcraft survives in modern technologically developed cultures and remains a potent factor in most nonliterate societies.

Webster’s Third New International Dictionary defines witchcraft in the following way:

a. an act or instance of employing sorcery especially with malevolent intent: a magical rite or technique; b. the exercise of supernatural powers: alleged intercourse with the devil or with a familiar.

and the Colliers Encyclopedia states:

Witchcraft may be defined for general purposes as the use of supposed supernatural power for antisocial ends. In primitive societies where magic is an accepted part of religious ritual, the witch is the unauthorized, and especially the malevolent, practitioner.

Notice that these works refer to witchcraft as the use of sorcery and supernatural power for malevolent intent. Witchcraft of this type exists in nearly every cultural setting. This judgment isn’t merely the conclusion of “Christian culture.” Historian Jeffrey B. Russell, who is not at all hostile toward modern Neopaganism, states:

Folk tales, like dreams, express the concerns of the unconscious in symbols; the meaning of the figure of the witch, like the meaning of any symbol, varies with the story. Usually, however, she represents an elemental natural force possessing enormous and unexpected powers against which a natural person is unable to prepare or defend himself, a force not necessarily evil, but so alien and remote from the world of mankind as to constitute a threat to the social ethical, and even physical order of the cosmos. This manner of portraying the witch is very ancient and probably archetypal. This witch is neither a simple sorceress, nor a demonolater, nor a pagan. She is a hostile presence from another world. The gut terror inspired by this archetypal witch helps to explain the excesses of hatred and fear that welled up during the witch craze.

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Can Dreams Have Symbolic Meaning or Messages from God?

It’s easy to expect either too little or too much of dreams.

An excellent book by a scientist who has researched the physiology of dreams (The Dreaming Brain by J. Allan Hobson) sets forth the hypothesis that because the brain is never completely inactive during sleep, it is constantly triggering the images of memories and experiences into our sleeping consciousness. Because we human beings are continually in search of meaning (and meaningful patterns), the process of trying to make sense of our world doesn’t stop when we are sleeping. Therefore, even when we are sleeping we try to create order and meaning out of random memories and images projected by our dreaming brain. He concludes that dreams are the result of this process.

After nearly 60 years of reflecting on my dreams, I think Dr. Hobson’s hypothesis fits the content of most of them. Still, I’m not sure that all dreams have a completely random neurological source. Sometimes the images are so unusual that it is hard to remember (or even imagine having had) any memories or experiences that might be their source. In fact, sometimes dreams have such duration and continuity that their content seems created by the interpreting mind rather than rising independently of it. Clearly, Dr. Hobson’s hypothesis leaves open the possibility that some dreams and nightmares expose the conflicts and fears we repress during waking hours as well as the fact that the process of working through problems and issues continues even when we are asleep.

In addition to dreams that might have symbolic significance are supernatural/preternatural dreams. Most of us have heard a trustworthy person tell of a dream that depicted a future event or alerted them to the fact that a loved one was in danger. The Bible also describes dreams that involve clairvoyance or precognition (Genesis 20:3; 31:10, 24; 37:5; 40:5; Numbers 12:6; Judges 7:13; 1 Kings 3:5; Daniel 2:3; 4:5; 7:1; Joel 2:28; Matthew 1:20; 2:12; 27:19).

When we think about our dreams, it’s important to try to understand them on the basis of Scripture. God warned the Israelites about false prophets who told lies based on dreams:

“I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in My name, saying, ‘I have dreamed, I have dreamed!’ How long will this be in the hearts of the prophets who prophesy lies? Indeed they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart, who try to make My people forget My name by their dreams which everyone tells his neighbor, as their fathers forgot My name for Baal” (Jeremiah 23:25-27).

In 2 Corinthians 11:14, the apostle Paul warned us that Satan “transforms himself into an angel of light” and could conceivably use dreams to deceive us. Obsession with dreams and their interpretation might lead a person into occult interests and estrangement from reality.

Remember, our heavenly Father is the “Father of lights” (James 1:17) who reveals the truth openly and clearly. He will never give us a message in our sleep that is contrary to reason or Scripture.

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What Does the Bible Teach About Ghosts and Hauntings?

Because the Bible says very little about these phenomena, the subject of ghosts, apparitions, and hauntings is controversial among followers of Christ. Still, many reliable people have had experiences relating to these phenomena, and their accounts are so strikingly similar that a simple denial of their existence seems unwise.

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During the Middle Ages, people often believed that ghosts were “earth-bound” spirits of the dead, who, for some reason or another, were trapped here on earth after death. There is no biblical support for this point of view, although it probably was associated with the Roman Catholic view of purgatory generally held at that time. The Protestant Reformation brought a rejection of Roman Catholic teaching on purgatory, along with the consensus that hauntings are produced by evil spirits who impersonate people and recreate events.2 However, even this explanation leaves some questions unanswered.

Some observers speculate that there may be some presently unknown natural process by which especially horrible events involving intense emotions (such as murders) may be “recorded” and replayed again and again through the centuries. Some believe there is evidence that poltergeists3 are a natural phenomena involving telekinesis.4 Often young women — usually adolescent girls — are associated with such poltergeist phenomena. Witnesses claim that when a particular young woman is removed from the vicinity of the occurrences, the poltergeist phenomenon ceases.

But, again, there is no compelling evidence proving the existence of telekinesis as a natural phenomenon, nor is there any scientific evidence that intensely emotional events can produce “psychic recordings.” It is unlikely that we will have a definitive answer to this question soon. And since this whole area borders on the occult — an area stringently forbidden by Scripture ( Deuteronomy 18:9-13 ) — it is wise for Christians to be cautious and not delve too deeply into it.

Christians, and even thoughtful unbelievers, should bear in mind that whatever the ultimate cause of a particular ghostly manifestation, it may serve a subtle satanic purpose — stimulating a morbid curiosity in the preternatural that could draw susceptible people into occultism. People who pursue interest in the occult — even if their interest is “scientific” — can be drawn into occultism more deeply. Their “scientific interests” are prone to degenerate into personal obsession.

  1. Many people who report these experiences have no prior interest in “ghosts” and are simply taken by surprise when suddenly confronted by weird events. Geisterscheinungen und Vorzeichen is an interesting anthology of such experiences, assembled by Amelia Jaffe, personal secretary to the famous German psychologist, Carl Jung. It has been published in English as Ghost Appearances and Omens. Back To Article
  2. The term “haunt” is related to the word “home,” and referring to the fact that “hauntings” are manifestations (ghostly apparitions, movement of objects, sounds) in a dwelling that are often associated with people or animals that once lived there. The manifestations often correspond with major events, especially violent events like murders. Back To Article
  3. poltergeist [G, fr. poltern to knock + Geist spirit] : a noisy usu. mischievous ghost held to be responsible for unexplained noises (as rappings) Webster Collegiate Dictionary Back To Article
  4. According to the Webster Collegiate Dictionary, telekinesis is “the production of motion in objects without contact or other physical means.” Hypothetically, the telekinetic “externalization of psychic conflict” might be a natural process by which inner emotional conflicts would somehow have physical effects — causing books to fall off shelves, dishes to move on a table, loud noises, and so on. Back To Article
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Why Is It Dangerous to Seek Physical Healing Through Magic or the Occult?

The Bible distinguishes between physically and spiritually caused conditions. In John 9, Jesus healed a man who had been blind from birth. The Pharisees, who were convinced that sickness was always the result of someone’s sin, asked Jesus who had sinned in order to cause his blindness. Jesus responded, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him” (v.3 NASB). This statement parallels other passages in the Scriptures (such as Luke 13:1-5) which indicate that the difficulties and misfortunes common to all of us here in this fallen world should not usually be interpreted as being the result of our personal sin.

However, even though it would be wrong to assume all illnesses and injuries have spiritual causes, modern science has concluded that physical disorders often are based at least partially on psychosomatic causes—factors that aren’t physical (material) but psychological (spiritual.) (See the ATQ article, Can a Christian be hurt by witchcraft or black magic?) 1

The New Testament confirms that physical illness can sometimes be caused by sin. In 1 Corinthians 11:26-32, the apostle Paul implies that taking part in the Lord’s Supper unworthily (i.e., with unconfessed, unrepentant sin) can result in physical illness or death:

“For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment. When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world” (1 Corinthians 11:26-32 NIV).

Also, the epistle of James indicates that unconfessed and unrepentant sin may result in physical illness:

“Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James 5:13-16 NIV).

These passages affirm not only that some illness has a spiritual cause (unconfessed sin), but also that dealing with unconfessed sin may result in physical healing.

What would happen if someone suffering illness because of serious, unconfessed sin sought healing through faith in occult ritual or an occult healer?

Because any kind of faith is a powerful force for healing, even placebos might bring relief. (See the ATQ article, Why Are Believers in Magic or Other Religions Sometimes Miraculously Healed?) However, if the person’s illness is based in unconfessed sin, the relief he might experience will only be temporary. Since the cause of the inner conflict creating the physical symptoms remains unresolved, the illness will return. This is one of many reasons that placebos can be harmful.2

The same principles apply when a person suffering illness from unconfessed sin goes to an occult healer for help. Because the healer can do nothing to resolve the sin-based conflicts causing the physical problem, they remain hidden like a dormant cancer. Faith in the healer will produce a growing dependency that at the very least will keep the victim from identifying the source of his/her problem and experiencing spiritual growth. In the worst cases, dependence on an occult healer could lead to full-fledged demonic control.

A person with unrooted faith may experience temporary healing, but the long-term effects of his counterfeit faith will be worse than death. The Bible makes it clear that our spiritual condition is ultimately much more important than our physical health (Matthew 16:26; Luke 12:19-20; 16:19-23). For genuine spiritual healing to take place, faith needs the right object. This is why physical healing that depends on faith in falsehood comes at the cost of spiritual sickness, judgment, and destruction.

Jesus said: “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26 NKJV).

  1. “Psychosomatic or Somatoform disorders are among the most common psychiatric disorders found in general practice.
    “It is a condition of dysfunction or structural damage in bodily organs through inappropriate activation of the involuntary nervous system and the glands of internal secretion.

    “Psychosomatic disorder is mainly used to mean a physical disease which is thought to be caused, or made worse, by mental factors. Some physical diseases are thought to be particularly prone to be made worse by mental factors such as stress and anxiety.

    “The DSM III has dropped the category of Psychosomatic diseases, but according to the DSM II classification it has listed 10 categories of psycho-physiologic disorder:

    • Skin disorders
    • Muscoskeletal disorders
    • Respiratory disorders
    • Cardiovascular disorders
    • Genitourinary disorders
    • Endocrine disorders
    • Disorders of organs of special sense—Chronic conjunctivitis
    • Disorders of other types—Disturbances in the nervous system in which emotional factors play a significant role, such as multiple sclerosis.

    “Sometimes a physical symptom is a metaphor for the person’s psychologic problem, as when a person with a “broken heart” experiences chest pain. Other times, a physical symptom reflects identification with another person’s pain.

    “Some people also use the term psychosomatic disorder when mental factors cause physical symptoms, but where there is no physical disease. For example, a chest pain may be caused by stress, and no physical disease is can be found.” (Quoted from an article from the www.surgerydoor.co.uk Web site.) Back To Article

  2. “Contrary to popular belief, placebos can be harmful. Placebo responses can ‘teach’ chronic illness by confirming and/or reinforcing the delusion of imagined disease (Jarvis 1990). Patients can become dependent on nonscientific practitioners who employ placebo therapies. Such patients may be led to believe they’re suffering from imagined ‘reactive’ hypoglycemia, nonexistent allergies and yeast infections, dental filling amalgam ‘toxicity,’ or that they’re under the power of Qi or extraterrestrials. And patients can be led to believe that diseases are only amenable to a specific type of treatment from a specific practitioner. On the other hand, the practitioner can also be blinded to the real disease because of being convinced that the patient’s condition is only imagined. Jarvis (1990) reminds us that ‘for both patient and practitioner to be blind to the clinical realities is an unacceptable version of the double-blind.’

    “The use of placebos can undermine the doctor-patient relationship by requiring deception on the part of the caregiver. Consumer advocate Stephen Barrett has explicit reservations concerning overreliance on the placebo effect in clinical practice: ‘I am against people being misled. The quack who relies on a placebo effect is also pretending he knows what he is doing—that he can tell what is wrong with you and that he has effective treatment for just about everything . . . he is encouraging people to form lifelong habits of using things they don’t need’ (Barrett 1977).

    “In addition, placebos ‘need not always be beneficial and may be frankly toxic: dermatitis medicamentosa and angioneurotic edema (allergic-type reactions) have resulted from placebo therapy. More subtle but equally important negative placebo effects must occur when the physician by virtue of a moment of inattention, a raised eyebrow, or a transient look of disgust, loses the trust of his patient’ (Bourne 1991).

    “Paracelsus (Swiss alchemist and physician 1493–1541) wrote: ‘You must know that the will is a powerful adjuvant of medicine.’ It is imperative that skeptics recognize the wisdom and warnings inherent in this statement.” (Excerpted from the article, “The Mysterious Placebo,” by John E. Dodes) Back To Article

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Why Are Channeling and Mediumship Dangerous?

Channeling is a form of occultism. Even if secular psychologists are right when they assume that channeling allows the contents of the subconscious to “erupt” upward into consciousness it would be dangerous. If it is true, according to their model, that the subconscious is capable of overwhelming and displacing a person’s consciousness, it would be increasingly difficult for that person to differentiate between fact and illusion, reality or hallucination. If we abdicate conscious responsibility for our behavior and allow subconscious images and impulses to control us, the most destructive aspects of our personality might come to the fore.

Second, Christians have always believed that those who give up conscious control of their minds through occultism open themselves to control by external spiritual evil — Satan and his demons. If a person is in the dissociated state of mediumship, at best he is being controlled by a subconscious aspect of his personality and losing control of his mind. At worst, he is being controlled by an evil spirit being.

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